Many of Sydney’s best craft breweries came out to play during the Annual Australian Beer Festival, which was held last month at The Australian Heritage Hotel in the Rocks. Now in its 11th year, this celebration of beer – which coincides with Sydney Craft Beer Week – has a huge focus on up-and-coming boutique breweries – a few of which hail from the Sutherland Shire. As the weather becomes warmer and more suited to pounding down a few pints of amber fluid, Visit the Shire suggests five of the best places to connect the dots on a craft beer crawl.
Blackhorse Brewhouse Cellar Door
The industrial back blocks of Kirrawee are not necessarily regarded as a destination. But if you’re a beer nerd, they should be. Grab a growler of New World Ale and – while you’re at it – raise a glass to the Blackhorse collaboration with the gypsy boys from Shark Island Brewing Company who lease the microbrewery to produce top drops such as the El Mono Bolas Kolsch and Greenhills Summer Ale. Brewers Dion ‘Driza’ Dickinson and James Peebles sell six packs at this low-key cellar door that is/was a local secret. Thursdays 3-7pm; Fridays 2-7pm; and Saturdays 12-7pm.
Unit 8, 29-33 Waratah St, Kirrawee, 0420 968 212, sharkislandbrewing.com.au
The Blind Bear
This grungy speakeasy-style bar is the unofficial clubhouse for the bearded, bed-haired, nose-ringed brigade who like to geek out over craft beer, whiskies and cocktails. Do try owner Ben Lewis’s house brew, the Funky B. Bear, which is the white IPA love child borne of a tryst between The Blind Bear and 4 Pines. As well as asserting itself as a supporter of Australian craft beers The Blind Bear has a whopping eight rotating taps to choose from. Try the Stone and Wood lager from Byron Bay or Feral Brewing Co’s Fantapants while hoofing down a pork hogie.
28 Cronulla St,Cronulla, instagram.com/theblindbear
The Brass Monkey, Cronulla
It’s no wonder The Brass Monkey in Cronulla supports brewers that craft their beer with a bit of integrity; this is a subterranean basement bar with soul. While music lovers happily drive across suburbs to visit what is surely one of the best live music venues in the country, the basement bar should also be on ale trails for its commitment to the craft beer revolution. There’s always a Shark Island Brewing Co. beer on tap, as well as an ever-evolving choice of draught artisan Australian ales. Add to the mix an old-school PacMan machine, live acts such as Katie Noonan (November 5) and Dan Sultan (November 23-24), a menu of Middle Eastern platters and pizza and this place is a must-visit for a multitude of reasons. Hopheads take note: Sister venue El Sol also embraces bespoke local brews by the bottle as well as artisan ales with a Mexican accent.
Zinc Bar is – once again – the place to go for a day-becomes-night marathon if you want to wet your whistle down by the seaside. The newly reopened bar has a decent range of very gulpable hand-crafted Blackhouse brews such as the Pilsener, The Steam Ale and The New World Ale as well as a ‘choice bro’ collection of more mainstream bevvies. Crack open a cold one while enjoying a signature schnitty and chips or a plate of sticky ribs while resident DJs man the beats.
1 McDonald St, Cronulla, (02) 9527 9111, facebook.com/ZinkBar
Music lovers take note: Many of these venues will be featuring artists performing as part of the inaugural Australian Music Week festival and HiFi Days held in Cronulla November 18-22. Check the websites for details.