That Sydney teems with diverse outdoor drinking options is a given: we have a beautiful city and a climate that lends itself to outdoor drinking. With that in mind, being given the job of choosing a beer garden to meet friends in can be a somewhat stressful experience. With this mix of shady trees, cool beers, snacks, fairy lights and good times, we have you covered.
The Henson’s rustic-but-comfy beer garden is regularly dotted with young families, couples and groups whiling away the hours among fresh herbs and citrus plants. There’s plenty of space in this Marrickville favourite to enjoy the sun or to cool off in the shade. Food here is pub classics tricked-up for the 2016 palate, embracing Asian and American flavours in the process. Highlights include a Wagyu brisket sandwich; mac’n’cheese with truffle; Szechuan fish tacos; and ribs with chilli-plum glaze and local craft beers on tap.
The beer garden tables at The Norfolk are so prized, keen punters circle them as soon as a hint of sun is out. There’s a lot to love about sitting at the Norfolk on a sunny day; the colourful furniture, the natural shade, the South American-influenced food. If you’re not sold then maybe the Sunday special of $30 Barbacoa pork and afternoon DJs will do it. The Norfolk is the total package.
Specialising in Australian craft beer, the Welcome combines old-fashioned pub charm with modern sensibilities. Surrounded by ferns and trees, the beer garden isn’t expansive but it feels like a little oasis.
When the sun is shining a local beer – choose from the 17 on tap – paired with the pub’s roast-suckling-pig burger is hard to resist. At night you can head through to Ajo, the award-winning Italian bistro.
The Oaks Hotel
The Oaks takes its name from the Neutral Bay beer garden’s leafy centrepiece. There’s something to be said for sitting under a 70-year-old oak tree, beer in hand, enjoying easy summertime catch-ups. When the sun dips hundreds of lights come on to bathe the garden in an otherworldly glow. As spectacular as the tree is during the day, it’s a breathtaking experience at night. Local wines and beers will go down easily, and plenty of seating means games of musical chairs are kept to a minimum.
Formerly the Duck and Swan, Chippendale’s re-invented Duck Inn has become a quick crowd favourite. Its roast duck is a no-brainer highlight, but for summertime grazing the Duck Tasting Plate – featuring duck four ways – is a crowd pleaser. The wine list features a tonne of local, by-the-glass options, and the taps serve local craft favourites. There’s even a handpump for fans of an English pint. It’s all rounded out with an outdoor fire pit, acoustic Sunday jams and leafy trees.
Yes, it’s often full of tourists and loud groups starting a night out. So it can be easy to forget just how wonderful sitting by Sydney Harbour on a sunny day is. Settling in with a beer and a plate of oysters will be more than enough to remind you. The Opera Bar venue was given an overhaul two years ago, and local seafood is now a focus. There is also a charcuterie bar for indulgent snacking. Gaze over the harbour, people watch, soak in the rays – when it’s this beautiful, there’s no reason to be afraid of being a tourist in your own city.
This article is part of the Spring Craft Beer Quarterly presented in partnership with James Squire.