Sun-dappled despite the seasons, and set around its celebrated harbour, Sydney living is synonymous with the outdoors. Whenever it’s not raining, the city’s beer gardens become extensions of the local community, playing host to the whole spectrum of socialising. But which one is right for you and your occasion?
Outdoor living – The Newport
The term “beer garden” doesn’t do justice to the sprawling grounds of The Newport. Overlooking the shores of the Northern Beaches’ Pittwater, and filled with jacarandas, plane trees, Chinese elms, and myrtles, the recently revamped Newport has a Mediterranean-via-Montauk vibe and a capacity of 1000. Overseen by executive chef Sebastien Lutaud, the dining options scattered around the gardens resemble an in-house food festival. Choose from Vinnie’s Pizzeria, platters from The Kiosk, and burgers and salads from The Shack. There’s no table service; instead you can order via an app.
As well as watching the sun set over Pittwater, you can play ping-pong, badminton and Scrabble (on a giant magnetic board, no less), or you can have a spin on the exercise bikes, which charge your mobile phone as you pedal.
A quiet pint with friends – The Duck Inn
The leafy, intimate beer garden at the back of Chippendale’s The Duck Inn seems custom-built for a quiet catch-up with friends. Drink choices include local craft beers from Willie the Boatman, Rocks Brewing and Hawthorn Brewing Company, while Fuller’s London Pride will satisfy anyone hankering for an English ale.
Time your visit around a meal: as well as a strong selection of pub classics, the menu features dishes like hickory-smoked duck breast, fennel-seeded pork loin, and a four-point lamb rack.
Sunday session – The Norfolk
With a winning combination of grit and kitsch, The Norfolk in Surry Hills is the ideal casual-style venue to settle in and get comfortable. The compact and colourful beer garden is a popular spot for both locals and travellers, so arrive early on the weekend to snag a seat.
The menu is inspired by the Americas and features tacos, burgers and hotdogs. On Sundays, there are DJs and a barbacoa pork special($30). Beers on tap range from the likes of James Squire Chancer Golden Ale, through to your familiar Euro-internationals.
A group get-together – The Oaks
Shading The Oaks’ large beer garden is its tree namesake, reportedly given to the publican’s daughter as a sapling in 1938. At night, the oak is illuminated by thousands of fairy lights strung around its trunk and branches, providing a charming backdrop to a birthday party or group get-together. The bar is stocked with local wines and craft beers, while the Bar and Grill menu has something for everyone. Choose from burgers, mussels, pizzas, salads and pub classics like Cumberland pork sausages with mash, a pot pie and mushy peas, and flathead fillets and chips. Larger parties can book the newly refurbished Garden Pavilion.
Family dinner – The Henson
The Henson in Marrickville is one of Sydney’s most family-friendly venues. While the front bar remains a classic local boozer, the beer garden adjoining the dining room is regularly bustling with patrons of all ages. Out back, an enclosed activities room – complete with a mini-ball pit – keeps kids busy, while the bar and kitchen offer locally sourced food and beer, including many of the craft beers on tap.
The menu features Japanese- and American-inspired takes on classic burgers, tacos and mains, while a kids’ menu stars all the favourites, from macaroni to meatballs. But it’s the smartly designed garden’s ability to feel both communal and intimate that makes it ideal for gatherings of all sizes.
This article produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.