75A Burrows Rd Alexandria, NSW 2015
|Opening hours||Wed-Sat noon-late, Sun noon-10pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9519 0161|
What a bloody great pub this is. There's a big screen showing the Rabbitohs' game, schooners of fresh beer, an all-NSW wine list and Archie Rose gin on the pour.
The kitchen rocks a killer gyro with chips, there are ice-cold tinnies you can buy for home use and the publican tells me live music and stand-up comedy nights are coming soon. There's no gaming here, pals, just good booze and the sounds of Paul Kelly singing about rivers and fields and the MCG.
On a Thursday night it's not the least bit crowded, just me and a couple of locals watching the footy and nursing a local red ale called Slick Rick's that's beautifully balanced with fruit salad flavours and a bitter, dry finish. According to the beer's tasting notes "Rick's is a pair of Okanuis minus the drawer cord". I don't quite understand the reference, but I like it.
Technically speaking, Yulli's Brews isn't a pub. It's a brewery across the road from a smash repairs shop in the industrial heart of Alexandria. However, like so many of Sydney's other brewery bars (see also: Batch, Grifter, Young Henrys, Sauce, Wayward, Rocks Brewing and Akasha), Yulli's is more in tune to what an Aussie pub should be than most of the licensed hotels in town. That is, a community hub supporting local businesses that doesn't swindle customers with flat beer and gristly rump steak.
The brewery is an offshoot of Yulli's vegetarian restaurant in Surry Hills. Head brewer James Harvey was a staff member at Yulli's when he began making beer for the restaurant with owner Karl Cooney in 2014. The business partners gypsy-brewed for a spell before opening the shed doors to Yulli's in July. The space holds 150 punters over two levels and it is very much a steak-free zone.
I don't realise the menu is 100 per cent plant-based until I'm halfway through a very respectable gyro ($13) exploding with grilled eggplant, skordalia, purple cabbage and carrot sauerkraut. Big oregano-enhanced flavours mean omnivorous types won't be yearning for lamb and the optional chips are ace too, crunchy and soft in all the right places. I've never been to a vegan restaurant that does a bad chip.
Bunya nut gyoza ($12.50 for four) get along great guns with lemon myrtle mayo, and steamed kimchi and spinach dumplings ($12.50 for four) love a long lash of Betoota Advocate Bitter. (It's Yulli's that brews the branded lager for Australia's favourite satirical newspaper.)
The continent-hopping menu also features a shiitake-based pho ($14) teeming with puffed tofu and bean sprouts. Pair it with a middy of Dolly Aldrin Honeydew Melon Berliner Weisse ($5.50) that weighs in at 3.5 per cent ABV and you might leave the venue feeling healthier than when you arrived.
If you're not feeling the 11 beers and one cider on tap, then a Tertini 2017 rosé ($9/$39) is the best pick of a small, vegan-friendly wine selection. Kudos for the offering of Bathurst's Stone Pine rum at a competitive $13 a pour, too.
The idea that breweries are the new pubs has been floated before, but this is the first one I've visited that properly feels like a pub. Perhaps it's the telly with the footy on, maybe it's the presence of schooners instead of just "tasters". It certainly has a lot to do with the community atmosphere on a Saturday, when families and beer geeks mingle in harmony, wearing thongs and vibing to the Go-Betweens.
Most brilliantly, after lobbying by members of the Inner West Brewery Association, the NSW Government will begin a 12-month trial from September allowing even more independent Sydney breweries to operate as bars. The future of breweries on the streets of your town has never looked brighter.
Address 75a Burrows Road, Alexandria, 02 9519 0161, yullisbrews.com.au
Open Wed-Sat noon-late, Sun noon-10pm
Cards MC V eftpos
If you only drink one thing Schooner of Slick Rick's Rampaging Red Ale ($9).
If you only eat one thing "The Greek" gyro with chips ($18).