A Jolly Week for Craft Beer

St Bernardus Christmas Ale

Christmas time is always a great time for drinking beer but this year has been especially fun. Temple Brewing launched their new Brasserie and Bar, Kooinda flung up the doors to their brewery to the public for a special ale; and and some killer specialty Christmas Ales arrived in good beer stores.

6 Sleeps Before Christmas – Temple Beer did flow

The Temple Brewery and Brasserie opened this week in Melbourne’s North so I ventured over to the venue on opening night to check out the newest addition to the craft beer scene.

Visiting Temple felt a bit like unwrapping an early Christmas gift. I was already a big fan of Temple, having first tried their beers at a Federation Square Microbrewery Showcase a few years back when their Saison was my pick of the night. I was giddy at the thought of drinking that beer again fresh from the tap, after a nearly two-year hiatus in its production while they had focused on building their brewery.

Temple’s brewery is located just off Lygon Street, not far from fellow new brewery on the block Thunder Road. Behind its two vast wooden doors, Temple reveals a sleek and sophisticated bar and eatery with a minimalist design. Drinkers are seated in rows at long wooden benches facing toward the bar and stare out through a glass wall to the brewery and its shiny new tanks.

Food is not just a sideshow here but a serious part of what Temple has to offer. I shared the Pork Sop (like a pulled pork sandwich) and the Batata Harra (potatoes with assorted toppings) and they were both outstanding.

As for the beers, the Brunswick Draught was surprisingly tasty, nothing outlandish, but certainly a pleasant beer that you wouldn’t suspect of harbouring the much maligned Pride of Ringwood hop.

The Bicycle was quite funky on the nose, very light in colour, with a moderate hoppy zest upon tasting.

The American Pale Ale seemed a fairly standard hoppy pale, while the Soba Ale, brewed with Buckwheat, offered a more unique taste, but personally wasn’t my favourite.

The Saison lived up to my high expectations. A fuller and creamier Saison than others I’ve had, the Belgian yeast characteristics of esters and spices shone through nicely. In a word – brilliant!

Overall, I liked the venue and it’s simple yet sophisticated feel. It certainly isn’t a place for a ‘big night out’ but is perfect for a few quiet ones complemented with some culinary delights.

The beers were more clean and well balanced than they were big and bold, but the quality was certainly there and I’m looking forward to their future releases including a Black IPA call Midnight that is in the works, and their Special Bitter.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the new venue but in that regard Crafty has you covered.

3 Sleeps Before Christmas – Kooinda opened its doors

Kooinda opened up their brewery to the public for the first time, even putting a new beer on tap for the occasion, an English Red Ale. The brewery was a very modest down-to-earth factory setup, adorned with a few salvaged couches and tables for the occasion. While the setup may not have been glamourous, the beer geeks and local workers in West Heidelberg had turned up for one thing and one thing only, beer, and in that department Kooinda certainly impressed.

The beer for the occasion, the English Red Ale, was an interesting one. I can’t say I know the style well but this appeared to be a fairly faithful interpretation. This red ale was “proper” red (as the English might say) with a creamy body and quite a punchy kick of earthy, spicy hops. As good a beer as it was, it didn’t quite suit the hot day, but on that account the Golden Ale had drinkers well covered.

Kooinda is set to sell its beers direct from the brewery in the near future, and with their American Pale Ale still, in my opinion, still one of the best Pales Australia has to offer, I will likely be returning to this brewery sooner rather than later.

1 Sleep Before Christmas – the Christmas beers were chilling

“He’s checking his (beer) list, he’s checking it twice. He’s going to buy some Christmas ales full of flavour and spice” (I’m sorry I just couldn’t help myself).

Yep, there’s been some great Christmas specialty ales hitting the good beer stores and even better, at least for Melbourne drinkers, this year there were also a few Christmas Ales available in Growlers with Blackheart and Sparrows serving up the Aussie version of the Christmas Ale from Red Hill and Smith Street Cellars pouring Mikkeller’s Santa’s Little Helper, a whopping big dark christmas ale, for a bargain price of $30.

Myself, I’ve opted for a St Bernardus Christmas Ale (image above) as my beer of choice for the day, another monster of a beer at 10.6% abv that may just have me thinking I’m Santa Claus by the end of Christmas lunch.

Whatever you opt for, may you have a beery Christmas and a happy New Year!


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