Modus Operandi, what can we say? Stunning range, delicious food, beautiful, beachy, chilled-out brewery. We’ll get to our top 5 but let us set the scene!
Jaz and Grant are the husband and wife superstar founders of Modus who began this journey in 2012 checking out the US west coast craft beer scene in a motor-home for six months. Returning with buckets of beer knowledge – they collected one more souvenir, their head brewer, DJ. Since then they have turned an old industrial space into a welcoming and lively brewery, won all kinds of awards from Champion Medium Brewery to Champion IPA and won over the Australian public (if a top 10 pick on the 2015 GABs hottest 100 is anything to go by).
SO our picks:
No. 5: Sonic Prayer IPA
A very approachable beer for the style. Classic hoppy, fruity smell and taste without any overpowering bitterness. With an ABV of 6% you might even call it a session IPA.
No. 4: Silent Knight Porter
A deep dark ale with a smell that’s equal parts chocolate and coffee which is reflected in the taste. Keeping to the porter style, it has a very smooth mouthfeel but has quite a clean finish. The brewers said they were aiming for a sessionable dark beer and they’ve done it.
No. 3: Kite Flyer Ale
MO said it all when they described the beer as “lager-like in character” however the light, fruity aftertaste and smell sets it apart with hints of peach. Clearly the brightest and most thirst quenching of the range, if we had to call it something it’d probably be a golden ale.
No. 2: Layback Aussie Pale Ale
Wow. This is possibly THE most fragrant beer we’ve encountered so far. Cinnamon, tropical fruit and an undeniable whiff of sweet mary jane (not that we know what that smells like..). The taste is very similar which is often the sign of top brewing skills. It’s actually like a party in your mouth.
No. 1: Former Tennant Red IPA
This is the beer that put Modus on our radars. B-e-a-utiful. Red red colour, sweet and fruity on the nose with notes of plum. Tastes exactly the right amount of bitter and sweet with hints of spice. This beer is dangerously drinkable – dangerously because it sits at 7.8% abv. For us there was no surprise when it turned up in 9th place on the hottest 100 beers (and at that time it wasn’t even being bottled or canned for sale, only on taps!)
CBA Champion Australian Craft Beer 2014
CBA Champion Amber/Dark Ale 2014
The team here at SydneyOnTap loves beer and one of the highlights of doing what we do is getting to try lots of it. Sometimes though, you settle into a rut (for example, during summer our web editor only drinks Corona) and we think that the perfect solution has come in the form of Sydney Craft Beer Week. During SCBW, brewers go absolutely insane. They’re like werewolves and SCBW is the full moon. These brew-wolves come up with crazy, delicious, un-thinkable but incredibly drinkable beers, generally in collaboration with a bar or other business, make a dozen or two kegs of it and then throw it at the public and say “go nuts, we’re never making it again”.
So in the interest of getting you out of your beer-drinking rut, and paying homage to some of our beer-brewing friends, we’re proud to present the top 5 beers to try this Sydney Craft Beer Week (in order of whimsy).
1. Serpent’s Kiss Watermelon Pilsner - Brewed by Grifter Brewing Co. in collaboration with Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice.
Serpent’s Kiss (4.4%) is a thoroughly unique brew. We first got to try it at the opening gala for SCBW, and we were blown away. It has a light bouquet, nearly sweet but not quite, and it tastes exactly - and I mean exactly - like watermelon juice. I can’t imagine a more apt crazy summer beer than this.
2. Utopian Devil Amber Ale - Brewed by NOMAD Brewing Co. in collaboration with Utopia Records & (again) Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice.
I have a theory that beer brewers sometimes taste something - a food, a drink, whatever really - and go “Hmm that’s nice. Would be nicer as a beer though” and then get to work trying to make it happen. The nose on this beer is earthy and welcoming, and the taste has hints of warm honey. Sweet but not overly, Utopian Devil (5.5%) sends me back to the first time I visited a honey farm when I was a kid. Also worth noting that NOMAD’s head brewer told us they’re probably going to keep making it after craft beer week! #cheerin’
3. Funky B. Bear - Brewed by 4 Pines in collaboration with The Blind Bear.
Funky B. Bear (7%) packs a punch. A white IPA, it goes down easy. Its apricot overtones aren’t over-the-top but they’re definitely one of a kind. 4 Pines are one of our favourite breweries (and we said why many times in our 4 Pines/Botany View article) and they continue to make fantastic beers even in stiff competition (like during SCBW).
4. Brickworks Red Ale - Brewed by 4 Pines in collaboration with The Botany View Hotel.
Speaking of the BVH, their Brickworks Red Ale (5.5%) is fantastic. This was the beer we actually watched get brewed at the 4 Pines brewery so we were excited to see how it turned out, and we weren’t disappointed at all. It has a light mouth-feel, very smooth, and isn’t as caramel-y as you’d expect a red ale to be. The team behind this one adapted it to fit the hot Australian climate in which SCBW takes place.
5. Schwartzenlager - Sydney Brewery in collaboration with Keg & Brew and Dove & Olive
Schwartzenlager (6.4%) - beyond being a fantastic name for a beer - is a Californian-style lager, using exclusively west coast hops, brewed with all the love & passion you’d expect from the people who would name their beer “Schwartzenlager”. It’s a great beer that you can easily knock back a few schooners of. It’s not a particularly “out there” brew, but I think this is a beer connoisseur’s beer - if you’re picky about what you drink and you need something to go back to all night, this is the beer for you.
Also we’re adding in a bonus #6 and you’ll see why...
6. Double IPA - Batch Brewing Co in collaboration with Sydney Craft Beer Week
Okay, I’m gonna be honest, we haven’t tried the Double IPA (8.3%). They only put on 1 keg per day, and they only tell you which bar that keg is going to on the day itself. We’ve been trying to co-ordinate to get to a bar with one but we just can’t seem to get it. All the reports I’ve heard have been amazing though, and throughout the week we’re gonna be looking for it. If you try it let us know what you think! (and also tell us where the hell it is)
So that’s our top 5 (+1). We’ve certainly left off some spectacular beers and we’re looking forward to trying as many as possible over the next week. If you’ve tried something good that we should also try, let us know. If not, what are you waiting for? Go drink (responsibly).
The 8th of October 2015 saw Sydney on Tap’s charismatic yet fearless leader Jack Jones throw on the T-shirt adorned with the U.G.L.Y. Bartender logo and host Sydney on Tap’s first charity event. The Horse and Jockey in Homebush was the host venue and let me tell you what a night of beer tasting we had in front of us. On the agenda were five beers expertly complimented with a three course meal, beer trivia and a raffle that gave away more beer than we all collectively drank (and there were a lot of us there).
The night was kicked off by a Fat Yak as the chatter got louder. The Ugly Bartender gave a brief introduction to the night and told us about what we were drinking and why we liked it before running us through the tried and true Sydney on Tap beer rating formula: Look, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel, Overall - a method that had been passed down across generations of beer enthusiasts and has never failed to gain an accurate result. Ever the gentleman, ol’ JJ expressed his gratitude for our attendance and threw in a few snappy remarks before it got too sentimental - we were here for beer after all (and charity of course).
Understanding he held all the power tonight and could withhold and deliver that golden liquid to the masses of his own free will like some sort of benevolent god, Jack sauntered to the bar and emerged with a Big Head Lager and our first course - a tangy salt and pepper squid served in individual oyster pails (a fancy word for Chinese food box which I definitely did not just Google) that the lager perfectly complimented, counteracting the saltiness of the squid with a crisp, aromatic taste and feel.
Each time a new beer was served Jack would take to the stage and give us the rundown, providing us with a complementary history of the beer we would be drinking next. Drinks, history and free hats (did I mention there were free hats?) and we had only had two beers so far. Just as we began to get the “so, another round?” vibe, beer #3 made its appearance. Cricketer’s Arms IPA was the beer of choice and with it came its accompanying meal: a pub classic, an Australian tradition, none other than a chicken parmigiana. As soon as the words left his mouth, a stream of waiters emerged with our meals and beers. There would be no waiting around for a meal here. As soon as we found out what we’d be eating, we’d be eating it. The geniuses behind the night really knew their stuff: every beer we paired with food was the perfect fit - everything complimented everything else. Even though I’m not a big fan of IPA’s I found myself marvelling at how much I enjoyed the pairing.
Jack then decided to break up the night a little and host a small round of pub trivia - all beer related questions of course, with each correct answer being rewarded with some fitting prizes: footballs, beer coolers - the kind of stuff you’d take to a place where you’d be drinking. Not only was this trivia engaging and lively, but we all learned a thing or two. For example, Russia decided to finally recognise beer as an alcohol in the year of Our Lord…2013. The lowest guess was around the 1910s. Little off.
With the trivia winners satisfied with their prizes and those without cursing themselves for not researching more before they came, Jack announced a raffle with a shroud of mystery as to what the prizes would be (beer). Many a guest would inquire as to the nature of the prizes (beer), and yet Jack remained as elusive as ever, telling us we would have to wait and see what we would be getting if we were to be so lucky (it was beer).
Beer #4 was on the horizon, a White Rabbit Dark Ale paired with a slice of chocolate mud cake. Never having had a beer with a desert before, I found myself pleasantly surprised at how nicely the bitterness of the ale complimented the sweetness of the chocolate - an experience I never thought would work. It goes to show how important getting the right beer is in really enhancing a meal.
Before our final beer of the night, Jack took to the stage to declare the raffle winners. Out of 70+ tickets purchased, Jack seemed to give away what seemed like 30 prizes (they were all beers). Almost everyone came out a winner, including Sydney on Tap’s Emma Campbell, who upon purchasing 12 tickets finally came away with a single 6 pack of Big Head Lager.
With their newly earned loot sitting in front of them, the guests were treated to one last beer of the night - the unique, dark, coffee-infused beer Seedy Goat by Mountain Goat. Upon Jack’s insistence that this beer did not keep him awake, he signed off with a huge thank you for attendance and money raised. A huge round of applause followed and then Jack was straight back to work, leaving everyone else to reflect on the success of the night whilst finishing off a great selection of beers left over.
Of course we couldn’t talk about the night without a big thanks to the H&J staff for hosting and preparing the food, Jack for choosing the beer pairings, and the Leukaemia foundation for the all the wonderful work they do and for finding such a cool way to do it (we love charity, we love beer, let’s do this again sometime).
As always, feel free to hit us up on Facebook or Instagram to keep up to date with what’s going on at Sydney On Tap.
There’s nothing like drinking in Australia in the springtime: the sun is out, the flowers are blooming and the assault squadron of magpies is out in full force. So throw on the ice-cream bucket hats, step outside and get ready to explore the top 3 most viewed bars for the month of September.
No. 3: The Agincourt
A short walk from Central Station, The Agincourt has a classic pub feel to it. Well-priced pub food and a $4.50 beer/wine happy hour from 4-6pm, making it an ideal place to knock a couple back after work. A great place to a catch a game, hang out or enjoy a classic pub meal with a solid selection of beers and ciders.
No. 2: Two & Twelve
This place is so damn pretty it’s worth a visit just to sit in it (though why not buy a beer while you’re at it?). A bright feel to the place and a short walk to Bondi Beach, this American inspired bar has a small but unique range of beers on tap and offers $5 drinks during happy hour (5-7pm). Two & Twelve is all style all class and is great for a warm afternoon or evening.
No. 1: Botany View Hotel
If you’re a craft beer fan (and you’re here so why wouldn’t you be) then the BVH as we call it is the place to be. With a whopping 26 taps that run the length of the bar, any and all beer connoisseurs will be happy here. A Monday-Friday 4-6pm happy hour makes this place a great all-rounder with a great selection of food and an open feel with a quaint outdoor area upstairs. Order a beer between 6-8pm and they shout it for you if you can identify a shot of a random beer whilst blindfolded. The BVH is also known to play host to a certain beer review website’s tasting nights on occasion. With its extensive range and great feel, it’s no surprise the Botany View Hotel is our number 1 most-viewed for this month.
If you want to keep up to date with the bars we're checking out, feel free to follow Sydney On Tap on Facebook or Instagram.
Hey, my name is Jeremy and I’m new to SydneyOnTap. I’m not what you’d call one of your fancy “beer connoisseurs” or “alcoholics” but I’d like to think I can tell a decent beer from a dud. I’m typically a pale ale kinda guy, but give me a bottle or a glass of any kind and if I take a sip and raise my eyebrows as if to say “mate,” we’ve got a winner.
The Chancer Golden Ale
For me, this is the quintessential afternoon beer. It’s a lazy Saturday and you don’t really have anywhere to be. You split a case with a bunch of friends and, after deciding that 1:30pm is an appropriate time, crack open your first one. It’s refreshing, drinkable, and tastes like the sunset you decide to watch once sufficiently buzzed.
Young Henry’s Real Ale
This was one of the first beers I tasted as a SydneyOnTap member and we instantly made a connection. It is beautiful and brown like a newborn pup but tastes more or less like a very good beer. Mostly, however, it tastes of…acceptance.
Kosciuszko Pale Ale
With its alluring and passionfruity taste, Kosciuszko is as grand as its mountainous namesake. Best enjoyed as a jug shared amongst close friends in a familiar yet dimly lit pub, this nectar goes down as smooth as the gently merry conversation it spawns.
This month’s beers for the tastin’ came from Victorian brewers Prickly Moses. Overall we found the beers easy to drink with a fairly mild taste. The exception to this being the malty, bitter and complex Black Panther IBA – India BLACK Ale. We felt pretty spesh when we discovered this bottle was sent to us before it was even sent to the dedicated Prickly Moses Brewhouse in Apollo Bay, cheers guys.
This month we are also introducing our newest member, the one and only Emma Campbell who is going to be bringing you Cider of The Month, every month, forever.
Finally a big thanks to Belle Wilson for being our latest special guest, some say she’s Jake’s girlfriend others say Jake’s her boyfriend, either way we’re happy she was there.
And with that here’s everyone’s Prickly Moses picks:
Beau: Otway Ale
“A potent and delicious ale”
Andrew and Emma: Summer Ale
“Fruity with a soft punch”
Pat, Jake and Belle: Chainsaw
“Flowers in midsummer, but beer though”
“Texas Chainsaw 4D: Citrus-Face”
Jack: Otway Stout
“Good start to darks, real drinkable”
To get details on when the next public tasting is, check out the SydneyOnTap Facebook or Instagram pages (we also post a lot of pretty pictures of bars).
To a cider drinker, Strongbow is like the Carlton Draught of ciders. It’s not necessarily your favourite cider in all the orchard, but it’s Fine. And, most importantly, it is not Five Seeds (but that’s another story).
Some backstory: I turned 18 when the cider boom was reaching its peak. Strongbow was kind of (but not reliably) available on tap, but more likely than not, you had to suck it up and pay for a bottle. Buying a bottle of Rekorderlig was basically equivalent to buying a bottle of Moët. It had more street cred than a vodka and raspberry but tasted just as sickeningly sweet, so you could pretend you were so above all those girls who spent their weekends at Bar Century and never quite making it to Scary Canary (I was sometimes one of those girls).
I mean, when you had a bottle of Strawberry and Lime in your hand, you may as well have been sitting in some underground, unmarked bar in Paris – that’s how revered it was amongst us. At upwards of $9 a bottle, that kind of sensation was necessary for it to be worth it (it definitely wasn’t).
Needless to say, being 18 and unemployed, Strongbow tended to be my cider of choice. It didn’t have as many magical powers as I once thought Rekorderlig had, but it still has a very special place in my heart.
Strongbow is a great cider to cut your teeth on. It's not the cheapest, but it's reasonable which means you can test out every variety (Original! Dry! Sweet! Flavours!) to work out which you like best!
It’s not super sweet, and you can down a few without feeling like your teeth are about to fall out. A slightly fizzy mouth feel that doesn’t coat your throat and induce immediate burping makes it ideal when you’re trying to trick that special someone into thinking you’re graceful and cultured. I’m not sure how else to describe it. It looks like, smells like, and tastes like… cider.
Your regular, everyday, cider. And that’s what it’s a perfect drink for: regular, everyday occasions.
So I’m sitting in a room as the Sydney On Tap team settles down into our regular tasting routine. We have our table, Jack has grabbed the beers we’re gonna be tasting and they’re all sitting in a row in the centre.
“Alright everyone grab a beer, face the label towards me and then we’ll take a picture for facebook and instagram”
This is so commonplace that we all pick up beers immediately, turn them to where we know the camera will be, and start chatting while Jack frames the shot. Rosie, who is our special guest taster, has no idea what to do or what’s happening. That’s fine, we give her a beer and tell her to look amazingly impressed at the quality of the longneck she’s holding.
“What beers are we trying tonight?”
“I dunno, we did Grand Ridge last time. I think Hawthorn? Oh and someone mentioned the new Toohey’s Pale Ale.”
“Toohey’s Pale Ale? Is that a real thing that really exists that I can drink?”
Jack’s done with the photo now. “Yep, we’ll try it last though. Gotta finish with a bang”.
As Jack sits down, I look around at the team. To be clear, Sydney On Tap have pretty much no professional qualifications to review beer at all. How we ended up at this place in our lives is a mystery and that is not at all lost on us. The only reason we’re here is because we all love beer and have way too much to say about it. With that in mind, we get started.
When it comes to tastings, Jack organises all the beers we try and tonight he tells us that we’re in for IPA’s, Pilsners, then a few Amber & Pale Ales.
The first beer - Big Eye IPA - is a hit with everyone except Rosie, who says it “tastes like pee” but then immediately admits she’s dehydrated and has some water. Her reviews got much nicer from there. The Hawthorn pilsner goes down well - Andy even strays from his “it’s quite nice” catch-phrase to call it the “best of the pilsners”.
After My Wife’s Bitter, we start getting to the conflict. It inevitably happens at our tastings. Patrick starts it by trying the beer then immediately calling for divorce, Suni responds that her wife isn’t THAT bitter and that she likes her, and everyone’s kind of uncertain of where we land - until, of course, Beau and Jake weigh in.
“Dude...my wife must hate me if this is the beer I’m drinking.”
“See..it’s nice but it’s nothing.”
“I think it’s tasty but I can’t imagine drinking a six-pack of it.”
“Nope. Terrible. Let’s move on”
4 Pines Pale Ale comes in as a roaring success. “Hella drinkable” Patrick calls it. “1 pine, 2 pine, 3 pine, blue pine” Suni says. I think Suni has had too much to drink. But I guess that’s part of our incredibly professional reviewing process.
The Hawthorn pale ale gets our first 5 out of 5 of the evening. The second it hits Andy’s lips he starts yelling about how it’s the perfect beer and gives it an “A+++++++++++”. Everyone except Rosie (who we assume was dehydrated again by this point) thinks it’s a pretty good beer.
The last beer we try is the Tooheys Pale Ale. Newly brewed, it’s a bold innovation from Tooheys (who are looking into craft beer it seems). To be honest, we were pretty pumped for this one. Tooheys could’ve done wonders with it and it could’ve been a great, cheap pale ale that you could get a 6-pack of anywhere. As we lift the glasses to our lips, there’s a collective sigh of disappointment. Toohey’s has not reinvented the wheel. They have made the wheel shitty and bent and not good.
“We should’ve ended on Hawthorn”
“I know Suni. I’m sorry”
“Seriously Jack, get your shit together, the Hawthorn Pale Ale was so much better”
“That was terrible.”
And that’s pretty much how the evening went. We tried a bunch of beers, we yelled about how good or bad they were, and we assigned them scores which you can check out here if you’re looking for something new to try.
Alternately, if you want to be a part of the tasting process, check out our facebook and/or instagram for updates about when the next public tasting is on - they’re good fun and involve drinking beer and hanging out with other people who enjoy drinking beer and saying what they think about stuff.
Every month we at Sydney On Tap take a look at the ol’ website and see what people are interested in. This month, we’re highlighting the top 3 most viewed bars; here we go.
This is an easy one - it’s no surprise Bondi Hardware’s up there on the most viewed. Great atmosphere, greater staff, and a stone’s throw from Bondi beach, the place has chill vibes & more indoor plants than you can shake a stick at. On top of that, they have Young Henrys on one of their taps and Endeavour on the other - both very respectable choices.
Seems like we’re at a Bondi-fest this month and for good reason. There’s a great story about a guy who panned this bar on TripAdvisor on their page, but the main things you should take away from this place are that they have a great sense of humour and some incredibly questionable (and amazing) decor in the form of a bunch of flamingoes hanging around the place. With that in mind, we are extremely happy that people are flocking to the Café Bikini page.
Bavarian Bier Café
Ahh, the Bavarian Bier Café. We think this one got number one because of all those people just wanting to know how many beers they could get in a stein. Don’t worry, us too. Great tap choice, good happy hour, and as I said - steins.
Just as a place to drink Young Henrys is quite pretty.
A cool urban industrial space with a warm feel and of course, every YH beer on tap. We were given a check-in beer at the bar when we began and then followed our guide Torquil through to where the magic happens. The guy knows a tonne about beer and spent a little time explaining some basic Australian beer facts and history. For example the connection between the 6 o’clock swill (a time when pubs were forced to close at 6pm) and the dull tasting, easy to guzzle Aussie beers we’ve had for so long. Needless to say we were given a new beer to “sample” whenever our cups were empty.
We were then shown through the entire brewing process which would have required a chemistry degree to understand but was interesting to see all the same. We also learned the reason why sales of the ever popular Newtowner are limited to a 5km radius of the brewery – they literally can’t keep up with demand, daymn. Hopefully that means the brewery will expand and it’ll be on more taps.
After the tour we were offered even more beer which - I’m not gonna lie - is a pretty good way to make someone enjoy a brewery tour. Sure a lot of the Young Henrys tour was probably standard brewery tour stuff but the fact is that seeing the behind-the-scenes of something you’re passionate about, and realising how much thought and time goes into making beer that we all love is a bunch of fun and the bar has been set high. If you were looking for a present for a beer nerd, you found it.
Also check out Dave’s Brewery Tours if you’re looking to make a day of visiting a bunch of Sydney breweries.
TOP 5 BEST BARS FOR CRAFT BEER/MOST TAPS
We’re beer geeks, we like our bars to have a lot of taps and a lot of craft beers on those taps. If you feel the same (why else would you be reading this, right?) here’s 5 bars to know and love.
We’d like to begin by saying these are in no particular order and they all change their taps a bunch so just go and appreciate what’s on at the time.
The Union Hotel, Newtown – 22 taps
Down the end of King St needless to say this place is big on craft beer, so much so that they run “tap takeovers” being nights on which a chosen brewery quite literally takes over 8-10 of the taps and people win a bunch of beer prizes. Go there.
The Local Taphouse, Surry Hills – 20 Taps
Kinda out of the way but very worth it, the bar itself is gorgeous and the rooftop garden is one of the best we’ve seen. In terms of their love of beer, the guys that run this place also run GABS Fest. Need we say more? They run a couple of beer appreciation events at the bar and have $10 tasting paddles on Thursdays #nice.
The Dove & Olive, Surry Hills – 22 taps
So if you’ve read our Top 5 Bars you already know why we love this place but again, it has a tonne of craft beer and it’s awesome. It organises a couple of beer nights as well like their Beer Fight Club which throws 2 craft breweries into the ring to fight it out for the title of Beer Of The Month. Check it out.
The Botany View Hotel, Newtown – 26 Taps
These guys are a block from the Union Hotel so you can make a night of seeing both together. One of the big advantages of the BVH is that they keep taps on for longer than the 5, if you liked a particular beer you can probably get it again next time. The other reason we keep going back is the size of their 5 beer tasting paddles, a litre of beer for $16… yes.
The Keg & Brew, Surry Hills – 33 Taps
33 taps, good lord… They have the most taps we’ve seen so far so that’s the first reason to go. 3 of them are English pull pump taps and we dig that too. Being owned by the same team as the Dove & Olive they have basically the same deals on food and drinks, the $4 schooners at happy hour, the $10 daily meals and the $10 jugs on Thursdays.
Honourable mention: The Australian Heritage Hotel, The Rocks. 16 taps. Not bad at all.
thoughts & feelings - extended edition
This is where we at Sydney On Tap post all the things that couldn't fit into the paragraphs on each bar page, or the comments under each beer.