79 High St, Woodend, VIC
On our way to Bunjil Farm the other weekend, we made a few stops on the way, including Woodend. It looked like a cute little town, and it’s also home to Holgate Brewhouse. You can eat, drink and even sleep there, and the food is apparently delicious, but we were there for one thing only: the beer. Husband is a fan of Holgate’s work, and wanted to stop in and have a look around.
It was a gorgeous building, with creaky old wooden floorboards, beautiful stained glass windows and plenty of seating. But this post isn’t about the building, it’s about the beer, and I don’t really know about beer, so I’m gonna hand this post over to a guest blogger, a beer baron, the most knowledgeable authority on beer that I know: the husband. He wasn’t really sure how to go about it, though, so he’s going to give his review on the 8 beers currently on the Holgate Brewhouse sample paddle roster.
TOP ROW from left to right:
1. Norton Lager
Holgate’s description: Our Kellerbier pours a pale straw colour and glows with a slight yeast cloud. The nose displays sweet, honeyed malt with some floral, citrus hop aroma. The palate has a fullness that comes with characteristic keller-style breadym honey malt flavour which is balanced refreshingly with lemon and grapefruit characteristics from the delicate use of Australian hops Ella and Vic Secret. The finish is clean and dry with every sip leaving a gentle, moreish bitterness on the back palate.
Husband’s verdict: “Pretty standard, run-of-the-mill lager. No real outstanding features and lacked flavour. Wouldn’t buy it again.”
2. Mt. Macedon Ale
Holgate’s description: Mt. Macedon dominates the landscape overlooking the Holgate brewery. It’s massive, moody and magnificent – not to mention insanely popular with tourists and locals alike. No wonder they named it after our beer!The real Australian Pale Ale, using Australian grown Cascade, Ella and Topaz hops, balanced by a malt base of Australian Vienna giving this brew a delicate caramel malt flavour. The result is a pale ale of broad appeal and, like the mountain, a local landmark.
Husband’s verdict: “I reckon it was basically a more flavourful and better version of the first one. It was like a good beer that would suit anyone – it’s not offensive, it’s a people-pleaser beer. This would be my choice if you were in for a long session.”
3. ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
Holgate’s description: Your new best friend. A long-standing favourite among beer enthusiasts and our most awarded beer. A classic earthy English bitter you meet in the pub and invite home for a round of snooker and darts. Paul Holgate’s northern English heritage finds a spirited expression in this deep amber bitter. Served on a traditional beer engine at the Hotel and tap room in Woodend, the ESB offers depth and complexity that makes it at once challenging and eminently drinkable. One of the two recipes that launched the Brewhouse in 1999, it includes English crystal and roast malts, an abundance of East Kent Goldings hops and is enhanced through dry hopping with a touch of Aussie Galaxy. Oh so moreish. Softly carbonated and served through traditional Beer Engine at 8-10 Deg C at Holgate Brewhouse, this beer is a great accompaniment with full flavoured dishes – beef, game, duck.
Husband’s verdict: “I think it’s one of their more well-known beers and rightfully so. I haven’t tried many other beers like it before so it was hard to compare, but I loved it, probably my favourite beer on the paddle.”
4. Road Trip American IPA
Holgate’s description: The Perfect Holgate family holiday? A US Pacific North-West beer tour, of course. Result? Our 2009 odyssey to hop heaven lives on in this tribute to the spiritual home of craft beer. A super-charged but dangerously sessionable All-American hop-bomb, this golden hued IPA is loaded up with multiple additions of Chinook, Centennial and Citra hops from the Pacific Northwest of the USA, resulting in an explosion of piney, citrus and grapefruit flavour and aroma.
Husband’s verdict: “Me being a BIG fan of IPAs, I naturally found it bloody good, however not a lot different from a standard IPA, but it was very nice.”
TOP ROW from right to left:
5. Temptress Chocolate Porter
Holgate’s description: Some beers just won’t take no for an answer. A sultry seducer, this luscious winter warmer infused with Dutch cocoa and whole vanilla beans takes an old story somewhere new and bewitching. In 2008, we introduced a swing in the hips and gleam in the eye to our classic porter recipe, with the inspired addition of rich cocoa and vanilla to an already robust brew. Together with a belnd of seven malts, the result is a complex palate of alluring chocolate, coffee and caramel flavours, balanced by a hint of vanilla. Be tempted! Softly carbonated and served through traditional Beer Engine at 8-10 Deg C at Holgate Brewhouse, this beer is a A perfect accompaniment to meat pies and chocolate-based desserts.
Husband’s verdict: “Super. One of the best dark beers I’ve ever had. Walked away with a 4 pack, would have been a slab, but it was a little pricey for what it is. The fact that Jess hates beer and actually enjoyed this one was a super effort!”
6. Hop Tart (sour pale ale)
Holgate’s description: Light and hazy gold, Hop Tart has a zesty aroma of citrus and bright tropical fruits. The flavour awakens the palate with a surprising hit of sourness that blends beautifully with the lemony hop character. The finish is sour, dry and refreshing. A true new world beer, not bound by any style but led by the brewers longing for a quenching summer ale.
Husband’s verdict: He really didn’t like this one. At all.
Holgate’s description: Literally “crystal wheat.” A Kristallweizen is a filtered pale Weissbier or Hefeweizen, the German wheat ale. It pours “crystal”-clear rather than yeast-turbid. In all other respects, it is not different from an unfiltered wheat beer. It is spritzy-effervescent and refreshing and appealing to the eye. Like its Heferweizen counterpart, Kristallweizen develops a richly-textured, firm, white head in the glass.
Husband’s verdict: “Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of wheat beers, but as far as they go, this was a really good one. If you like Hoegaarden, you’ll love this.”
8. Millennium Falcon
Holgate’s description: Millennium Falcon pours a bright golden. The aroma is a blast – a super-fruity confectionary cocktail of juicy pineapple, tart citrus, stone fruit, boiled lollies and bubblegum. On the palate the fruity melange is underpinned by a bold, evergreen hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is full and luxurious yet the finish is dangerously dry.
Husband’s verdict: “Best part about this beer was the cool name and it all went down hill after that. Strangely had no smell to it at all, however it had plenty of flavour. It was a strange taste, though, that just didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s a beer that grows on you after a while, hard to tell with such a small amount. I would warn people when drinking this that the 10% alcohol percentage might punch them in the face.”
Husband’s closing thoughts:
“In my opinion, it was the best layout and building of any brewery I’ve ever been to. Disappointed I didn’t try the Pilsner or Hopinator, but will be heading back there very soon with some mates and will give them a go then. One of my mates said he had a brown ale there that was one of the best beers he’s ever had, so as soon as they put this back on the menu I’ll make the drive up.”