Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Baxter Inn

My mate Rowan and I caught up in town last night. Via Beeradvocate I'd learnt of a new place in Clarence St, The Baxter Inn, so suggested we take a look.

Last week, I took a tentative stroll to see if I could locate it, but to no avail. Scott Morgan of Hart's Pub later advised me to head down the alleyway opposite Redoak, and turn right at the garbage bin. Not quite the directions one expects for a new venue.

Arriving ahead of Rowan, I followed a couple of young suits down the dark alley (there was no bin.... is this the right alley?), and turned right into a deadend. All inner-city grime and grunge..... no signs of an establishment here.

Except for the black-shirted security guard, and a fancy rope, indicating where the queue is to form. But to where ? A darkened doorway leading into an even darker stairwell. Down I went, and opened a door.

A blast of music and laughter hit me, and I quickly learnt that I was not one of the first to discover this place. Like a speak-easy of 1920's Chicago, this converted cellar is all brick & wood, with a distinctly American jazz bar look and feel, minus the smoke. There must have been a hundred people already there, and no available seating.

But the bar.... oh the bar... hundreds of whisky bottles from bench to ceiling, and a large board listing them and their prices. And four taps of good beer, including Coopers Lager, Mountain Goat Steam Ale, and 2 Brothers Growler Brown Ale. A small but impressive bottle beer range includes Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA, a bottle of which we shared upon our return.

Yes, we returned later. As I waited for Rowan, the bar got more and more crowded, and I wondered if the door queue was now in operation. A quick SMS exchange confirmed this, so I left, collected him from the queue, and popped over to Redoak for a couple of good beers.

At 8pm we returned to Baxter, assuming that a lot of the post-work crowd had left, It had, so we found a booth, and ordered the Moylan's. This is a mouth-ripping beer, outstanding hop and malt profile, almost heading into American Barleywine territory. At $25 a long-neck, this is a very, very reasonably priced beer. I reckon you'd pay the same at Platinum Liquor. Dirt cheap liquor licensing  allows for smaller markups, and lots of these back-alley establishments opening up all over Sydney (and elsewhere).

Did I mention the complimentary pretzels ? They just kept coming and threatened to curtail our dinner plans.

According to the proto-website, The Baxter Inn is open Monday to Saturday, 4pm-1am. I recommend timing your run, though, otherwise you're in for a long wait.

Basement, 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney


  1. Sounds like a relaxed place. What selection of international beers did they have?

  2. I'm loving the emergence of all these small bars and clubs. So much opportunity for cool "edges" to the place. The Moylan's beer sounds pretty interesting. But $25 a long neck is reasonable? That sounds pricey to me!?

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