Sydney Brewery Tour – Breweries of Inner West Sydney
- Sunday, 28 August 2016
Sydney has a lot of great breweries. It’s often seen as the second city, after Melbourne, for Australian craft breweries, but it actually really holds up. We spent an afternoon taking a look at, and sampling the beers of, five inner western Sydney breweries. They were all within an easy walk of each other, and it was quite an adventure.
The preparation for our brewery crawl started days before by Crew member Tim, who painstakingly planned the whole day and made a custom Google map for all of us to follow. Being the leader of the day, Tim also managed to keep us all on our tight schedule.
All up the total walking is about five kilometres, taking about 10-15 minutes to walk between each brewery. Many of the earlier breweries we hit closed at 7 PM, so we started at 3 PM and, as mentioned, kept to a schedule. However, some may want to start earlier so they can linger longer at breweries earlier in the day.
Sydney Brewery Walking Tour
As you can see from the map we started in the south near Sydenham Train Station, which is only a few stops from Sydney’s Central Station. From there we worked our way north.
The short walks between each brewery really helped to slow things down and keep a good pace. Drinking beer is fun, but when doing a big brewery crawl, it’s easy to overdo it!
On that, most of the breweries we visited offer tasting paddles for punters who want to try everything. The tasting paddles are usually pretty affordable, ranging from $15-$20 for four or five beers. This is a good option if you want variety. We opted to have a couple full schooners or pints at each brewery though.
Stop 1: Willie the Boatman Brewery
Willie the Boatman was our first stop. As mentioned, they’re in the suburb of St Peters and they’re an easy walk from Sydenham Train Station. This was probably the best first choice for our brewery tour. They close a little earlier (7PM) and they’re a little smaller than many of the other craft breweries around Sydney.
The brewery itself is a small warehouse in an industrial area. The bar is just a converted loading area. Everything seems to have been thrown together to make a funky little bar on some back street in Sydney. Along the same street is an axe throwing centre. Yes, an axe throwing centre. It’s a place where people can pay money to throw axes at wooden targets.
A craft brewery and an axe throwing centre next door to each other? Sounds like a great combination!
Anyway, while the brewery is completely inside, it’s quite open and allows for a lot of natural light, so it’s a great place to hang out in on a nice spring day.
We all had different beers, but the ones that seemed to stand out amongst the group were the Corn Ale, the Old Salty Gose, and the Coffee Porter. Willie the Boatman don’t try to make beers that are strange and stand out. They make simple traditional styles and rely on their brilliant brewing skills to get their name out there.
Stop 2: Batch Brewing Company
The next stop on our Sydney brewery walking tour was Batch Brewing Company. Batch is a bit bigger than Willie the Boatman and have a stronger distribution around Sydney and New South Wales. This could be seen in that the bar was a big bigger, and the brewery itself had more equipment.
Batch have gone for a bit more of an industrial feel for their bar, and it really works. The one downer of the whole thing is that having such great beer and a well laid out bar, it was fairly crowded. But we can’t fault a brewery for making such a popular place!
Batch Brewing also seem to have regular food trucks visiting on days they’re open. If you need a quick snack, this is a good place to stop since the next brewery has a couple bar snacks, but nothing really substantial.
It was really good to stop by Batch as they make some really good beer that’s relatively easy to get around Sydney (and sometimes around Australia), so it’s good to see where it’s made and also have a look at the full selection.
As with Willie the Boatman, we all had something different, but it was agreed that their Milk Porter really stood out, as did the Juicy as Phuck.
Batch are a little bit less traditional than Willie the Boatman, but by no means do they make weird beers. Once again they stay relatively classic, but spice things up a bit here and there.
Stop 3: The Grifter Brewing Company
According to Tour Guide Tim, The Grifter Brewing Company is an exactly 13 minute walk from Batch Brewing. This is through a fairly industrial part of Sydney. It’s perfectly safe, but there are some interesting business and warehouses to walk past on the way. This includes a mannequin rental outlet. So if anybody out there is thinking about buying a mannequin but doesn’t quite want to commit yet, check this place out for a rental!
The Grifter have fitted out a fairly large warehouse with a big brewing floor and a small bar that has a good selection of beers and a couple basic bar snacks. It seems the brewery is prepared to expand if needed as it looks like there’s plenty of room for more brewing equipment.
The Grifter seemed a lot quieter than the previous two breweries. They were going for a clean and simple vibe which allowed for a nice little break. It was apparent that plenty of people from the surrounding neighbourhood call this brewery home.
Reflecting the style of the brewery, beers by The Grifter are clean and stylised. This was a nice progression from the previous two breweries as The Grifter seem to do slightly more interesting flavours. On that, the Watermelon Pilsner was a crowd favourite on the night. They also had a pretty good Cascadian Dark Ale that managed to bring out some good darker flavours without bringing out burnt flavours that are so common in Cascadian Dark Ales.
Stop 4: Young Henry’s
Young Henry’s is on of the most prominent craft breweries in Sydney. Located in trendy Newtown, they have no trouble getting people in the door.
Young Henry’s have elected to go with more eclectic aesthetic typical of Newtown’s hipster scene. Like the rest of the breweries we visted on our walking tour , this one is, once again, in a warehouse that’s been converted to be a brewery/bar. It obviously a formula that’s working!
Unfortunately Young Henry’s closes at 7 PM, so we had to rush to get there and got to the bar just as they were making last call. But we still managed to order a beer! The bar staff are also fairly strict about getting patrons out at closing time. This house policy probably comes from licensing laws just as much as it is bar staff wanting to clean up and go home, as it’s not the first time we’ve seen this sort of thing in Newtown. So if you visit, be prepared to finish your drinks promptly at 7!
Because of the rush, we didn’t have much of a chance to reflect on the beer. I guess we’ll have to go back!
Stop 5: Wayward Brewing Company
Maybe it was the multiple beers before hand, or maybe it’s just because they had a good bar, but our last stop, Wayward Brewing Company, was probably our favourite. The bar had a cool fit out and was well decorated. Drinkers could spy the large brewing floor if they peaked their head around the corner. Wayward was a great way to end our Sydney brewery tour!
It was getting to be around dinner time when we arrived, and fortunately Wayward have a pizza menu! This pizza isn’t cooked on site, but it’s delivered by a place around the corner, which is just as good.
The bar at Wayward Brewing also offers a couple of beers from other breweries so, if for some strange reasons you don’t feel like a Wayward beer, you can sample something from another craft brewery. The staff are very friendly and more than willing to chat about the beer they have on offer.
Wayward Brewing offers a range of styles and interpretations, so most drinkers will be happy with what they have on offer. There’s plenty to try!
The Sour Puss Raspberry Berliner Weisse was one of the favourites, and a light way to end the night. The Charmer India Red Ale was another good one that went well with the pizza.
After five breweries and twice as many beers, it was time to call it a night. Our self made Sydney brewery tour was a great day out to explore our city and catch up with friends.
A special thanks to Tim for organising everything and keeping us on schedule. Without him we would have gotten lost or spent the entire time in a single brewery, missing out on so much! Take a look at our Sydney brewery walking tour map above if you want to do it yourself. Hopefully others can have just as much fun as we did.