There are few, if any, places in Australia that can rival The Rocks when it comes to recreating the feel of the old country. And within The Rocks there is nowhere that captures the essence of the classic British pub better than the Lord Nelson. The grand old building dating from 1841 - the oldest licensed hotel in Sydney - would grace any street corner from Brighton to Edinburgh and, thanks to the construction of a brewery in the 1986, has a fine selection of English style ales on tap to complete the picture.
From day one, the brewery has produced all natural ales - unfiltered and unpasteurised - inspired by the comeback of real ales in the UK at the time of its opening. It's one of the most unique breweries you'll come across too. Constructed inside a heritage listed building where none of the existing structure can be altered, its various tanks are found across two floors and several rooms of the hotel's rabbit warren-like underbelly. The four original beers – Nelson's Blood porter, Trafalgar pale ale, Victory Bitter and Old Admiral old ale – are still brewed year round, along with the always popular Quayle Ale and Three Sheets Australian pale ale which has become the brewery's flagship beer. You'll usually find a seasonal on tap too, anything from a rye ale to dry stout to American IPA.
Aside from the beer, the hotel also offers nine rooms of boutique accommodation upstairs and has a well-regarded first floor restaurant – called Upstairs – serving modern Australian cuisine complemented by an award-winning wine list. They run regular wine dinners and several seasonal beer dinners every year, usually featuring a mix of their own beers, an aged keg or cask, and beers from other breweries. Downstairs, in the main bar, the menu is full of traditional pub classics.
Given its location, The Lord Nelson attracts as many tourists as locals but you don't need to linger long at the bar to realise there's a big band of loyal regulars of all ages who call this place home, some of whom have been coming every week for nearly three decades.
As craft beer spreads its wings across Sydney, The Lord Nelson has morphed into the elder statesman of the local scene: it is both Sydney's oldest continually licensed hotel and Australia's longest running independent microbrewery. In 2016, just to prove they could keep up with the young players, The Lord Nelson began packaging its beer in cans and sending them out across the country. But with so much history and tradition oozing from the old walls, there is still nowhere better to enjoy The Lord's beers than at the source.