Rocks have come a long way since the first beer bearing that name was poured in 2008.
From gypsy brewer hopping around town making beer to an established brewery that helps other gypsy brewers make their way into the industry. From their spiritual home in The Rocks to Sydney Corporate Park in Alexandria. From testing the waters of the Sydney beer scene to rocking a range of approachable beers that capture historical Sydney personalities.
As you approach the brewery, you find yourself craning your neck to see where it is - it is, after all, tucked behind a few other buildings in the precinct. But when you get to it, you see that Rocks Brewing is no small brewpub.
The entrance is via an 800 square metre courtyard, where punters can enjoy the afternoon sun with oversized planter boxes scattered around them. Glass walls show off the green-lit underbellies of towering stainless steel tanks - tanks that give Rocks the capacity to produce more than a million litres of beer a year. (Alexandria seems to do everything on an industrial scale, with brunch mecca Grounds of Alexandria just down the road.)
This is all before you even step inside and see the exposed wood brewery bar and kitchen. Behind the bar, a long line of taps serves up the Rocks core range - with characters from The Hangman Pale Ale to The Butcher Porter to The Pickpocket Cider - as well as a few limited releases and a couple of guest taps from Rocks Brewing’s friendship circle, including Halo alcoholic kombucha.
If you want our advice, start with a Conviction Pale Ale, the flavourful mid-strength that won Champion Specialty Beer at the 2017 Craft Beer Awards. After that, if you have trouble deciding, you can grab a three beer tasting paddle to work your way through the offerings, and grab a six-pack of your favourite to take home when you leave.
The restaurant menu is scattered with beer and food pairings, and strikes a balance between familiar beer-friendly food and slightly more exotic items: a Wagyu burger with Irish whisky sauce sits beside a pulled lamb quesadilla; loaded waffle fries next to Atlantic salmon with Israeli couscous. Or, if you have a Flintstonian appetite, the 1.2kg Tomahawk steak will keep you busy for a while.
Rocks is the sort of place you want to share with others. Maybe that looks like taking part in the Sydney Charity Brewery Run each year, and enjoying The Boxer Red Ale when you reach Rocks Brewing; or maybe it means pulling together people of a common interest, like the cat meet-up that filled the courtyard with small mewing customers. If you’re clever, you’ll point your boss to the corporate functions available, including a three course Brewer’s Feast in the middle of the actual brewery, with a pig on the spit as the centrepiece.
But the most obvious way to enjoy Rocks Brewing is by bringing a few friends for an afternoon session in the beer garden, with a share plate and a couple of cold ones between you. Beer doesn’t need to be complicated.