Sydney and the Beermen

Our fifth day’s drive on the Princes Highway brought us back to Sydney for the final portion of our Australian adventure. We enjoyed our time along the coast but, as they say, all good things must come to an end. We also needed to get back to Sydney to record the holiday episode of

The view from Five Islands Brewing Company

After a four day drought, we had a brewery to visit in the city of Wollongong, about an hour and a half south of Sydney. Wollongong is the third largest city in New South Wales. After four days of driving on the almost deserted Princes Highway, the busy streets of Wollongong were a bit nerve wracking. After one or two wrong turns, we found Five Islands Brewing Company down by the ocean.

The brew samples at FIBC

Another gorgeous day in Australia, Merideth found a seat outside while I ordered a sample tray of beers. Of the six brews, we had a first for the trip: a fruit beer. Not my style, I have to admit South Peach was subtly flavored, something not all brewers manage.

The Parkyn’s Shark Oil was a nice effort at an American-style IPA but the star for me was Bulli Black. FIBC describes it as a Dark Ale, but the roasty and chocolate flavors reminded me of a Stout. A favorite dark beer of the trip…

No time to savor the beers or walk the beach, we were quickly back on the road continuing our journey to Sydney.

The Lord Nelson, Sydney’s oldest hotel

While no relation to it’s namesake, I proudly share my surname with the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel in Sydney. Conveniently located in the Rocks, the Lordie is one of mankind’s great inventions, the brewery-hotel. It would be our home for the final three nights of out trip. After embarrassingly dragging our three big bags through the crowded pub in search of the reception desk, we returned after checking in to grab a couple pints to bring up to our room.

Merideth enjoying a pint at the Lordie

After checking email and getting settled, we still had a couple of hours before we had to head down to Circular Quay for our gig. Finishing our first pints, we headed downstairs to the pub, grabbed another pint and a seat outside.

The Lordie was very British, being the first place since Wig and Pen in Canberra to serve their beer in imperial pints. Unlike Wig and Pen, Lord Nelson had no cask versions. Their beers were served on draught from the frost encrusted tap housing typical of Australia. Despite no cask, I think I liked Lord Nelson’s brews better than Wig and Pen. Maybe it was the name.


The names of the beers all referred to Lord Nelson or a nautical theme. The exception was Quayle Ale, their Summer Ale, named after former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle. Before we headed down the Circular Quay, we managed to try three of the six brews: the aforementioned Quayle Ale, Trafalgar Pale Ale, an English Bitter, and Victory Bitter, an Extra Special Bitter. All were nice beers especially for the hot and humid summer weather.

Merideth at Ice Bar Sydney

We recorded the episode at the Ice Bar Sydney, a short walk from the Lord Nelson. It was somewhat strange to leave the 85 degree temperature outside and enter a world that was 23 degrees; especially while wearing shirts and a t-shirt. I’ll admit I wore a parka during the setup but only wore gloves during filming.

We were in an Ice Bar because the episode was about holiday beers. Since it was summer in Australia, holiday beers were few and far between. We happily provided three California examples: Anchor Christmas, Sierra Nevada Celebration and Alesmith Yulesmith. Watch the episode at

It does exist in Australia… at a touristy Chinese restaurant

After filming the episode, we walked up Circular Quay towards the Opera House to a Chinese restaurant where the guys (they do have names… Damien, Mark and Todd) treated us to dinner. Thanks guys!

The choice was fortuitous as the restaurant had Foster’s in the bottle. We didn’t expect to find Foster’s in Australia but I guess you need to go to a Chinese restaurant that caters to tourists. Still on my macrobrew research project, I dutifully ordered one. I’ll say of the macrobrews I tried, Foster’s was the best.

After dinner, it was back to the Lordie for a nightcap. What a day!

Mark and Todd of