The spiritual home of one of Sydney’s oldest breweries is nestled in a perfectly quiet corner of The Rocks.
Famously the settling point for Europeans, it’s no surprise then that the pub and brewery maintains a very British feel. Signs of the maritime and regal history are prominently displayed. This is reflected in the beer as well as the pub decor.
There are stone walls, open fires, a tall wooden bar and the trappings of a seafaring past with flags, pictures and ornaments.
The pub is small but there’s a restaurant (and even a hotel) upstairs. It’s the ground floor where the real action is though.
It’s small but cozy and the bar itself is of the traditional English variety. It’s ornate and wooden with glasses hanging around and plenty of taps up close to the punters.
Lord Nelson’s flagship (excuse the pun) beer is their Three Sheets Pale Ale, with a strong malt character, mild bitterness and some decent fruity hop aroma.
They have other pale ales, such as their Trafalgar which is more of an English bitter, but where the brewery really shines is in their darker ales.
Old Admiral is a big 6.1% ABV dark ale with some biscuity and raisin flavours. It’s quite light bodied.
Nelson’s Blood, their porter, is my personal favourite. I’ve drunk many pints of this at the pub and I will again. It has a smashing toffee character and some of the raisin flavours from Old Admiral but turned up a bit.
It’s rich and creamy with lovely head retention. This is definitely my go to Lord Nelson beer. Unfortunately it’s not available in bottles, but is well worth trying fresh from the pub.
Also worth trying is the Victory Bitter, a solid malty English Pale Ale, which is a fine example of the style (and available in six packs around Sydney).
I’ve had mixed experience with the Quayle Ale, which is somewhere between a pale/summer ale and a wheat ale. It’s quite fruity but I’ve tasted a degree of tartness which I’m not sure is intentional.
Lord Nelson also brews a variety of seasonal ales so it’s worth checking the taps to see what’s on when you’re there as you might get to try something which is a one off.
The pub can get very busy, particularly on a Friday night after 5pm. This is to be expected but the throngs of suited men who get increasingly rowdy every hour might put off some punters.
It’s good to get there early on a weekend, find a table and take your time choosing your beer. There’s a good array of bar snacks and obviously a full menu in the restaurant.
On a cold winter’s day there aren’t many places I’d prefer to be than sat by the fire in a cozy pub with a pint of porter. This is the ideal spot for it.
The staff are attentive and work quickly, although it would be nice if they engaged a bit more in discussing the beers. This is probably the biggest missing piece for me, and while it’s understandable that they don’t on a crazy Friday night, a Sunday afternoon leaves a bit more opportunity for this to happen.
Otherwise, it’s a fantastic old style pub (which is something I think there’s more room for in Sydney) with an exceptional range of beers. It’s also in walking distance of some fantastic other venues so if you wanted to make a day/night of it you could have an impressive pub crawl.
Aside from the maritime themes, it looks like the type of local pub you’d find in a small village in the Cotswolds in England. Homely, quaint and welcoming.
The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is one of those pubs to which you’ll return again and again. At least, I know I will.
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun: 12pm-10pm
Now Tapped!: https://nowtapped.com/lordnelsonbreweryhotel
Have you checked it out? Let me know in the comments what you thought and what beers you had. Also, you can subscribe to SydneyBeer to receive more tips on where to get your craft beer fix.