A guide to the best bars, pubs and breweries in Newcastle

A few decades ago Newcastle’s alcohol venues were nothing to write home about. But in recent times they have transformed into a vibrant drinking scene that celebrates a wide range of tipples.

From traditional old school pubs and innovative new craft beer halls, to plush waterfront lounges and trendy sake bars, the Steel City now offers plenty of fantastic places to wet your whistle.

In case you haven’t been out in this part of New South Wales for a while, or are searching for inspiration of where you can go, this guide to the best bars, pubs and breweries in Newcastle should provide you with plenty of places to put on your ‘must visit’ list.

Whether you drink beer, wine, cocktails or spirits, if you head to any of these establishments, you are sure to be in for a fun and enjoyable experience.

The Koutetsu

The Koutetsu is a tiny but very cool speakeasy bar located on Hunter Street.

Meaning ‘steel’ in Japanese, the venue’s name references both the city’s history with regards to the steel industry, as well as the bar’s impressive decor.

The venue is easy to walk past, not least because its window features original nic naks, junk and other types of ephemera that showcases the building’s former life as a pawnbroker.

However, once you have spotted the neon ‘TK’ sign you will know you are at the right place.

Address: 555 Hunter St, Newcastle West NSW 2302

The Burwood Inn

If you are looking for a good old fashioned pub where you can watch sport with your mates, buy some raffle tickets for the meat tray and chance some coins in the pokies, then the Burwood Inn will be perfect for you.

Featuring a quaint courtyard, which is a lovely place to enjoy a few pints on a warm, sunshiny day, you will find this pub on Berner Street.

If you like steaks, the environment also dishes up good sized sirloins, scotch fillets, rumps and rib eyes at its restaurant section too.

Address: 77 Berner St, Merewether NSW 2291

The Rum Diary Bar

One of the quirkier bars in Newcastle has to be The Rum Diary Bar.

Also on Hunter Street, a few doors down from the Koutetsu, the bar has a distinctive pirate theme. 

You might not see any wooded legged individuals with a parrot on their shoulder drinking at the venue, but you will be able to enjoy a venue that looks like it has been decorated with loot from a shipwreck.

The signature drink here is the ‘dark and stormy’ which is arguably best enjoyed at the homely First Ship Captain’s Cigar Lounge.

Address: 529 Hunter St, Newcastle NSW 2300

The Edwards

You can’t beat a good bar and music venue and one of the best of them in Newcastle is The Edwards.

Run by Chris Joannou, the former bassist of Silverchair, the venue has been transformed from the site of a launderette which his now retired parents used to manage, to a place where locals go to watch live bands, sing at the top of their voice and generally enjoy a good few drinks.

For a great night out, and a place to blow off steam, it is very hard to beat.

Address: 148 Parry St, Newcastle West NSW 2302

Coal & Cedar

If the idea of a loud, busy and noisy pub is too much for you then the Coal & Cedar on Hunter Street could well be more to your liking.

For a start its not the easiest place to get into as you can’t just walk through the front door. Instead you need to text a special code to a number which is plastered on a wall outside the venue. Which gives this cool speak-easy style whiskey bar a rather mysterious and exciting air.

Set within a space that has dark timber tones and scuffed-up walls, this venue serves up a delicious range of drinks that are skilfully and meticulously put together.

Address: 380/382 Hunter St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Merewether Surfhouse Bar

Showcasing one of the most stunning beach views in Newcastle, if not New South Wales, the Merewether Surfhouse is a lovely place to visit after a walk, surf or swim on the beach.

Situated on Henderson Parade, this casual and laid-back venue, always has a very congenial atmosphere, as it is popular with locals and holidaymakers alike.

The venue is a great place to visit anytime of the day. But it is a particularly wonderful spot for sunset drinks, with spritzers being the popular choice for drinkers at this time.

Address: 5 Henderson Parade, Merewether NSW 2291

Basement on Market St

Over in the hip and trendy enclave of the East End, Basement on Market St is a very cool spot.

Boasting a distinctly Italian vibe, as evidenced by the framed photographs that adorn its walls, this venue is also brightened up by hanging greenery, which radiates a very charming ambience.

Known for its delicious cocktails and antipasto, this is place is generally frequented by a younger crowd of beautiful people.

Address: 2/2 Market St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Saints Bar

Residing on King Street, the Saints Bar is a very suave space that totally belies its former life as a mechanic’s warehouse.

Replete with rustic, scuffed up brick walls, gorgeous Chesterfields and bright, neon murals, this trendy venue is an excellent place to unwind after a tough day, or week, in the office.

Whilst thumping tunes blast out of the speakers, the highly talented bar staff serve up an exceptional range of drinks.

One of the most sought after of these is the fabulous hyper-local espresso martini, A delectable concoction that uses vodka sourced from the Newcastle Distilling Company, which you will instantly fall in love with.

Address: 31 King St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Customs House Hotel

Fancy a pint with a healthy side of history? Well that is exactly what you get at Customs House Hotel.

Situated right at the start of Bond Street, this fabulous bar, eatery and events centre is contained within an historic building that dates back to 1877.

Showcasing over 145 years of history, the property is a great way to learn about the city’s rich history whilst supping on a lovely range of beers, spirits, cocktails or wines.

The food is pretty good here too, whilst the vibe is always lively and happening.

Address: 1 Bond St, Newcastle NSW 2300

Foghorn Brewhouse

Taking the form of a modern alternative to a traditional alehouse, The Foghorn Brewhouse is a very impressive set up.

Offering a fabulous selection of craft beers from a restored and renovated factory floor, their brews travel straight from its brewery to their imperious 1800-litre tanks.

For those with a keen interest in the brewing process, you can also undertake a tour of their Art Deco style warehouse to find out more about the grain-to-grass process they employ.

Address: 218 King St, Newcastle NSW 2300

The Falcon

A popular haunt in the eastern part of the city, The Falcon is an American inspired venue that offers a fabulous selection of drinks, wonderful food and cool vibes.

Famed for its magnificent jambalaya, the creation of which is overseen by chef and co-owner Brendhan Bennison, this establishment is usually very busy.

Located in Pacific Street, this place is the sister venue to the Ship Inn. Which in itself is a splendid place to frequent.

Address: 10 Pacific St, Newcastle NSW 2300

The Grain Store

Widely acknowledged as being the trailblazers of Newcastle’s craft beer scene, husband-and-wife team Corey and Kristy Crooks received critical acclaim for transforming The Albion into the first dedicated and solely craft beer establishment in Australia.

Their second venture, The Grain Store, has been delighted locals in Newcastle’s eastern suburbs for almost a decade now.

All up they present 21 independently owned, Australian made craft beers and ciders on tap. All of which exude great quality and superb taste.

Address: 64-66 Scott St, Newcastle East NSW 2300

Styx Brewery

A relatively new player on the Newcastle bar and pub scene, Styx Brewery was established in 2018.

Set within a former coal-testing facility in the suburb of Carrington, the establishment is named in honour of the creek that gently meanders to the city’s old gasworks.

They only makes two core beers, a Pale Ale and an IPA, both of which are made without additives or preservatives, and are absolutely delicious.

If you book an appointment at their brewery, you will be able to taste both of them for yourself.

Address: 97 Wilson St, Carrington NSW 2294

The Prince of Mereweather Hotel

The Prince of Mereweather Hotel is a pub your grandparents might have drunk in. Or their grandparents for that matter.

First opened in 1876, The Prince of Wales, as it is officially known, has been a  favourite on Morgan Street for over 145 years.

An institution in the area, the recently renovated pub boasts a lovely balcony bar. Which is a great place to enjoy a few schooners of good old-fashioned IPA.

Address: 1 Morgan St, Merewether NSW 2291

Rogue Scholar Brewing

Rogue Scholar Brewing is a place known just as much for its music gigs and open-mic nights as it is for its range of beers.

Set within a moodily lit venue whose walls feature an eclectic mix of classic concert posters, its a great place to enjoy a night of entertainment.

With 12 beers on tap and 4 hand pumps on rotation, there is plenty of choice when it comes to your drinks too.

Address: 4-6 Union St, Newcastle West NSW 2302

The Cricketers Arms

Even if you don’t like the sport, The Cricketers Arms in Cooks Hill is well worth visiting on account of its fantastic beer garden and premium range of beers and other alcoholic offerings.

It also has a large wrap-around bar, as well as lots of cricket related memorabilia on display. While if you are hungry you can choose to dine on a selection of related menu items including its signature offering of the ‘Bradman of Schnitzels’.

Address: 61 Bruce St, Cooks Hill NSW 2300

The Bennett

For a venue that oozes personality why not try The Bennett on Denison Street in Hamilton.

Incorporating large communal tables, as well as vibrant potted plants, breeze blocks, nice picnic benches and yellow beach umbrellas, the courtyard here is where most of the action happens.

A recently refurbished pub it is very popular with the young and trendy, who flock here to try their wide selection of locally crafted beers and wines from the Hunter Valley.

Address: 146 Denison St, Hamilton NSW 2303

The Great Northern Hotel

Awarded legendary status by locals, The Great Northern Hotel is a venue that has stood the test of time.

Built all the way back in 1864, it underwent renovation in 1906, before being rebuilt in the 1920s.

Now an Art Deco-style pub it occupies a modern, well decorated space that serves up a fabulous range of beers, spirits and wines, as well as a decent pub grub menu.

It has also established itself as a pretty decent live music venue over the last decade or so as well.

Address: 83-89 Scott St, Newcastle NSW 2300

The Lucky Hotel

Another establishment that was built in the 1800s, The Lucky Hotel used to be a quiet CBD pub that was somewhat hidden away.

Today, however, its recently restored façade welcomes you to a vibrant destination that features a comely courtyard with plenty of greenery and lights.

A lovely place to visit, The Lucky, which used to be known as The Lucky Country Hotel, possesses a number of quirky design touches including the likes of chandeliers made from drum kits and banquettes that are brothel red in colour.

The establishment also has a wide selection of beers, spirits and wines on offer too.

Address: 237 Hunter St, Newcastle NSW 2300