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


girl + beer quiz

What do you get when you have lemon pepper and rosemary popcorn, pellets of Cascade hops and a chilli sauce eating contest? A beer quiz of course!

What do you get when you have lemon pepper and rosemary popcorn, pellets of Cascade hops and a chilli sauce eating contest? A beer quiz of course!

The Precinct – open 7 days at 834 Albany Highway – FacebookTwitter

Last week Mane Liquor hosted a beer quiz night was at the fabulous venue The Precinct in East Victoria Park. Our quiz masters for the evening were Elliot and Josh from Mane Liquor alongside Josh from The Precinct.

How it worked …

Eight questions per round over six rounds with delicious tapas-style food served in between. Our hosts had devised two sets of questions each to test our beer knowledge. There was also a bonus question each round, five of these were a blind beer tasting and one was a ‘guess that hop’.

highlights …

That suit. It goes without saying that Josh, from The Precinct, rocked an amazing suit that cannot go unmentioned. I think I heard a Ron Burgundy reference and together with the photo hopefully this conveys the awesomeness of this suit.

L-R: Elliot (Mane), Josh (Precinct), Josh (Mane) and Roxy (Bridge Road Brewery)
L-R: Elliot (Mane), Josh (Precinct), Josh (Mane) and Roxy (Bridge Road Brewery)

Lemon pepper and rosemary popcorn. Seriously. This is stupidly delicious and I’ll never look at popcorn the same way again. Damn you Precinct, you’ve ruined me for regular popcorn. Green pepper meatballs with tomato sugo were also killer.

Lemon Pepper & Rosemary Popcorn
Lemon Pepper & Rosemary Popcorn
No phones during rounds so this is a photo of the Roasted Potatoes and Green Pepper Meatballs AFTER we were done with them
No phones during rounds so this is a photo of the Roasted Potatoes and Green Pepper Meatballs AFTER we were done with them. In case you’re wondering, they were delicious.

Brilliant questions! They ranged from local brewing knowledge such as “under which city pub did John Stallwood of Nail Brewing set up his brewery?”* and “what two Eagle Bay Brewing beers are not available in bottles?”** Other questions put uber beer nerds to the test with brain teasers like “where did hops originate?”*** and “what is the name of the limited release Belgian blonde style beer that was packaged in bottles inside taxidermied animals?”^ Then there were some questions that were downright cheeky – “who won the 1984 VFL Grand Final?”^^ and “what is the exact street address of Mane Liquor?”^^^

Bonus questions. Five of the six bonus questions were a blind tasting of mystery beers poured from bottles wrapped heavily in brown paper bags and enough sticky tape to deter even the most determined of kids on Christmas Eve. Two people from each table took part in a series of knock out questions such as “is this beer from America or Belgium?” which continued until there was a winner. I was proud of myself for guessing one of the beers (but let myself down in the knock out questions by not knowing anything about the yeast it’s made with!) and the ‘guess the hops’ round which I have Little Creatures to thank for that, I’ve smushed a lot of Cascade hops in my hands in my years.

Smell-o-vision should be employed at times like this - Cascade hop pellets
Smell-o-vision should be employed at times like this – Cascade hop pellets

4 pack beer holders on the table to put mobile phones in to ensure no Google cheating … brilliant idea!

Mobile phone quarantine area
Mobile phone quarantine area


Our table Chocolate Chimpanzees (a mix of the two beer packs on our table – Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Moon Dog with an image of a chimpanzee on it) came a close second to Homebrewed Heroes who pipped us by two points. If only I hadn’t forgotten Rochefort was a Trappist brewery and Evil Twin was a gypsy brewer!

The final scores
The Final Scores of the Beer Quiz Night
Love the scoreboard!
How good is this scoreboard!?

We didn’t go home empty handed though – this stunning beer from Liberty Brewing Co. and a bag of Fiori coffee was the cherry on top of an excellent night out!

Liberty Brewing Darkest Days & Fiori Coffee
Liberty Brewing Darkest Days & Fiori Coffee

My partner and I also got to meet a bunch of great folk on our team, two of whom participated (and won) in the chilli eating contest at the end of the night.

All in all, a freakin’ brilliant night and hopefully they will host another one soon.

Chilli sauce eating contest
Five brave souls participating in the chilli sauce eating contest

*Bobby Dazzlers, now The Boheme

**Eagle Bay ESB and Eagle Bay Vienna Lager


^The End of Days by Brewdog

^^Essendon Bombers

^^^237 Great Eastern Highway

Great Beer Menus – The Precinct

But just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list. It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. It’s time to put the spotlight on these great places, starting today with The Precinct …

I love craft beer and going to venues who share my passion, pubs likes The Sail & Anchor and Clancy’s Fish Pub and bottle shops like the International Beer Shop are WA institutions for great craft beer. It’s what they love, it’s what they know, it’s what they do.

Feral Tap Takeover at The Sail

But just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list. I’m delighted to find more restaurants, small bars, local bottle shops and pubs whose fridges were previously filled with European lagers have been invaded by a few local and international craft beers.

It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. Those who don’t, those who have settled on a beer list that features Cascade Light, Crown Lager and Stella, are well and truly behind the eight ball. It’s kinda like getting all dressed up for an elegant night out, putting all that thought into your hair, dress, make up and jewelry and then wearing your muddy sneakers. Crown Lager is a muddy sneaker.

It’s time to put the spotlight on these great places, starting today with The Precinct in East Victoria Park where their classic food with a twist and epic long table dinners have put smiles on many faces (I’m looking at you Laura Moseley!).

The Precinct

Here’s front of house manager Daniel Morris talking about the beers at The Precinct –

Tell us a bit about The Precinct ...

The Precinct is a speak easy bar, cafe and restaurant where people can come in at any hour of the day and enjoy a coffee, beer, glass of wine, small eats or a full three course meal. It’s a very multipurpose type venue with an ever changing beer & wine list which makes it the perfect place to try and be recommended new products (beer or wine) that we have featured every week.

What's your inspiration for your beer list?

We want to feature small breweries, interesting styles of beers and beers that are in short supply. Beers for the “beer nerds”, but saying that we serve a couple of well known ones with a Precinct twist.

What do you hope the beer menu says about The Precinct?

That we LOVE BEER!! That we like a diverse range, that we are individual.

How many beers are currently on your menu and
how often will you update the beer list?

How many beers? I think about 40, but there are usually some treasures hiding in the fridge as we can’t fit them all on the menu! The list updates weekly, we usually buy a couple of cases of a individual beer then keep on changing it up, so it stays interesting and fresh!!

Big Beers at The Precinct

Any memorable customer moments in someone trying a
new beer at The Precinct?

One guy destroyed a magnum of Moa Stong Ale [St Joseph’s] by himself…pretty cool

What beer and food matches would you recommend for
entree, main and dessert at The Precinct?

We don’t do a lot of pairing with beer and food just yet, it’s more about giving people that freedom to try different styles or beers from boutique brewery’s. Its about the “whole experience “. Our food has lots of strong rich flavours so we tend to get into the IPA’s and ales instead of lagers and pilseners.

The Precinct

What I love about beers at The Precinct …
♥ Big format beers for sharing
♥ Weekly changing beer list
♥ Limited release and rare beers
Thank you to Sarita and Daniel at The Precinct for letting me bug them with beery questions and providing photography from the very talented Jessica Wyld – check out here site here.
If your favourite local bar, restaurant, cafe, bottleshop, anything has a great beer list, I’d love to know about them!