BYRON BAY…famous for its beaches, the laid back lifestyle and their HUUUGEE Blues Fest…which has become more of a rock fest, but that’s beside the point.
But if the stuff from Stone & Wood is anything to go by, it should be equally well known for its beers.
Back in 2008, 3 guys set up Stone & Wood Brewing, leaving their corporate worlds behind and settling into a life of making beer, headed up by former Matilda Bay head brewer Brad Rogers. Sounds great doesn’t it, making beer for a living. You think you’d be surfing in the morning, chucking a brew down at lunch time and then watching the sun go down while you taste test the results.
Well alls good in dream land isn’t it, but after over 4 years of blood, sweat and tears, their dream is making this beer lover’s dream come true, creating beers that are made for pure enjoyment.
Their ideas are almost wine maker in philosophy. Take hands on, age old processes, and create a complex interesting final product.
What am I talking about; well it’s easiest to explain it by quoting straight from their website:
“Long before the wizardry of steam was invented; brewers used stone and wood to brew their daily beer. They built a fire to heat large stones until they were hot enough to be added to their wooden vats to create a boiling brew. Apart from the obvious heating effects, the brewing stones also caramelised the brew to create subtle but rich toffee like flavours.
We have a perfectly good boiler, but it is those intense malt flavours from caramelising the wort that we have gone to great lengths to create. To add further complexity we then added the sticky cooled stones to the fermenter to let the yeast have a real treat feeding on the “wort candy” during fermentation”
And it creates truly intriguing beers, carefree easy to drink beers that are complex enough for beer toffs like me, ones that show the flavours and aromas of the ingredients. But more importantly are ones that make you come back for more
Stone and Wood Pacific Ale: the team have used Galaxy hops here which give the beer a lift and a unique aroma, almost gelati like. A little mango, passionfruit and citrus on the tongue. A little bitterness which trickles off and leaves the fruity tastes there. This is one of the most sessionable beers I’ve tried in ages. Again they are subtle with just enough complexity to make you come back for more.
Stone and Wood Lager: lager has often been a dirty word in Australian beers, it has generally stood for all things mundane about beer, however my fellow lager-ites this might be the one that drives a change in the Australian beer industry. Soft on the palate still with full bodied malt character. The use of hops is superb here balancing perfectly with the malts.
Stone and Wood Garden Ale: This is one of their limited release beers, but not so limited that it can’t be found at your local Bottleshop. Before hops were used in beers, brewers would use different plants from their garden. This is one of those beers and has been created using juniper berries. I wasn’t sure how this would go but I found it really interesting, and came back for more. A very subtle bitterness, quite floral but a surprising spicy finish to it.
Stone and wood Jasper Ale: golden syrup and treacle aromas leap out of the bottle upon opening. It is long and dry on the tongue, with a touch of smokiness there from the grain, with those caramels and syrup aromas coming though. Moderate bitterness. Probably a bit too much for the summers up here to be truly satisfying. But it’s a very serious beer that makes me seriously want to get to know it better come those cooler months.