Pumphouse Bar

Your Rating: None
3 Ratings

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

17 Little Pier St
Darling Harbour, NSW 2000

+61 2 8217 4100 | map

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Added by dwarbi on 04-02-2005

Beers are brewed at / by another brewery.
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Ratings: 7 |  Reviews: 7
Photo of BillRoth
3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

Stopped on way to visit Darling Harbour,
Beautiful well laid out bar and seating inside. Stylish and metro. Outside area was equally spacious and lent itself to enjoying bar but with more air and quiet.
Unfortunately there is a huge amount of construction going on with a lot of temporary plywood walls. So outside scenery is lousy.
Staff inside were really helpful and tried every way they could to make it a positive experience.
But they clearly are "in between" some things. For example had an absolutely first class laid out beer menu. Both the quality of the descriptions and the quality of the choices.
Unfortunately who knows how old it was. After 3 attempts at ordering a beer from the menu only to be told we no longer have it... I gave up and just looked in the coolers behind bar. Bad news is that this was a pain in the a... Good news was I found some great beers I wouldn't have know they had.
It was a Sunday late afternoon/dinner time...and only about a dozen people in a place built for more than a hundred. Unsure what that meant since I'm not familiar with Sundays, bars and Australia.
But overall impression was a great idea that looked like it was a couple of steps from folding.
Would still recommend it. People were really nice and cared. Beers ( once you found them) were worth the stop.
Darling Harbour is the big tourist stop...so maybe they'll do fine when construction, etc. is completed and foot traffic increases.
But from what I observed Sydney is growing fast with first class beer stops across the city. So competition for beer geeks may pass this place very soon.
But wish them the best. I liked these guys.
Overall im

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Photo of SmashPants
2.85/5  rDev -25.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

I have recently revisited the Pumphouse, after a pretty ordinary visit when I lived at Darling Harbour. I do like the idea of re-purposing the old pump house for a pub, and the interior is reasonable - half standard pub, and half old-school fittings from the old pump house. The place has been upgraded lately - looks very nice.

They have a fairly meagre beer selection - mostly the standards along with some semi-boutique such as Asahi and a couple of ciders. The pricing was, and is, far too high however - my first time there I got a schmiddy (a cheapskate, penny-pinching half-way between the 285mL middy and 425mL schooner) of Asahi for $10. I was completely blown away. This time I got a James Squire Pale Ale - still pretty expensive, but not as bad as it used to be. New management?

The service on the original visit a couple years ago was awful too - no-one was at the bar for a while, and when the bartender turned up she made me feel awkward for bothering her, quite rude and uninterested. This time the bartender was just uninterested and simply doing a job - could have been like any other standard pub. Would have expected a bit more for a place trying to be upper-echelon and charging a premium.

A lot better this visit than a few years ago - definitely worth the visit now. I would recommend going for all the craft brew they have now, and seeing what Sydney has to offer.

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Photo of MrKennedy
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Owned by the Novotel & next door to it and the Sydney Entertainment Centre it has its busy times when the Sydney Kings Basketball team play home games it when there's a gig on. Many uses as well, salsa classes early in the week to occasional nightclub later in the week.

Nice historic building, formerly a Water Board Pumphouse, hence the name. Trendy renovation inside. Formerly a brewery within, but the house beers (Thunderbolt Strong Ale, Weiss City Wheat & Honey Porter) are all brewed at St Peters a few suburbs away.

Inside the venue has a decent vibe, trendy bar moreso than pub. Lots of stainless steel, leather, wood floors, so can have a bit of buzz when busy. Bar meals are on offer, while a restaurant operates using the same kitchen with tables near the entrance, which can be weird walking past the diners to go inside.

Bottled beer range is extensive, probably the best for a bar or bottleshop in Sydney. Plenty of quality with North Coast, Fullers, Mikkeller, Brewdog, Franziskaner, Feral. Taps less so with Holgate Mt Macedon, Mikkeller It's Alive & Wicked Elf Witbier the only other craft options.

Prices are decent for food at $16.50 for pizza as an example. Beers are a little bit pricey, especially the odd big bottle (Stella 0 Magnum at $280, still on the shelf after 2 years for example).

Service is quite good for Sydney, Liam is always good to chat to about the beers and knows his stuff.

Bar food is a mix of snacks, starters, pizza & burgers. Chicken Tikka pizza was alright. Would have again.

Worthwhile going to if in Sydney if you are a local for the bottled range and the guest International tap (usually Mikkeller, Nogne O or Brewdog). Nice selection of Aussie micros in bottles should make this a place to visit if on holidays in Sydney.

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Photo of danieelol
4/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This is near the Sydney Entertainment Centre so whenever there's a big crowd here it's usually for a concert or somesuch.

Definitely a pleasant and unassuming place to have a drink. Can sit out in the open air or inside, and there's nothing pretentious about the venue at all.

The bar staff are really pretty friendly and also knowledgeable by Sydney standards. Definitely seem to be some craft enthusiasts among them.

Food is on the pricy side but is of a high quality. I've tried their (signature?) burger and it was really very nice- well made with premium ingredients, despite being about $25.

The selection is very good by Sydney standards. Not only do they have their house beers (which I believe are brewed at St Peters) but they seem to have a permanent Murrays tap as well as a permanent guest tap which has had things like 5AM Saint, Nogne O Brown Ale (which wasn't working on the night I was there). They may in fact have additional craft/premium taps, I cannot recall specifics.

Bottled range is very impressive although very pricy. I did feel the pricing on draught 5AM Saint was rather a lot ($7.50), and they serve it in a different style glass which is deceptively smaller than a midi (I'm guessing it was about 250mL).

Bottles included almost all Murrays range, North Coast stuff, Mikkeller and more.

A rather large qualm I have with the way they serve beer is the malt they put in the tap handles (which seem to function like a Randal). Honestly, it makes the beer taste weird and kind of infected. Wish they could cut it out. Their house beer, Thunderbolt, is a good value English Strong Ale but is kind of ruined with those malt "additions".

Regardless, would go back again and again.

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Photo of heygeebee
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I hadn't been to the Pumphouse for over a decade I reckon - I was trying to remember if it had a u-shaped bar, before they put the straight bar right at the back, and now the bar is now at the side. This fits in well with the 'new' industrial look of the place. Fire going next to the comfy chairs, and on the bar-side, some designer stools. Even early on a weeknight you can tell the place has Vibe with a capital V. It's a trendy bar, rather than a pub, and it looks fantastic. High ceilings, lighting design worth a fortune, you know you are in the City.

The beers? The usual macros on tap, PLUS Murrays has a tap, as do The Little Brewing Company, as does Brewdog, and three in-house brews, Pilsner, Porter, and Strong. Not sure if they all rotate or not. However, the bottled beers is where the place kicks in big-time. You name it, they have it from the expensive Scandinavians, the imported US types of Sierra Nevada and North Coast. Bottled Brewdogs, and a swag of locals, Murrays, Little Brewing, etc etc. Would take a loooong time and even more money to get though them I suspect.

The bar staff practically force samplers on you, as well. I purchased the in-house porter and the guy was most worried I hadn't tried before I purchased. Well, I had, cos his mate had dished out the samplers prior!!!

A real find.

EDIT 2013 - have come to realise that the only drawback is the small number - four - of rotating taps.

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Photo of vancurly
4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Wow. It's been a while since I'd been to the Pumphouse. Back in the 80s/90s it used to brew its own, including the Thunderbolt, which is still brewed by St Peters Brewery for the pub.

They have three of their own on tap, including the 'Bolt, a so-so Pilsner, and a sweet-yet-ashtraylicked honey porter.

But, on my visit, they had BrewDogs 5am Saint on tap. Wow. What a beer, and what a surprise to see something like that in downtown Darling Harbour.

The bottled range is fantastic: Nogne Os, Mikkelers, Rogues, Sierra Nevada, as well as a close-to-full range of Murrays beers. Stacks of Belgians, and good Aussies too.

The bloke behind the bar knows his stuff, although spent a lot of the time telling me of all the great beers HE'S tried, and yet not available there. So what, mate...

But, he's keen to give you a taste of any of the draught beers, and for that, he gets a 4.0 for service.

Well worth the visit.

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Photo of dwarbi
3.63/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The Pumphouse is quite an odd Sydney pub. This Novotel hotel bar serves up top notch German, Australian, Belgian, and Canadian beer in a swanky, relaxed, fireside, faux-dingy, eloquently lit heritage listed building. Phew.

It’s not an easy place to find, just off Cockle Bay, next to the Entertainment Centre, and not on any road, but it’s worth a stop if you’re in the beer desert of the touristy area. Darling Harbour is beautiful, so it’s also a good pit stop if you’re making your way around. Try the Thunderbolt beer if you must. It’s contract-brewed for the bar but nothing special. This is one of the few places where you can try a good range of Unibroue products as well as some great Belgians. It will come at a price, though. The food is really nice as well, but it’s quite upscale, so even some pub taps will hit you hard.

The atmosphere is very subdued… on a weeknight. More on that in a bit. It’s evident that a lot of planning went into the lighting and design. I think they call it industrial chic. You may call it wanky, but it is a pleasant place to hang out with a few and have a chat.

But. Whatever you do. Do not go here on a Friday or Saturday night. It turns into a hellish nightclub! I mean it! It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was there on my birthday when the slowly shifted me and my friends from one part of the room to another… to the outside area with heat lamps… to the outside area without heat lamps! And they were not pleasant about it. It really spoiled my opinion of the place, but I have been back. And the beers were still good, and the atmosphere was still enjoyable.

Just don’t go on a Friday or Saturday night. {shudder}

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Pumphouse Bar in Darling Harbour, Australia
Brewery rating: 3.56 out of 5 with 3 ratings
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