While I’ve been on the craft beer bandwagon for quite some time, I seem to have completely missed out on the fact that visiting a small craft brewery can be as much fun as visiting a small bar. Far from a place you’d just take in on some sort of behind-the-scenes factory tour, craft beer breweries like Wayward Brewing Company in Camperdown, offer up casual, relaxed bar spaces to visit and sink a few pints of quality craft beer.
Tucked away on Gehrig Lane, this subterranean brewery is housed in what was once a wine cellar.
Take a punt on your first beverage, and then take a wander through the wax coated wine splattered walls of these Inner West catacombs. The Oatis Golden Oatmeal American IPA ($5/half pint) is a great place to start – it has a tropical-fruit driven nose, but is smooth, round, and even on the tongue, with toasted malt notes. I could easily have gone a whole pint.
While the plentiful drinking nooks have a repurposed feel with vintage ‘70s lounge room furniture, a mounted motorbike and dark, moody lighting; the brewery side of the warehouse is surprisingly modern.
Bright yellow floors and gleaming silver beer tanks imported from industrial China give this impeccably clean brewery a top-of-the-line feel.
Wayward's Sourpuss Raspberry Berliner Weisse ($5/half pint) was my surprising beer hit. It smells like fresh raspberries, and starts tart (as you’d expect) before rounding out into something reminds me of bread. It’s so intriguing it kept me coming back for sip after sip.
While nine of their taps are busy pouring Wayward Brewing Company beers, this brewery earns community kudos for having three rotating guest taps for other local brewers. I tried Batch Brewing’s Marrickville Pork Roll ($6/half pint) and got pretty hooked on this clever banh mi spiced beer. You definitely get a taste of coriander and chilli, against lemony Sorachi Ace hops, which summon a pork roll from your favourite local Vietnamese bakery.
Cementing them as my favourite Inner West community hangout however, is their rotating Saturday barbeque. On the Saturday I visited, it was Jackalope Food Co. running the smoker, with the barbeque stall set up right in the doorway.
We took one of everything, starting with the Smoked Cheese Kransky ($10) roll further improved by a generous slather of homemade Carolina Gold mustard-based barbeque sauce.
We moved on to the even better Smoked Pork Butt ($10) served up on precisely the right sort of soft hotdog bun, with jalapeño and onion pickle.
The surprising winner was the Smoked Mole Spiced Pumpkin ($3/side) ostensibly for the vegetarians, but they were happy to dish us up some with coleslaw as a side. The butternut pumpkin was smoked on the skin - which softens from the long cook - under a Mexican mole inspired rub, and topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds. It was absolutely brimming with flavour!
You also need a Cornbread Muffins ($3/each). Smeared with butter, these light, airy muffins are pretty much the best cornbread I’ve tried outside the USA. "It’s because an American cooked it," owner and pit-master Julia Stephenson says with a laugh, before adding: "It’s actually hard to get good cornbread outside USA.”
Now if you need more than good craft beer and barbeque as reasons to check this place out, they're participating in Sydney Craft Beer Week running from October 21-30 this year. A brewery tour with six beer tasters is yours to be had for a bargain $15 at the Wayward Open House on Saturday 22 October; while on Sunday 30 October, you can head to the Wayward Oktoberfest First Birthday Bash for absolutely nada! With Bavarian eats, special beers, giveaways of sweet Wayward swag, and an Oompahpah band, it's sure to be a hoot!
Wayward Brewing Company
Unit 1-3 Gehrig Lane, Camperdown
Ph: (02) 7903 2445