girl + Holgate

Hosted by GrainCru and held at The Precinct, Meet the Man Behind the Bull showcased 8 Holgate beers with brewer/owner Paul Holgate

The food at The Precinct has always left with me a full stomach and a big smile so when I saw there was a beer event featuring Holgate Brewery I was eager to get my grubby hands on a couple of virtual tickets.

“Meet the Man Behind the Bull” was hosted by GrainCru (aka Cellarbrations Carlisle) and Grape & Grain Distributors and held at The Precinct on Thursday night. Over a delicious grazing dinner we sampled eight great beers, including Holgate special reserves, and got to chat with brewer/owner Paul Holgate.

Paul Holgate - Holgate Brewing

Holgate Brewery is about an hour out of Melbourne and they’ve been kicking around the craft beer scene since 1999. Like many of our fine Australian brewers Paul started off home brewing. On a trip to the United States with his wife Natasha in 1997 they saw many craft brewers opening up, “they were ordinary guys having a go,” Paul had observed and the idea that he and Natasha could do the same didn’t seem so crazy. Together they start the brewery in 1999, also have their first child, and continue their day jobs for a couple of years. Today their brewery is also a pub and accommodation and yes, the day jobs are long gone!

From the start of the evening Paul’s passion was very clear, particularly when it comes to their authenticity. All beers are brewed onsite in Woodend Victoria, all bottling and kegging is all done there too. “We make it ourselves” stands clear on the brewery website and Paul is steadfast on that statement.

The dinner kicked off with Holgate’s best selling beer, the Mt Macedon Pale Ale, named after the Mt Macedon mountain peak that sits in the brewery’s scenery.

Holgate Mt Macedon Pale Ale

Holgate Mt Macedon Pale Ale and The Precinct’s Lemon Pepper & Rosemary Popcorn

It’s the 3rd beer they ever released and brewed with US hops and dry hopped with three varieties. Due to the seasonal nature and availability of hops Paul may tweak the recipe here and there where needed. This was my first time tasting the beer and it’s easy to see why it’s the most popular – full flavoured but nothing confronting, I got a delicate blend of peach, pineapple and citrus that could be easily enjoyed by the pint-ful.

Next up we had the Roadtrip American IPA, the beer is a tribute Paul and Natasha’s family holiday to the United States in 2009, 10 years after they first opened the brewery. At dinner Paul recounted the agreement they had set with their kids, be good whilst mum and dad check out all these breweries and we’ll take you to Disneyland after.

They went to Disneyland.

A note on the popcorn – it’s earth shatteringly good, eating any other popcorn will forever suck.

Holgate Roadtrip IPA

Holgate Roadtrip IPA and Whitebait with Beer Aioli

Continuing down the path of hops we had the Hopinator, an American Double IPA. Not nearly as bitter as I would have predicted given it’s 80 IBU declaration on the label. I loved the sweet caramel and toffee malt characters that supported fresh bright hops. The beer uses American Chinook, Centennial and Citra together with Australian Topaz.

Around here some more food came out – a pig’s head terrine that was dark chocolate in colour, served with crostini and a smear of tangy mustard. The terrine was rich and flavoursome and the mustard provided a great contrast. Highly recommend this dish at your next Precinct visit.

Pig's Head Terrine at The Precinct

Pigs Head Terrine, Capers, Parsley, Crostini and Mustard

More on the White Ale here at Crafty Pint

Moving from hops to yeast, the fourth beer was the White Ale. Originally one of the first beers Holgate brewed it has since returned as a limited release and gone through a couple of recipe tweaks. The bottle we had was from a batch to celebrate the brewery’s 15th birthday. Made with coriander seeds and fresh organic grapefruit, it’s one of the better wheat beers going around and perfect for providing some cut through on those meatballs and highlighting the coriander salsa.

Holgate White Ale & Precinct Food

More amazing Precinct food – Triple Cooked Potatoes and Green Pepper Meatballs with Tomato Sugo and Coriander Salsa

From here we started down a far darker path with Holgate’s Temptress. This is the first beer I had ever tried from the Holgate range a couple of years ago and it made a lasting impression on me. It’s a chocolate porter that is silky smooth and beautiful. It’s made with Dutch Cocoa and whole vanilla bean.

This was followed by a beer from Holgate’s Special Reserve list, Double Trouble – a Belgian-style Dubbel Abbey Ale brewed with Belgian candi sugar.

Holgate Double Trouble

Check out The Precinct’s full menu here

Mains were served up here too – Black Angus Sirloin and seasonal mushrooms with truffle oil. The meat was perfectly cooked and the mushrooms bursting with aromas of truffle oil.

The Double Trouble is suitably named as it falls into that category of “dangerously drinkable” given it’s 8% ABV and disappears from your glass quicker than you may like to admit. I got a hit of liquorice on the nose and the flavour follows with chocolate, red berries, coffee and a dusty rounded finish.

Next up from Holgate’s Special Reserve list was the Empress, the big sister of Temptress, an Imperial Mocha Porter weighing in at 10% ABV. Brewing Empress begins just like her little sister with vanilla bean and Dutch Cocoa, the big difference between the two is the addition of coffee. They add what Paul described as a “cold coffee tea” and this brings out the rich fruity coffee flavours rather than the astringency. However they do it, the result is something to savour, sip and share.

Holgate Special Reserve Beers

Mane Liquor: 237 Great Eastern Highway, Belmont

The final beer for the night was a doozy, a word I don’t think I have ever used in the written format, and I even went and bought a bottle from Mane Liquor the next day. Holgate Beelzebub’s Jewels, another special reserve beer and apparently the name means “devil’s nuts”, is an oak-aged Belgian-style quadruple. That sort of style makes beer geeks weak at the knees and then to try it, to taste it and love it, well it’s a pretty wonderful kind of thing. Non-beer drinkers should also give this sort of beer a taste, it would be beautiful sipped on with a chocolate dessert or a cheese board. The bottle we shared was from 2013 and it’s oak aged in pinot noir barrels. I loved the nose of sultana, port and spice and I could easily spend a whole night just sipping on this beer.

Holgate Beelzebub's Jewels 2013

Throughout the dinner we got to pick Paul’s brain about his beers, his approach to brewing and his brewery. I also got to chat with him about general craft beer things like contract brewing, in which he believes there needs to be greater transparency and I wholeheartedly agree, and where beer trends get momentum.

On the brewery front Holgate have established a barrel aging program so I am excited to see what beers come as a result. Like many brewers Paul and his brewers at Holgate seem to be guided by the simple goal of brewing beers they would like to drink themselves. It appears I have the same tastes in beers so I think I’ll be watching Holgate a lot more closely from now on!

Holgate BeersThe full line up of Holgate beers sampled on the night

This was a really good night of beer, chat and fantastic food. Huge thanks to Paul, Joel & Adam at Cellarbrations Carlisle, Dan, Josh and the chefs at The Precinct and everyone else involved in such a top night.

Like Cellarbrations Carlisle/GrainCru on Facebook to stay up to date with future beer events like this one!

Also be sure to like The Precinct on Facebook and follow them on Instagram and Twitter

 

East versus West … Re-Match

Three rounds, state versus state, beer versus beer, food versus food and all with delicious results …

At Melbourne’s Good Beer Week in May one of the stand out events was East versus West: A Beer and Food Title Fight at Josie Bones. With the background music of Eye of the Tiger the east coast of Australia, represented by Josie Bones, battled with the west, represented by Five Bar / Beersine, for the bragging rights to beer and food pairing superiority. Despite not having a home ground advantage, WA came out victorious with the title belt aka a plastic WWE replica. Oh it was glorious! You can relive the magic here.

Last weekend as part of WA Beer Week Five Bar and Beersine hosted the re-match, aka round two, aka a chance for Melbourne to level the score. The format remained the same with three rounds covering yeast driven beers, hop driven beers and malt driven beers. It was all blind tastings so you didn’t know what beer you were tasting or whether the dish was a Beersine / Five Bar or Josie Bones creation.

Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones
Hard working chefs Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar and Julia from Josie Bones

Here’s how the battle unfolded …

Round 1 – Yeast Driven Beers

Last Drop Saison with Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce

versus

Holgate Little Heifer Hefeweizen with Ripened Goats Cheese Croquette with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple

The marron was a beautiful way to start the afternoon, soft and delicate with the cucumber adding a refreshing element. The Last Drop Saison, after geting rave reviews from punters at the Fremantle BeerFest the day before, continued to be loved here. A slight banana nose, soft and well balanced and lightly spiced, it was gorgeous. The two together proved a nice matching of delicate, soft but still very expressive flavours.

Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar
Wort Poached Marron, Pickled Cucumber and Beer Blanc Sauce by Mitch from Beersine / Five Bar

Half way through eating the second dish I decided that bacon jam was the way of the future. Honestly. Think about it. Bacon jam. Just ponder that for a moment and if you’re not drooling then I think there’s something wrong with you and we might not be able to be friends. The bacon jam added salty caramelised goodness to the soft and springy goat’s cheese croquettes. Holgate’s Little Heifer is a great example of a hefeweizen with sweet banana aromas and a nice silky mouthfeel. It cut through the oil in the croquettes and was a nice sweet/salt contrast to the bacon jam. This was my second favourite beer and food match of the day.

Ripened Goat's Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones
Ripened Goat’s Cheese Croquettes with Bacon Jam and Pickled Apple by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer: WA – Last Drop Saison

Favourite Dish: VIC – Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Favourite Pairing: VIC – Holgate Hefeweizen + Ripened Goats Cheese Croquettes

Round 2 – Hop Driven Beers

Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips

versus

The Monk Chief IPA with ‘Tongue in Cheek’ – Masterstock Beef Cheek & Ox Tongue Croquette and Kimchi

The menu, pre-reveal, described Boneyard Golden Ale as a “session IPA” and it’s spot on, fresh tropical hops backed up by soft lingering bitterness makes it damn drinkable. The hop salt on the chips had lots of people licking the chips to get the full flavour which was fun and perhaps a little uncouth but hey, that’s the fun of beer and food sometimes!

Prawn Po'Boy with Chipolte Aioli, Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones
Prawn Po’Boy with Chipolte Aioli with (not pictured) Vic Secret Hop Salt and Malt Vinegar Game Chips by Julia from Josie Bones

The Monk Chief with the aptly named ‘tongue in cheek’ dish was my favourite pairing of the day, the way the kimchi and hops played together was unique, tasty and I couldn’t get enough of it! The beef cheek and ox tongue bought out all the maltiness from the IPA, easily one of my favourite IPAs going around.

Tongue in Cheek - Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Tongue in Cheek – Masterstock Beef Cheek and Ox Tongue Croquette with Kimchi by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boneyard Golden Ale with Prawn Po’Boy.

Round 3 – Malt Driven Beers

Feral Razorback Barleywine with Peppermint Pavlova garnished with Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate

versus

Boatrocker Ramjet Whiskey Barrel  Aged Imperial Stout with Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces

The barleywine and peppermint pavlova was, for me, the most intriguing match of the day. On paper I expected the barleywine to completely dominate the dessert but this wasn’t the case. The peppermint was able to stand out and cut through the big bold flavours of the barleywine making for a really interesting contrast. The berries were a nice complement to the deeper sweetness from the beer.

Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar
Peppermint Pavlova with Fresh Local Berries and Local Milk Chocolate by Mitch from Beersine/Five Bar

Like the Razorback, Boatrocker’s beer had that “oh my god” factor, with every sip you were impressed and craved more of those toffee and creme brulee flavours. It melded well with the baba which is essentially a booze soaked cake and you needed a big ballsy dessert to go head to head with the Ramjet. Due to my own eagerness to try the whiskey sauces, and by eagerness I mean I had all three doused on my dessert, I may have ended up with a dish that was more booze than dessert. Prior to this however it was a great match of similar flavours coming together.

Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones
Whiskey Baba with Malted Chocolate Cream, Blood Orange Curd and Liquorice with your choice from three whiskey sauces by Julia from Josie Bones

How the votes swung …

Favourite Beer, Favourite Dish and Favourite Pairing: VIC – Boatrocker Ramjet with Whiskey Baba

So Victoria’s Josie Bones took the title belt on the plane back to the East Coast which just means we need to head back for Good Beer Week 2014 to retrieve it again. Congratulations Julia, Brendan and the Josie Bones team! Well played Mitch and Five Bar, well played.

Photo by Feral Brewing
Photo by Feral Brewing

Scores are level, the fight continues …

Thank you to Five Bar, Beersine and Josies Bones for another fantastic event! I feel privileged to be able to say I’ve been to both East versus West events this year and they have been great experiences in showcasing some fine beers and creative dishes. Bring on 2014!

Thank you also to Andy Mac at Five Bar and Mitch at Beersine for inviting me along. It’s always nice to go back to your old bar and feel like you’ve come home for a visit.