Marrickville is indisputably the hub of Sydney’s brewing scene. It’s evolved to the point where it’s now the epicentre from which Sydney’s good beer movement flows.
Now that we’re well into 2018 it’s a good opportunity to take the pulse of the city’s brewing heartland and document a moment in time which we can look back on in the future.
Breweries in Marrickville
A logical place to start would be the breweries. A relatively young brewery like The Grifter now seems an established part of the Marrickville brewing scene, while Batch Brewing Co is virtually an old dog that continues to teach itself new tricks, adapting as the market shifts.
Wildflower has exploded onto the scene in the last year and looks set to be a major part of defining beer in Sydney. Sauce, another newbie, has invested heavily to make a mark locally. BlackFont remains a small, family run operation producing outstanding beer in the smallest of locations.
Stockade is based in Smeaton Grange but the brewery’s plans to open a barrel room just a stone’s throw away from Batch is the industry’s worst kept secret.
Elsewhere Bucket Boys is building an end-to-end beer company and can definitely be considered a local brewery label. The Bucket Boys brewers started brewing their beers at nearby Willie The Boatman (technically in St. Peters but a short walk from Batch).
Philter is a gypsy brewer that’s already building a local following but currently brewing up in the Hunter Valley. A big summer could see Philter step closer to establishing a Marrickville home. Shenanigans also gypsy brews but is a staple of the inner west scene, centred around Marrickville and nearby Enmore.
Bottle Shops & Venues
Bucket Boys is the stand out bottle shop and beer bar in Marrickville. The venue is usefully positioned a short walk from Marrickville station.
Down the road from The Grifter is The Vic which has a strong local beer offering and not far from there is The Henson, one of Sydney’s best community and beer pubs.
There are other small bars such as Gasoline Pony and even a home brew shop in The Hop & Grain. There’s certainly a breadth of other beer venues but perhaps not a depth.
Somewhat ironically, Marrickville could present challenges for new beer-focused venues precisely because there are so many breweries. Most local breweries have developed excellent or at least unique cellar door experiences. With beer as fresh as it’s possible to get, it’s a hard task for a beer focused venue to compete with them.
The exception seems to be Bucket Boys which has quickly grown its reputation for being a high quality bottle shop with an eclectic mix of beers. The owners Johnathan and Clint have carried this through to the upstairs bar which has one of the most exciting beer lists around. It’s right up there with Bitter Phew as having one of the best bottle lists in Sydney.
The Growth So Far
When it comes to measuring growth, let’s start by looking back over the last few years. I mentioned that The Grifter now seems an established part of the Marrickville scene but they only opened their brewery venue in late 2015. Things have grown quickly. We’ve seen Batch expand capacity and renovate its taproom while other breweries have opened with cellar door offerings.
Likewise Bucket Boys, another established part of the local beer community, has only been trading since 2016. The growth in the last twelve months has been extraordinary.
One of the reasons Marrickville has become a centre for good beer in Sydney is the size of the suburb. It covers a large area and combines both commercial and residential property. It means there’s room for breweries to operate in large spaces that are close enough to residential areas so people have easy access to taprooms.
Future Growth Of Beer In Marrickville
Looking to the future, we might not see a spread of more breweries and venues. We could however see a deepening of their control on the local market and expansion within individual breweries. Perhaps one day we’ll see Batch up sticks to a bigger location to keep up with demand.
As the suburb continues to gentrify (and there’s a separate debate around the pros and cons of that), Marrickville seems ripe to act as a catalyst for the growth of good beer.
The large local population can hardly miss the breweries on their doorstep and even if they do, more and more pubs around the inner west will be carrying a couple of craft taps. Marrickville could be a centre for the overall growth of the segment, increasing the slice of the pie that independent breweries takes from overall beer sales.
Centre For Beer Tourism
Marrickville looks set to be an attractive prospect for beer tourism. To some extent it already is with Dave’s Brewery Tours making the most of the close proximity of so many breweries.
In fact, Dave’s Travel & Events Group, winners at the 2017 NSW Tourism Awards, are based in the suburb. It’s also the company that effectively operates Sydney Beer Week which itself sees multiple events hosted in Marrickville.
This attraction can be extended to intercity beer tourism. For beer lovers based outside of the Metro area, even in other capital cities, Marrickville is going to be the first port of call when visiting Sydney.For beer lovers based outside of the Metro area, Marrickville is going to be the first port of call when visiting Sydney. Click To Tweet
All we need now is for GABS to find a suitable venue in the suburb and the label of Craft Beer Capital will be confirmed. (That’s a flippant comment. The move of GABS to Olympic Park was an important step in opening good beer to the western suburbs.)
Absorbing The Focus
All this raises a question as to whether it’s a good thing that Marrickville absorbs so much of the focus for beer in Sydney. For the community of brewers and landlords in the suburb it is a good thing for their businesses. It’s conducive to collaboration and shared learning and growth. It’s something we’ve seen in wine regions around the world.
Will this suck in a lot of the cash from other regions where there are beer businesses trying to establish themselves? Perhaps initially but overall it should increase awareness of good beer around the city as these breweries send their kegs further afield. The growth of beer hotspots in Portland, Wellington and London hasn’t had a negative impact on other nearby beer businesses.
The Verdict On Beer In Marrickville In 2018
The verdict? Marrickville’s good beer scene is thriving and looks set to continue that way. The impact of it becoming a beer hub can only be positive, particularly in the immediate future.Marrickville's good beer scene is thriving and looks set to continue that way. Click To Tweet
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