A few years ago, if you’d suggested a classic old pub like Newtown’s Bank Hotel would have a dedicated bar serving only craft beer, the idea would have been lumped in with the other nonsense ramblings you’re accustomed to hearing from the suburb’s cerebrally unsound street preachers. But it’s a sign of how the Sydney beer scene has changed that this is exactly the case.
Right in the heart of the Bank Hotel you’ll find Uncle Hops, a wonderfully revamped standalone bar that’s pumping out 12 taps of the best and freshest local brews. With the Inner West being home to a burgeoning number of breweries and brewing companies, you can be certain those taps will be filled with beer from the likes of Grifter Brewing, Willie the Boatman, Shenanigans, Young Henrys, Batch Brewing, Rocks Brewing and plenty more.
When it comes to the bottled selection they cast their eye to all parts of the brewing world, stocking anything from kriek lambic to pumpkin ale to tea-infused IPA. This selection is prone to changing as seasonal and one-off beers become available, so it’s always worth asking what’s new. Ths staff know their stuff, are enthusiastic about what they pour and are more than happy to recommend a place to start.
If you didn’t already get the idea that this is a place that’s serious about good beer, they’ve even gone so far as to publish an in-house craft beer newspaper, the Hops Observer. This neat little publication has been designed to help patrons get more of an understanding about what they’re drinking, containing, as it does, features about anything from beer styles to food matching and interviews with local brewers.
When sat here with a good beer and something to read, at some point you’ll probably get a tad peckish so the food menu offers up a small selection meaty nibbles; pork scratching, beef jerky, duck sausage rolls, lamb ribs and a range of sliders. It’s the kind of food that’s more snack than feast, which means it all goes down well with a tasting paddle.
With white tiled walls, a family of taxidermied jackalopes and heavy duty leather aprons, in parts Uncle Hops resembles something of a former butcher’s residence. But it’s really much warmer than that might sound as the wooden and copper features, soft lighting and gentle crackling of vinyl records coming through the speakers all combine to create an extremely pleasant ambience. What’s more, step out the door and you’ve got instant access to the open air via the Bank Hotel’s balcony and courtyard beer garden.
This whole venue-within-a-venue idea has been tried plenty of times before with mixed success, but down The Bank Hotel’s metaphorical rabbit hole you’ll find that Uncle Hops is a very enticing lair indeed.