Hunter Valley Breweries

It should come as no surprise that winemaking is the premier activity in the Hunter Valley vineyards. Wine Country has developed a reputation for internationally renowned award-winning wines, incredible cuisine showcasing fresh, local ingredients and lush rural vistas. For those that desire an ice cold beer, the Hunter Valley has several award-winning breweries serving great craft beer, ales and ciders. Join the craft beer revolution and enjoy a beer tasting at a craft brewery, try a couple of craft beers with lunch in one of the many fine local restaurants, or take home a six pack home with you and enjoy it at your leisure with family and friends.

What is Beer?

Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed types of alcoholic drink in the world, with a rich history spanning over 13,000 years. It is the third most popular drink overall after potable water and tea. Beer is produced by the brewing and fermentation of starches, mainly derived from cereal grains – most commonly from malted barley. During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops, which add bitterness and other flavours as well as acting as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. In commercial brewing, the natural carbonation effect is often removed during processing and replaced with forced carbonation. The strength of modern beer is usually around 4% to 6% alcohol by volume (ABV), although it may vary between 0.5% and 20%. Beer forms part of the culture of many nations and is associated with social traditions such as beer festivals, as well as a rich pub culture involving activities like pub crawling and pub trivia games.

The 5 main ingredients in beer

The 5 main ingredients in beer are malted barley, water, hops, yeast and additional spices and flavours. 

The Brewing Process

There are several steps in the brewing process, which may include malting, mashing, lautering, boiling, cooling, fermenting, conditioning, filtering, carbonation and packaging. The brewing equipment needed to make beer has grown more sophisticated over time, and now covers most aspects of the brewing process, allowing large scale producction through automation.

infographic showing the beer brewing process for milling to bottling and packaging


Beer Vocabulary

Want to sound like a beer expert? Here are the definitions of some common words associated with beer and brewing to enhance your craft beer journey. Impress your friends, or at least sound like you know what you’re talking about!

Acetaldehyde – An organic chemical compound that occurs naturally in coffee, bread, and ripe fruit. It is produced by plants and is a by-product of fermentation. Beer containing excessive levels of acetaldehyde is perceived as the aroma and taste of green apples.

Acetic acid – The acid contained in vinegar (3%-6%), and it is also the main volatile fatty acid in alcoholic beverages. It is produced by yeast metabolism and is the key component of ethyl acetate, which is the most common flavor ester in beer.

Adjunct – Any unmalted grain or other fermentable ingredient used in the brewing process. Typically either rice or corn.

Aeration – The action of introducing air or oxygen to the wort (unfermented beer) when the post-boil wort has been chilled down to fermentation temperature, but before the yeast has been added into it. Incorrect wort aeration can lead to incomplete fermentation or excessive ester (fruit flavor). Aeration after fermentation is complete can result in poor tasting beer due to oxidation.

Alcohol – An organic compound that is a synonym for ethanol. Alcohol has been produced and consumed by humans for its psychoactive effects for almost 10,000 years.

Ale – A type of beer brewed using a warm fermentation method, resulting in a sweet, full-bodied and fruity taste. Ale typically has a bittering agent (hops) to balance the malt and act as a preservative.

Aromatic Hops – Hops added later in the boiling stage of the brewing process. The shorter amount of time spent in the boil kettle will provide more aromatic characteristics from the hops rather than bittering characteristics.

Barley – A major cereal grain and was one of the first cultivated grains. Around 70% of barley production is used as food supply for humans and animals, while 30% as a source of fermentable material for beer and certain distilled spirits.

Bittering Hops  – Hops added earlier in the boiling stage of the brewing process. The longer hops are boiled, the more bittering characteristics will come from those hops.

Boiling – A critical step in the brewing process during which wort is boiled inside the brew kettle. During boiling, the additions of hops can occur to achieve bittering, hop flavor and hop aroma in the finished beer. Boiling also sterilizes the beer and ends enzymatic conversion of proteins to sugars.

Brew Kettle – A large vessel used in the brewing process in which the wort is boiled. Copper is traditionally used is it transmits heat effeciently and evenly. Also bubbles produced during boiling do not cling to copper and therefore results in consistant heating of the wort.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – An inert gas that is a byproduct of fermentation of sugars in beer making. It is added to carbonated beverages like beer for effervescence.

Cask – A barrel-shaped container for holding beer. Originally made of iron-hooped wooden staves, now more commonly made from stainless steel.

Cellaring – Storing and aging beer under controlled conditions to allow maturing.

Craft Beer – A beer that has been made by a craft brewery. 

Craft Brewery – An independently owned, small scale commercial brewery.

Draught Beer – Beer drawn from kegs rather than from cans or bottles.

Ethanol – Ethyl alcohol, the colorless primary alcohol constituent of beer.

Fermentable Sugars – Sugars that can be consumed by yeast which in turn will produce ethanol alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Fermentation – The chemical conversion of fermentable sugars into approximately equal parts of ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, through the action of yeast. The two basic methods of fermentation in brewing are top fermentation, which produces ales, and bottom fermentation, which produces lagers.

Hops – The flowers of the hop plant, used primarily as a bittering, flavouring, and stability agent in beer. Only the female ripened flower is used for flavoring beer. There are over one hundred varieties of hops cultivated around the world. Hops are added at the beginning (bittering hops), middle (flavoring hops), and end (aroma hops) of the boiling stage, or even later in the brewing process (dry hops).

Keg – A cylindrical container, usually constructed of stainless steel, commonly used to store, transport and serve beer under pressure.

Lager – Lagers are any beer that is fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at colder temperatures. Lagers are most often associated with crisp, clean flavors and are traditionally fermented and served at colder temperatures than ales.

Malt – Processed barley that has been steeped in water, germinated on malting floors or in germination boxes or drums, and later dried in kilns for the purpose of stopping the germination and converting the insoluble starch in barley to the soluble substances and sugars in malt.

Mash – A mixture of ground malt (and possibly other grains or adjuncts) and hot water that forms the sweet wort after straining.

Nitrogen – When used for the carbonation of beer, Nitrogen contributes a thick creamy mouthfeel, different from the mouthfeel you get from CO2.

Pitching – The addition of yeast to the wort once it has cooled down to desirable temperatures.

Primary Fermentation – The first stage of fermentation carried out in open or closed containers and lasting from two to twenty days during which time the bulk of the fermentable sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

Secondary Fermentation – The second, slower stage of fermentation for top fermenting beers, and lasting from a few weeks to many months, depending on the type of beer.

Top Fermentation – One of the two basic fermentation methods characterized by the tendency of yeast cells to rise to the surface of the fermentation vessel. Ale yeast is top fermenting compared to lager yeast, which is bottom fermenting. Beers brewed in this fashion are commonly called ale or top-fermented beers.

Wort – The bittersweet sugar solution obtained by mashing the malt and boiling in the hops, which becomes beer through fermentation.

Yeast – During the fermentation process, yeast converts the natural malt sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

Yeast Pitching – The point in the brewing process in which yeast is added to cool wort prior to fermentation.


Hunter Valley Beer Tasting Tours

Personalised Hunter Valley private beer tasting tours for your group!

If you love tasting craft beer, you’re in good company, so do we! The Hunter Valley is home to some of the best artisan breweries that can be found within two hours of Sydney. Classic Tours offer Hunter Valley beer tasting tours. Here are the best breweries in the Hunter valley that we think are worthy of inclusion on your gourmet Hunter Valley wine tour, cheese tasting tour or chocolate tasting tour. Book a beer tasting and combine it with a spirit, wine, chocolate or cheese tasting tour for the ultimate private Hunter Valley tour experience, so you can all enjoy a few lagers and great times with your mates!

* Classic Tours supports the responsible consumption of alcohol, so remember to consume alcohol in moderation and stay safe.

Hunter Valley Breweries

Sydney Brewery Hunter Valley

The multi-award winning Sydney Brewery Hunter Valley creates their beer from filtered Hunter Valley water, giving their brewers a blank canvas to create a vast range of beers from Lagers and Pale Ales to Ciders. Dedicated serving vessels serve the adjacent Lovedale Bar + Grill directly from the brewery with rotating seasonal beers and ciders accompanying their core range of hand crafted beer.

Learn the science of brewing beer with a behind the scenes tour of a working brewery. Sydney Brewery Hunter valley conducts behind the scenes tours every Saturday at 2pm, subject to availability. Bookings are essential for the the tour (as is enclosed footwear), which includes a 15 minute brewery tour and paddles of 4 beers/ciders in the Lovedale Bar afterwards.

Address 1: Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, 430 Wine Country Drive, Lovedale NSW 2325

Hours: 10am till late Monday – Friday and 8am till late Saturday – Sunday

Hope Estate Brewery

In the heart of Pokolbin lies the beautiful 420 acre Hope Estate. Whilst wine is their main focus, Hope Brewery opened in 2014 and now offers 30 different beers on tap to choose from. Hope Distillery is a small batch distiller producing premium Australian grain spirits. Spirit lovers can choose from a selection of Gin, Vodka and Moonshine varieties. Cheese plates and charcuterie plates are also available. Don’t want to do a beer or wine tasting? Grab a cup of coffee, sit outside and soak in stunning views of the estate. Alternatively enjoy a meal from their menu with a glass of local wine or beer.

Address : Hope Estate, 2213 Broke Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Hours: 10am to 5pm, 7 Days

Ironbark Hill Brewhouse

Established in 2016, the multi-award winning IronBark Hill Brewing Co is an easy six minute drive off the Hunter Expressway, situated amongst the sprawling vines at IronBark Hill Vineyard and Peter Drayton Wines. Quickly outgrowing their original 200 litre brewing system, Ironbark Hill Brewing Co has quickly grown to a 1200L system with 10 tanks, with further plans for expansion in the mix. Featuring ten craft beers on tap and in cans, their beer is also available in middies and schooners, as well as 1L and 2L glass and stainless steel growlers for you to take home. You can also bring your own growlers from home to be filled with delicious IronBark Hill beer!

Address: Peter Drayton Wines Estate694 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Hours: 10am till 5pm Saturday – Monday, 10am till 5pm Wednesday and 10am till 9pm Thursday – Friday

foghorn craft brewery in the hunter valley on a cloudy day

Foghorn Brewery Hunter Valley

Winner of multiple internationally renowned craft beer awards, Foghorn Brewery opened Newcastle’s first modern craft brewery in 2015. Now in a second location in the Hunter Valley, Foghorn Hunter has updated the cellar door and have big plans for the growth of the on-site brewery. With 16 beers on tap, including one hand pump, and cider, Foghorn beers are what you’ll want to drink. Big flavour and aroma, bold new takes on traditional styles and a few new inventions of their own. Always unique and distinctive, fresh and straight from the tank with no compromise. Led by Keith and Daniel, Foghorn Brewery tours and guided tastings are the best in the business and are a must for any visit to the HunterHungry? Foghorn offers a tantlising array of meals with a focus on local produce. Locally brewed fresh beer matched with locally sourced fresh produce. The way it should be. FogHorn Brewery also offers takeaway.

Address: 9 Fleming Street, Nulkaba NSW 2325

Hours: 10am till 5pm Sunday – Monday, 10am till 5pm Wednesday – Thursday, 10am till 6pm Friday – Saturday

Hunter Wine Lab

Don’t be fooled by the name. Hunter Wine Lab offers craft been by Zymurgy in Pale Ale, Pilsner, Choc Milk Porter and more in addition to their artisan wines. Hunter Wine Lab was established to showcase the traditional fruits and wine making of the old world, along with the ingenuity and developments of the new world. Experience beer or wine tasting sessions whilst seated in the engine room of a working vinyard and learn the process of creation. Their love of the Hunter Valley gives them the drive to get up each morning and do what they do. 

Address: 433 Hermitage Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Hours: 10am to 6pm, 7 days

4 Pines at the Farm Hunter Valley

Located adjacent to the Hunter Valley Resort in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, 4 Pines was born from a post-surf chat at Manly between father and son. The casual chat turned into 500 litre microbrewery in Manly, where the first beer was poured in 2008. Now with 17 sites across Australia, the 4 Pines team have brought their craft beer concept to the Hunter Valley. 4 Pines features 12 quality craft beers on tap, quality Hunter Valley wines as well as a selection of cocktails. The 4 Pines at the Farm’s chef has created a beer driven kitchen menu, with something for everyone from pizza and burgers to sirloin and Atlantic Salmon. This venue is open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s the perfect country destination to enjoy a beer and great food with your mates.

Address: Corner Hermitage Road and Mistletoe Lane, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Hours: 7.30am to 8pm, 7 days

Pokolbin Cider House

Tantalise your taste buds with unique Hunter Valley ciders. Traditionally a wine region, the Hunter Valley has influenced the Pokolbin Cider House range to give it a wine-making twist. Started in 2011 making ciders for Peterson House Cellar door, the range has grown to eight enticing flavours. Sample everything on offer at Lambloch Estate cellar door and delight your taste buds with innovative flavour mixes born from apple, raspberry, grape, passionfruit and pear. The elegant and modern cellar door has some of the best views in the Valley and offers visitors a chance to relax and enjoy a tasting experience like no other. Relax on their balconies, overlooking the vines and enjoy a glass of one of their stellar wines.

When you’re done, head upstairs to Sabor Dessert Bar for an unforgettable culinary experience offering an abundance of classic and seasonal desserts paired with wines from the region. The bar also offers gluten free and an assortment of gourmet produce to take home. Stop by and learn why it’s one of our favourite places in the Hunter Valley on our days off, but be sure to book ahead!

Address: Lambloch Estate, 2342 Broke Road, Pokolbin NSW 2320

Hours: 10am to 5pm, 7 days

Beer Tasting Hunter Valley

This creative food, wine and craft beer region is a mecca for craft beer lovers. Watch the beer production process and enjoy handmade artisan beer in the Hunter Valley direct from the maker. Craft beer experts are always on hand to introduce guests to the many varieties on offer, provide tasting advice and answer any questions you may have. With a cellar door nearby, an accompanying wine or cheese platter is also within easy reach.

What’s better than sharing good times with friends? On our small group beer, wine and cheese tasting Hunter Valley tour, Classic Tours guests can enjoy visiting breweries, distilleries, vineyards, cheese factories and boutique produce stores. With standard and custom itineraries available, your private Hunter Valley brewery tours experience with Classic Tours is just a phone call away. Book your tour now and let Classic Tours take you and your mates to the best craft breweries in the Hunter Valley for the ultimate day out! 

Pokolbin/Lovedale PickUp

From $130 per person (minimum group numbers apply).
  • Local pickup from accommodation
  • Visit 3 breweries, wineries or distilleries
  • Cheese or chocolate factory visit
  • Tasting fees included
  • Lunch stops optional (at your expense)
  • Local drop off to your accommodation
  • Water included

Newcastle/Lake Macquarie Pick Up

From $160 per person (minimum group numbers apply).
  • Up to 4 location pickup/drop-off points
  • Visit 3 breweries, wineries or distilleries
  • Cheese or chocolate factory visit
  • Tasting fees included
  • Lunch stops optional (at your expense)
  • Return to set location drop off points
  • Water included

What People Are Saying

{Fantastic day, everything was made so easy dealing with Therese. She helped us tailor the day to include the vineyards we wanted to visit and suggested others we included. The minibus was clean and comfortable and they supplied a car seat for our granddaughter. Totally recommend using Classic Tours and would definitely use them again. Such a fun day. Thanks Therese.
Maryanne H.

Thank you Therese, for an excellent day on Saturday. It was an absolute pleasure and we will be happy to recommend your services to family and friends 😃

Meredith H.

A great afternoon spent with Classic Tours. Therese was fantastic and helpful all the way from booking to dropping us home. Thoroughly enjoyable experience. Would definitely recommend.

Meredith H.

So much fun, thank you Therese for such a fab day. Loved the wineries you chose, can’t pick a favourite they were all so good. Thanks for putting up with us, can’t wait to do it again.

Jane S.

Thanks so much Therese, best ever vineyard tour. Ticked every box but especially for making us feel relaxed and driving all us ladies around in your beautiful new vehicle and showing us a fabulous time.

Keryn M.

Therese you gave us such an amazing day. Great choice of wineries and lunch venue. Will definitely use Classic Tours again.

Julieanne H.

Classic Tours Therese our hostess and driver was amazing – punctual, courteous and lots of fun. We visited 4 vineyards throughout the day and enjoyed a wonderful lunch. The 12 seat bus was brand new and so comfortable. Fully recommend this company.

Sue R.