It feels like ages since I’ve reviewed a beer. I’ve been drinking a lot of homebrew lately (and brewing it as well), so any new beers I’ve tried have been out at one of Melbourne’s fine drinking establishments. In fact I’m hoping to do a comparison of two recent appearances that have piqued my interest… but more on that over the weekend. For now ’tis the season… to review a DIPA.
For those unaware, DIPA (or IIPA) is a Double India Pale Ale. Basically an IPA with more hops and higher alcohol. Endless arguments are waged about what is and what isn’t blah-di-blah-blah. Like other style arguments, I really couldn’t give a crap. This beer in particular has produced some online arguments, but again, it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day.
I will say before we get this on, that I am generally not a fan of DIPAs. I find many to be too cloying, too heavy, too hoppy, and all round a little pointless and unbalanced. I’m not saying this is the case with all, because there are some that I love but I do go in with a little bias to this style.
I’m also tired of “Hop” themed names and puns. This isn’t ska so lets dial it back a bit shall we?
Anyway, lets hop to it!
Holgate is based in Woodend, Victoria. The brewehouse is housed in a restored 19th century hotel. We visited recently and it’s a lovely building with the brewery at it’s heart. Accommodation, great meals and a nice little outside area make it a worthwhile stopover if your in the ‘hood.
The beers however, make it a must stop. Holgate do great beers. All extremely well made, great standard range, interesting seasonals and the almighty Temptress on handpump. One of my favourites.
This particular beer is at 7.0% (just on the edge of the style) and is a limited release. I got this one at Vintage Cellars on Little Bourke St in the city. They have a decent range, not spectacular, but a good couple of local favourites, a couple of Trappists and maybe a sneaky Brewdog. Worth a look if you are in the area.
How does it look?
I quite like the regular Holgate bottles, and it only just dawned on me that this one, like a couple of others in the range seem to have a stained glass window motif. I never really looked that closely but I’m assuming it’s a hat-tip to the building that it’s brewed.
In the glass I got a thin clear white head that dissappeared pretty quick. The colour is dark amber. Far darker than expected but also very clear. I’m a sucker for a clear brew and this seems to hold true in my favourite DIPAs.
How does it smell/taste?
It smells lovely. Pine and toffee. I think it’s a clever balance between the two and I imagine a fresh one would be great, as the pine didn’t stick around as much as I would have liked (I missed out on getting a fresh one at the brewery by a few days, and I’m not saying this was stale either, but hops can be fickle). The taste is no different to the smell. Both the toffee and the pine flavours really combine well and while fairly dry, both flavours hang round for a bit, before leaving a nice bitterness and a hint of alcohol at the end.
It reminds me a lot of other Holgate beers but bigger, hoppier and with a great finish.
When should I drink it?
I could be boring and say, “have it with a curry”. IPAs and hot curry are one of the great things in life… but given the big toffee profile of this, I would leave it until dessert. A nice tart citrus based dessert would work well to really cut through the malt and hops would create a really interesting contrast.
Not what I expected from a double IPA. This was clearer, maltier and a lot less bitter than many examples. Maybe it’s not a DIPA… but really who cares what it’s called, it’s a classic Holgate brew with a lot of toffee flavours and extremely well made.