Bottle shops aren't hard to find. Pubs have them. Shopping centres have them. Main streets have them. There are even great big ones with huge car parks and as many aisles as a supermarket.
But bottle shops that have a great range of craft beer? Less easy to find.
Fortunately, if you know where to look, there are bottle shops where mainstream lager is not the sole focus. There are shops run by people who are passionate about good ale, and who are happy to guide you through the sometimes-wild and weird world of craft beer.
Here are some of Sydney's best craft-beer bottle shops.
Barny's Fine Wines and Ales
It looks like your average suburban bottle shop on the outside, but once you’re inside you realise it’s anything but. With 1200 beers available, Barny's has knowledgeable and friendly staff that will happily guide you through the dizzying selection of Australian and overseas craft beer. Expect to find ales you won't see elsewhere.
741 Botany Road, Rosebery
This city bottle shop ranks among the oldest in town and has one of the largest and most interesting craft-beer ranges in Sydney. Australian acts such as Two Birds, Willie the Boatman and Feral Brewing can all be found here, plus there's a mind-boggling selection of European (mainly Belgian, Danish, German and British), Kiwi and American craft beer.
152 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Beer Cartel Stocks more than 1000 beers (and has an online presence if you can't make it to the store). It carries 600 Australian beers, including the entire range from breweries such as Pirate Life, Stone & Wood, Two Birds and James Squire. A sizeable US offering, including many hard-to-find seasonals, also attracts beer geeks. Gift-giving is made easy – the store offers quarterly and monthly beer-subscription packages.
9/87 Reserve Road, Artarmon
Recently reopened after a renovation, this large bottle shop is now even larger – meaning lots more space for craft beer. The shop is big on promoting Sydney breweries, whether it's neighbouring north-siders such as Nomad and 4 Pines, or south-of-the-bridge operations such as Rocks Brewing, Batch and Young Henrys. Beer tastings, special events and members-only promotions also draw crowds.
342 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest
Ashfield Mall Cellars
Ashfield Mall Cellars might be its official name, but look for the “Liquor Legends” branding as you head towards the car park on level two of the mall. The same team behind Cutty Cellars is in charge here, and despite the store's average size, this bottle shop is crammed with a wonderful range of craft brews from Australia, Germany and the US.
Shop 204/260A Liverpool Road, Ashfield
Steve's Cool Booze
With a big liquor chain directly across the road, Steve's needs to differentiate itself from the competition. It does this by focusing on craft beer. Locals such as Batch Brewing, Young Henrys and Riverside are here, plus there's a great range of fancy exotics from the US and Europe. A growler refill station is hooked up to four regularly changing kegs.
686 Anzac Parade, Kingsford
This article is part of Broadsheet’s Craft Beer Quarterly, produced in partnership with James Squire.