The unfortunately and now incorrectly named suburb of Newtown is one of the few places in Sydney whose reputation precedes it. The area of Newtown was originally inhabited by the Cadigal tribe and set up for farming and residential estates during the early years of European colonisation.
In a cruel twist of fate, the suburb took its name from the sublimely boring New Town Stores grocery. If only John Webster had the foresight to go with Bloody Ripper Stores we wouldn’t be in this mess.
Despite being the butt of jokes from people who’ve never been there, Newtown is the vibrant and bustling cultural centre of Sydney with an unmatched concentration of bars, pubs and restaurants. With most of the action taking place within about a two kilometre stretch of King Street, this might be the only Crafty Crawl that could conceivably be completed by literally crawling between each venue.
Stop One: Kingston Public Bar & Kitchen
We’ll start our crawl at the northeastern end of King Street with the Kingston Public Bar & Kitchen. While it’s a venue that mainly focuses on local and rare spirits, they’ve always got a few taps pouring local and international craft beer plus a selection of bottles. More importantly, the food served out of the tiny kitchen is on point, with an array of share plates, a couple of burgers and daily specials.
In what will be a common theme for almost all the featured venues in Newtown, the space isn’t massive and you’ll be hard pressed finding a table during peak times but, fear not, there are usually a few free stools at the bar.
Stop Two: Miss Peaches
Head towards the landmark Marlborough Hotel and duck up the little stairway on the Missenden Road side. Inside lies Miss Peaches, a second floor bastion of Americana and soul food. The Rocks, Batch and Young Henrys are regulars on the taps while the bottle list is almost 100 percent American.
Depending on what day and time you arrive, Miss Peaches routinely has live music and you might find yourself inadvertently involved in a hootenanny. If you can’t make room for fried chicken, mac and cheese and a slice o’ pie then, quite frankly, you’re not showing the commitment The Crafty Pint has come to expect from its readers. Remember: you're only a third of the way in...
Stop Three: Mary’s
Some will say that opting for a front façade of graffiti-covered walls with a single red light above a door halfway down a darkened street is a surefire way of attracting some very disappointed customers to your business. However, when that business is Mary’s, it seems perfectly natural.
Mary’s is always dark, always loud and always awesome. The beer variety isn’t extensive but it would be sacrilege not to have a Young Henrys Newtowner at Mary’s on a Newtown crawl. The burgers and fried chicken have a reputation as some of the best in Sydney – with good reason (so maybe you didn't need that slice o' pie, after all...).
Stop Four: Uncle Hops
There are two critically important things to know about Uncle Hops: it doesn’t open until 5pm during the week; and it’s a bar inside another bar. This creates an amusing and recurring scenario where people wander into Uncle Hops from the front bar at what is the Bank Hotel, stare at the clientele and the tap list with a deer in the headlights expression before quietly backing away to search for the safety of something more familiar.
Again, the 12 taps pour predominantly local beer with a few interstate offerings for good measure. There are seats inside, at the bar and a decent sized beer garden out the back. It’s also very conveniently located next to the train station in case you absolutely have to pop back in for one final drink before heading home.
Stop Five: Bloodwood Restaurant & Bar
Bloodwood, much like the rest of Newtown, is not at all what it seems. From the outside you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as another cool looking narrow café of the sort that appears on almost every high street in every city in the world.
For starters, it’s spread over two floors with an airy balcony out the back. Next, you have one of the best contemporary Australian food menus in Sydney matched with a beer, wine and cocktail list that runs at a similar length to one of the more lengthy Goosebumps books. The beer list offers everything from Mikkeller Spiced Holiday Ale through to Doctor’s Orders Zephyr – with plenty of more straightforward options too.
Stop Six: Union Hotel
End of the line, cobber. And a fine place to finish too.
When it comes to marrying post-war pubs and excellent beer, few do it better than The Union. The winner of Time Out’s 2016 Best Beer List and Publican of the Year, The Union has been revitalised and can stake a claim as one of the best beer venues in the country – all without alienating any of its old clientele.
The recently renovated back bar, beer garden and restaurant provide the ideal space for a few schooners of some of the best beer Australia has to offer, including local favourites Akasha, Modus Operandi and Wayward. Meanwhile, the front bar has kept the pool tables and TV screens if that’s more your jam. And, if for any reason your stomach hasn’t already ruptured from the constant gorging, you’ll be stoked to know that there’s a selection of classic pub favourites and specials.
If you're still on the hunt for more, you'll find varying degrees of craftiness on offer at these venues in and around Newtown:
- Botany View
- The Newtown Hotel
- The Courthouse Hotel
- Doris and Beryl's Bridge Club and Tea House
If you're reading this before Sydney Craft Beer Week 2016, then check out what we're doing for Pint of Origin: Schooner Edition.
About the author: Judd Owen is a former zygote and Brisbanite who spends entirely too much time thinking about beer. He also runs the 14th best MS Paint based beer blog in the country: Brewed, Crude and Bitter.