Follow the leader may be the usual saying, but at Ballarat’s Hop Temple, following the red and white umbrellas seems more accurate. Once you spot the first one, follow them down one of the area’s most iconic laneways to be rewarded with a beer-drinking paradise.
Hop Temple is the place to go for eating, drinking and socialising in Ballarat. Venue Manager, Zac Hill, is an experienced hospitality guru who ensures the smooth running of the laid-back restaurant and bar and oversees the education of staff in the range of beer, wine and cocktails on offer.
The name – Hop Temple – pays homage to the frothy beverage itself. The guys wanted the space to be a place of appreciation, where people could come from near and far to worship beer. And not just craft beer, but all beer – Hop does not discriminate.
Hop Temple truly is a shrine; with more than 16 on tap at any one time and 120 varieties in cans and bottles, it has a brew for every taste. The taps are on a rotating schedule, meaning you can try something different with every visit. Expect to see a multitude of local brewers, including Little Creatures, Holgate, Two Birds Brewing, Mountain Goat and Hargreaves Hill, as well as some international innovators like Panhead Custom Ales and Brooklyn Brewery.
Start the night with a Bridge Road Chestnut Pilsner, before moving onto the Barrow Boys Pedlars Pale Ale or Cavalier Courage Golden Ale. If darker beers take your fancy, sample the Big Shed Californicator IPA or 3 Ravens Dark Smoke for something a little different.
The venue also features an extensive range of wines – more than 35 bottles from near and far – as well as eccentrically named cocktails. Try a glass of the Opawa Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, or opt for a Michael Unwin Tattooed Lady Shiraz, hailing from Beaufort, Victoria.
Fans of bacon have had their prayers answered with the Proud Mary – a tasty combination of bacon, bacon bourbon, bacon salt, pepper, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce and tomato juice, served with a lemon wedge. Those after a twist on the usual can try the Beerjito: it’s a mix of Stolen Gold rum, Little Creatures Pilsner, lemon juice, agave nectar, strawberries and mint, garnished with a strawberry finish.
If the diverse selection of beer, wine and cocktails isn’t enough, there’s also an impressive assortment of whiskys, sourced from all over the globe. There’s a particular emphasis on the Scottish options, including Aberfeldy, Bowmore and Craigellachie.
All of the beers, wine, spirits and cocktails pair perfectly with a bite to eat from the kitchen, headed by the talented Hugh Dreher. He spent four years working in a Ballarat restaurant serving Southern American-style eats, an experience that influences Hop’s menu. His love of spice and Southern flavours has led to the addition of ribs, briskets and burgers to the tasty offerings, which makes use of local produce wherever possible.
Having trouble pairing your drink with a dish on the menu? Have a chat to any of the friendly staff: they are all well educated on the tasting notes and pairings of every beer on the menu, both new and old.
With such an exciting food and drink offering, you’d think Hop Temple would be bursting at the seams. However, the building is a massive warehouse that has been refurbished and transformed, leaving lots of space for everyone to enjoy a brew or two. The guys set themselves a challenge to reuse everything that was already in the building when they took over; therefore, stacks of old doors have received a new life as a feature wall and leftover floorboards and pallets have been made into tables.
With special events like a beard and moustache competition, food truck nights and guest appearances by local brewers every couple of weeks, Hop Temple is sure to surprise and delight with any visit. The only question is how many beers can you try?