Come away from the Hunter Valley with a new sense of reverence after bouncing between its best breweries and pubs.
There are plenty of places to entice along the Hunter Valley’s burgeoning ale trail which is dotted with great breweries and pubs. Take your pick from our list of must-visit stops and trade in the well-travelled winery trail to experience a different side to the Hunter.
1. The Mighty Hunter Valley
It’s a bar, it’s a bistro, it’s a beer garden. This grain-to-glass taphouse, which was revamped in 2020, is where you will find a range of vendors under the Mighty Craft brand such as Foghorn Brewery, Sauce Brewing Co. Jetty Road Brewery and Kangaroo Island Spirits.
Dine inside the classy indoor setting.
Set amid the historic brick beehive kilns in the old Potters Hotel, in Nulkaba, the Mighty Hunter Valley is a hub for craft brewers and distillers and the ideal environment for large groups with individual needs as there’s something for all. Book a tour or tasting at Foghorn Brewery, one of the best breweries in nearby Newcastle.
The Mighty Hunter Valley is situated on sprawling grounds.
2. 4 Pines at the Farm
There is something about arriving in the Hunter Valley that invites escape. And while it’s a region best known for its award-winning wines, breweries such as 4 Pines at the Farm are proving a draw for lovers of craft beer, too.
The fact you can stay and play at this family-run Hunter Valley brewery based at the Hunter Valley Resort means you will have a new appreciation for all the great things that are brewing here. All up, there are 12 quality beers on tap at the family-friendly brewery, which overlooks the crumpled folds of the Broken Back Ranges.
Check out what’s brewing at 4 Pines at the Farm.
3. Peter Drayton Wines and IronBark Hill Brewhouse
Silence settles like a blanket over this boutique Hunter Valley winery and brewhouse when the crowds thin out and you’ve settled into your villa at the IronBark Hill Retreat. And in addition to being a picturesque place to tap into the Hunter Valley’s craft beer scene, you can taste niche wines such as Tyrian, Montepulciano and Barbera at Peter Drayton Wines and IronBark Hill Brewhouse, at the foot of the Broken Back Range. Bookings for The Brewhouse Kitchen are recommended.
Pull up a chair for a drink at IronBark Hill Brewhouse. (Image: Destination NSW)
4. Sydney Brewery Hunter Valley
Go behind the scenes at the Sydney Brewery Hunter Valley, which produced its first batch of beer in 2014. The independent brewhouse, which has a sister venue in Surry Hills, is a large-scale brewery that is built on the back of Lovedale Bar & Bistro located at the Rydges Resort Hunter Valley, one of the most family-friendly places to stay in the Hunter Valley.
Snag a spot inside Lovedale Bar & Bistro.
Enjoy pub classics such as fish and chips alongside a pint of Lovedale Lager while overlooking the 9th and 10th hole of the Hunter Valley Golf course.
Quench your thirst at Sydney Brewery.
5. The Caledonian Hotel
There’s nothing that inspires a thirst more than pulling into Singleton and seeing this iconic pub with its long verandahs and cast-iron balustrades.
The Caledonian Hotel dates back to the early 1900s. (Image: Pink Donkey)
The Caledonian Hotel is one of Australia’s great classic Aussie pubs and popular with high-vis brigade who converge here to play pool and scoff great Thai starters like satay skewers, fish cakes and pad Thai.
Step inside the iconic Caledonian Hotel. (Image: Pink Donkey)
Rumour has it that the hotel is one of the most haunted places in Australia so if you’re a scaredy cat, you might need to ghost your mates and find alternate accommodation in the Hunter Valley.
Dine al fresco under huge umbrellas. (Image: Pink Donkey)
6. The Pourhouse
The Pourhouse in Maitland is primarily an alehouse but is also part live music venue and eatery. Craft beer, classic cocktails, and considered pub grub coexist here in perfect harmony. Housed in the former Exchange Hotel, established in 1866, it operated as a hotel and then an antique emporium until 2013 when two Maitland mates decided to buy it. The Pourhouse gives off inner-west Sydney vibes. There’s great food, live music, craft beer and cocktails and all manner of nooks in which to kick back.
7. The Imperial Maitland
Have you even been to the Hunter if you’ve not stopped off at The Imperial Maitland. The Irish-themed pub is one of the mainstays in the region with its roster of karaoke nights and live entertainment. The wine list here includes a lot of Hunter Valley wines as well as pub classics such as cheeseburgers, salt and pepper squid and parmy toppers. Enjoy a walk along the historic Hunter River, find the best place to have coffee in the Hunter Valley and then make it to Maitland for a pub meal.
8. The Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel is an unpretentious Hunter Valley pub that is filled with families putting away fish and chips and schnitties and burly country blokes bending the elbow at the bar. There is an impressive range of beers on tap as well as locally made wines that gives a sense of place to the act of raising a glass to the Aussie pub. The Sunday lunch here is legendary, and there is a weekly roster of trivia, live music and happy hours. Best of all you can bunker down at the simple pub-style room if you’ve had one too many to drive.
9. Pokolbin Ciderhouse
Pokolbin Ciderhouse now has a 200-seat outdoor area that looks over the gnarled vines of this picturesque property in Pokolbin. Be sure to book ahead for a paddle tasting and ploughman’s lunch: start with a Pear Perry, progress to Sweet Apple and Passionfruit Perry and onto The Dark Grape at the ciderhouse located in the heart of Hunter Valley Wine Country.
Dine next to scenic vineyards at Pokolbin Ciderhouse.
The ciderhouse hits the sweet spot with its dedicated dessert bar, Sabore, and regular Sunday acoustic sessions.
10. Hope Brewery, Pokolbin
Lovers of both beer and wine will want to hang out in the Hunter Valley that little bit longer when they visit the completely revamped cellar door at Hope Estate.
Hope Estate is situated at the heart of the Hunter Valley.
If escapades with your tribe include big-ticket music events such as the Gin & Jazz Festival or Big Ram Beer & BBQ Festival hosted by Hope Estate, then this is the cellar door for you. In addition to the regular roster of music events, Hope Estate has nine brand-new artisan gins, vodka and moonshine to try as well as 15 wines.
Order up a tasting paddle at Hope Brewery.
11. Wollombi Tavern
Get out your favourite red-checked flanno and get down to this brilliant boozer in the colonial village of Wollombi.
The interior of Wollombi Tavern screams vintage.
While the original tavern founded in 1868 was destroyed by fire, thirsty travellers have included the current outpost in their bar crawls since the 1950s thanks to the allure of Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice, an iconic elixir that dates back to 1929.
Find an airy spot to sit on the deck.
While Wollombi Tavern is the gateway to NSW’s Wine Country, you could do worse than park yourself here in the beer garden for pizza and a few pints.
12. Harrigan’s Hunter Valley
The honeyed light that hits Harrigan’s on a sunny Sunday afternoon makes it a beacon for those looking for the best places to have a pint in the Hunter. Drop in at the weekend to see live music in the beer garden where you can eat al fresco under the terrace festooned with fairy lights and meet some of the chatty locals.
Previously known as the Tallawanta Hotel, Harrigan’s has been going strong since 2000 as it’s the only pub located within the vineyards. It’s also two minutes from the Hunter Valley Gardens, one of the best places to visit in the Hunter Valley, and offers both accommodation and dining.
Enjoy a pint and a stellar pub feed at Harrigan’s. (Image: Destination NSW)
13. Morpeth Brewery and the Commerical Hotel
Morpeth Brewery, an offshoot of the River Port Brewing Company, anchored in the community at the historic hotel in the heart of beautiful Morpeth. The family-run business brews more than 40 different styles of beer, including the popular Black Tractor Dark Ale, the Close Call Pale Ale, and the Big Easy Vienna-style lager.
The grand hotel is an institution, first licensed in April in 1881, when patrons would arrive at the popular Hunter Valley pub by horse and cart. The hotel has a bistro as well as the moody Miss Mullens Bar, the elegant upstairs bar. It also has a pet-friendly beer garden.
Head to Morpeth Brewery for a beer served inside a slice of history. (Image: Destination NSW)