My wife and I recently attended a good friend’s wedding in beautiful Byron Bay. Whilst we tend to get down there quite often I had never had an opportunity to go to the Stone & Wood tasting room. With the wife in tow (as the designated driver), we got a chance to go out there the day before the wedding.
The Stone & Wood tasting room is not really a bar, but more a place to sample some of their beers. We had just come from lunch where I had tried the limited release Mash Collective Dead East Ale. I was keen to get my hands on a bottle for a review for the blog but sadly they were all sold out.
What they did have however was tasting platters for the economical sum of $10. Bargain.
First off the rank was the Green Coast Lager. The impression I got from this beer was that it was brewed to ensure a lager was on tap. I found it dry with a slight hop spiciness. Very subtle and not necessarily a huge stand out.
Second was the Pacific Ale. This beer needs no introduction and is a stellar offering demonstrating the power of the new world Australian hop, Galaxy. Galaxy is a notoriously difficult hop to brew with and my recent example gave a bitter, lacklustre beer. Pacific Ale is quite the opposite and whilst criticised as being a bit one dimensional, is a great beer and one I recommend to anyone who is interested in trying craft beer.
Third is the Garden Ale. My wife as the designated driver had most of this as I selfishly demolished all the other beers. The Garden Ale is a great mid-strength beer which are rare in the craft beer market (except of course for Rogers). I understand this beer is dry hopped with the Aussie hop, Ella which I haven’t had much experience with. Whilst Ella is not quite the stand out Galaxy is, it does have a subtle flavour which is quite enjoyable.
The next beer was the Jasper Ale. This beer is described in the tasting notes as a ‘Big Winter Beer’ which I think may be a little ambitious for a 4.7% beer. I got a strong crystal malt taste from this beer which was quite unpleasant. Out of all the beers, this is the one I didn’t finish. Whilst it wasn’t to my tasting, it is good to see that Stone & Wood is willing to have a diverse portfolio which hopefully meets a lot of different people’s tastes.
The final beer and the stand out of the group is the Cloud Catcher, described as an ‘Australian IPA’. Once only a limited release I understand the Cloud Catcher is becoming a year round beer and rightly so. The name ‘Cloud Catcher’ pays homage to the Indigenous word for the local Mt Warning (which literally means Cloud Catcher). At 5.5% this is the strongest of the beers but not quite in the IPA territory. I understand both Galaxy and Ella hops are used in this beer which gives it a bit more depth than the Pacific Ale. A solid beer.
I asked the guys what was next on the agenda but they weren’t willing to share. However, the next day I got an update that they are producing a ‘spin off’ brewery called Fixation Brewing Co which will focus on IPAs. We can also expect more ‘limited release’ beers given that their original brewery is almost exclusively dedicated to these now they have a second brewery site.
Overall the tasting room was a great side trip in what is always a beautiful part of the world. I would highly recommend checking it out.