The Beer Reviews: Great Aussie pubs

Mark Chipperfield

Loved and loathed in equal measure the great Aussie pub is an indelible part of our social landscape. Or is it? The typical Victorian-era pub with its wooden counter, beer taps and front parlour is fast becoming a rarity. Its place is being taken by the “sports bar” or, more typically, a TAB masquerading as a pub.

Conversation and a well-poured beer – the pre-requisites of any great pub experience – is becoming increasingly rare. A good reason, therefore, to honour those publicans who are brave enough to swim against the corrupting tide of flat screen televisions, house cocktails and poker machines.

Here are some of my favourites:


The Local Taphouse, St Kilda
Like its Darlinghurst sibling, The Local is a shrine to craft beer – you’ll find 20 on tap, plus many exotic bottles behind the bar. Warm, convivial and well run. Does it get any better?


Baden Powell Hotel Collingwood
Another “back to the future” pub, combining an iconic location, scintillating blackboard menu, wine by the glass and oodles of atmosphere. Eight craft beers on tap.


Breakfast Creek Hotel, Brisbane
Queensland’s cathedral of beer, steak and trade unionism has been around since 1889 and just keeps on getting better. Don’t miss a XXX poured from the famous wooden keg.


Riverview Hotel, Balmain
A good selection of tap beers – including Vale Ale – an open fire, enthusiastic staff and the most tasteful of renovations make this Balmain gem an absolute winner.


Sail & Anchor, Fremantle
This grand Freo pub played a vital part in our micro-brewing history. Sadly, the house brewery is no more, but there are plenty of local craft beers available in the elegant front bar.


Prairie Hotel, Parachilna
Famous for its “feral food”, this is the pub from central casting: boisterous, eccentric and full of good cheer. Apart from emu, yabbies and quandongs, you can also get a Coopers here.


Knopwood’s Retreat, Hobart
Every third building in Salamanca Place is a pub, but “Knoppies” is the most popular. The former brothel (true) has half a dozen beers on tap – that’s if you can reach the bar.


The Daniel O’Connell, North Adelaide
Adelaide is the last refuge of the Victorian-era pub and this one is a corker. There are two bars and eight beers on tap, including Guinness and Kilkenny, plus live Irish music.


The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, The Rocks
Okay this is not the most intimate boozer in Sydney, but the house beers are consistently good, well poured and served in proper glasses. Don’t miss the Victory Bitter.


Innamincka Hotel, Innamincka
The desert sure gives a man a thirst. Popular with the grey nomads, this ramshackle outback pub has just about everything, including ice-cold beer and a pet pig called Greg.

Can you nominate a great Aussie pub?