Tag Archives: Victorian microbrews

Red Hill Secret Stash weekend is as foodie as it is beery

Last post for beer week at EDS! Last weekend was the ‘Secret Stash’ weekend at the Red Hill Brewery down in the Mornington Peninsula area and thus an excellent excuse to get together some good foodie/beerie mates for a stellar pub lunch.

I have much fondness for the Red Hill Brewery because it was one of the places that helped me realise just how wonderful the Australian craft beer scene is. When I first went there, it was Secret Stash weekend which is generally when special brews go on tap and are made available to the public – this particular weekend, they had their scotch ale (remains a favourite of mine to this day) which had been aged in a barrel – just a tad more special than the scotch ale proper. I bought a stein and elected to get it filled up with the special scotch ale. Not a drop wasted!

For lunch that day, I had the bratwurst with parsnip mash and braised red cabbage and Tris had the pork hock with beetroot spätzli. Not fantastic photos, sorry, was in a bit of a rush to eat!

This Secret Stash just passed (as in last weekend to the time of this being published) was promising the Hop Harvest Ale (6% ABV) on tap (which you can also have on tap at the Local Taphouse as they are currently showcasing Red Hill’s beer – the Hop Harvest, Scotch Ale and wheat beer, to be precise). I remember reading about how they made it too – a bunch of beer loving folks got up very early one morning and picked the brewery’s own hops on the premises to make it. I quote directly from the website…

The brewers were knee deep in our hops for this special brew, using hops just harvested from our own vines which were then steeped in our conditioning vats for months, this is a traditional English style bitter. Copper in colour with a strong malt character, balanced by the use of our new seasons Willamette and Goldings hops to create a full hop flavour and aroma. The complex grain bill provides a full, rich & malty ale that has hints of marmalade and lashings of hop resin flavours, finishing with a peppery spicy note.

Good chums Colin, Suz and Lindsey had got there before us and were chowing down on starters – Colin’s nuts (I’m afraid that joke isn’t ever getting old even though it’s been done to death) and some gouda cheese. Colin had ordered the Welsh rarebit but it was scoffed into oblivion before I arrived.

Drink-wise both Suz and Colin got beer tasting paddles – the one offering the Bohemian Pilsner, Belgian Blonde, Hop Harvest Ale and Temptation.

 beer paddle

I got to test the ‘hair of the dog’ theory after a rough night beforehand and ordered a pot of the Bohemian Pilsner. It’s extremely crisp and refreshing, has a thin body and would be a fantastic summer session beer. It becomes less hoppy as you continue to drink it. Gah, why wasn’t I drinking more of this when it was summer?!

Time for lunch! Suz and I both ordered the chicken pot pie. Just perfect for the nippy weather. Very hearty! I think this might also have been flavoured with one of the Red Hill beers but because I neglected to take a photo of the menu, I can’t tell you which one but I suspect it might have been the wheat beer. Update: the kind RHB folks tell me the pie is flavoured with their scotch ale and has wild mushrooms in it. Cheers guys!

 pot pie

Lindsey and Tris both ordered the waterzooi – a seafood chowder. Fuku-san! update: I’m told it had a generous amount of seafood including mussels, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, some sort of fish and possibly scallops. Shame there was only one piece of bread to mop up the rest of the moreish soup. You see Linds, I do know what Iron Chef is.

 waterzooi

But it was Colin who got the best dish on offer – the pork belly with mash and braised red cabbage. I might have to make a trip just to go and try this. The first time I went to Red Hill it wasn’t on the menu which changes to reflect the seasons, so I missed out. Despite the deliciousness of all our dishes, we looked on in envy at Colin’s. I think Lindsey is still lamenting not having chosen it! So say we all…

 pork belly

Thankfully, there was no choice regarding dessert. It was steamed chocolate pudding, or nothing. All five of us had dessert. A most generous serving it was too!

 steamed chocolate pudding

Suz, Lindsey and I had a goblet of the Imperial Stout though I think I was the only one to get it with dessert. It is rich, with a thick creamy head. I find it has hints of burnt coffee and it’s very velvety. No wonder I didn’t finish dessert.

Oh yes, and the Hop Harvest…

 hop harvest

Much maltier and sweeter than I expected, it’s also quite a filling beer. Medium bodied and suited the bracing Victorian weather which on this particular day could not make up its bloody mind.

I do wish I took Mum here for Mothers’ Day lunch after all. While it is a brewery, they serve excellent food, locally sourced when possible. People don’t just come here for the excellent beer and that was evident upon last visiting. The tables were packed with very hungry folks.

On a personal note, it was lovely to meet Karen, the part-owner of Red Hill Brewery and the lady responsible for the brewery’s Twitter presence. The very first Ale Stars I ever attended, we had the pleasure of the other co-owner and brewer David coming up and giving us the ideal show-and-tell. I won’t lie – I was flattered that Karen wanted to meet me. It’s not often people want to do so just because of what I write (usually when I tell people I write poetry, they back away like I’m an escaped psych ward patient. Sad thing is, I don’t blame them!). Enough babbling from me, if you’d like more information on the brewery, head over to their website and plot a visit. 

News-flash! Red Hill Brewery picked up some awards – will update with more comprehensive information and please forgive me for the time being for referencing a tweet! No official information as yet but you can read some of the results over at The Crafty Pint.

Red Hill Brewery on Urbanspoon

the local mountain goats got me

vats

This coming week is going to be a BIG beer related event week for me, so here begins the first of three posts for the week – two will be on breweries, and one will be a zine review (yes, people write zines about beer! How cool is that?). Don’t worry, there’ll be lots of food action to go along with the beer because good food does go well with good beer.

After accidentally sleeping in due to a disco nap, I (legally) raced on over to the Mountain Goat brewery in Richmond one rainy Friday evening. I may have driven past it a few times…in the dark, you can’t really tell what it looks like as it blends in perfectly with all the industrial buildings around. Once inside, it’s actually rather classy – pretty much a converted warehouse with big communal tables and lots of space to encourage bike-riders to bring in their modern-day chariots. The photo above is of the vats, and it reminds me of that scene in Goldeneye where Bond has to bomb similar tank-like things after Trevelyan has crossed him. Um, I remember it so well because of the game on Nintendo 64, don’t judge me!

I’d never been before to the Mountain Goat brewery and was lured by the promise of their beer ‘Rapunzel’ being served three ways – regular, oaked, and ‘Randied’, which meant ‘hopinated’. Yes, beer is very technical…to be honest I’m not exactly sure what the hopinator does – I just know that the beer is rendered hoppier by being run through it with fresh hops. Don’t worry, you don’t get any floaties in your beer. The beer being run through the hopinator changes every time the brewery is open to the public (generally Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5pm).

Randall the hopinator

Sadly, only oaked Rapunzel was available when I arrived. Here’s more info straight from the brewery’s blog about her:

Rapunzel is brewed in the style of a true Belgian Abbey beer. In the days of old monks used to brew these beers with the help of the almighty (we assume). We’ve taken a leaf from their book and combined Pilsener Malt, German Hallertau hops and a Belgian Yeast strain to produce a full-on, 7.7% alc/vol slice of Flanders. This current 2010 version also comes with extra baggage – there’s an Oaked version. Last May we filled a chardonnay barrel with 2009 Rapunzel, and we let it sit for 9 months. The French Oak has imparted distinct vanilla, apple and honey characters that just can’t be delivered other than by oak. We blended it back with a little of the 2010 Rapunzel, and whammo. It’s really something out of the box (barrel?).

Ooh, she was yummy – quite alcoholic for a beer, and not quite like wine, but possessing some characteristics thereof. The barrel definitely left its mark on the beer. Hopefully I’ll be able to compare to Rapunzel regular when she’s on tap at the Local Taphouse in St Kilda.

Bit O’ Meat was at the brewery beforehand and got to sample more of the produce, to put it rather finely. I got to taste some of his Riwaka Pale Ale, some of the Randied Galaxy IPA, and the Steam Ale on tap. Steam Ale tastes a little bit like Coopers Sparkling – but not so in the bottle. The Riwaka was hoppy, but not nearly as much as the Galaxy, nom. Amusingly, he also made new friends – some lovely engineering/dancing types. They were capital fellows. It was like walking into an episode of Cheers or something. My last drink was the Surefoot Stout, which was more like a really robust, smoky porter, though very much a stout in colour. To have this with oysters would have been a damn treat. If you don’t like dark beers, or stouts, I still think you should give this a go. Perfect given the day had got so chilly what with all that rain.

If you check my personal Twitter profile, it says that I’m a beer, cheese and prosciutto assassin, and so I ordered a pizza so that I could indulge my appetite for my culinary holy trinity – a prosciutto and cheese pizza. Imagine it – pizza slice in one hand, pint glass in the other. Is that not the perfect Friday night? It’s bittersweet looking back at this because my loves are also my vices, and I’ve been instructed to drastically cut down my appetite for all three (with great success, I might add).

cheese & prosciutto pizza

Richmond’s not too far from the city centre and it’s excellent fortune to have a brewery in a metropolitan area. As soon as I went, I caught myself starting sentences with “Next time I come here, I’m going to have…” and the like. I’m puzzled as to why so many people (and I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself countless times) go to average pubs and order pint after pint of the commercial swill when we have places like this. I admit it – I lost more than my fair share of brain cells on Carlton Draught jugs (yeah, not pints, but JUGS) at the weekly social night for a musical society I’ve previously had dealings with. Is it that we’re cheap, or stupid? Probably both!

Mountain Goat Brewery on Urbanspoon

parma smash

I have a good friend, and recently, we’ve taken to meeting up every so often for a good old parma. My mate R also likes to bring his housemate N, and I like to drag along my Bit O’ Meat (my cheeky nickname for the partner). It’s been a fun habit – funny shit-talking, teasing, good pub food and hearty quantities of beer imbibed. What life is all about, really!

Time came for all of us to do it again, and I suggested we go to Mrs Parma’s, in the city centre. It’s in the very top end of Little Bourke St, which is ridiculously quiet, to my surprise. The staff are very friendly and there is quite the impressive array of exclusively Victorian microbrews available for drinking, both on tap and by the bottle. That night I had the Jamieson’s raspberry ale, the Holgate Temptress chocolate porter and a pint of a pale ale on tap I’d not had before. The wine list too is exclusively Victorian.

It was considered contentious by choice but I ordered an eggplant parma. I’ve actually had one before and was sold: no mean feat given that I actually quite dislike eggplant, quite odd for a vegie-lover. My eggplant parma came with the standard topping of ham, tomato and cheese, at my request (I feel like I cheated because there’s still meat on what is essentially a vegetarian dish. Oops!). My companions were a good deal more adventurous: R had the salami chicken parma, N a Mexican chicken one, and Bit O’ Meat bravely ordered a chicken ‘Parmageddon’, named thus because I believe it’s supposed to defeat you with its heat. I think it safe to say he survived!

the "Parmageddon" parmagiana

I rather like that the parma is (coincidentally!) shaped like Australia, giggle.

The parmas are very generous in size, and were cooked very well, but we all agreed that the price tag seemed a tad steep for what is essentially a Melbourne pub staple. I probably wouldn’t go back specifically for a parma, but definitely for drinks if I wanted to impress upon someone that there is such a thing as good beer (and that, even better, a fair bit of it is made in this state). Again, cannot fault the service. If you’d like to look at the beer menu and the other parmas not shown, I direct you to my Flickr stream.

It demonstrated perfectly that I am indeed a creature who likes to eat, drink, and stagger, if nothing else! So yes, beer nerds, it is worthy of your patronage (and I think I’m allowed to say that, being a beer nerd in training).

Mrs Parmas on Urbanspoon