Whether you’re stood amongst the tanks at a brewery, sharing a special beer with good friends or simply taking in the warmth of a pub in winter, there are innumerable ways in which a setting can heighten the enjoyment of beer. But very few compare with that quintessentially Australian pleasure of having a beer by the beach: the sun, the ocean air, the laid-back vibe - it all just makes sense. And if that idea holds true, then the beer always tastes better at Manly’s New Brighton Hotel.
For nigh on a century the old building has stood near the eastern end of The Corso, the iconic shopping promenade which ceaselessly breathes people back and forth between Manly’s ferry wharf and its famous beach on the other side of the peninsula. Taking a seat on one of the New Brighton’s balconies provides people-watching opportunities par excellence, as well as views out to Manly beach and Shelly beach beyond. And you can absorb all of this while sipping on some of the country’s finest brews.
Although it’s only recently that they’ve gotten into crafty territory, they’ve done it as well as anyone else. For starters, they didn’t just allocate a few taps to craft beer, they dedicated an entire floor. One level above the Corso is the revamped 33 Degrees bar, featuring 14 taps and all of them pouring a craft beer of some variety. What’s more, most of them are local brews and some are difficult to find anywhere else in the city.
As well as offering one of the most generous balcony-to-patron ratios you could hope for, the New Brighton also has a sizeable rooftop area complete with its own bar. Here, ordinary tables and chairs give way to sprawling loungers and what might best be described as oversized wicker nests. Whatever you call them, there’s little doubt they’re well suited to the laid-back seaside vibe - linger a little too long in one and you’ll quickly find yourself drifting off into a snooze.
If you need to retreat from the heat, head back down to the busy main bar. Whereas upstairs might favour the sunseekers, at street level it remains cool, breezy and an ideal place to pause for a refreshing pint. And although this part of the venue generally favours big name beer brands there’s always something more interesting to wraps your lips around, usually including the likes of 4 Pines, Murray’s and Feral. If at any point you feel a tad famished from floor-hopping, there's a classic pub menu to keep you full and fulfilled.
With increasing regularity, the 33 Degrees bar hosts beer events which try to bring something a bit different to the peninsula. Chief amongst them are tap takeovers, not just of one brewery but sometime a style or country, for example pouring only IPAs or only beer from the USA. Often you’ll find a brewer or two along to share a beer and a chat too.
The New Brighton Hotel may have been in Manly for generations, but it’s probably safe to say there’s never been a better time to visit.