“We’ve come here because this is the only place we know that serves this. It’s very rare,” says a patron at the bar, who’s drinking Knee Deep’s Citra XPA, a US craft beer. Noble Hops, the bar he’s drinking at, is one of the only places in Australia to get it. It serves another 40 relatively unheralded or uncommon beers, and just as many whiskies, making it Sydney’s newest and most beer-specialised small bar.
Locals will recognise the bar as what was, until very recently, the Angry Pirate (previous owner Peter Groom is staying on as manager). “There aren’t a lot of other bars doing this. Generally, places that serve a variety of beers tend to be a pub,” says owner Joe Wee. “I just want a quiet place to have a beer that doesn’t have televised sport or TAB, or pokies.” Instead, you have paint-stripped walls (you can see the jackhammer grooves), cycling photography, a dimly lit neon sign and a range of rockabilly to psychedelic-rock tunes (meaning it’s not that quiet).
Wee has scoured the country, and much of the US, for the most interesting, developed and inventive beers on the market. All of them are available, like at a gelato store, for taste before purchase. “We’re encouraging people to try different things. A lady last night had a chocolate praline stout after she said quite openly, ‘I don’t drink beer, I only drink wine,’” says Groom. That particular drop is an award-winning brew from Victoria’s La Sirène.
Be warned, though, the taps may not be pouring La Sirène or Knee Deep when you visit. Wee says as soon as one keg runs out it’s replaced by something new. Similarly, the bottled range will change with the season (heartier beers in cold weather, more pale ales in summer). In the future, Wee hopes to get his home-brew (which won the people’s choice award at Sydney Craft Beer Week last year) among the local tap brews.
For those wanting something other than beer or whisky (though you should probably just go somewhere else), there are six off-the-menu wines and classic cocktails. There’s no food except free spicy popcorn, but pizzas can be ordered in from neighbouring Sicilian pizzeria La Coppola.
The Noble Hops
125 Redfern St, Redfern
0431 113 394
Tue to Fri 4pm–12am