Crafty Pint / 18.01.13
Back in the 1990s, as a teenager immersed in the UK’s indie scene, The Crafty Pint was a fan of the short-lived, pun heavy London band Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. Front man Jim Bob had an uncanny knack of running pun into pun into pun into pun, so we instantly have a soft spot for the forthcoming beer from Holgate’s 1000th brew. The Millenium Falcon Emperial IPA not only uses the word millennium in reference to it being their 1,000th brew, but uses Millennium, Falconer’s Flight and Galaxy hops, features a deliberately misspelt Imperial in its title, while they even managed to squeeze the word “chewy” into an email sent to The Crafty Pint. Whether this last one was an intentional nod to the Wookie or not, we’re gonna pay it.
The Woodend brewery has been operational for more than 13 years now, making it one of the true stalwarts of the Australian craft brewing industry. Since being founded in 1999 by Paul and Natasha Holgate, it has operated with the same second hand brewhouse purchased from New Zealand, but has seen every other aspect of its operation expand and grow significantly – particularly in the last 12 months with the addition of eight 5,000 litre brewing tanks. Its rate of production has also increased significantly.
According to Paul: “Of the 1,000 batches brewed over the past 13 or 14 years, 200 of them of them were brewed in 2012, so the whole team is proud of this feat. And it’s testimony to the growth of the Australian craft beer market, which was in its infancy when we first started way back in 1999.”
Paul (pictured above working on one of the brewery’s other big beers, the Beelzebub’s Jewels) and Natasha orignally installed the brewery in a shed on their Woodend property and got the business up and running while holding down day jobs in Melbourne and raising two small children. Success meant they were able to take over and renovate the town’s Keatings Hotel in 2002 as their cellar door and tap room, before ultimately upgrading the brewery and moving it to the hotel site in 2006.
“It’s a different proposition running a larger business with a number of staff than running a smaller one on your own”, says Paul, “but with the team now at three brewers, myself, and two sales operatives on the road we’re in a great position to put more Holgate beers into the market in coming years.”
For their milestone brew, they aimed for a rather large beer. As such, the Millennium Falcon actually made up the brewery’s 1,000th, 1,001st, 1,002nd, 1,003rd, 1,004th and 1,005th brews, completed on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.
“1000 is a big number so we couldn’t brew a mild,” says Brewer Ian Morgan. “There were a few things behind the choice to brew and Imperial IPA. We have been having fun with our bigger beers, particularly on the darker side of the scale. This is a pale one. The wort is really light so it should turn out to be a very pale ale.
“It’s a huge hop bomb of a beer. We thought we would play to our strengths; we don’t do wild beers, ales are what people know us for generally, such as the Mount Macedon, ESB, Road Trip and Hopinator. In many ways, this is the Road Trip on steroids, but with different hops.”
The beer has been one of the first that Holgate’s newest recruit, Dan Dainton, formerly of Melbourne’s Portland Hotel, has worked on. According to Ian: “He hasn’t broken anything yet on his body or in the brewery!”
The beer, which is expected to turn out around eight to nine per cent ABV, will require some time to ferment and mature. As such, the Millenium Falcon won’t be landing until March.
So, congratulations to Holgate on reaching such an impressive milestone. However, we should point out that the email sent to us earlier also ended with the line: “Prepare to engage your hopper-drive.”
I guess, given their services to beer over the past 13 years, we’ll let this one slide…