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Crafty Pint

Your Guide to Australian Craft Beer / Thursday 24 April 2014

Red Hill Brewery

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Dave and Karen Golding abandoned their former lives in the city to set up the Mornington Peninsula’s first brewery. Just five minutes spent there and you’ll be hurriedly scrawling “Dear boss, I’ve had a revelation…” on the nearest napkin.

Nestled among trees on the slopes of Red Hill South with the Goldings’ pets roaming the neighbouring fields, Red Hill Brewery has been knocking out traditional British and European-influenced ales since 2005, enhanced by a growing number of seasonal and one-off specials. All are made with hops grown onsite including, of course, the British Golding variety. Visit at different times throughout the year to watch them shoot from roots to 16 foot climbers.

Up until July 2012, they ran regular tours of the brewery as well as monthly Hopheads sessions where guests could taste the latest brews alongside similar styles from around the world. However, after their 2012 Secret Stash weekend, they have closed the bar and cafe to allow for an expansion of the brewery and a greater focus on brewing beer. It means that this popular stop on the local food and wine touring scene will now only open for special occasions.

Regulars

Golden Ale

Red Hill’s biggest seller, this pale, crisp light bodied ale is subtly fruity with a restrained hoppy dryness created by the brewery’s homegrown Hallertauer and Tettnanger hop flowers. It uses top quality imported German Pilsner malt combined with a touch of Australian grown wheat to aid head retention and is fermented at a cool temperature to create a clean finish. A great summer beer and a good first step for drinkers taking their first steps in the world of craft beer.

Style: Golden Ale
Strength: 5%
Bitterness: 20 IBU

Red_hill_golden_ale_bottle

Wheat Beer

This recreation of the German wheat beer style boasts big fruit aromas – banana to the fore but suggestions of peach and nectarine too – caused by the special yeast and higher fermentation temperatures. Highly carbonated, it pours with a large, white head with the fruitiness of the yeast balanced by a tartness on the palate from the use of a large amount of wheat. The brewery has specially designed 500ml tall glasses perfect for enjoying this beer, which is refreshing rather than bitter making it a good warm weather choice.

Style: Hefeweizen
Strength: 5%
Bitterness: 12 IBU

Red_hill_wheat_bottle

Scotch Ale

The big boy of Red Hill’s core range of beers, this is a no-holds-barred, full-flavoured Scotch Ale that delivers massive amounts of rich, hearty malt-driven goodness. The colour of burnished copper, it has a strong, caramel and toffee sweetness lightly balanced with the brewery’s homegrown Goldings and Willamette fresh hop flowers. The grain make up in this beer took seven years to perfect so remains a tightly kept secret.

Style: Scotch Ale (90 shilling)
Strength: 5.8%
Bitterness: 17 IBU

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Red Hill Pilsner

The Pilsner is dead! Long live the Pilsner! Yes, the first move by Red Hill on the beer front since pulling down the shutters of their onsite bar and restaurant to focus on making more beers is to add a new one to their permanent range. So, joining the Golden Ale, Scotch Ale and Wheat Beer comes the Pilsner. Not the Bohemian Pilsner that was one of their summer seasonals, but a newbie that’s changed in more ways than losing its prefix. Lower in alcohol than the Bohemian and extremely pale in colour, it still presents as beautifully in the glass with a soft, lasting foamy head and is more hop-focused than its predecessor. The sweetness from the malt is there, but very much as the backbone upon which the distinctly spicy hops can shine. Refreshing, dry and moreish, it makes the Red Hill family that little bit bigger and happier.

Style: Pilsner
Strength: 5.2%

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Specials

Red Hill Double Barrel Imperial Stout 2013

The jewel in Red Hill’s crown has been adorned with some extra sparkles. For only the second time in their history, the brewers on the Mornington Peninsula poured some of their highly-rated and much sought after Imperial Stout into whisky barrels to create this “Double Barrel” version. A small amount was debuted at their Imperial Stout-flavoured Secret Stash weekend and now what little is left has departed the brewery in old school 500ml bottles and is cropping up on a handful of shelves. The rich blend of chocolate, mocha and dark fruits remain, but with the welcome added dimension of the time spent in oak. The effects of the barrel more noticeable on the jet black beer than last time the Double Barrel appeared, but in a way that integrates with the base ale rather than dominates. It’s not just the flavour that has an added dimension either – the ABV has risen from 8.1 per cent to 10.2 per cent too.

NB It’s not the only Red Hill seasonal out now either. This year’s batch of their “toffee banana” German style Weizenbock has just been released too. More on the beer here.

Available:

Stockists TBC but expect it to find it where Red Hill seasonals are usually found.

Style: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Strength: 10.2%

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Red Hill Imperial Stout 2013

Every winter, the number of Imperial Stouts released by Aussie micros increases. This year we’ve seen them head well past 10 per cent, use Belgian yeasts, spend time in barrels, cram in tonnes of American hops and even, in one particularly silly case, feature heaps of molluscs. The one that started it all was Red Hill’s and this year they celebrated the fact by launching the 2013 vintage at their Secret Stash weekend alongside aged earlier releases stretching back to 2008. The latest remains faithful to its origins – and why not when it’s a beer that regularly medals? – which means there’s no chasing high ABV here or deviating from the original beer’s British genesis. Instead, it’s a beer that’s full-bodied without being cloying and offers up plenty of mocha, dark chocolate and dark fruit flavours with a nice roasty bitterness to round off the malt sweetness. Rightly regarded as an Aussie craft beer classic, even with so many other, frequently bigger and bolshier, takes on the style around. And, as a bonus this year, some has been put into firkins for an even more traditional take on the beer.

Available:

Firkin / handpump:
Belgian Beer Cafe Eureka
Royston
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Local Taphouse Darlo
Keg:
Pope Joan
Deja Vu Bar
Royal Albert Hotel
The Alehouse Project
East Of Everything
Beer DeLuxe
Atticus Finch
Bottle:
Good bottleshops and bars including
Deco
Valley Cellar Door
Slowbeer
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Purvis Cellars
Purvis Beer Richmond
McCoppins
The Park Hotel
Penny Blue
Vue Grand
Warners at the Bay
Beer Cartel

Style: Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.1%

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Red Hill Hop Harvest 2013

The fruits of Red Hill’s annual hop-picking day is a beer based on the traditional ESB – or Extra Special Bitter – style from the UK. Thus, while it is the showcase for the freshly picked hops from their own hop farm, lovingly and sweatily plucked by the owners and their friends one March weekend, it’s also a pretty malt-driven beer. Cloudy copper brown to look at, the aroma is as much toffee and nuts as it is hoppy, with the fresh Willamette and Goldings hops coming to bear more in the mouth. There they add some earthy, spicy characters and, more than anything, a dense, lingering resiny bitterness typical of highly hopped fresh hop beers. NB – We’re a little late on listing this one so if it sounds like your bag, go find some soon!

Style: Fresh hop ESB
Strength: 6.0%

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Red Hill Christmas Ale 2012

This beer brewed in the depths of the Victorian winter to be ready in time for the festive season is one of Red Hill’s longest-serving seasonals and, as with Christmas itself, is reassuringly consistent in its quality, albeit with a welcome lack of family arguments and late night meat sweats. A Belgian Dubbel by style, it’s the colour of brandy snaps, pouring with a big, white head and full of dried fruit and spices of the star anise and cinnamon variety. It’s moderately boozy at this relatively young age (‘tis 8.3 per cent, after all) but not in any way that diminishes the drinking pleasure. Complex, zesty, spicy and dry at the finish, it could solve any Christmas Day family fallout (or at least dull the pain), perhaps even more so if you can keep your mitts off your bottles until Christmas 2013…

Style: Belgian Dubbel
Strength: 8.3%

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Red Hill Saison

They’ve certainly been living up to their promise to make more beer and more beers since closing down their bar and cafe a few weeks ago. In addition to their regular, much-loved seasonal releases, Red Hill has put out a special Jubilee beer, joined forces with Mornington Peninsula for a collaboration specially for the Beers By The Bay festival and also released their first saison. They’re claiming it could be Australia’s only “true” saison as it’s brewed on a hop farm. Whether it is or not, it’s being given some unique treatment at the brewery when they open for Cup Weekend where a cask-conditioned version will be pouring through the handpump. As for the beer itself, it’s: “pale, light bodied with a tart and refreshing drinkability. It has a complex nose with plenty of funky yeasty farmhouse flavours and finishes lovely and dry with the addition of [their] Tettnanger and Hallertau hops.”

Available:

Red Hill – Cup Weekend only!
Other good beer venues around Victoria – TBC

Style: Saison
Strength: 6.0%

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Red Hill Temptation 2012

Last year’s Temptation became one of a growing number of Red Hill beers to have seen the inside of a cask, this time one soaked in gin prior to being filled with their strong Belgian golden ale. The resulting beer is higher in alcohol, drier and more tart than the original. There’s just a handful of bottles of the barrel-aged version take left, which means those who enjoy being tempted every year will be pleased to see a new batch rolling out from the brewery this week. As for the newly arrived 2012 Temptation, the bottle we sampled was bursting with sweet, fruity, citrusy and herbal aromas. It’s got tonnes of sweet malt flavours – and more of that citrus character in the mouth too – with a dry, almost tart, finish that counteracts the initial sweetness and makes for a devilishly easy to drink eight per center.

Available:

Kegs and barrel-aged bottles:
Junction Beer Hall
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Deju Vu Bar
Beer DeLuxe
East of Everything, Camberwell
Grumpy’s Green
The Terminus
Bottles of barrel-aged:
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Josie Bones
Slowbeer
Purvis Cellars
Normal Temptation is at all usual Red Hill stockists.

Style: Belgian Golden Ale
Strength: 8.0%

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Red Hill Weizenbock 2012

The brewery may have closed its bar and restaurant last month, but the beers keep on coming. This time it’s the return of a style that’s cropping up a little more often around the Aussie craft beer world these days – the weizenbock, aka a strong wheat beer. It’s a beautiful looking beer in the glass with a fluffed up pillow like ahead atop its cloudy brown body. It’s one with plenty going on too; the label might talk of its chocolate flavours, but get it young and it’s those big, fruity wheat beer esters that grab your attention first: banana, particularly. The chocolate (of the milky variety, we reckon) takes over afterwards, with some gently spicy hops and warming alcohol (it is 7.9% after all) completing the picture.

Style: Weizenbock
Strength: 7.9%

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Red Hill Imperial Stout (2012)

Does anything need to be said about this beer? The most eagerly anticipated of the Mornington Peninsula brewery’s seasonal range and now brewed in larger amounts to try and meet demand (they never will!) is a beer that has been warming the cockles and exciting the taste buds of Aussie craft beer lovers for years and never lets you down. It’s probably one of the most cellared beers in Oz too. If we can say anything about this year’s, it’s that we had some on tap at the Terminus and figured it would need a few minutes to warm up to optimal temperature. Yet there was no need to wait, as the thick oily body and its deeply brown head were doing just what you’d want from the off, with molasses, sweet liquorice and more among the typically roasty stout characters. Grab some before it’s gone for another year.

Available:

ON TAP AT:
Red Hill
Royston
The Terminus
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Atticus Finch
Junction Beer Hall
Beer DeLuxe
Josie Bones (where they also have a cellared keg from 2011)
In bottle at good bottleshops (see the Bottleshop section on here)

Style: Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.0%

Red-hill-imp-stout_bottle

Red Hill Queen's Diamond Jubilee British IPA

It was time spent in the UK drinking real ales in British pubs that, at least in part, inspired the decision of Red Hill owners Karen and Dave Golding to embark on their brewing journey. So perhaps it’s only right that upon returning from their latest jaunt around the UK that they should return with a new British beer. And how much more British can you get than a beer dedicated to old Queenie’s 60 years in the top job? From the first whiff, it’s a beer to transport you back to a cosy British pub (if you’ve ever been to one and drunk a strong English ale that is, with 5.5% being something of a big one by UK standards), with subtle sweet and earthy aromas of Goldings and Willamette (the latter an American take on English Fuggles), distinct malt flavours, and earthy, somewhat spicy hop flavours. The bottle we sampled had yet to undergo the additional dry-hopping or secondary conditioning that the version pouring from casks through the hand pump at the brewery (or the soon-to-be-released bottles) have been through so expect even more hops when you get your hands on some.

Available:

Red Hill
Wider release coming soon…

Style: British IPA
Strength: 5.5%

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Red Hill Sticke Alt

This beer produced originally for the 2012 Great Australian Beer Spectapular and the Good Beer Week Great Beer Swap keeps to the Red Hill traditions of seeking inspiration from the classical styles of Europe. The Sticke Alt was a special version of the altbiers of Germany – one that you might have to ask the brewer or publican for with a nod and a wink. According to the Red Hill folks theirs is a “stronger, darker and hoppier variation of the traditional Dusseldorf Altbier. A cool ferment and extended cold conditioning creates a clean crisp ale with a surprising balance between bitterness and nutty-malty sweetness. Dark copper in colour with the flavour complexity of an ale and noble hop bouquet.”

Available:

Royston
The Terminus
Beer DeLuxe
Josie Bones
Bishop of Ostia
Bar None
The Local Taphouse Darlo
The Local Taphouse St Kilda

Style: Sticke Alt
Strength: 5.4%

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Red Hill Hop Harvest 2012

The first fruit of the sticky day in March when the Red Hill crew invites friends and beer lovers to the farm to pluck their homegrown hops from their bines. Just 24 hours after picking, lashings of Goldings and Willamette were thrown into the beer, with some dry-hopped and placed in casks to be served at the brewery via its handpump. The rest is out and about in bottles and kegs now. Unlike some of the hop harvest beers that come out at this time of year that try to allow just the hops the shine, it’s a rounded English ESB style beer, so while you get fresh, floral hop notes and earthy flavours, this burnt copper coloured beer as as much about full-bodied malty goodness as it is those gorgeous green cones.

Available:

ON TAP
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
The Terminus
Josie Bones
IN BOTTLES
Armadale Cellars
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Cloudwine
Harvest Wine
Local Bottle Store & Provisions
Mordialloc Cellar Door, Prince Wine & Spirits, Purvis Wine/Beer, Slow Beer, The Valley Cellar Door,

Peninsula: Cellar & Pantry (Red Hill Cellars), Majestic Cellars, Ritchies

TO DRINK – Bar Fred, Bella Union, Grumpy’s Green, Junction Hotel Newport, Kananook Boathouse, Bar None, Ten minutes by Tractor, Mosq

Style: ESB
Strength: 6.0%

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Red Hill Belgian Blonde 2012

Despite the fact they’ve just taken delivery of a spanking new bottling line, the good sorts down at Red Hill haven’t let their brewing schedule slide, meaning their late summer seasonal, the rather tasty Belgian Blonde is out and about. Actually, not quite out and about – such is demand for their beers these days that they only managed to squeeze in the one batch this year, meaning it’s on at the brewery and the brewery only. Expect plenty of rich biscuity malt characters, hints of spice and a touch of earthy hops from a beer that’s been tweaked by the brewers this year to “up the ante” of its Belgian-ness. They’ve added Bitterballen – Flemish style beef croquette served with mustard – and Dromana Bay Mussels in a Belgian style to the menu to celebrate the beer’s release; we seem to recall the Blonde and mussels pairing being rather splendid on a past visit too…

Available:

Red Hill

Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Strength: 6.5%

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Red Hill Christmas Ale (2011)

Red Hill Christmas Ale

Time to break out the tinsel and get decorating the tree – Christmas is a-coming. Which means the last of Red Hill’s seasonals is a-coming too, a beer designed to accompany a rich Christmas pud on the big day. A strong Belgian ale in style, it pours a deep orange with a ruby tint and fires off all manner of sweet caramel and dried fruit aromas, topped off with spicy notes from the hops; at this early stage in its life, it’s almost perfume like. Full-bodied and creamy, it’s a complex bugger – bitter, sweet, spicy and warming at the same time – in which the 8.3% creeps up on you and reminds you that Christmas really is a time for taking things slow.

Available:

Red Hill Tap and bottle NOW
Around Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula from Dec 9

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Strength: 8.3%

Red_hill_xmas_ale_bottle

Red Hill Bohemian Pilsner (2011)

Of all the beers Red Hill produce, this, apparently, is the brewer’s favourite. It’s easy to see why. Inspired by a pilsner-drinking session in a pub in New Zealand a few years ago, it stands apart from most beers of its ilk on the market by being fuller and richer in the mouth than you might expect thanks to its relatively high alcohol content. The nose combines lemon, sweet honey and a hint of spiciness from the hops, the flavour offers masses of biscuity malts and there’s a nice firm bitterness to wrap things up. It also pours beautifully, so much so that we actually took a photo of 2010’s in the glass to send the the brewers and we thought Crafty was well above such fanboy actions…

Available:

Red Hill
Acland Cellars
Bar Fred
Biero
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Red Hill Cellar & Pantry
Deco
Flagstaff Cellars, West Melbourne
Josie Bones
Lower Plenty Cellars
Majestic Cellars, Mt Eliza
Mordy Cellar Door
Olinda Cellars
Oscar’s Alehouse
Prince Wine Store, Essendon and South Melbourne
Purvis Cellars
Rathdowne Cellars, Carlton
Ritchies, Carrum Downs, Towerhill Frankston, Balnarring, Dromana, Mt Eliza, Yarra Glen, Wantirna
Sunshine Creek Cellars, Camberwell
Slowbeer
Ten Minutes By Tractor, Main Ridge
Courthouse Hotel
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Local Bottle Store & Provisions The Point, South Melbourne
The Tasting Station, Rosebud

Style: Bohemian Pilsner
Strength: 5.9%

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Red Hill Weizenbock (2011)

A beer whose popularity surprised the brewers, given strong German style wheat beers rocking in around 8% aren’t exactly commonplace in Australia, the Weizenbock is Red Hill’s first spring seasonal, a nice bridger as the weather warms up. When young, this dark beer offers up plenty of chocolate, toffee, clove and banana characteristics, with the sweetness balanced by some brewery grown hops and backed up by a gentle warmth from the alcohol. We’ve also tasted some bottles that were allowed to age for months and found the character significantly changed, with the more pungent banana and clove aromas fading and more dark sugar characteristics coming through, reminiscent of an aged Belgian dubbel. In other words, if you want to pick up a few – and trust yourself to resist temptation – it’s a beer worth dabbling with in your cellar.

Available:

2013 stockists TBC but we know the first keg has been tapped at East Of Everything

Style: Weizenbock
Strength: 7.9%

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Red Hill Imperial Stout 2011

If there’s one beer from the Red Hill range that craft beer lovers hang out for more than any other, it has to be the Imperial Stout. An excellent example of the style, the good news in 2011 is that they’ve brewed more of it than ever before. They’ve also allow some to condition in traditional English casks – then dry-hopped it – and will be pouring it from the hand pump at the brewery. And they’ve increased the bitterness compared to the 2010 version. This year’s batch is described as “jet black”, “silky smooth”, with a nose of roasted malt and a touch of caramel. To taste, expect “a rich deep mocha and coffee flavour, accentuated with caramel and smoky flavours”.

Available:

ON TAP:
Red Hill
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Biero
Atticus Finch
Royston
Josie Bones
BOTTLE:
Blackhearts & Sparrows, Cloudwine, Lower Plenty Cellars, Local Bottle Store, Mayerling Cellars, Mordialloc Cellar Door, Nilumbuk Cellars, Prince Wine & Spirits, Purvis Beer, Olinda Cellars, Rathdowne Cellars, Slowbeer, Sunshine Creek, Swords, Valley Cellar Door, Cellar & Pantry (Red Hill Cellars), Majestic Cellars, Ritchies, Tasting Station, Bar Fred, Blue Diamond, Courthouse Hotel, Deco, Max’s at Red Hill Estate, Lindenderry, Oscar’s Alehouse, Paringa Estate, The Point, Royal Mail Hotel, Tasting Station, Two Buoys

Style: Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.1%

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Red Hill India Black Ale

It’s not too often that a completely new beer appears on the Red Hill roster. They’re brewers who, quite rightly, are pleased with their regular seasonals and seem happy to sit on some to age or whack the odd big one into barrels for a bit of fun. So, blow Crafty down with a feather if they haven’t gone and brought out a new one. The first of what will be three dark beers this winter is an India Black Ale, essentially a British-style IPA turned black with the use of some de-husked black malt that imparts colour without the roasted flavour usually associated with it. It’s just been tapped in time for the brewery’s Secret Stash weekend and is described as having a full malt character, upfront hop flavour and aromas and a “generous bitterness that will leave you with a thirst for another pint”. It was a bit of a treat for the brewers, Tim and Simon, who were given free rein to create what they wanted, messing around with a few home brews before creating one batch only of the IBA. Go tell them what you think!

Available:

Red Hill
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Atticus Finch
Josie Bones
Royston
Biero
Atticus Finch

Style: India Black Ale

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Red Hill Hop Harvest Ale (2011)

They say there’s no better way to sample a beer than fresh from the brewery. Presumably that makes tasting it at the brewery, straight from the bright tank, through a traditional hand pump only installed on the bar 24 hours earlier is about as fresh as you can get. Either way, this year’s Hop Harvest Ale is tasting pretty special. It’s the annual release from Red Hill that makes use of the fresh hops grown on their farm – picked by friends and used in a brew the same day – and the 2011 could be their best vintage yet. They’ve increased the hopping for bitterness, but also seem to have captured more of the light floral hop characters you’d expect in a good British ESB. As someone who grew up on real ale, watching the beer settle after pouring – forming a dense, shaving foam like head – was like a trip back in time, while the beer – smooth, creamy, with rich malts surrounded by the floral aromas, hints of marmalade and a steadily building hop bitterness – is worth the trip to the Mornington Peninsula. Will be available more widely and in bottles too.

Available:

Red Hill
Valley Cellar Door
Purvis Beer
Purvis Beer Richmond
Royston
Slowbeer
Josie Bones
Blackhearts & Sparrows

Style: ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
Strength: 6.0%

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Red Hill Belgian Blonde

Of all Red Hill’s seasonals, this one seems to fly under the radar a little. Yet it holds its own as part of their Belgian trilogy alongside the Temptation and Christmas Ale. Full-bodied and creamy in the mouth, it offers up a mix of caramel malt characteristics, some spicy notes, a slightly sour tang and hoppy bitterness. They’ve only brewed one batch this year so you’ll have to head to the brewery to taste on tap or pick up in bottles.

Available:

Red Hill

Style: Belgian Blonde
Strength: 6.5%

Red-hill-beer-logo_bottle

Red Hill Christmas Ale

Time to break out the tinsel and get decorating the tree – Christmas is a-coming. Which means the last of Red Hill’s seasonals is a-coming too, a beer designed to accompany a rich Christmas pud on the big day. A strong Belgian ale in style, it pours a deep orange with a ruby tint and fires off all manner of sweet caramel and dried fruit aromas, topped off with spicy notes from the hops; at this early stage in its life, it’s almost perfume like. Full-bodied and creamy, it’s a complex bugger – bitter, sweet, spicy and warming at the same time – in which the 8.3% creeps up on you and reminds you that Christmas really is a time for taking things slow.

Available:

Red Hill Brewery
ON TAP Biero
The Local Taphouse St Kilda
Atticus Finch
BOTTLES Acland Cellars, Cloudwine, Grain & Grape
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Harvest Wine, Lower Plenty Cellars
Mordy Cellar Door
Prince Wine & Spirits
Purvis Beer
Olinda Cellars, Seaview Cellars
Slowbeer
Sunshine Creek, Swords
Valley Cellar Door Bar Fred, Deco
Oscar’s Alehouse
Mrs Parma’s
Paringa Estate, The Point, Tasting Station

Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Strength: 8.3%

Red-hill-christmas-ale_bottle

Red Hill Bohemian Pilsner

While the weather gods are doing their level best to convince the people of the Mornington Peninsula otherwise, summertime is supposed to be on its way and so the Red Hill brewers are sticking to their guns to bring us their summer seasonal, the Bohemian Pilsner. Richer and creamier in the mouth than most pilsners, it promises to be yet another in a long line of winners from Red Hill. Lemony citrus notes and a light honey sweetness give way to a little spiciness on the nose in a beer that pours a hazy golden colour with a fluffy white head. Chew your way through sweet biscuity malts before arriving at a firm, lingering bitter finish. Then repeat as prescribed. One warning: at 5.9%, it’s pretty big for a pilsner – not that you’d know it to taste – as Mrs Pint discovered to her cost when 2009’s end of school year celebrations were cut unexpectedly short by last year’s vintage!

Available:

Red Hill Brewery

Style: Bohemian Pilsner
Strength: 5.9%

Red-hill-bohemian-pilsner_bottle

Red Hill Temptation

I once attended a superb beer dinner featuring the Red Hill range at Circa, in St Kilda. The Temptation was paired with the appetiser in place of a glass of bubbly – and you can see why the chef picked it. Not just because of the amount of fizz that gives it a luscious foamy white head, but because of the flavour profile. There are hints of white wine grape in there plus a touch of tartness. That’s only part of the story, however, in one of the brewery’s most complex brews. There’s also a honey like sweetness and spices (white pepper, cardamon) in the taste, complementing a fruity (pear, grape) and candi sugar nose, and with the 8% alcohol tucked well enough away to make it one to handle with kid gloves.

Available:

Red Hill Brewery Slowbeer
Purvis Beer
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Mrs Parma’s
Royston
The Terminus
Local Taphouse St Kilda
Biero Bar

Style: Strong Belgian Golden Ale
Strength: 8.0%

Red-hill-temptation_bottle

Red Hill Weizenbock

Here’s one that takes me back to childhood. Not that I drank 7.9% beers as a child, but because the nose stokes up memories of gorging on packs of mixed flavour Toffos – chewy toffee sweets that came in original, strawberry, chocolate and, in the case of the Weizenbock, banana varieties. The latter was always my favourite – I’d pray for the sorting machine to malfunction and produce a pack of banana only chews. Mind you, the Toffos never offered up a soft hop aroma, or came supported by a hefty second wave of warm alcohol-boosted chocolate flavours that wrap themselves around the banana toffee like heavy duty eiderdown. Rich, creamy and warming, it’s a beer to win over even the fiercest wheat beer haters. Here’s hoping Red Hill malfunctions and sends Crafty a slab by mistake…

Available:

Red Hill Brewery
Slowbeer
Purvis Beer
Blackhearts & Sparrows
Mrs Parma’s
Royston
The Terminus
Local Taphouse St Kilda
Biero Bar

Style: Weizenbock (Strong wheat beer)
Strength: 7.9%

Red-hill-weizenbock_bottle

Imperial Stout

Rapidly becoming a flagship beer not just for the brewery but the new wave of Australian craft brewers, this winter release is snapped up as soon as it’s released. With good reason: it’s a huge beer – not only in terms of alcohol content. Pouring deep black with a viscous body that crawls down the glass, it has a rich roasty nose with a touch of caramel and a deep mocha and coffee flavour accentuated with caramel and smoky notes. Three hop additions of the brewery’s Willamette and Goldings hops give it plenty of bitterness and an assertive hop character. When on tap at the brewery, it’s served with a sparkler tap creating a lightly carbonated ale with a lasting white head.

Available:

Red Hill Brewery

Style: Imperial Stout
Strength: 8.1%
Bitterness: 65 IBU

Red_hill_imperial_stout_bottle

Hop Harvest Ale

Having your own hop farm onsite has its advantages, especially for drinkers who get to indulge in this annual special from Red Hill. One weekend every year, the Goldings invite volunteers to the brewery to help pick their hop crop before setting about using some of the fresh hop cones to makes this one-off beer. British Goldings hops are used in the boil and added again in the tank (dry-hopping) to lend Hop Harvest its grassy aroma while Willamette hops result in a pleasantly peppery and bitter finish. It’s no unbalanced hop fiend, however. A healthy blend of grains give it a big malt backbone and caramel aroma resulting in a delicious strong English style ale that hides its 6% remarkably well.

Available:

Red Hill Brewery

Style: English Special Bitter
Strength: 6%
Bitterness: 44 IBU