A guest post from the husband – Drink here: Holgate Brewhouse, Woodend, VIC

Holgate Brewhouse
79 High St, Woodend, VIC
http://www.holgatebrewhouse.com/

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.

7. Kristallweizen
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.”

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Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a weekend in Beechworth part 1 (where to stay, eat & shop)

It’s a bit of a catch-22 when you finally realise that you’ve found what you want to do with your life, but it’s not something you can do so easily; I know I want to travel, but I can’t exactly drop what I’m doing and pack my bags and live on the road indefinitely. That costs money, and I need to work to earn enough of it to hit the road again! That said, just because I can’t give my passport a workout every month, doesn’t mean I can’t still explore and take adventures and appreciate what I’ve got in my own backyard; I am SO lucky to live in Melbourne, where , within a few hours, I can be at the beach, on snowy mountains, or in beautiful forests. Victoria is an incredible unique place, where we literally have it all – we just need to get in the car and actually look for it!

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So, over the next few months, I’m going to start to practice what I preach, and cultivate a little more adventure at home as well as abroad – why the hell not?! I’m going to start taking more mini-breaks, more weekends or even just days away, more road trips and local adventures, because “adventure” shouldn’t just be reserved for “vacations.” Living authentically, for me, means have adventures every day, and that’s something I can control.  And on that note, without further ado, let me take you to stop #1: Beechworth 🙂

Distance from Melbourne CBD:
It’ll only take around 3 hours to drive to Beechworth from the CBD – depending on which direction you’re coming from, just get yourself onto the Hume Freeway, and keep going until you hit Beechworth! It’s a really, really easy drive!

 

Stay here:
Beechworth on Bridge

38 Bridge Rd, Beechworth
http://www.beechworthonbridge.com.au/

I came across Beechworth on Bridge through a quick Trip Advisor search for accommodation in Beechworth. Being that the race was on, a lot of accommodation was booked early, and this was one that looked nice, but was still reasonably priced. We had two nights accommodation (Saturday and Sunday) for only $250, and it was a hundred times nicer that I could have possibly expected! Brenda runs a tight ship, and is one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting on my travels 🙂 She welcomed us with a big smile and open arms, and made us feel right at home from the moment we walked through the front door. She gave us menus for breakfast (complimentary and home cooked), invited us to help ourselves to the enormous DVD collection should we need a relaxing evening in instead of heading out, and was happy to help us with anything else we may have needed. She walked us over to our gorgeously appointed room, and it honestly felt just like home (only, a little bit nicer!) – it was the perfect place to spend the weekend!

Features:
* In-ground, solar heated pool
* Rooms have new HD/LCD tvs
* New super quiet Fujitsu AC Split Systems
* Kitchenette with fridge, toaster, microwave, crockery and cutlery
* Tea, coffee, fresh milk and bikkies
* Expresso Coffee Machines
* Electric Blankets and cosy doonas
* Triple sheeted beds to ensure maximum cleanliness with NO recycled bedcovers
* Hair dryers, irons, ironing boards and fresh towels and high quality toiletries
* Beautiful gardens with BBQs on site

Inclusions:
* Complimentary breakfast which you can choose from the a-la-carte menu
* Free WiFi
* Complimentary DVD hire
* Free car parking
* Guest laundry is available at no additional cost

Oh, and Brenda makes some AMAZING pancakes!!! Highly recommend these!

 

Eat here:

Bridge Road Brewers
Old Coach House 50 Ford St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://bridgeroadbrewers.com.au/

Visit for: the beer (apparently) and the pizza. They cater really well for gluten free (gluten free pizza bases, which are actually really good, as well as GF beer and cider), and be sure to check out the specials board, which is where we found the pork knuckle – absolutely phenomenally good!! Really friendly service, gorgeous set up, just be sure to make a reservation because they get super busy!

IMG_1134-1Click to add a blog post for Bridge Road Brewers on Zomato

 

Moments & Memories Tea Room
34 Camp St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.moments-memories-tearoom.com.au/

Visit for: The devonshire tea with an insane amount of teas to choose from to go with it. Yes, it’s pink and frilly and girly and just SO pink. Not at all my style, but don’t be fooled; the service is as sweet and sassy as you’ll find in town, and the scones are good enough to brave the bright pink interior for! With around 60 different teas to choose from (and yes, you can take them home with you if you like them enough!), it’s a little tough to select just the one to go with your scones (again, gluten free particularly well catered for with a gluten free Devonshire Tea option also on offer, which I also sampled, and can very much vouch for!), but I ended up going with the Devonshire Cream tea – top choice, and I bought a bag to take home with me! You can also find a gorgeous selection of award winning jams and preserves, tea cups and saucers, cook books and other little tea-related trinkets that are waiting to be taken home, too. Perfect way to spend a winter afternoon 🙂

 

Beechworth Bakery
27 Camp St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.beechworthbakery.com.au/

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Visit for: A sausage roll and a pie – I like the steak pie and husband like the chicken and leek, but let’s be honest – they’re all good!! The sweets are also amazing, with the beesting being (a sweet, “melt-in-your-mouth” dough bun filled with apricot jam and creamy custard, and topped with toffeed almonds – delicious!) their most popular export, and for good reason! I’m also a huge fan of the flourless orange almond cake, and the snickerdoodles (custard filled pastry tart, topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries) – and don’t forget a bottomless cup of tea to go with these treats! This bakery is the original and the best; we used to travel to Bright most years to spend the Easter holidays when we were kids, and I have the best memories of stopping in here for lunch at the bakery on the way to Bright! While they’ve now expanded to locations in Albury, Bendigo, Healesville, Ballarat & Echuca, this one is the original, and still the best 🙂 Don’t be put off by the long lines – they move pretty fast.

Click to add a blog post for Beechworth Bakery on Zomato

 

The Beechworth Sweet Co.
7 Camp St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.beechworthsweetco.com.au/

IMG_7114Visit for: the home made fudge and other home made chocolate and lollies. They’re all delicious – it’s kind of impossible to choose, but the salted caramel fudge is a good place to start! This is another place I have very fond childhood memories of, with many holidays spent eating my weight in musks and chocolate drops from this place 🙂 Their hand made fudge is pretty popular, and they have heaps of amazing flavours to choose from, as well as some pretty delicious peanut brittle. They’ve also got fantastic individual chocolates like the ones below – a little more pricey, but worth it for a special treat!

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Shop here:

Beechworth Honey
31 Ford St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.beechworthhoney.com.au/

No doubt you’ve seen this stuff sold in your local supermarket – where better to buy it from that straight from the source?! If you like your honey, this is a must-visit shop in Beechworth, where you can stock up on all things honey; from hand creams and soaps, to honey mead and multiple ranges of honey (everything from the classic original stuff to some fancier orange blossom or creamy honey, fig and ginger), it’s all there.

 

 

Quercus Community Bookshop
Cnr Ford & Church Sts, Beechworth, Victoria

A little heaven of used books, with some very friendly and knowledgeable service to boot 🙂 This is the place to go if you want to browse and/or talk books, with a massive range with new arrivals popping in all the time. If there’s something you’re after and can’t find, just ask – help is at hand and ready to go! With prices starting at only $1.00, you’re bound to walk away with at least a few books.

 

 

Beechworth Antiques
17 Loch St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.indigoshire.vic.gov.au/Services/Business_Directory/Beechworth_Antiques

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There are a few little antique shops in town, but this one was particularly beautiful – heads up though, they are genuine antiques and as such, the prices are more for serious shoppers and collectors. There are a few cheaper treasures in there, though, and definitely well worth a look around.

 

 

So, there’s part 1 of my guide to a weekend Beechworth visit, hope you’re enjoying your virtual break so far and have maybe seen something to motivate you to email Brenda and book a room for a weekend away of your own! I’ll be back later in the week with part 2 (what to see and do while you’re there), so I hope you’ll be back for that 🙂 In the mean time, back to reality and back to work for me this morning, already looking forward to the next adventure!