A genuine one stop shop for the discerning beer tourist, Holgate's Woodend Brewhouse combines a brewery, public bar, restaurant and hotel under a single roof. Just an hour from Melbourne, in the shadow of the Macedon Ranges, you'll to find a bar lined with site-brewed beers on tap, including some hand-pulled from the cask in traditional British fashion.
The unintended consequence of holidays in England ('93) and the USA ('97) for owners Paul and Natasha Holgate, the business started life in 1999 as an extension of his home brewery while both still worked in the city, but soon demanded a bigger venue. They took over Woodend's former Commercial Hotel/Keatings Hotel and have never looked back, producing an ever-expanding range of beers inspired by classic styles from Europe and the North American micro scene, as well as barrel-aged and other experimental beers.
Visitors can watch beer being made in the brewery, head to the bar for a tasting paddle, including a beer poured through their homemade "Randall" (a machine that adds a hit of fresh hop flowers to the beer before it reaches your glass), then move to the restaurant for a meal, many of which are cooked with Holgate's beers as a key ingredient. And, if you've had one too many, Natasha will find you a clean, comfortable room upstairs for the night.
As the brewery closes in on two decades, it's been a case of onwards and upwards in more than one way. They've been expanding the brewery for a number of years, with the ultimate goal of creating a visitor centre highlighting not just Holgate's story but that of beer itself.
And, either side of their 20th anniversary in October 2019, those plans have been turning into reality. First, the old brewery that's been worked so hard over the years was upgraded to one of the most hi-tech breweries in the country, a 50 hectolitre Rolec kit from Germany. Then the Taproom & Visitor Centre, which also acts as a showcase for other cider makers, distilleries and wineries in the region, opened, offering a contemporary alternative to the traditional English pub stylings of the original hotel.
Throughout all the expansion, they've been maintaining the standards on the beer front, continuing to collect trophies and major medals both on home turf and abroad for beers as diverse as their Temptress chocolate porter and the Sour Brett Ale, one of a number of beers taking Holgate in new directions.