Back in the UK, I was spoiled with the selection of pubs on my doorstep (oh, how I miss the Kingston and its cookies). Finding a replacement second home out here in Sydney has been high on my list of priorities, though the standard corner pub combination of pokies, big screen sports and Toohey’s New just doesn’t quite cut it. One of a few beacons of light in the otherwise disappointing Sydney offering (yes, the small bars are amazing, but they’re just not pubs) is the Local Taphouse on Flinders Street in Darlinghurst.
The Taphouse takes its beer seriously, with 20 rotating taps showcasing an ever changing range of local and international craft beers, lagers and ciders and a long bottle list in case any of those don’t take your fancy. In the downstairs bar, underneath the signs suggesting that you “DRINK BEER” (don’t mind if I do) they have one beer pumped through the ‘funky brewster’, adding additional flavour to further enhance the beer – on my last visit the Lindemans framboise came with an added raspberry punch resulting in the perfect gateway beer.
Food is also plentiful, with pizzas, burgers and some pub favourites on offer. The towering burger complete with extreme onion ring and served with beer battered potato and sweet potato wedges is impressive and has been won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Pub Food Best Burger for a couple of years running. Not having done an exhaustive search, I can’t comment on whether or not that’s warranted, but it’s certainly a great pub burger. Smaller dishes including koftas and meatballs are generously portioned and good value.
More than just a temple for beer-loving Sydneysiders, the Taphouse also promotes beer appreciation through its events, and a couple of Sundays ago we headed over to their Ale Stars evening, a monthly meeting of beer geeks that brings together a few beers and brewers and throws in a bit of trivia and pizzas for some fun times. This evening welcomed Kjetil Jikiun from Norwegian brewery Nøgne ø, the unapologetic, uncompromising craft brewery founded by an airline pilot wanting to bring craft beer to Scandinavia. We tried four beers and heard plenty of war stories.
The Brown Ale (4.5%) is one of Nøgne ø’s session ales (an alcohol level sufficiently low to be sold in Norway’s supermarkets). With a huge variety of malts involved, there’s a sweet malty background with a hoppy high note. In contrast, the Saison (6.5%) makes yeast the star resulting in a banana flavour with hints of citrus. My favourite for the evening was the Porter (7%), a fruity, malty, hoppy, roasty and rich. I’m told it might sit on the border between a Porter and a Stout – all I know is that I liked it. The final beer for the evening was the Imperial IPA #500 (10%). This was surprisingly sweet, almost syrupy with plenty of citrus high notes. Out to please the craft beer aficionados, this was definitely not sessionable – and perhaps that’s the point: beer made with passion should be savoured, and if you identify with that, there aren’t many better places in Sydney than the Taphouse.
Ale Stars events take place once a month, and can be booked in advance from the Taphouse website. Tickets are $30 each, with four generous tastes of beer, pizza, chips and plenty of beer chat.
The Local Taphouse
122 Flinders St, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010