Pub crawls have been happening across Sydney's inner west since the dawn of Friday knock-off, but the concept of a brewery crawl? This is new and exciting territory.
The local beer boom of the last decade has seen breweries froth up all over the city and, in particular, the glorious inner west. Drinking beer fresh from the source is the best way to do it and the brewers are usually on hand to tell you as much or as little about the beer as you would like to hear.
We present this tour of the inner west's best breweries. We'll leave the preferred mode of transport up to you (foot, taxi, bike, non-boozing friend with car) just as long as everyone paces themselves and has a ripper of a time, yeah? Rightio then, let's begin.
Batch Brewing Company
This Sydenham Road brewery is a nice and easy place to start your pint quest. The warehouse fills up quickly with local punters on the weekend, so it's best to get there early and claim one of the soft leather couches (a word of warning: they are very hard to get out of).
American champs Chris Sidwa and Andrew Fineran opened Batch in late 2013 and it already feels as much a part of Marrickville as the flight path. Local bands jam out on a regular basis (check the website for artists and set times) and food trucks like Reuben Republic and Agape rock up Friday through to Sunday.
THIS JUST IN: If you have visited Batch before and taken issue with drinking beer out of a jar, you'll be happy to know the boys now have all new, real-life, ultra-modern beer glasses too. Chin-chin!
Beer to try on tap: Tiny Coconut Bubbles. A delicious coconut wheat ale for slamming down responsibly on a summer's day.
Beer to take home: Das Maibock. A strong and malty lager.
44 Sydenham Road, Marrickville, 0419 348 958, Tue 4pm-8pm; Thu 2pm-8pm; Fri-Sun noon-8pm, batchbrewingco.com.au
Willie the Boatman
Willie is about a 15-minute walk from Batch via Sydenham station and if there is a more attractive brewery to sample beer in Sydney, we haven't drunk at it. Tattoo art and maritime bric-a-brac decorates the venue which feels a little like a south-coast surf shack fitted out by the art director of Frankie magazine. It's a good thing they close at 7pm otherwise we might never leave.
This white and naturally bright warehouse can be found in St Peters' Precinct 75 which isn't a fenced-off military zone, but rather a collection of splendid old buildings also home to Sample Coffee and that axe-throwing place popular with buck's parties. The Boatman blokes – Pat McInerney and Nick Newey – are local Tempe legends who like to tell tales of other local legends while pouring excellent beers named after them such as The Crazy Ivan, Foo Brew, The Bulger and Todd's Trailer Ale.
Food trucks like Mama Linh's are often on hand to provide fried wings and handheld things or there's complimentary crackers if you're feeling only slightly peckish.
Beer to try on tap: Albo Corn Ale. A fresh, crisp beer for balmy evenings and ALP victories, named for Labor frontbencher and the local Federal member Anthony Albanese.
Beer to take home: Black Bunny. Long, smoky and bursting with flavour.
202/75 Mary Street, St Peters, 0413 514 026, Thu 4pm-7pm; Fri 3pm-7pm; Sat noon-7pm, willietheboatman.com.au
No one remembers what locals drank in the inner west before Richard Adamson and Oscar McMahon opened Young Henrys in 2012, although amateur historians reckon it was Reschs jugs and Coopers Red.
If you had to pin the beating heart of Newtown on a Google Map, Young Henrys would be a fine place to do it. The brewery pumps on weekend afternoons with young families, old blokes, girls in plaid, guys in denim, one half of You Am I and everyone who used to tape Rage on VHS. Rotating food trucks and stands like The Nighthawk Diner and Fancy Banger are on hand to serve the people and the music is always cranked as far to 11 as zoning laws permit (the Spinal Tap soundtrack was actually played one time and it was sensational).
Six taps and two handpumps are hooked up to the core range and whatever collaborations and one-offs the ever-expanding brewery has released that week. Sure it's a 30-minute trek up King Street to get there from Willie the Boatman, but the local beer-loving Union Hotel is halfway if you get thirsty.
Beer to try on tap: Real Ale. A modern take on the English "best bitter" style that won No. 1 draught beer in the country at the 2015 Australian Liquor Industry Awards.
Beer to take home: The Newtowner. An English summer ale brewed to celebrate the sesquicentenary of Young Henrys' home suburb.
76 Wilford Street, Newtown, 9519 0048, Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Sun noon-7pm, younghenrys.com
Wayward Brewing Company
Canadian-born Pete Philip officially threw open the doors of the Wayward Cellar Bar on October 24. It's in a mini-industrial area of Camperdown 20 minutes on foot from Young Henrys and the modest laneway entrance gives no indication just how big the place is.
The furniture at this TARDIS of a brewpub has been sourced from op-shops and council pick-ups, but instead of looking like a first-year university sharehouse, Philip's wife, Yvette, has done an outstanding job collecting whole lounge sets and reconditioning them with love. The main bar leads the way to cavernous old wine tanks (drained decades ago) that provide cool nooks to nestle into with a $15 tasting flight of six Wayward brews. Although the Wayward site is in its infancy, Philip has been gypsy brewing around Sydney for the last five years and knows how make beer with character. You will want to sample the whole range.
In a display of a community love, Philip also has a couple of taps reserved for local guest beers and $20 margherita pizzas are sourced from Urban Pizza two blocks away. We love the bike rack, harmonica-heavy soundtrack and dog-loving attitude too.
Beer to try on tap: Sour Puss. Refreshing, raspberry-flavoured sour wheat beer with more punch than you expect from a mid-strength.
Beer to take home: Raconteur Biere de Garde. A toasty farmhouse ale with a clean finish and lots of complexity.
1 Gehrig Lane, Camperdown, 0438 744 538, Thurs-Fri 4pm-8pm; Sat noon-10pm; Sun noon-8pm, waywardbrewing.com.au
Technically it's not brewing just yet, but Staves owner Steve Drissell, does have plans for the tanks behind the bar to be up and running next year, so we reckon this shiny new Glebe brewpub still counts as the place to end your inner-west brewery crawl.
Drissell, a pleasant British chap who started hobby brewing when he was 16-years-old, wants to get the "pub" part of his brewpub in solid working order before he starts making beer with Staves' 500-litre system. It's guest breweries until then with a mix of local and interstate beers across six taps.
There's plans for a pizza restaurant upstairs by early 2016, but for now Burger 10 is providing sustenance direct from Glebe Point Road. There's a cute beer garden to sit and watch the afternoon turn into night and Drissell also hopes to have live music. A beaut win for Glebe.
Beer to try on tap: Wicked Elf Pale Ale. One of the first releases from Little Brewing Company in Port Macquarie and still as big on flavour and floral notes as ever.
Beer to take home: None just yet, but we're expecting top-notch traditional ales when the time comes.
4-8 Grose Street, Glebe, Fri 4pm-midnight; Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-10pm, stavesbrewery.com