Less cellar, more seller

The owners of Red Hill Brewery, David and Karen Golding, have made some big changes this year.

The husband-and-wife team behind the Mornington Peninsula-based craft operation closed their cellar door and cafe in June to concentrate on marketing their beer more widely. This includes selling more to Sydney.

‘‘To tell the truth, after seven years we were looking for a new direction,’’ Karen says. ‘‘We felt we needed a break from the intensity of the business surrounding our lives. We decided to concentrate on [wholesale distribution] rather than spreading ourselves over so many different parts of the business.’’

Until recently, the Goldings employed two full-time and several part-time staff at their cellar door and cafe, which was open five days a week. ‘‘We’re trying to lighten the load,’’ Karen says, adding that living adjacent to the brewery and cellar door had its limitations, particularly on their growing family.

The Goldings have two children, Grace, 8, and Stella, 5. ‘‘[Stella’s] the only girl named after two different hop varieties,’’ Karen jokes.

The Goldings bought a US-built Meheen automatic bottling line earlier this year, after hand-bottling some 1.5 million stubbies since they started up in mid 2005.

‘‘The bottling line has improved our efficiency, which is fantastic, and we’ve undergone a small expansion in volume,’’ Karen says. 

Red Hill has also appointed a Sydney distributor and is launching  bottles in a new four-pack.

‘‘We were amazed how hungry Sydney is for craft beer,’’ Karen says. ‘‘We’re also hoping to get more beer around Melbourne, too.’’

She admits the couple has had ‘‘mixed emotions’’ about the change in direction for the business. ‘‘But it feels the right way to be going and we’re giving it a shot.’’

Red Hill Brewery’s cellar door hasn’t closed entirely; it will still open for functions and special events – roughly on a monthly basis, according to Karen – such as its Oktoberfest weekend on October 13-14.

The Goldings will be in Sydney for several tastings and events during Craft Beer Week, which starts on October 20.

Red Hill beers are on tap at Harts Pub, The Rocks; and the Local Taphouse, Darlinghurst.

Tasting notes

Red Hill Golden Ale (5 per cent)
Pale lemon, cloudy. Aroma: sweet malt, greengage and hay. Palate: chewy malt upfront, delicate fruity-pear notes in mid-palate; crisp, dryish finish. Overall: a fairly rustic kolsch style.

Red Hill Pilsener (5.2 per cent)
Pale straw, fine haze. Aroma: spicy, piny, lifted floral notes and honeycomb hints. Palate: delicate, honey-tinged charactersat first; medium carbonation, fine spice and floral notes in mid-palate; well-bittered finish. Overall: a rare unfiltered pilsener.

Red Hill Scotch Ale (5.8 percent)
Murky, amber-brown, with creamy head. Aroma: chocolate marshmallows, hints of toffee, peaches and cream. Palate: toasty mocha notes upfront; muscovado sugar and dark plums in mid-palate; a glowing, toasty finish. Overall: standout of Red Hill’s regular brews.

Red Hill Queen’s Diamond Jubilee British IPA (5.5 per cent)
Golden-tan; creamy, tightly-packed foam. Aroma: caramel, spice and stone fruit hints. Palate: toffee notes initially, then an earthy bitterness emerges with undertones of dried pear and caramel. Overall: a highly sessionable ale.