In recent years 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 the south-east side of the Harbour Bridge, this is the area where the historic Rocks precinct meets modern Sydney. The pub itself is a heritage listed building that’s always been a pub, albeit one in dire need of need of reinvention when the owners took over in the late 2000s and set about bringing it back to relevance.
They did so by turning all the beer– served through 12 taps on each of the two floors – over to independent Australian brewers. That was easier said than done in the early days when there weren’t all that many independent breweries in existence, but they persisted and, as such, over the years the pub has been a launching pad for a number of up and coming brewers.
To this day you’ll find a selection of the best and brightest from across the land in all shapes and sizes, from New South Wales brewers like Hope Estate, Riverside and Little Alchemist or through to interstate brewers like WA’s Beerfarm and Victorian legends Holgate. Tap takeovers and meet the brewer evenings take place as a matter of course.
In keeping with the inner city oasis vibe, upstairs and out back there there’s a beer garden where you can bask in the sun as it flits between the shadows of the nearby skyscrapers. The kitchen specialises in serving wholesome, hearty pub grub that changes with the seasons and often uses beer as an ingredient and this beer-food combo is further embraced with regular multi-course degustations.
In 2018 Harts owner Mark Fethers parted ways with the Rocks Brewing Company which he’d founded and set about a new course by launching the Pickled Monkey Brewing Company with the pub as its new spiritual home. He also added a sister venue in Rozelle’s Native Rose Hotel with the same simple ethos for good beer and good times (and no poker machines) that’s seen Harts remain one of the most dependable beer spots in Sydney for a decade.