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Crafty Snaps: Holgate's Imperial 900

Crafty Snaps: Holgate's Imperial 900

July 26th, 2012 by Crafty Pint

Thirteen years after brew number one, Holgate this month hit 900. To mark the occasion, they invited a few people along for the day, including members of Bendigo Beer and staff from the Royston, The Terminus and Beer DeLuxe, and brewed up a fresh batch of their very occasional release, the Empress.

First brewed for the inaugural GABS in 2011, it quickly won the heart of one of Bendigo Beer’s founders, Justin McPhail, who professed rather unnatural feelings towards the beer. Despite this apparent lust, he was among those taking part in Brew 900, on which he has sent us a few words (don’t expect anything less than one-eyed adoration…) accompanied by some photos from Michael Carlsson. Over to you, Justin…


This beer has milestone written all over it:

The 900th Brew for Holgate Brewhouse. Only the second time this beer has been brewed. The first time it has been fermented in the new brewhouse fermenters. 5 Senses Coffee. Vanilla beans. Dark candi syrup. Imperial Mocha Porter.

The result? 4 relatively simple ingredients merged together to make one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. Big call. (I made it)

I was lucky enough to be invited along for the third and final brew day of the Empress Mk II. (A third brew day was required due to the fermenters being triple the size of the brewery’s mash tun/hot liquor tun). Nick the brewer was our host for the day, filling everybody full of beer facts (and beer from the tanks), and explaining in great detail the reasons why breweries use different malts, different hops, different additives. How the malting process works, why we heat the crushed malt up (to extract those delicate sugars we need to convert to alcohol), even what it looks like (via graffiti on the mash tun).

With each different malt added to the mash we were invited to taste the malts before they were added to the mash tun, including crystal malt for it’s toffee / caramel characters and the interesting torrified wheat which is essentially ash due to the length at which it is malted (no sugars remain, so it’s all about colour and flavour baby, yeah).

So why is this beer so special? It’s one of very few imperial porters in Australia. It’s highly accessible, despite its 10 per cent ABV and due to its velvety vanilla palate. And it’s the bigger sister of one of Australia’s most consistently highly rated porters, the Temptress.

One amazing beer, one special release.

(Time for a cold shower, Justin…)

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