Three or four years ago Temple crested the wave of micro-brewers in Melbourne, they were the brewers everyone talked of, everyone aspired to be, and some even started to diss their experimental style, as is the case when greatness rises quickly. They surfed on the wave created by there Saison, a farmhouse ale which is being demanded and copied because they introduced it to Melbourne palates. It was familiar to those who grew up on Coopers Pale like I, but uniquely different. There was ginger, and coriander, and stuff I had never imagined in a cloudy wonder of new beerness – beerness wasn’t a word then it is now!
Then they disappeared, no beer at the usual haunts, The local in Balaklava, Beer Deluxe, Cookie or even the specialist bottle sellers. No Temple. They were in hibernation, building their own brewery in Brunswick. It has taken what seems an eternity, but they are finally back. And me and my usual beer connoisseur buddy Boony went to visit a few weeks back, only 8 weeks after opening.
The first and really only question I needed to ask was, is the Saison as good as it was, or hopefully better than ever? First I must put a caveat on my anticipation, distance both in time and space makes things seem more wondrous than they may have been (for those intellectuals see articles on construal level theory), the cliché is of rose coloured glasses, or treat-em-mean-keep-em-keen. But when introduced to something that has been made greater in your mind with time it may be better but seems lesser. Also I know the brewer is fastidious about cleanliness, thus the name Temple, the brewery should be treated as a Temple, kept pure and clean, if he had only seen the inside a Hindu temple covered in poo and ash some rustic texture may have remained.
So you may realise that the Saison wasn’t what my memory told me it should be, it was cleaner, more refined, more professional, and still a great beer, one of the best in Melbourne, but it had lost its rustic beauty. Its character.
Temple are still by far the best brewers in Melbourne, but they have worn this label like a yoke, they are becoming to refined, to clinical, to professional, and with that they will lose some wonder. But I hope no followers, the industry will adore them as they always have, but average punters like a little chaos, a few rough edges, and often just a good drinkable pint.
This said they are still experimental, their two new beers are testament to that. The Black (midnight) IPA, which unfortunately for you is sold out, (but looking at their website may become a regular) was f…cking fantastic. A perfect beer but something from the in-between, of IPA, of stout, of beer, of perfection, of booze, but non-of-them. And the Bicycle Beer a 4.2% beer? which tasted more like a cross between Sav Blanc and cider, or as one punter said salty water, is proof of a great beer maker. He put salt in the beer which does make it taste refreshing like sea-spray. Although the Bicycle Beer may be a little showey, a little look at what I can do and you can’t, it is still a great block in the pantheon that is being built for Melbourne beer.
But… overall I was slightly disappointed. The brewery and bar were not homely or warm, the beers were wonderfully crafted but lacking a little mystery, and part of me misses the juvenile Temple, the one hoping for a brewery rather than the one owning a pristine steel factory.
All that said, I love Temple, I await their next offering, and I will worship often. They are one of the few breweries that actually inspire intelligent conversation about beer, while drinking beer, and are thus a God send.
They also do food now, see Temple Brewery.
Note: the Midnight IPA has not sold out. So get yourself some now.
David J Campbell
For more reviews see : Red Faced Reviews