We got the train to Cleveland and walked down to the brewery, about 5 minutes from the station. Positioned in a commercial estate, the Brewery is a large warehouse: one half is full of storage tanks, the other half was full of people milling around, already trying the beers. We paid our $5 entry fee, received our glasses, and went off to try some ourselves.
While they had about 8 beers and two ciders to try on the day, only the ciders were vegan, so while Rachael imbibed the beers, I alternated between the Pear Cider (quite tart, and not to my tastes, but I imagine it could grow on me) and the Thai Ginger Beer (wonderfully punchy ginger, with a nice kick of chilli at the end). I was impressed to note that every tap was sponsored by another local business (the owners of which I'm sure were among those gathered there!).
|The crowd at the open day (from: http://www.redbaybrewery.com.au/open-day-may-2013/)|
To be honest, I hadn't really investigated the brewery before I went, but over the course of the next few hours I noticed that this wasn't just a local microbrewery: it's a DIY brewery, where you can make your own beers, using commercial equipment in a commercial environment with the assistance of a professional. No messing around with finding the right yeast and hops and the right recipe (OK, I know I'm not one to talk about "Home fermentation is dangerous", but I haven't had anything explode! Yet...): you simply pick one of the 230 different beers in their catalogue, make a booking, get the batch started (under Jeffrey's supervision), leave it in their capable hands for 2-3 weeks, and then come back for your very own "homebrew" (but without bottles exploding in your basement/shed).
If you're not sure that you're quite ready to do your own homebrew just yet, they always have the Four Men Lite, Hands Ice Lite, My Mexican or Lager, Skinny Goat or Pale Ale, the English Bitter, the Golden Ale Gluten-Free Beer, and the ciders and Ginger Beer available "off the rack". Otherwise, several of their beers are available at The Burrow (stocks their Golden Ale and Ginger Beer), JamJar (stocks their Zed Brew), Brew (CBD) & Little Brew (Paddington) (unfortunately I was not able to contact them to check which they stock), and Gyoza Bar ANN (stocks the Green Tea Beer and Golden Ale).*
While their ciders (including ginger beer) are all vegan, any of their beers can be made vegan upon request, and can also be made wheat-free. All of their ciders are also gluten-free, and for those looking for a gluten-free beer, they also have their Gluten-Free Golden Ale (I have yet to try it, but apparently ain't beer but tastes like it). Best of all, all of their beers are made without chemicals or preservatives (which means you'll need to clear out that spare fridge to store your beer, as it must be refridgerated).
They also sell and rent a variety of beer-related paraphernalia, including kegs, fridge door taps, and gas cylinders.
I will certainly be most excited to attend the next Red Bay Brewery Open Day (keep an eye on twitter and I'll be sure to share the info here when I know about the next), and in the meantime I look forward to brewing up a batch of my own beer (which will certainly be worthy of its own post!)
Red Bay Brewery
7/77 Shore St West, Cleveland QLD 4163
3488 2739 www.redbaybrewery.com.au
Thankfully, Red Bay Brewery is only about a 5 minute walk from the Cleveland train station, so you needn't fear driving there and sampling too many to drive back home (it is a bit of a ride, though (I think it took about an hour from Roma Street), so take a book!). If you're driving, there's parking in the complex.
*Is is possible that selections will change in future: this is accurate at time of publication.