Less than a kilometer and a half walk due south is the Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe (201 Clarence St., Redoak.com.au), what Vanderlaan calls “arguably Australia’s most successful small brewing company.” With over 50 beers to its credit, Redoak has a classic European look and feel. The real appeal for locals and visitors alike are the “tasting boards” that come in four themes: seafood, meat, vegetarian and cheese. Akin to a flight of four beers perfectly matched with four small plates, not only does the seafood one include Porter-marinated BBQ octopus paired with Redoak’s Irish Red, it also features Tasmanian smoked salmon mousse complemented by the house cider. Add in two more such duos and the whole board runs only $20 Australian.
Nearby is the renovated Harts Pub (176 Cumberland St.; hartspub.com.au), which houses Rocks Brewing. Essentially, expect four house beers such as Sail and Mermaid, an English-style bitter, next to eight taps that rotate among other New South Wales micros such as Stone and Wood Brewing from up in Byron Bay, which you’d never get to unless your trip also takes you to the gorgeous Gold Coast.
Conveniently, just a block away is the Australian Heritage Hotel (100 Cumberland St.; AustralianHeritageHotel.com), more often called The Australian, or simply the Aussie. Its ambitious beer program has 10 draught offerings and over 120 bottles (47 from Sydney), which, in Vanderlaan’s words, enable “the drinker to conduct a virtual beer tour of Australia.” I learned from Tara Blinkhorne, the hotel and pub’s office and marketing manager, that one of its must-order beers is Scharer’s Lager, the Aussie’s house beer named after Geoffrey Scharer, who used to own and run the pub as well as brew his own beer. She mentioned that October recently marked the Australian’s seventh annual Australian Beer Festival. “We invite brewers from all around Australia to come down and showcase their beers. …We generally have around 14,000 people through over the weekend as it’s the Official Beer Festival of the Sydney International Food Festival, which runs for the whole month of October.”