The classic Aussie pub has always been a meeting place where old friends gather and new friends are made. And as the weather warms up, there’s nowhere better to enjoy a cold drink (or two) than the beer garden out back – here are some of the best.
Words: Alexis Buxton-Collins
Adelaide has a number of five star hotels, but only one with seven stars on the logo. And it’s not a new development – the western half of the historic city pub was built in 1857. Step through the doors under the classic cantilevered balcony and you’ll find a welcoming front bar, but if you keep walking you’ll discover a colourful beer garden out back. It’s a relaxed, leafy space that can fit up to 100 people between the high bar tables and a custom mural designed by local artist Matt Stuckey. There are often local bands playing on a Sunday afternoon and in the evenings, fairy lights give the beer garden a wonderful soft glow.
It’s the perfect place to enjoy the happy hour from 5:30 to 6:30pm every weeknight when pints go at schooner prices and house wine is $5 a glass. Or you could peruse the menu that’s heavy on local produce (just remember to order in advance if you’re thinking of tackling the monster 1.1 kg tomahawk steak.)
The Edinburgh Hotel
On the edge of the Adelaide foothills, Mitcham’s Edinburgh Hotel has one of Adelaide’s best-loved beer gardens, and with good reason. For starters it’s a real garden, with room for 500 people in the shade of lush vines and large, leafy trees. And with 46 taps, there’s no shortage of beer either (if you prefer wine, The Ed’s famous cellars have you covered on that front too).
In winter the spacious beer garden looks beautiful thanks to a huge marquee strung with fairy lights, but it’s on warm summer nights that it really comes alive. There’s access to the main bar from outside and the undercover booths are a great place to enjoy the seasonal menu. Pull up at one of the wine barrel tables and enjoy the laid back live music on Fridays and Sundays, or bring your dancing shoes for the DJ who takes over on Saturday nights.
Stanley Bridge Tavern
The Stanley Bridge Tavern isn’t short on history. Parts of the building date from the first half of the 19th century and one of the first things you’ll notice on entering is the original wooden shingle ceiling in the front bar.
When new owners took over the business three years ago, they kept a lot of that history but decided to add a few new touches as well. Now the venerable hotel has a strong focus on small wine producers from the Adelaide Hills and a newly upgraded beer garden. An outdoor caravan bar dispenses local Mismatch beers and Adelaide Hills cider from three taps during the warmer months and it’s a pleasant spot to spend an afternoon – as well as friendly conversation you’ll likely have a soundtrack of kookaburras and magpies calling from the surrounding gumtrees. The local koalas have even been known to pop in for a visit but you’re more far more likely to meet Benny, a Jack Russell who’s in there so often he has a dish on the menu named after him.