Arriving at The Australian Hotel and Brewery you can't help but be struck with the impression that it isn't a place that does things by halves. There's really no way to escape the fact this brewery complex in Sydney's northwestern suburb of Rouse Hill is, put simply, vast. But once you step inside it becomes quite clear why such scale is required for this houses much more than just a brewery: restaurant, cafe (and occasional coffee roaster), sports bar, kid's activity centre, beer garden, nightclub... The Australian Hotel and Brewery is a modern, all-in-one food, drink and entertainment experience.
As the names suggests, a desire for Australian-ness is prominent here, from the enormous signs on the wall reading 'Fresh, Pure, Australian' right down to the boomerang-shaped tap handles. And here the term 'Australian' often translates as 'local'. The food you'll get in the restaurant is sourced as locally as possible, with some ingredients coming from as nearby as the brewery - excellent news if you're partial to a steak marinated in dark lager.
What you get from pursuing a local focus are plenty of locals as customers, particularly when the venue is so deliberately family-friendly; a giant water tank houses a children's adventure playground, the extensive kids food menu is a guaranteed winner and there's a specially-brewed Ginger Beer. And when the kids are happy, the adults invariably are too - more so when they can sit back and relax with a beer that's as fresh as you can get.
And it's that fact which is inescapable. For all the variety this complex offers, it's things like the stainless steel fermenters behind the bar and the enormous copper-coloured pipes snaking their way through the dining area which provide a constant reminder that this really is a living, breathing brewery. Though if you do need further proof, you can simply perch in front of the large glass wall and watch the brewers at work. From there you'll also be able to view the mechanised magic of the only beer-canning machine being operated by a small Australian brewery (installed at the end of 2012).
If you want to get even closer to the action, for $10 you can join a 30 minute tour of the brewery which includes a tasting paddle. On the tour, the Aussie team will guide you through their range of beers which always strive towards sessionability rather than outrageous experimentation. Beers like the Steam Ale and Pilsner will easily please those after a well-crafted quaffer while beers like the excellent Pale Ale offer the same easy-drinking appeal while ratcheting up the flavour profile. For those looking for a further step up, limited edition beers like the Smoked IPA and Motherlode ESB will have you well catered for. It almost goes without saying that all of these beers are brewed using the most local ingredients possible - including the Fresh Press Cider which arrives at the brewery within two hours of being pressed. Even more good new for locals is that takeaway growlers of beer are also available.
Since opening in mid 2010 the brewery – first under founding brewer Neal Cameron – has collected an impressive list of accolades at shows both at home and abroad and across many styles. More recently, it has ditched its skinny cans for more traditional tinnies, reworked and diversified its core range and, as of early 2017, with Neal off following a variety of new projects, has taken on a German brewer, Maximillian Hemmerle from the iconic Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University in Bavaria.
As Sydney's suburban sprawl continues towards the west and northwest, The Australian Hotel and Brewery provides a significant focal point for locals seeking a beer they can call their own. It's a temple to good beer, built for modern times and in tune with the community in which it resides. NO