Ballarat is Victoria’s third-largest city, and was the epicentre of the Victoria gold rush of the late 1800s. Today, Ballarat is a bustling regional centre with unbelievable historic buildings to stare at all day long. There are also, a lot of pubs to get a feed and a cold beer at. And for them to cut the mustard, you’re going to need to know which are the best pubs in Ballarat. Well, we’ve done that work for you.
In the 1860s, Ballarat (Ballaarat as it was spelled then) was home to around 500 hotels. Canvas tent, and timber pubs dominated the landscape during the gold rush, with a steep decline in the amount of premises pouring beers declining during the temperance movement, and subsequent introduction of liquor licenses.
Also Read: The Best Pubs In Country Victoria
There may no longer be 500 pubs in Ballarat, but there are still plenty that have stood the test of time and are still open and pouring beers today.
Not to be confused with the Bunch Of Grapes Hotel (I must get to the bottom of that one), The Grapes Hotel in Ballarat’s Golden Point is a must for anyone seeking out that old school pub feel. It’s not a huge pub, but the front bar will make you feel at home, and the bistro serves up some excellent meals.
There’s also a beer garden set up outside the old bottle-o if you want to take in the magnificent afternoon Ballarat sun.
Beer, wine, and food are what you’re going to get at Hop Temple. Found in Ballarat Central down Police Lane, Hop Temple is the only kind of temple that we’d consider giving up our Sunday for. Grab a beer from one of the 17 rotating taps, a range of ‘hoptails’, and wine from all over Australia.
On the menu, you’ll find a range of slow-cooked meats from the pit, sandwiches featuring those meats, and pizzas.
The locals love The Mallow, and those visiting Ballarat are sure to as well. Old-school pub feel is on the cards upon a visit to The Mallow, where you’re greeted with friendly service, great meals, and plenty of beer. Food takes a traditional pub fare route, with chicken parma, burger options, and lamb souvlaki on the menu. Lamb souvlaki seem to take pride of place on most Ballarat pub menus, that feels like a story in itself.
Not to be confused with The Grapes Hotel……the Bunch Of Grapes Hotel has sat on Pleasant Street since 1906—evidence suggests there has been a pub on the site since 1868—serving many a Ballarat worker, resident, and visitor.
The Bunch Of Grapes menu is extensive, featuring four different kinds of parma, with a chicken schnitzel for a good measure, and a range of pizzas, entrees, and salads. Something to keep anyone satisfied after a long day exploring the goldfields.
After a few years of instability, the Queens Head Hotel’s new(ish) owners have made the pub a destination to be reckoned with. Declaring that they have the ‘coldest beer, and the warmest welcome’ in Ballarat, the pub is also home to Lenny’s Bistro, which boats a modern menu that makes the most of local produce.
There’s also a bottle shop next door which is perfect for the odd traveller.
The Provincial Hotel can be found across from Ballarat’s ostentatious railway station, and while The Provincial could be described by the same word, there is plenty of substance to go with the pub’s style. The hotel is home to restaurant, Lola. Which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are also accomodation options available, and event spaces for those looking to host something larger.
Aunty Jack’s mission is to put Ballarat on the map as the craft brewing capital of Australia, and you could make a fair argument that Ballarat is already there. Aunty Jack’s brews its own beers, with a lager, session ale, pale ale, IPA, porter, and a range of other experiemental flavours on offer.
If you’re hungry while you’re there, Aunty Jack’s offers a range of pizza, share plates, and snacks.
Twenty minutes out of Ballarat in Snake Valley you’ll find the Royal Hotel. A typical country pub with plenty of charm, the Royal Hotel will fill your live music needs, alongside great food, and accommodation options.