The Rocks has a new on-site brewery, bar and restaurant – in the building that once housed Sydney’s longest-running colonial hotels.
Dating back to the 1800s, it operated as prominent watering hole Seaman’s for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Fast-forward a few hundred years and the space is now Endeavour Tap Rooms, owned and operated by Ben Carroll and Hamish Watts of hospitality group Applejack (The Butler, The Botanist, Della Hyde). Ben Kooyman and Dan Hasting, the boys behind Endeavour Vintage Beer, also own a share.
The collaboration was in the works for quite some time. The two Bens are old friends from school. “The relationship was definitely founded off brotherly love,” says Watts. It was finding the building, however, which really allowed the dream to flourish. “The venue, we really just fell in love with,” says Watts. “It’s got so much character, every time we find a space we generally fall in love with the character or the potential of the character.”
The space has been completely refurbed by Welsh + Major, an architectural firm with accolades for transforming heritage and historical sites into contemporary spaces. “We wanted to use someone who paid homage and respect to the building’s history,” says Watts. The interiors are pared back and modern with art deco references. The brief was to “create a space that wasn't the same as your typical brewpub,” says Watts. “The feel is classic, contemporary and understated.”
The menu puts an Australian-pub spin on American barbeque, making it a “little less stodgy and sauce driven”. The kitchen is headed by Sam Tingle (a former sous chef at The Butler) who is a self-confessed meat-smoking, vegetable-pickling fanatic. The Tap Rooms even houses its own Yoder smoker. “Meat-smoking nerds and barbeque geeks will find that pretty exciting,” says Watts.
Of course, it’s the on-site brewed beer that’s the hero. There’s a 600-litre brewhouse, eight tanks and, in the bar, four key lines and four rotating taps. Brewer Graeme Mahy has more than 10 years of experience under his belt and uses all-Australian ingredients.
Mahy says they thought the pale ale would be most popular but it is actually the Australian ale and other brews that are “just flying out the door”. As well as beer, the Tap Rooms also serves rosé and an “Australian Negroni” on tap, using local ingredients. The locally sourced wine and cocktail lists were created by Applejack’s Lachy Sturrock.
Looking to the future, Watts hopes to make the brewery more interactive. The team is planning meet-the-brewer dinners and tours, as well as “just producing some really interesting and crafty beers that will blow people away”.
Endeavour Tap Rooms
39-43 Argyle Street, The Rocks
Mon to Sat 11am–12am