Crafty Crawls: Newcastle Part II

November 10, 2023, by Neil Richardson

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Crafty Crawls: Newcastle Part II

Six months ago, we published the first part of our updated guide to the craftiest beer spots in Newcastle, a city with a fine and longstanding reputation as a beer city. For the second part, we take in no less than five breweries, plus one of the city's best bars. Scroll down for a guide to the city's best bottleshops too. 

It's worth revisiting Part I too as, since that was published, Akasha's reworking of The Edwards has come to life and has taken up residence as the final stop on that Crawl – although you could tag it on as the opener to this one instead, if you prefer.


Part two of our Newy Crawl covers Islington, Hamilton and Lambton – an area that, back in 2019, had zero breweries and now is home to five. A big plus here is that this is a traditional pub crawl – one where you get to walk between the venues without the need for any public transport or cabs along the way – so arguably it’s good for your health. Unless you want to be lazy, of course...

The beauty of this two-part Crafty Crawl is that you can either head out on one trail or combine the two, utilising your feet, the light railway, hopping off at Hamilton train station, or grabbing a bus or taxi. Whichever option you choose, it certainly won’t break the bank. 

These suburbs have swiftly become the place to be, craft beer and brewery-wise, not least since Grainfed opened more than a decade after releasing their first beer not too far from Thirsty Messiah. As such, the brewers I spoke to while compiling these articles fully expect Newcastle to attract even more craft beer tourists to the city's venues and brewpubs, just as the Hunter Valley attracts wine lovers to its sprawling estates. Whatever happens, Newcastle continues to grow exponentially.


Stop One: Shout Brewing

 

We start things off at Shout Brewing, who've moved into a new home since we last spoke to them. It’s rustic in its looks and friendly in its feel, a place where you can sit down at a table full of locals and join in the conversation without being told to "Bugger off!" 

The surrounding area has taken to the crew and their venue with many a nearby neighbour “keen for us to tap beer taps in their homes,” according to co-founder and brewer Jake Gardiner. 

Prior to them installing those, you can sate your desires with the ten taps at the venue, all pouring Shout beers, from their core range – including Mullet Pale Ale, the beer that made them famous – to ever-changing limited; “You will find something different on tap every time you come in,” Jake says.

A local secret to complement Shout is food cooked onsite by Roy's Kitchen, who have a fantastic reputation for their chicken wings and multiple sauces. It’s dog- and kid-friendly, hosts a packed Trivia Night each week and, best of all (for this writer, at least), there's Vinyl Sunday where you're invited to bring your records along to play for the crowd. 

The perfect place to kickstart a good crawl.

Make it your Shout at 22 Clyde Street, Islington, then hit the streets for the 16 minute walk to...


Stop Two: Method Brewing

 

Another fantastic little venue where the locals show their appreciation for the beers and the team behind them. We caught up with the crew for a Who Brews...? article back in November 2022 and it’s obvious Method continue to punch above their weight in Newcastle, with their cans found in the majority of local bottleshops.

Inside the industrial space, see if you can steal the big leather couches up the far end of the building while enjoying the range on offer across 12 taps. Or pull those $1 coins out of your pockets and play the Donkey Kong video game plucked straight out of the 80s. 

The additional beauty of Method is the food truck parked outside the front door, making it a great place to grab some food to fuel you for the rest of the journey. And we're not talking kebab vans here: we're talking African cuisine with a twist, or wood-fired cooking with smoky tasty tacos, proper BBQ burgers and pulled pork, Vietnamese bánh mì and noodles, and a whole host of other top-notch legendary catering teams who visit the brewery every week. 

If you're an 80s music freak, then time your Crawl to coincide with DJ Tone spinning the wheels of steel on a Sunday.

Enjoy the Method without the madness at 18 Maitland Road, Islington, then spend ten minutes putting one foot in front of the other until you reach...


Stop Three: The Blind Monk

 

This is where Hamilton's local craft beer drinkers hang out, a proper little version of that famous Cheers bar. The Blind Monk hosts a brilliantly eclectic mixture of young and older professionals, from lawyers, nurses, uni students and retirees to the bikers who turn up on a Thursday night looking menacing while huddled around their street table, but who apologise if you happen to bump into them. 

Book your street table on their website to secure a spot outside, from where you can watch the suburb’s diverse array of inhabitants walk by. 

The friendly and knowledgeable team can assist with your choice from the 12 taps pouring craft beer, and are happy to offer free tasters. It’s another venue where you'll be met by plenty of limited releases, and there's a nitro tap pouring all beers weird and wonderful too. 

However, if you fancy a bit of a breather from beer, this is the best place on this Crawl to grab an awesome cocktail. Blind Monk serve an amazing array of whiskies and gins if you fancy something a little different, with single malts you'll struggle to find anywhere else. Food-wise, there is always something decent to grab, be it $1.50 dumplings or a kilo of wings.

Once you're done at 76 Beaumont Street, Hamilton, even a blind monk could find their way to the next stop, as it's a mere ten-second walk away.


Stop Four: Good Folk Brewing

 

How good is this? It’s just 12 steps from The Blind Monk to Good Folk Brewing next door. 

We caught up with the team when they first opened their doors in December 2022, and like Method they too have captured the local bottleshop market with their cans. The icing on the cake must be how Newcastle Knights games now have a Good Folk pop-up bar, meaning you can grab a decent beer at the footy. 

This family-run brewhouse has capacity of 145 punters with ten taps pouring direct from the brewery at the back of the venue. Again, time it right and you’ll find limited releases on tap, whether that's a red rye IPA or more experimental beers like their Roasted Peach Oat Cream IPA. 

It's a great place to grab a table, work through the beers and grab a housemade pizza straight from their huge pizza oven. Or, if you’ve had enough for one day, grab a takeaway four-pack and a pizza combo at a great price. 

Join the Good Folk at 80 Beaumont Street, Hamilton, then weigh up whether you fancy stretching your legs for 25 minutes or figure you've earned the luxury of a seven-minute cab ride.


Stop Five: Thirsty Messiah

 

Our penultimate stop on this epic journey is one of two breweries to open in the area within a few weeks of each other in 2023. Thirsty Messiah was opened by Thomas Delgatto, a chippie by trade and a homebrewing veteran of some 40-years plus.

His brewpub is home to 40 taps, upon which he mixes traditional beer styles – it's within a kick off the football stadium, after all – with a rotating lineup of the more unusual and unique, such as a Sour Mulberry Mead and Ukrainian imperial stout aged in ex-wine barrels from the Hunter Valley. 

With that many taps, there's something for pretty much everyone, so grab a beer, see if you can commandeer the huge couch in the window, and enjoy what Thirsty Messiah has to offer.

Quench your thirst at 140 Lambton Road, Broadmeadow, before commencing your final, sub-20-minute, walk past the McDonald Jones stadium to...


Stop Six: Grainfed Brewery

 

Given the way the city's brewing scene has exploded into life in recent years, Thirsty Messiah didn't hold the mantle of Newcastle's newest brewpub for long. Within a few weeks, that had passed to the city's oldest craft brewing company.

Confused? Don't be. Grainfed launched their first beer – Sneaky One – back in 2012, but it wasn't until June 2023 that Lachlan MacBean and his family finally threw open the doors of their own brewery venue, having spent the intervening period building a reputation across the city and further – but not too much further – afield for his finely-honed recipes.

You can read all about Lachie's epic journey here, or just head into the brewpub to taste the results for yourself. Their Lambton venue celebrates the building's and brewing's past, as well as the city they chose to make their home, while the beers are just one element in their mission to create a community taproom loved by locals.

Bring your Crafty Crawl to a close at 1/52 Young Road, Lambton.


Newy’s Best Bottleshops

 

If you are in town for a quick stay, don’t have time to get out to do much exploring, but are eager to stock your fridge with local brews, then these are the best bottleshops in the region.

  • The Bottle-O, 41-45 Griffiths Road, Lambton: You’ll gasp when you wander in here as it’s a mixture of Aladdin’s Cave and the ancient Alexandria Library that has everything – or so it would seem. There are beers from every corner of the world: some you’ve heard of, but have never come across before; some you never knew existed; and some you can’t get hold of in many other places. All are curated by a very knowledgeable team that's been around for a long time.
  • Tighes Hill Cellars, 1 Tighes Terrace, Tighes Hill: Touted as the "craft beer superstore", this bottleshop certainly lives up to its moniker. A super-friendly and knowledgeable crew will guide you through all their beer fridges while pointing out the collaborations they’ve created with breweries in the state. A huge supporter of all local breweries/distilleries/venues/delis, Tighes Hill Cellars is an excellent place to stock up on Newcastle legends.
  • The Prince of Merewether, 1 Morgan Street, Merewether: From small beginnings, where this writer purchased his first ever growler filled with Six String Saison then promptly smashed it in the back of his wife’s brand new car, The Prince’s bottleshop continues to grow. Stuffed full of all the latest craft beers, complete with an eight-tap growler station, where once there were just two fridges at the start of the craft beer boom. Another superb team will guide you through the dazzling array of choices. (pictured above)
  • Kahibah Liquor Stax, Corner Burwood & Glebe Streets, Kahibah: With more tourists picking up accommodation in Charlestown and its surrounding suburbs on the outskirts of Newcastle, it’s always handy to know where the local craft beer is stocked. KLS is fast making a reputation for itself as the finest purveyor in the area with a friendly team guided by one of the best managers in the bottleshop scene.
  • Warners at the Bay Bottleshop, 320 Hillsborough Road, Warners Bay: A legend in the industry, the original bottleshop with more than 1,000 different beers and the place to which Sydneysiders would drive more two hours in order to stock up on beers they couldn’t source in their city when the craft beer revolution started. It’s still the heavyweight venue in the area, complete with five-tap growler station and multiple fridges brimming with bottles and cans from all over the world.

You'll find part I here, and can check out other Crafty Crawls here. You'll also find all the venues above in the free Crafty Pint app, designed to help you find your nearest good beer wherever you are in Australia.

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