Breweries, distilleries & pubs in the Hunter Valley
It’s famous for its wine, but there are plenty of other ways to quench your thirst in the Hunter Valley. From craft breweries and boutique distilleries to cosy country pubs, you’ll want to linger a little longer in the state’s most glorious gourmet region
4 Pines at the Farm
One of Australia’s most famous craft beer brands, 4 Pines has taken over the site of the old Matilda Bay Brewery (and, before that, Bluetongue Brewery) at Hunter Valley Resort. Known as 4 Pines at The Farm, the expansive venue has 12 taps at the bar, a sun-kissed dining room and a breezy patio. There’s something for the kids too; next door is Hunter Farm & Adventure Centre, with a petting zoo, animal feeding and horseriding.
Hope Brewery & Distillery
You’ll find award-winning beers, small-batch spirits and estate-grown wines on the menu at Hope Estate's brewery. Family-owned and -operated, the establishment makes everything from passionfruit cider and ginger beer to tropical pale ale and cold brew coffee ale. Then there are the gins (try the grapefruit), vodkas (the lemon myrtle is a winner) and moonshine (not for the fainthearted). It’s also home to the Hunter Valley’s largest amphitheatre, making it a popular spot for concerts.
The Mighty Hunter Valley
The original Hunter Valley brewery, Hunter Beer Co, first began pulling pints on this site in 2003. In 2020, the venue was revamped and became an outpost of Newcastle’s beloved Foghorn Brewery. Today, it’s part of The Mighty Hunter Valley, a sprawling venue that covers five acres with a pub, brewery and tasting room. There’s food from an ex-Muse chef, picnic tables in the sunny beer garden and a huge range of brews on tap.
Before you take a sip at Small Mouth, give your glass a good swirl. This is the Hunter Valley’s only range of shimmering vodka, gin and liqueur, thanks to a dash of edible glitter. That means that drops like the Elderflower Gin, Chocolate Hazelnut Vodka and Pina Colada Liqueur taste as good as they look. Small Mouth offers daily tastings at their store in the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village.
Harrigan's Hunter Valley
To say Harrigan’s is a Hunter Valley icon is an understatement. This Irish pub in the centre of Pokolbin is a favourite of locals and visitors alike dropping in for a pint of Guinness, a meal or a late-night turn on the dancefloor. In winter, a roaring fire warms the room while in summer, drinks are enjoyed on the wide patio. There’s live music every weekend and a suitably boisterous crowd of wine tourists, hens parties and wedding guests.
They say distilling is both an art and a science, and the team at Hunter Distillery take that quite literally. At the region’s only Test Tube Tasting, you can sip Native Gin made with finger lime and Kakadu plum or vodka flavoured with lemon myrtle straight from authentic lab glassware. It’s the only 100% organic distillery in the Hunter and they make their own base spirit (as opposed to buying it), using a five-time distilling process for a clean, pure taste.
The Huntlee Tavern could well be the Hunter Valley’s slickest gastropub, all exposed brick, polished wood and fairy lights. There are multiple spaces to enjoy a drink, including an outdoor patio, and even a playroom to keep little visitors entertained. Expect elevated pub dining in the bistro, delivering dishes like maple-and-ginger pork bites, garlic prawn hot-pot and the 'Lord of the Rings' burger complete with onion rings atop your double beef patties.
Pokolbin Cider House
Pokolbin Cider House made its first classic apple cider almost a decade ago. Today, their range is inspired by the region’s wine-making traditions and includes everything from pear and dark grape ciders to a fizzy flavour uniting apple and raspberry. Book in for a tasting at the spacious cellar door (or should that be cider door?) or just stop by for a few drinks and a ploughman’s board.
IronBark Hill Brewing Co
Surrounded by vines within IronBark Hill Vineyard, the brewhouse here started small with just a 200-litre tank in 2016. Today, they’ve grown to a massive 1,200-litre set up, brewing 12 beers and ciders ranging from pale ales to porters. The kitchen is open from Wednesday to Sunday, serving up pizzas, share plates and tasty snacks.
Originally known as the Wollombi Wine Saloon, this pub has been welcoming thirsty travellers since the 1840s. The current building dates from the 1950s (thanks to a devastating fire) but still shares the same spirit of country hospitality. Serving traditional pub fare in the bistro or on the wooden deck, it’s a popular pit stop on the Sydney to Hunter route; there’s even space to land a helicopter if you’re travelling in style.