Red Hill Brewery is a microbrewery situated on the Mornington Peninsula just outside of Melbourne in Australia. Every year, the brewery hosts their Secret Stash Weekend.

According to the brewer, the Secret Stash Weekend was originally conceived to get rid of kegs that had been returned from beer judging competitions. All of Red Hill’s best beer, seasonal brews, and interesting stuff would be shipped out in kegs to be judged, but often the judges would only drink about 10 litres of a 50 litre keg! The brewery couldn’t sell a keg that wasn’t full, so they’d put on a special event to get rid of the excess beer.

Over the years, this event has grown and now Red Hill Brewery has plenty of beer for them to showcase for those who take the trip down to the Mornington Peninsula.

The Beer

The brewery had two paddles on offer, one with their more usual and lighter flavours and one with more robust flavours. While Red Hill’s core range is always brilliant, we were coming down for the showcase beers! There was the added bonus that there were three barrel aged beers for tasting, and those are always fun.

So we started with the lighter flavours to get ourselves going:

  • Hop Harvest Ale – a pretty standard ESB that is brewed each year with Red Hill’s freshest hops grown at the brewery itself.
  • Weizenbock – a great wheat based beer with a bit of sweetness and honey.
  • Christmas Ale – Red Hill Brewery wanted to make a Christmas Ale, but unfortunately the style wouldn’t work in Australian Christmas, so they served it in July!
  • Black Forest Cake – designed to taste like its namesake, nice and thick.

All these beers were great and stirred some debate around the table. The standout was probably the Christmas Ale, but some argued it was too sweet.

Photo courtesy of 366 Days of Beer

And on to the strong stuff:

  • Imperial Stout – Red Hill Brewery does a good job making beers to style and this was a great stout, pure and simple.
  • Double Barrel Temptation – they took a relatively normal Belgian strong ale and let it sit in gin barrels for awhile. This creates a very dry beer that was great if it’s to your taste.
  • Double Barrel Wee Heavy – a wee heavy that, like its name suggests, is once again barrel conditioned. This time whiskey barrels.
  • Double Barrel Imperial Stout – this was the big one of the day. The imperial stout from before but aged in whiskey barrels.

So the standout was probably the Double Barrel Imperial Stout, but it’s hard to beat such a ballsy beer.

The Brewery

The brewery site is just great. It’s a small brewery, but they make due with what they have.

The owner gave us a “brewery tour,” which basically just consisted of going into a shed and looking at the mashing and fermenting equipment; nothing new for people who know about the brewing process but interesting nonetheless.

We didn’t get terribly good weather for the day, and most of the seating at the brewery is outside on their deck. Thankfully the deck was covered so there was some shelter. In the summer time, this is a great place to sit out and enjoy a beer. In the winter,heating becomes a bit limited, but having a nice heavy beer helps.

They were also serving pizza from a truck out the front, and this served as a good break between paddles. For those interested in going to the brewery outside of the Secret Stash weekend, the food van is usually there.

The Bus

Red Hill were kind enough to organise a bus from the city so that everyone could get down there, have some drinks and get back safely!

Of course the bus ride down was like any other bus ride. The bus ride back? Well, it gave a new meaning to the words “booze bus.” It wasn’t too wild a party, after all, most had been drinking pretty much all day, and we were pretty tired. However, the bus driver needs to be commended for putting up with all of us!

And Done…

Big thanks to Red Hill Brewery for putting on such an awesome day! The beer was fantastic.

As mentioned, the brewery is open most weekends (check their website to be sure) with food and great beer. It’s well worth checking out if you’re on the Mornington Peninsula.

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