You’ve had a long day of sight seeing around Sydney, Australia. You’ve seen the opera house, the harbor bridge and ate a great lunch at one of the many fine restaurants in Circular Quay harbor. Or perhaps you’ve spent the day surfing (or trying to at least) at Bondi Beach. Either way, it’s time for a break and you are now ready to unwind in a very fun and unique way – a pub tour of The Rocks!
Come along then mate – let’s meet at Cadman’s cottage, the oldest house in Sydney and then just go for a bit of a stroll. C’mon, don’t worry about the rain, you’ll be inside soon enough! Look our guide has even brought us some fashionable rain ponchos – only thing is, the worst of the rain is now over! Wait, this is not a whine tour, it is all about beer.
Our first stop is an Irish pub. Why Irish? Why not! It’s just to get you situated. On tap we have a good selection of well known Irish beers. Our tour guides gives us an overview of what to expect on the tour and tells us about The Rocks. The Rocks was established shortly after the colony of Australia was formed in 1788. Original buildings are made mostly of local sandstone from which The Rocks gets its name. From the beginning, this harbor side neighborhood had a reputation as a slum, frequented by sailors and prostitutes. However, today we won’t see much of either during our pub tour. Many times in history, the plan was to demolish the and redevelop the area, however in the 1970’s politics came into play to renovate and not demolish. Now The Rocks is very popular with tourists, featuring a variety of craft and souvenir shops as well as many historic pubs. The Rocks are very close to Circular Quay (Sydney harbor area) and have great views of the Harbor bridge.
Our next stop is the Hero of Waterloo. It’s been here for 160 years or so, waiting for us to arrive – however the beer is definitely much more recent. You can see the sandstone walls both inside and out. There are many beers on tap at the Hero, but let’s focus on James Squire, named after the convict brewer, James Squire, who it is claimed created Australia’s first commercial brewery. On tap today we have the Nine Tales Amber Ale, The Chancer Golden Ale, One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale, Four Wives Pilsner and Jack of Spades Porter. You pick whichever you like, but I’m going for the One Fifty Lashes! It’s an excellent Aussie style Pale Ale, with 3 varieties of hops, including the New Zealand grown Nelson Sauvin, which is also now being used by several American craft breweries.
The beer is great, the atmosphere is conducive to tipping a few pints and the setting is absolutely historic. But you have to go to the basement to get the ultimate tale of this bar!
From the Hero of Waterloo website
“There are many stories surrounding The Hero. The best known is that of the tunnel which runs from the cellars of the hotel to the Harbor. The tunnel was used for rum smuggling and involuntary recruitment of sailors. A young man might find himself drunk at the bar, dropped through a trap door into the cellar, dragged through the tunnel, to awake next morning at sea shanghaied aboard a clipper, and so legend goes. A maze of stone cellars under The Hero bear silent witness to its nefarious past. This Historic Australian landmark is classified by the Heritage Council and The National Trust.”
The tunnel is cemented over, so we cannot use it today, but if this happened to you, you certainly would never forget your visit to the Hero of Waterloo! We paid for our beers, but if you go and are offered a free brew by a comely wench, you are on your own.
Now it is off to my favorite stop on the tour – The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. Everything you could need – food, beer and a place to sleep!. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s also the only Brewery in the world with a beer named after former United States Vice President Dan Quayle. Made famous in the states for not knowing how to spell “potatoes”, Dan is even less famous here (other than the beer of course) – go ahead search the web – you can find links to Quayle Ale, but nobody seems to know why it is called by this name. You can find out, but only if you go on the tour! Just because I don’t tell you why now, does not necessarily mean that I had too good of a time on the tour drinking the other fine beers at Lord Nelson, that I forgot the story. No does not mean that at all.
Look – here is a picture on the wall of Dan drinking beer at Lord Nelson’s. Can’t you just picture him spouting out one of his famous (mis)statements “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.” or “The future will be better tomorrow.” Again, how true for sure.
We will make one more stop on this tour at the Australian Hotel. The great thing about this place, is that if it were not raining we could sit outside.
Also – they have largest collection of Australian beer cans I’ve ever seen. OK, it’s the only one I’ve seen, but it is still large. The Australian hosts an annual Australian Beer Festival in October of each year. You may be thinking, when exactly is a good time to go to Australia? The seasons are opposite of what we have here in the states, so maybe go during the US winter. OK that could be a good idea, but really October sounds like a good time to go to me. The winner at the festival last year for best overall beer was Holgate Chocolate Temptress. Man that does sound tempting.
Now it’s the end of our tour in The Rocks. If you are reading this and looking for a special beer tour, please consider our travel agency exclusive custom tour “Microbrews & Other Tastes of Wisconsin”. For less than the cost of an average air ticket you can have an all-inclusive Wisconsin vacation in March of 2012. We hope to see you there!