With so many craft beer options in Sydney at the moment, folks wanting to branch out beyond the IPA end of the scale and try something entirely new - like a double chocolate stout, a gose or a Doppelbock - may not want to commit to an entire schooner, especially in the case of those heavier brews that push the double-digits on the ABV.
Beer paddles, also known as beer flights, are the answer, although not all paddles are created equal. This list is by no means exhaustive, just some of our favourites, but it's a good place to get started in sampling if you aren't sure what you like yet.
Remember: always start from the handle, and go light to dark. Or it's a paddlin'.
A Sydney staple, following the Melbourne original, and still one of the best places to sample some amazing brews. With over 200 beers going through their various taps across three levels of bars, $17.50 will get you a decent 5 x 90ml samplers. Comes with a small glass full of water crackers to refresher your palette in between tastes. On Thursdays, you get the same deal for a humble $10. If you aren't sure about something, the friendly bar staff are usually more than happy to give you a taste of something, especially if they have a cucumber concoction infusing in the corner.
At 33 beers they boast it is the "probably the highest number of beers available per meter of floor space in the whole of Australia." (Although their sister pub below may give it a run for its money). So at $10 for a paddle of 3 beers, that's $110 to sample every beer in the joint? That's not bad at all.
See also: DOVE & OLIVE With more than 20 dedicated taps and traditional hand pumps, DOVE & OLIVE is definitely one of the better places in Sydney to find a wide variety of beverages.
The folks behind Dove & Olive and Keg & Brew recently took over the Eastern Suburbs bar in Randwick, swapping out their steak-focus for 58 unique taps and a new lounge area. The beers are made up of a mix of craft and more traditional fare, so it doesn't completely escape its roots, but thankfully it's been a long while since Wednesday nights were lingerie nights. It's $10 for 3 beers, although they aren't much more than shot-glass sized at a glance. With so many potential brews to sample, it seems a little slight. Still, it's early days for this renovated local.
A more modest selection overall, the 19 craft beer taps at the time of writing, the $10 beer paddle Tuesdays gets you three samplers. It's coupled with a $10 burger as well - and for readers of this site you'll be pleased to know that includes their lentil and chickpea burger served with baby spinach, tomato and minted yogurt. Yum!
Newtown's classic pub has a very attractive 5 x 200ml for $18 on offer from a decent selection of brews including Modus Operandi, Shenanigans, Akasha, Rocks, Willie the Boatman, Exit, Young Henry's and other standards.
The King Street Wharf location doesn't just have a beer list, they have a beer bible that's 25 pages long. To be fair, a lot of that is also in the bottles behind the bar as well. That said, hundreds of beers are on offer here, and while the paddle is closer to the $20 mark, everything is at a premium on this beautiful waterfront location.
Some more to try
HART'S PUB, BLACK FONT ($20 for 4 large beers), BAVARIAN BIER CAFE (Bier Flights $12.50 for 4 150ml Crafty Bavarian Brews, or $13 for the imported equivalent at various locations), FOREST LODGE ($15 for 4), and the WELCOME HOTEL ($20)
Pubs offer you paddles to get you to invest in bigger gulps of their tap contents, but brewers have a vested interest in getting you to sample their sometimes experimental lines widely. Thankfully, the proliferation of local breweries means plenty of places to sample from.
RED OAK is right in the heart of the CBD, and their award-winning selections can be sampled in a four beer paddle. Meanwhile, over at BATCH BREWING you get a generously sized crate of all six beers that Batch has on tap for $25. Yes: crate. Batch wins the prize for the sturdiest paddle, which is in fact a metal beer crate filled with jars of whatever they have on tap at that time. Batch are known for some of their more interesting flavour combinations, such as their In A Pickle! Cucumber and Sorachi Ace Sour. YOUNG HENRY'S has six taps and two handpumps for their core range, and their paddles get you the entire set of six taps at once, including their Natural Lager and Cloudy Cider. WAYWARD reportedly offers a 6 x 120ml paddle for $15.
There's so many, really, with 4 PINES (ironically gives you 5), LORD NELSON BREWERY, and ROCKS BREWERY (5 sampler beers to a paddle or $30 for a beer and cheese pairing paddle) being just some of the fine places to get a paddlin'.