Redoak Brewery

Is there a greater enigma in the Australian beer world than Redoak? The Sydney-based brewery has been creating award-winning beers and exploring rare styles of brewing since 2004 while its Boutique Beer Cafe in Clarence Street is one of the finest places in the city to explore the marriage of beer and food. What's more, its co-founder and head brewer, David Hollyoak, is a passionate and often outspoken advocate for independent Australian brewers and the founder of the Australian Real Craft Brewers Association (ARCBA).

Despite this, he and sister Janet have managed to maintain a cloak of mystery around the business that has spawned all manner of colourful stories, rumours and beer world myths. It's an intriguing and beguiling situation; even after six hours spent in their company one evening, sampling one trophy-winning beer after another alongside a procession of their kitchen's excellent creations, the Crafty Pint team left little the wiser as to what exactly lies behind the veil - and rather amused by our failure to pierce it.

David has allowed no one into his brewery a short drive from the city since its very earliest days, the result he says of inviting a group posing as home brewers inside only to come to believe they were on a spying mission from one of the majors. He tells staff what he thinks they need to know about the beers and nothing more. Essentially, he and Janet leave the beers - and their venue - to do the talking.

Thankfully, it's a job the beers in particular perform rather impressively. Since starting out, Redoak beers have collected the most illustrious of awards all over the globe with a regularity bordering on the incredible. In 2013 alone, its Special Reserve was named Supreme Champion at the International Beer Challenge in the UK (alongside five golds for the brewery at the competition), picked up two golds at the European Beer Star in Germany then snagged two World's Best titles at the World Beer Cup for its Blackberry Lambic and Wee Heavy.

What those awards also highlight is the vast range of beers, ciders and perries brewed by David. Having started out brewing alcoholic ginger beer aged just 14 at his family's farm, there's little he hasn't turned his hand to, from a wide range of sours and barrel-aged beers to fruit and honey ales, strong Belgian styles and multi-layered malty treats. What's certain is that you'll rarely, if ever, find the same lineup of beers on tap on two visits to the Cafe - and that's before you even delve into the bottle and reserve list.

As for the Boutique Beer Cafe, it's one of the classiest joints in which you'll find craft beer anywhere in Australia. Run by a team that's headed up by staff so loyal they've been there longer than most Sydney restaurants survive, inside you'll find wood-clad tanks, tables made by their father from 700-year-old Jarrah wood that are decorated with Italian mosaic tiles, and a room whose walls are covered in giant photos of hops. Although the occasional Redoak beer can be found in bottle or on tap elsewhere, for the most part this is where you need to head and the only place to indulge in the full Redoak experience.

As for whether anyone will ever get to see the inside of the brewery, well, it could happen. David says that once all tap contracts in Australia have been abolished he'll open the doors. First allowed through them will be John Stallwood, founder of WA's Nail Brewing, so they can brew a beer together. And surely that tantalising prospect is reason enough for the ACCC to come down on the side of the little guys.

NB The list of beers below represents the most frequently brewed beers from the Redoak range and a few specials. You'll find many more – often brewed in tiny batches – available at the Cafe.

Name
Redoak Brewery
Address

201 Clarence St
Sydney
NSW 2000

Phone
02 92623303
Website
Hours

Mon to Sat: 12pm until late

Redoak Brewery Regulars

Redoak Baltic Porter

Regular frequenters of Redoak's Boutique Beer Cafe will have their favourites from the vast array of frequently outstanding drops to hit the bar. Among them is a beer that is often spoken of in reverential tones by its admirers: the brewery's Baltic Porter. Inspired by brewer David Hollyoak's first encounter with such a beer – in a tiny cafe in Poland in 1994 – Redoak's is a traditional take on the old and once almost forgotten style. Similar to imperial stouts, Baltic Porters are rich, deeply… Read more
Style
Baltic Porter
ABV
8.7%
Awards

World's Best Stout & Porter - World Beer Awards 2014

Redoak Honey Ale

On The Crafty Pint's first ever visit to Redoak's Sydney home, we experienced one of our most memorable beer and food pairings. Among the lineup on one of two beer and food paddles we selected was the brewery's Honey Ale and a cheese-with-extras nibble the specifics of which escapes us now. What doesn't escape us is that it ensured the beer made a lasting impression! The Honey Ale takes as its starting point an Australian pale ale base then adds Tasmanian leatherwood honey, which lends it a leatherwood… Read more
Style
Honey Ale
ABV
4.9%
Awards

Gold - World Beer Cup 2006

Redoak Bitter

Another beer inspired by the ales of the UK – albeit with a New World twist – Redoak's Bitter is also one of their most awarded beers. It's a finely crafted amber ale, registering just 3.5 percent ABV but packing in heaps of flavour, with the rich, caramel malt flavours balanced perfectly by citrusy hop characters from the use of English and Aussie hops. The beer has been known to crop up on tap around Sydney outside the Redoak Cafe, while amongst its notable triumphs was gold at the highly prestigious… Read more
Awards

Gold - 2012 World Beer Cup

Redoak Organic Pale Ale

The most widely available of Redoak's beers is their Organic Pale Ale, which you can usually track down in bottled form via some of the country's major retailers, such as Dan Murphy's, as well as on tap at their venue. Inspired by the very first pale ales – those from England – the beer using certified organically grown malt and hops and a London Ale yeast. They reckon it "brings out a lovely stone fruit character, a crisp bitterness and a rich malty flavour, making it a unique, flavoursome… Read more
Style
English Pale Ale
ABV
4.6%

Redoak Brewery Specials

Redoak Malt Teaser

Tapped February 16th, 2017
There’s a decent case to claim Redoak brewer David Hollyoak is the Willy Wonka of the Australian beer scene. Not only does he produce a massive number of beers in a dazzling array of styles, but he seems to possess – at least judging by the number of awards lining the Sydney beer cafe’s walls – something of a genius streak when it comes to brewing. Throw in the mysterious quirk whereby no one has seen the inside of his brewery in years and the similarities with Dahl’s character start to… Read more
Style
Dark Lager
ABV
5.8%

Redoak Chateau Sour

Tapped July 10th, 2013
Even by Redoak's impressive standards, when it comes to winning awards few of David Hollyoak's beers have enjoyed success quite like that of the Chateau Sour in 2014. A true labour of love, this beer starts out with a base beer created from specialty Chateau malts from Belgium then undergoes spontaneous fermentation in old oak with whatever yeasts are in the air around the brewery at the time. David says: "The beer is wild fermented in barrels, which give it a bit of wood, but as we use old… Read more
Style
Flemish Red
ABV
5.0%

Redoak Special Reserve

Tapped January 4th, 2006
Our first meeting proper with Redoak owners David and Janet Hollyoak was a rather special one. On a visit to Sydney, they said they could spare an hour at their Cafe. Six hours, multiple courses of food and pretty much every beer on their list (public and otherwise) later and we bade each other farewell. The last beer to be poured was the Special Reserve, a barley wine that goes through multiple fermentations and spends time in various types of wood that is as close to an aged Pedro Ximenez as it… Read more
Style
Aged Barley Wine
ABV
12.0%
Awards

Grand Champion - AIBA 2006
Supreme Champion Beer - International Beer Challenge 2013
World's Best Flavoured Beer & World's Best Wood Aged Beer - World Beer Awards 2014

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