79 High Street
Woodend VIC 3442
+61 3 85427 2510
From Box Hill, we drove to Sunbury. And from there, we ditched Aaron’s Civic and into Tim’s dad’s Navara, that was taking a break from the mines of Western Australia while Tim’s dad was in his ‘FO’ stage of his FIFO roster for the month.
It wasn’t long before we got hungry so we ended up pulling over at Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend for a hearty meal, never mind the fact that most of the group had breakfast not too long ago. Aaron and Cathy had been there before and loved it but for Tim, Dave and I, it was our first time.
Holgate Brewhouse is, to a few of my friends who grew up and/or live in the area, probably the only thing worth stopping for in Woodend. While I’m not sure how true this statement is, it’s fair to say that this place gets its fair share of visitors from Melbourne on weekends in addition to the local crowd. Their motto is ‘real beer, no bull’ which is (probably intentionally) ironic given that its logo contains a crazy-arse bull.
A few of us were keen to order the Holgate tasting paddle, which is essentially a wooden plank that holds eight 90ml glasses of Holgate beers from the tap. Unfortunately, they ran out of like, five of the beers so they weren’t able to serve the tasting paddle to us. While I was thinking WTF kind of brewery runs out of beer, Tim was secretly glad because, as designated driver, he didn’t want to sit there feeling left out while his mates were slamming down beer shots!
Instead, we ordered a glass of beer each. The beers and ciders are locally produced and at $7-8, they’re a bargain given their microbrewery statuses. For those who are driving, sparkling drinks from the very good Daylesford & Hepburn range are available, as well as hot chocolate and coffees. However, please note that Holgate Brewhouse ‘only use[s] full cream dairy!!!’ (for this, I give them props because seriously, screw skim milk!).
The food here is obviously pub grub and the dishes include favourites such as chicken parma and burgers of all sorts. I ordered the ‘world-famous’ Holgate dark ale beef pie with chips, salad and house relish ($20), the perfect meal for my Temptress chocolate porter, a seductive dark brew with strong chocolate and coffee flavours, and hints of sweet vanilla.
The food might have taken a while to arrive (it was the weekend, after all, and the restaurant was short-staffed) but my pie was worth the wait. The puff pastry top was perfectly crispy and flaky and the filling was rich with flavour and tender chunks of beef. Props were also given to the chips which were super crunchy and the relish was equal parts spicy and sweet without being too overpowering. Loved it.
While it was a shame that they didn’t have most of the beers available on tap to make a tasting paddle and while their service wasn’t the fastest, I still thought my experience at Holgate Brewhouse was a positive one. The good food in a charming casual environment made for a wonderful lunch and we’ll be sure to stop by again for an hour or two the next time we’re on our way to Daylesford (unless someone can convince me that Woodend is worth staying overnight for).