The legend of Big Reg has it that a man died a mysterious death in the cellars of the Keating Hotel, now known as the Holgate Brewery. Doors of the brewery open and shut as Big Reg moves through the room. When there’s a bad brew, it’s Big Reg’s unhappy doing. The elaborate stories are endless at the Mount Macedon local pub where the Big Reg, a luminous red lager – aptly named after a mispelling – is served through a manually pumped tap, and holds reverence to the Australian spirit where nothing gets in the way of a good story over a good beer.
Microbrewery beers have been in vogue for a while, and they just keep getting better and better. And what separates these humble beers to their larger competitors is the passion for quality, absolute precision and science, and avant garde experimentation of flavours. And the striking part about my visit to the brewery was indeed the joy the knowledgeable staff have over a fine brew. Holgate have a core range of 5 beers – the pilsner, mt macedon ale, E.S.B, temptress and the mild one, a rotating list of seasonal beers and experimental limited release beers.
The Mt Macedon Ale is a sweet amber pale ale, with a tingle of honey flavours that’ll make your tastebuds smile. While sweet and delightful, it has a refined finish which means you can easily down a coupla pints before you know it. Another kicker is the Brick Kiln Road Wheat Beer (their seasonal Drunken Weizen brew). While I’m usually not a fan of wheat beers, this one has a strong malty punch to start, and a creamy banana and clove taste to finish. It has a cloudy appearance but a clean bitterness which again, means you can drink these one after the other. After laughing at the Hopinator’s name, I probably deserved the kick in the head that this beer gives. It’s a double india pale ale with an alcohol content of 7%. It absolutely hits you upon your first sip, the untamed aroma and high alcohol content will initially make your head spin. A few more sips will climatise your tastebuds and you’ll start to savor its caramel complexities. Finally, the last beer that I must mention is the highly popular Temptress. Originally made as a limited edition for valentines day, it has become a permanent addition to the Holgate core family of beers. Again, it’s a high alcoholic (6%) porter, with chocolate and vanilla flavours and coffee-esque qualities due to its generous quantity of dark malt. Unlike other porters, it features light carbonation so it has an airy, almost fluffy texture to compliment the sweet, dessert like taste. If you usually don’t like thick porters, you’ll probably love this beer!
Of course, this is a food blog, so I ate dinner there after downing a sample paddle of 8 beers. The highlight was their venison, duck and bacon burger with a pot of the ESB. Any burger that can fit a deer, a bird and a pig into one dish has my thumbs up.
Info: 79 High Street, Woodend (03) 5427 2510
How much money to bring: $30-50 (food + beer tasting paddle)
OK to bring a date? Yes, there’s a separate dining room
It’s closed on: Open 7 days
Don’t: get the chicken parmagiana
Do: get there early for a brewery tour, it’s $100 for the tour but you can bring more people and it’ll cost less for each person
Sounds like: Fleetwood Mac – Dreams