got back yesterday from a day out in the sticks (but only a hour on the train) of Woodend, having enjoyed tasting all the beers available at the Holgate brewhouse 100 mtrs from the train station. Mick and I went into the brewhouse as soon as it opened and found a good position where the sun was coming in, but also close to the bar.
We started with the taster paddle, with 8 of their beers on tap. While we just wanted to get to the choc porter, we tried to go through them in order (ok, so we both failed to do that). anyway, here is what i can recall from the tasting.
1) Pilsner (4.5%): very standard lager with just enough going on in taste to keep you interested. when going back to this after a few others, just tasted like carbonated water. overall, summer chugging beer.
2) Mt Macedon Ale (4.5%) - grassy hops from the States give this a bit more nose and aftertaste which wasn't overpowering but a bit more than i would like.
3) The Mild One (3.5%) - in the same style as Little creatures Roger's and Grand Ridge's Moonlight with a malty nose and taste. really basic beer but good for a winter light beer, instead of having to have a lager style light beer.
4) Brick Kiln Road Wheat beer (5%) - this one grew on me over the tasting. had just a touch of the classic bubblegum yeast flavour i have become accustomed to with some european beers, which i was able to enjoy. However, mick found this beer to have a bit of a dishwasher/chemical flavour that i didn't get.
5) ESB (5%) - if i was the be unbiased and choose the best structured beer of the range, this would be it. good blend of hops and malt, but it was the creamy texture that won us both over too. Mick got sentimental for English bitters with this one.
6) UXB 'unexploded bomb' (6%) - similar to the previous but the malt and hops were not blended so well, so got a sugary malt foretaste but with a hop aftertaste. while not offensive, in this stable range of beers came off poor in comparison.
7) Hopinator (7%) - very similar to the ESB, just raising the bar in terms of hops and malt, but still keeping the creamy texture. preferred the milder taste of the ESB over this one, but very little between them in terms of a well crafter beer.
8) Temptress (6%) - ok, the one we had been waiting (or not waiting) for. having had this on tap once before at the Royston, realised that unlike the Rogue's Choc Stout, having this out of the keg doesn't improve the taste or texture much. still, to have a dark beer that bottles this well is a good feat, but still good to have on tap. the dark choc overwhelms the tastebuds while the malt character of their beers in general gives it a good structure to allow the choc to come through. ok, i'll stop before i start on this beer again. this must be the 3rd time i have written about it on this blog.
after sampling the paddle we stepped up things with two european styled beers they also produce.
9) Big Reg Red Lager (5%) - comes off more as an ale than a lager with a full body and malty character. i would have been happy to sip this on a winter day with the caramel flavour, but then we had a blockbuster that it wasn't able to overcome...
10) Double Trouble (8%) - having getting into belgium beers at the moment, i was surprised to see an aussie brewer giving this a go, and doing pretty well at it. a full malty taste with some smatterings of spirit-ish flavour as the aclochol takes over the mouth from the malty start. great beer for the winter, and reminded Mick of the scotch ales that Grand Ridge do.
11) Tempress - ok, so we finished with this one before getting on the train back to melbourne. what can we say, just a good beer.
so, everyone knows what my fav is, but the double trouble, mild one and reg were also personal standouts. still, as i said, if i was being objective, the ESB is a great beer, reminds me a bit like the Hawthorn Pale Ale, which personally i don't keep running back to, but just a good beer in its own right. i would recommend if you want to try the 3 hop beers, do it on tap to make sure you get the creamy texture as it probably won't come off as well in the bottle. the rest seem to be fine out of the bottle, but was happy to hear a few places in melbourne having it available on tap (Royston, Terminus [Clifton Hill], Sherlock Holmes).
Thanks for the suggestion Mick, and to Holgate for putting the effort into their beers and into the brewhouse to serve them in the best way possible.