The last stop on our Horses, Wine and Beer tour with Melbourne Sports Tours was of course the beer tasting. So after the wine tasting and a very nice wood-fired pizza lunch at Gisborne Winery, we moved on to Woodend and the Holgate Brewhouse, home of the ‘2008 Best Beer Brewed in Victoria Trophy’. The Holgate Brewhouse, housed in the old Keatings Hotel, is a family owned craft brewery, where premium quality beers are brewed, using natural methods, and the best 100% malt from Germany and UK, the finest hops and yeast, and pure Macedon water. The Holgate’s started the brewery in 1999, after seeing micro-breweries in operation in the USA. There are a range of classic full-flavoured beers on offer, including seasonal brews and special releases.
We had a great time, guided by a knowledgeable young barman who had had brewing experience in Ireland. We smelled and poked jars of different grains, and I learned quite a lot. We tasted seven beers, starting with Pilsner (Classic German style lager) (Gold medal AIBA 2007), which to me was very like the lager we drink in England, quite light, but to me, nothing special. The next beer we tried was Mt. Macedon Ale (Pale Ale -New World Hops) (Gold medal AIBA 2003, Silver London 2010). It had a distinctive summery flavour, very reminiscent of elderflower, it was quite malty, light and refreshing, and I could quite happily had more! This was followed by ESB (Extra Special Bitter) (Gold medal 2010) and as I’m not a fan of bitter, I wasn’t surprised to not like this one! Then we sampled Road Trip (American IPA), and learned that IPA means Indian Pale Ale, and contains more hops – which were needed originally because of its long journey to India! It had a very hoppy flavour with a hint of citrus, and was quite pleasant. Temptress (Chocolate Porter) (Gold medal AIBA 2010, Silver 2009, Gold London 2009) was the next. It was dark, and quite surprising. It has cocoa and vanilla added, but to me it tasted strongly of coffee, and was almost like drinking an iced coffee – beer and iced coffee at the same time; wow! The penultimate beer was White Ale (Unfiltered Wheat Beer), which is brewed with a blend of citrus peel, spices, wheat malt and barley malt. It was smooth, with almost no bitterness, and was very refreshing – a larger glass would have gone down a treat! The last beer we tasted was Mornington Peninsula White IPA , which seemed to me like a more bitter version of the White Ale, with a bit of Road Trip mixed in. It was slightly spicy, with a hint of grapefruit.
The beer tasting at Holgate’s Brewery was a great experience – I’ve never tried so many beers in a such a short space of time before, and I never realised how different they could be. My favourite definitely has to be Mt. Macedon Ale; or maybe White Ale; or?