Independent breweries are opening at a rapid clip all around Australia, but Sydney’s inner west – Marrickville in particular – has well and truly established itself as the country’s beer capital. Add in the numerous farther-flung breweries such as Modus Operandi in Mona Vale and Riverside in Parramatta, and it’s clear just how good we have it in this city.

Of course, beer is poured at every pub, but there’s something special about drinking it right where it was made. Apart from the fact that breweries serve it fresher, you’ll often get the chance to try new and limited releases other venues don’t offer. Throw in the typical relaxed warehouse vibe, pizzas or other snacks, and these are great places to lose an entire afternoon.

Wildflower – 11-13 Brompton Street, Marrickville

Until Wildflower came along, Tasmania’s Two Metre Tall was the only Australian brewery making a decent go of wild-fermented beers (i.e. those made sans lab-grown yeasts and tank sterilisation). Texan expat Topher Boehm roams around NSW collecting wild yeasts and bacteria to ferment different batches of beer, which are then blended to achieve the desired flavour profile. This isn’t a gimmick: Boehm’s beers are some of the most complex, balanced and drinkable we’ve yet encountered.

Sauce Brewing Co – 1a Mitchell Street, Marrickville

This brash brewery has made quite a name for itself since opening a permanent home in mid-2017. Its easy drinking pale, Hop Sauce, is popular with just about everyone, while beer geeks recognise Bubble and Squeak as one of Australia’s best examples of the so-called “juicy” New England IPA category.

4 Pines BrewPub – 29 43-45 East Esplanade, Manly

Parts of the beer community were dismayed when the world’s largest brewing company, AB InBev, acquired 4 Pines at the end of 2017. But nothing much has changed since then. The team continues to produce a superb core range (we like the slightly malty pale ale) and genuinely interesting seasonals and one-offs. As the name implies, the brand’s HQ is better established than most, with a true pub feel.

Nomad Brewing Co – 5 Sydenham Road, Brookvale

Leonardo di Vincenzo, the founder of notable Italian brewery Birra del Borgo, is one half of this distinctive operation. He and fellow expat Brooks Caretta frequently make use of native ingredients in their beers. Their Freshie Salt N’ Pepper, for example, was one of Australia’s first examples of Gose, a slightly salty German style. It’s made with native pepperberries and water from Freshwater Beach.

The Grifter Brewing Co. – 1 /391 Enmore Road, Marrickville

The trio behind Grifter understands its local constituency. The big, relaxed site packs a pool table and a range of sessionable beers anyone can enjoy. It’s one of the most relaxed breweries on this list, but if you want to drink a fruited sour, double IPA or oatmeal stout, they’re also likely to be on tap.

Modus Operandi Brewing – 14 Harkeith Street, Mona Vale

Before husband and wife Grant and Jaz Wearin got brewing, they spent six months road tripping around the US – the home of craft beer – in the name of research. Their MO back home isn’t radical, but involves a level of quality control other breweries don’t always work to. Hence, the brewery’s session IPA, lager and Aussie pale are consistently excellent.

Yulli’s Brews – 75a Burrows Road, Alexandria

“Beer with personality” is the tagline at this offshoot of the Surry Hills vegetarian restaurant of the same name. And it’s true. Where else in Sydney can you get beers like the Fat Nerd, a vanilla porter with a Comic Book Guy-looking fella on the label? The food is similarly unusual. It’s influenced by the backgrounds of the Yulli’s crew – Vietnamese, Korean and Greek – with sprinkles of native ingredients such as bunya nut and lemon myrtle.

Young Henrys Brewery – 76 Wilford Street, Newtown

Newtown residents are fiercely loyal to this rock-loving brewery, which has collaborated with Dune Rats and Foo Fighters in the past. “Serve the people” is its motto, and it lives up to it with a particularly accessible range, the most challenging of which is a hoppy porter.

Batch Brewing Co – 44 Sydenham Road, Marrickville

The name Batch isn’t arbitrary. The brewery’s two big sellers are an American pale ale and an IPA, but the range changes roughly every two weeks, which is how long it takes to make a new batch. Past releases include a nut-brown ale made with 10 kilograms of roasted pecans; a sour named Pash the Magic Dragon; and a nitrogen-carbonated milk stout (made with lactose, not real milk).

Wayward Brewing Co. – 1-3 Gehrig Lane, Camperdown

This is one of the more unusual brewery bars in Sydney – both in terms of looks and its 12 pours. Want to try a light, slightly sour passionfruit and yuzu Berliner weisse? Here. An IPA fermented with Brettanomyces, a funky, left-field yeast? Also here.

Frenchies Bistro and Brewery – 61-71 Mentmore Avenue, Rosebery

Unlike wine, terroir is rarely discussed in beer circles. Not so at Frenchies, a restaurant that happens to brew beers. Each of the five core beers is focused on a different terroir, including a German kolsch, a New Zealand pilsner, an American pale ale, an old world IPA and Australia red rye ale. Pair with some house charcuterie and you’re all set.

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel – 19 Kent Street, The Rocks

This historic pub opened in 1841 and started brewing its natural ales in 1986, which puts it at ground zero of the craft beer movement. Not that you’d really call this a crafty sort of place – the range leans more to classic English beers than no-rules, New World creations.

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