There are not many bars in Australia where you can moor your boat then settle down to drink from a wide array of local craft beer. But then there’s not many places like Boat Shed Bar in Belmont.
Perched on the edge of Lake Macquarie – one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest saltwater lagoons, twice the size of Sydney Harbour – this welcoming bar offers no less than 18 taps, most pouring Aussie craft beer, with a focus on local, emerging micros. The taps are rotated constantly, with the bar’s cellar person on top of the latest trends as the venue showcases a steady stream of independent beers, many from from breweries found within 100km, alongside the more interesting offerings from Lion's craft portfolio and a couple of mainstream lagers.
Built in 1979 as a storage space for championship Skiffs, the venue was transformed into the Boat Shed Bar in 2015. As a result, you can work your way through your pick of the beers while soaking in a view of million dollar yachts bobbing up and down on the tidal ebb and smart, sharp Lasers zipping through the whitecaps as they tack windward.
The bar itself is modern, accommodating, has a vast TV screen showing major sports and its staff are both welcoming and knowledgeable. It is also adorned, of course, with sailing memorabilia. The centrepiece is a boat that’s been transformed into a table, looking like a restored Viking boat under its protective glass. It’s an approach that makes the Boat Shed Bar feel a desert island away from Belmont 16s – the Sailing Club it resides in – with its rather more traditional focus on banks of ice cold, big brand lager.
If you’re feeling peckish, you can tuck into the brilliant burgers from Burger Bros, who have taken over the kitchen. Wash down a belt-busting Double Bro (double Angus and double cheese) with a beer, or perhaps the Three Pigs Bro, stuffed with chorizo, pork belly, streaky bacon and slaw. Highly recommended is a side order of the crispiest onion rings you’ll come across too.
Meanwhile, should you head in on a Sunday, you can grab a burger and beer for just $16, while on Thursdays you can choose from four local beers for just $6 a pop.
As the Australian craft beer industry continues to expand, it should come as less of a surprise to find this kind of venue in such a location – after all, there are good beer venues to be found everywhere from Dubbo to the Barossa these days – but it remains a pleasant surprise nonetheless. So, even if owning a million dollar yacht remains a pipe dream, at least at Boat Shed + Galley it’s a dream you can enjoy with a cracking beer in your hand.