BEER is good.
Throw a beer garden into the mix and it’s even better.
Newcastle and the Hunter have many great beer gardens to choose from, some impressively renovated, or with harbour views, and others that are not-so-fancy, but what they lack in polish, they make up for with charm.
So, while we are still riding the wave of summer temperatures in the early days of autumn, here’s a list of five places to enjoy a brew or two in the beer garden.
71 Tudor Street, Hamilton. Since new owners renovated and relaunched the old pub in late 2015, The Greenroof’s outdoor area has proved itself much more than a beer garden. Every Thursday night during the warmer months, the beer garden is transformed into an outdoor silent cinema, with the tables and chairs moved out to make way for bean bags to kick back on and watch cult favourites and classics on the big screen - think anything from Rocky Horror Picture Show to Love Actually to Happy Gilmore. Food and drinks can be delivered to your seat via a text message order and each guest is given headphones to listen to the film. As well as movies, the beer garden hosts market events and there’s also a kids playroom attached to the outdoor area to keep little ones entertained with toys, TV and games.
1 Bond Street, Newcastle East. Originally built in 1877 to house Australian customs offices, the historic building now has arguably the best beer garden in the city to sit back and watching the passing parade. Pull up a seat and watch the ships roll in and out of the harbour - a pretty spectacular sight. There are plenty of umbrellas to provide shade, as well as day beds for lounging in the sun. Order a meal from the restaurant or kick back with a cocktail. On Friday from 5pm to 8pm, they offer Peronis and espresso martinis for five bucks. Bargain!
ROYAL CROWN HOTEL
94 Ocean Street, Dudley. Since the guys from Newcastle speakeasy bar Coal and Cedar took over the classic Dudley pub (built in 1892), they’ve done a top job of transforming it into a modern hotel, without losing its charm. Their dog-friendly beer garden has plenty of tables with umbrellas, and they regularly host live music (the likes of Boo Seeka and Bootleg Rascal have played in the past). Hand-painted wall murals, a basketball hoop to use, and festoon lighting at night also make it one pretty cool spot to hang out. The menu has classic pub grub with a modern twist and a great range of beer, including a selection of hand-picked craft beers that will impress even the biggest beer snob.
THE ARGENTON HOTEL
515 Lake Road, Argenton. If it’s been a little while since you went to the Argy, it’s worth a visit. No more sticky carpet here - the pub has undergone a major renovation that has transformed it into a bright, modern and fresh space. The beer garden is enormous, with plenty of tables, including a row of white cabana-style booths that are fitted with fans to keep you cool. A bonus for families: a large outdoor playground. On Friday, cocktails are $10 from 8pm to 10pm. Grab a bucket of Coronas for $20 all day Sunday.
GRAND JUNCTION HOTEL
88 Church Street, Maitland. The much-loved Junkyard recently changed hands, but the new owners have promised to keep the pub’s tradition of attracting some of the country’s best musicians to its outdoor stage in the open-air beer garden. Regulars will tell you that you can’t beat the atmosphere on a Sunday arvo in the sun with a cold beer watching the likes of William Crighton, Kim Churchill or Fish Fry. Long tables add to communal gathering vibe. They have just added a new outdoor pool table, too.
Other beer gardens to tick off the list: Wickham Park Hotel, Wickham; Lass O'Gowrie, Wickham; Tea Gardens Hotel Motel, Tea Gardens; River Royal Inn, Morpeth; Jewells Tavern, Jewells; The Lucky, Newcastle; Paterson Tavern, Paterson; CBD Hotel, Newcastle; Clarendon Hotel, Newcastle; Maryville Tavern, Maryville; Commonwealth Hotel, Cooks Hill; Sydney Junction Hotel, Hamilton; Commercial Hotel, Boolaroo; The Burwood Hotel, Merewether; Hamilton Station Hotel, Hamilton; Hotel Jesmond, Jesmond; The Windsor Castle Hotel, Maitland; The Blind Monk, Hamilton.