Find your new favourite brew, cider or spirit on this refreshingly unique Hunter Valley trail
The Hunter Valley may be synonymous for wine but if wine tastings aren’t big on your to-do-list, don’t despair. A number of breweries have opened their doors and are eagerly awaiting to serve you a cold one. Taste your way around these local ale and cider producers and the Hunter’s very own spirit distillery.
Ironbark Hill Brewhouse
694 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin
Serving a variety of Australian pales and international styles of ale on tap, Ironbark Hill Brewhouse is a great place to start your beer tasting journey. The brewery also has lager, stout, pilsner and English bitter (affectionately known as ‘Brexit’) as well as pear cider on tap.If you’re not sure where to start, order a tasting paddle for $15 which has 4 x 200ml drops to warm up your taste buds.Beer enthusiasts can even bring their own growler and have it filled with any beer on tap. If you’re hungry, the Brewhouse serves a variety of bar snacks, pizzas and burgers to help start the day right.
Image credit @josephine.labelle
Matilda Bay Brewhouse
Corner Hermitage Road & Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin
Formerly the stomping ground of the Bluetongue Brewery, Matilda Bay Brewhouse, located within Hunter Valley Resort, offers 12 craft beers for tasting including well-known labels Fat Yak and Redback. While not actually a working brewery, the brewhouse is nonetheless a nice spot for a refreshing ale, alcoholic ginger beer or cider. The tasting paddle features 6 x 80ml brews of your choice and costs $15, plus you get a free middy when you return the paddle! Traditional brewhouse fare with an Italian flavour can be ordered at the bar and enjoyed there or outside in the courtyard.
1686 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
The Hunter Distillery is a great way to break-up your beer/cider tastings. A certified organic distiller, the Hunter Distillery produces a huge array of vodka’s and gin’s including their award-winning Copperwave Gin as well as a few liqueurs. How do you responsibly “taste” Spirits you ask? Tastings here are done from a test tube which is just a little bit fun and costs $5, redeemable when you buy something. With so many delicious spirits to choose from, there’s a fair chance you will.
Hope Estate Brewery
2213 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
The Brewery at Hope Estate opened its doors roughly five years ago and produces around 12 beers ranging from their large collection of pale ales to Berliner-Weisse style fruit flavoured sours. One of the larger brewers in the Valley, Hope’s menu also features lagers, a gluten-free Pilsner and if you’re feeling adventurous, a Choc Milk flavoured Porter. A paddle here will set you back $12 for 4 tasters. You can also purchase mixed 6-packs (cans) of seasonal beer to take away and if you’d like a memento or plan on returning, refillable branded ceramic steins and glass squealers.
Pokolbin Cider House
2320 Broke Rd, Pokolbin
Overlooking the mountain ranges and vineyards on Broke Road is the Pokolbin Cider House, a boutique operation offering visitors a small but tasty range of ciders made from apple, pear and other pear/fruit blends. The ciders on taste here are all fermented in bottle and range from dry to slightly sweet with no added sugar. They’re available in five different flavours including the popular original draught (apple) cider and pear and passionfruit blend. They’ve also recently introduced ‘Pear Nat’, a 100% natural pear cider that’s refreshingly crisp – a good option to cleanse the palate!
430 Wine Country Dr, Lovedale
If you’re a Sydney-sider, chances are you’ve heard of or visited Sydney Brewery’s Surry Hills brewhouse. The Hunter brewery, located within the grounds of the Crowne Plaza at Lovedale won’t disappoint. The Brewery offers a decent range of seasonal craft beers on tap including the popular Lovedale Lager and Sydney Cider.If you’re keen to learn more about the brewing process, Sydney Brewery also offers brewery tours. Feeling peckish? The Lovedale Bar next door serves up pizza, burgers and other beer friendly bar snacks that should do the trick.
Hunter Beer Co.
Cnr Wine Country Dr & Fleming St, Nulkaba
The last and very worthy stop on the beer trail is the Hunter Beer Co. (HBC) located at Potters Brewery. HBC might be a small operation but they certainly punch above their weight making some quality brews. Walking into the brewery, you’ll find a massive acacia bar table centrepiece. You'll find the actual copper stills that house their popular pale ale, and Bock dark lager right next to the bar area, they’re so close you can hear them working their magic, brewing Kolsch (another favourite) and the Slaked Magpie, a vanilla milk porter which has quite the cult following. Incidentally, this is the only place in the Hunter and perhaps the country, where the actual brewers are onsite 7 days a week to pour your beers and have a chat.
A tasting paddle at HBC costs $12 for 4 x 200ml glasses and comes with complimentary bar nibbles. Enjoy your brew at the bar, with a game of pool in the adjoining beer garden or head over to the Tavern for some classic pub fare.