Apparently, it sometimes rains in Australia. After almost a week of glorious weather, we awoke Thursday morning to the threat of rain. But we wouldn’t let a little bad weather get in the way. Our plan was to visit some breweries south of Melbourne. After a farewell pot of beer with Ute and Wolfie, we hit the road.
We had already heard good things about our first destination, Red Hill Brewery. Mentioning their name to several Australians produced the same positive reaction. Thus, as the rain started to fall, we were eager to get to Red Hill South located on the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour from Melbourne. For a brewery out in the country, Red Hill was pretty easy to locate. Pulling into their car park, we took the large number of cars to be a good sign.
Finding a seat on their patio as the rain pelted down on the roof, we ordered a sample paddle and gazed at the food menu. Ogling the Stoemp Cakes (potato croquets) on a nearby table, I had a feeling this was going to be a good meal. However, I didn’t expect it to be the best meal of trip. Using ingredients sourced from the Mornington Peninsula when possible and their own garden, Red Hill would do just that. We started with the aforementioned Stoemp Cakes followed by Pork Belly with Mashed parsnips and Red Cabbage. Absolutely delicious.
The beer complimented the food very well. Three beers on the paddle are always on tap at Red Hill: Golden Ale, Wheat, and Scotch Ale. The last beer was their Christmas Ale, our first encounter with an Australian holiday beer. All four of these beers included hops from their own field, the only one on the Mornington Peninsula.
Despite the weather being of the holiday brew variety, the wheat was the star for me. A Bavarian-style Hefeweizen, the Wheat had a nice banana nose, though it was a bit under-carbonated for my tastes (which can be said for all the Hefeweizens I tried in Australia). The holiday beer was not forgotten. A Belgian-style Abbey Ale, we purchased the last 750ml bottle to bring home.
After our great lunch, it was time to head back towards Melbourne. A few days prior to our departure for this trip, I read on one of the beer forums that a new brewery opened south of Melbourne. Located in Black Rock, a small town on the coast, True South had only been open for a few weeks the day we visited.
My visions of tasting beers on a sun-splashed deck overlooking the ocean were dashed not only by the weather but also a holiday party had taken over the upper floor where the deck was located. Finding a seat outside downstairs, we ordered samples of the beers. No paddle this time; I don’t think they had arrived yet.
There were three Ales, Summer, Pale and Dark plus a Pilsner. There also was a low alcohol beer. All were a little light for our American craft beer trained palates. But for a brand new brewery, the beers were pretty good. I look forward to visiting True South on our next visit to Melbourne to see how they develop. Maybe then I’ll get to sit on the sunny deck overlooking the ocean.
Just a dozen or so miles up the road and probably easy to find if we knew where we were going was 2 Brothers Brewery. Located in an industrial park along a main road, we arrived just in time, not only to beat the heaviest rain of the day, but to also join the local post-work crowd for a beer.
First thing we noticed while we were enjoying our second paddle-free sampler; the conditioning tanks behind the bar had New York City nicknames. Turns out the brewing kit comes from Times Square. I assume from the Heartland brewpub that no longer brew on site.
2 Brothers had four beers to try, including two ‘firsts’ of the trip: a Brown Ale and a Märzen. (We also had our first cider, a Perry, but this isn’t cidergeek.com.) The Märzen was the star of the group with a nice malt backbone that one expects from the amber colored lager.
2 Brothers seemed like a cool place to hang out but unfortunately we needed to get back to Melbourne.
Like in the States, Thursday is the new Friday in Australia, too. We found this out when we went to the Local Taphouse in St. Kilda, a few kilometers south of Melbourne’s city center. The Local was packed with young professionals just off work. Luckily, we were able to squeeze into a spot at the bar.
Which Local did we like better? I would have to say the Sydney location… and for only one reason. When we were in Sydney, everything was new. At that time, we hadn’t been to any breweries besides Paddy’s. But at the St. Kilda location, the beer selection was a bit of a disappointment for me. We had already tried many of the Aussie beer selections they had on tap. If we had gone to St. Kilda first, I am sure I would have liked that one better. I was able to try one new beer that was very nice; Brass Monkey Stout from Sail and Anchor Brewery in Fremantle.
This ended our Melbourne portion of the trip. Melbourne might be Australia’s second city, but as craft beer goes, they might be second to none.