INTERACTIVE: Craft beer in the Hunter

ANTICIPATION: Corey Crooks from The Grain Store, formerly The View Factory, in Newcastle East. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

WHILE Hunter Old will always hold a place in the hearts of Novocastrians, craft beer is increasingly filling the glasses of punters across Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

More than ever pubs, bars and eateries are increasing their selection of tap and bottled craft beers, while crowds have flocked to dedicated beer events such as Newcastle’s Craft Beer Week, the Taste Of the World Beer Festival and Bitter and Twisted.

Newcastle even led the country in December with the opening of the first of James Squire’s new “brew bars” in the The Squire’s Maiden at Honeysuckle.

Just months later, the highly-anticipated The Grain Store has opened at the former View Factory site in Newcastle’s East End (64-66 Scott Street, Newcastle East).

Long-time leaders in the Newcastle craft beer scene, and former licensees at The Albion, Corey and Kristy Crooks are behind the craft beer cafe which sells 100 per cent Australian-owned and brewed beer.

With 20 beers on tap and two hand pumps, the Grain Store boasts craft beer taps taking in everything from pilsner to IPA, Smoked Porter or Dry stout and everything in between. Check their website (grainstorenewcastle杭州夜网 and Facebook page (facebook杭州夜网m/GrainStoreBar) for regular updates on the beers on offer.

The conversion of the building into a craft beer cafe is a perfect fit for the site which is said to have been built by J.T. Toohey (of Tooheys Brewery) in 1885. It was used as a grain and keg storage facility and acted as the Newcastle depot.

There are plenty of other places in the Hunter Valley to sample a drop, starting with Crooks’s former stomping ground The Albion (72 Hannell Street,Wickham) which has an impressive selection of craft beers on tap. In fact, last year’s total number of taps was 512, with this year’s total already upwards of 200.

It’s worth trying a few of the beers in a tasting paddle ($13 for four beers in a 200ml serve for each beer, a $2 surcharge is applied to some of the more expensive beers) to wash down with delicious house-made pork crackle. In just one paddle you can go from lagers and kolschs through to stouts and Belgian strong ales.

In Honeysuckle, The Squire’s Maiden (11 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle) has plenty of James Squire’s offerings on tap such as the Stowaway IPA, Nine Tales Amber Ale and the Jack of Spades Porter. Silo Restaurant & Lounge (18/1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle) also has a selection of draught beers, as well as a bottled list of several Belgian, German, Austrian, American and Scottish beers.

The Landing Bar & Kitchen (1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle) has a large selection of craft beers in bottle and on tap, with a focus on Australian brewers such as Murray’s, Stone & Wood, Moo Brew, 4 Pines and Mountain Goat.

The rising popularity of craft beer has even prompted The Landing to launch a series of beer lunches, which will be a two-course meal with featured beers.

The first lunch features Balmain Brewing Company on June 28.

In the CBD, The Clarendon (347 Hunter Street, Newcastle) also features craft brews such as Stone & Wood’s Mash Collective on guest taps.

In the ‘burbs of Newcastle, The Burwood Inn (77 Berner Street, Merewether) has 15 beers on tap including locally-made Grainfed.

Also in Merewether, The Mary Ellen (57 Railway Street) has 25 beers on tap including craft beers, traditional brews and more. The hotel also has a craft beer of the week.

Venturing further afield, Morpeth’s Commercial Hotel (127 Swan Street, Morpeth) is home to Morpeth Brewery & Beer Co which operates a micro-brewery on the hotel premises. The artisan brewery produces all-natural beers from the finest quality ingredients, with no additives or preservatives. The beers are even naturally carbonated.

Maitland’s Fox Bar (274 High Street) carries a selection of more than 25 craft beers, in addition to their wine and cocktail list.

In the Hunter Valley, The Hunter Beer Co is located at the Potters Hotel Brewery Resort (Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba). The brewery has several signature beers including the Hunter Kolsch and Hunter Witbier as well as seasonal beers such as the Chocolate Porter and Christmas Cheer.

There is also the Bluetongue Brewery Cafe at Hunter Resort (Hermitage Road, Pokolbin), where a beer-tasting paddle can guide you through a few different brews.

And finally, we can’t forget Port Stephens’ Murray’s Craft Brewing Co (3443 Nelson Bay Road, Bobs Farm), with their famous Whale Ale and Angry Man brews.

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