In recent times Sydneysiders have become a bit spoiled for choice when it comes to craft beer, but it wasn't always that way. In fact, it wasn't so long ago that you could count the number of quality beer venues in the CBD on your fingers and still have a couple of spare digits. One of the few places that's long been on the front line in the city's battle for better beer is Hart's Pub.
Tucked just off to the south-east side of the Harbour Bridge, the spiritual home of the Rocks Brewing Company - which has its own state-of-the-art brewing facility a few kilometres away in the suburb of Alexandria - is an inner city oasis where you can relax in the knowledge the bar's well stocked with beery goodness.
Two 12 tap bars pour predominantly Australian craft beer, featuring the very local such as Akasha, Shenanigans and Grifter, through to interstate peers like Pirate Life, BentSpoke and Hargreaves Hill. The full range of Rocks Brewing core beers is a permanent fixture here, plus you'll always find the latest of their ever expanding range of seasonals and one-offs – it's also often the only place you'll find Rocks beers on hand pump too, the venue having four of them to work with.
As for the pub itself, it's located where the historic Rocks precinct meets modern Sydney and housed inside a heritage-listed building that was previously home to a pub in dire need of reinvention. That's what it got when the Rocks team took over in 2010; although structurally it couldn't be touched, they renovated both floors – or three if you count the beer garden up top where you can relax in the shadow of the CBD's skyline – stripping, refitting, repainting and giving it a British-style makeover, complete with beery proverbs on the walls.
Since then, it's gone on to establish itself as one of the most dependable beer venues in the city, hosting everything from Brewer's Feasts to monthly tap takeovers. The kitchen specialises in serving wholesome, hearty pub grub that changes with the seasons and often uses beer as an ingredient. This beer-food combo is further embraced with regular multi-course degustations.
Put all these things together and what you get is a classic pub that pays homage to Sydney's history and old-world charm while keeping a firm eye on Australia's vibrant and thriving craft beer scene.