Drunken Speculation

SEQBeers – Red Bay Brewery

redbaylogoRed Bay Brewery snuck up on me. When I first ran through SEQBeers, I specifically excluded Red Bay as they were, to my knowledge at the time, exclusively a brew-on-premises operation. That is, anyone can come in off the street, go through the process of making a beer with semi-professional facilities and package it a month later to take home. The advantage is in the excise, which is much lower when compared to beer off the shelf made by people who (supposedly) know what they’re doing. Does this sound familiar? It’s because it’s the same brewery structure that Brews Brothers use.

In operation since 2010 in an industrial unit on Shore Street, West Cleveland, Red Bay was founded by a husband and wife team:

Jeffrey has brought to the business 8 years experience as a Demi chef and extensive experience where he has brewed and experimented with his own beer, but decided to turn his passion and vision for beer and brewing and step out on his own. The store at Cleveland was foundered by husband and wife team Jeffrey and Saori. The Red Bay Brewery is now well established and has been opening the eyes and palettes of beer drinker’s to the wonderful opportunity brew-on-premise can provide.

Apparently, they’ve decided to leverage the ever-growing Brisbane microbrewed beer market by bottling their beers, slapping on a label and distributing a bit more widely. I’ve seen their beer on shelves around town and given that seems to have taken most people I know by surprise, I guess this is a new thing.

Which brings us to…

red bay cleveland lighthouse renegade bitter aleCleveland Lighthouse Renegade Bitter Ale

  • Gluten-free beer
  • 4.5%
  • Refreshment: B-
  • Identity: B
  • Taste: C-
  • Ancillaries: C
  • SEQBeers Score: 65

I, uh, don’t know how I’d order this. Is it “Renegade”, “Renegade Bitter”, “Cleveland Lighthouse Bitter” or “Cleveland Lighthouse Renegade Bitter Ale”? The latter is a bit of a mouthful. Let’s go CLRBA. Red Bay get good identity marks, largely because Cleveland Point has a famous lighthouse on it, so that all works in well with their locality.

CLRBA is certainly much lighter in colour, much less malty and a lot more aromatically hoppy than I would consider an English pale – let’s split the difference and call it an English-style summer ale because apparently that’s a thing. It’s thin in body, has poor head retention and a bit of tropical hoppiness in the aroma. CLRBA has a touch of homebrew about it with a slight tannin tang in the back, overlying a standard bitter finish with some residual malt. That seems ideal for this exercise but it’s a fairly shallow flavour profile.

When I first started this post, I was prepared to be quite disparaging, which you’ll probably recognise as the completely wrong approach. So I was a bit surprised on the upside by my not-negative overall impression. I don’t rate it as a top SEQBeer but gluten-free is difficult to do well when compared to normal beer, largely because you have to significantly modify the most interesting ingredient. It’s like making a fat-free butter. But as a refreshing summer beer when there’s nothing else available? Maybe. Trouble is that there’s rarely nothing else available.

Other beers

I could have sworn there was a lager with a green cap available but it’s not listed on Untappd and I couldn’t find it in a couple of bottleshops, so it either sold really well to non-nerds or the lager never existed. Their website, stunningly, has little information about their commercial foray. [EDIT: h/t to reader Craig Daniels for confirming that the green cap lager did in fact exist]

Red Bay are also responsible for the chlorophenolic Yandina Brewing Goofy Foot Bitter Ale, which is just a faulty version of the CLRBA.

But that’s it. I guess you could go there and make your own if you want more. I’m not sold, and I’m still stinging from the Goofy Foot (or YBGFBA), but I’m not yet prepared to write them off. However, I think there’s a big difference between a brew-on-premises operation and a quality commercial brewery.

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