May 21, 2014 by 250 Beers
…falalalala la la la la.
It’s not really a festive season and certainly not a time of year that particularly warrants a parody of a Christmas tune. However, for me personally these chillier months remind me of being back home in England.
Yep, Mother Nature has done the ol’ switcheroo with the seasons and I – along with many others – turn my attention to the darker beers on offer. This means only one thing…it must be time for Stone Beer!
For those residing under a rock (or stone) and have no idea what Stone Beer is well, quite simply it’s an annual release from Stone & Wood that differs in ingredients and end results each year. Most importantly the brewing process includes the use of wood-fired hot stones.
I was extremely fortunate to be a part of the brew day in Byron this year. It’s a day that will live long in my memory as possibly the longest moment of ‘Pinch me! Is this really happening?!’ ever.
Every year Stone & Wood celebrate the release of the final fermented product at their Festival of the Stone. In contrast to recent years the festival was held at the Boronia Place brewery this year – Stone & Wood’s spiritual home.
It seemed only right that I should be there for the release. Byron isn’t so doable for the majority of brew day partakers but for me it’s an easy two-hour jaunt down the coast.
So, on May 10th – precisely eight weeks after I made the pilgrimage to Byron to be involved in what could be Australia’s first real cult craft beer – I hit the road again. This time I was joined by Mrs 250 Beers and our two sons – we were going to make a day of it…and this time I was going to avoid the speed camera at Nudgee and a subsequent $220 fine.
Having a few pre-festival Pacific Ales at a beach-front Mexican restaurant really set the relaxed tone for the rest of the day. We’d arranged to meet friends from Brisbane there – friends that were also keen for a fresh Stone Beer.
After a good feed and a play on the golden sandy beach of Byron Bay with my children we headed to the brewery and settled in for an afternoon of live music and beer. The first keg of Stone Beer wasn’t being tapped until 6pm. Until that point we indulged in a few more Pacific Ales, one or two Garden Ales, a couple of Jaspers and numerous Lagers. Co-owner/founder Ross Jurisich gave me a fine explanation as to why revellers would be kept waiting until 6pm – midway through the six-hour long festivities.
“We’ve learned from recent years not to offer a high alcohol beer so early on in the day!”
It’s a good point and probably quite responsible of the Stone & Wood team. It enabled the bustling crowd to sit back and enjoy the band and our liquid refreshments for a few hours.
Although slightly down in alcohol content this year, Stone Beer 2014 weighs in at 6.9% and at exactly one minute past six I had my first draught version between my fingers. I say “first draught version” because I got sent a bottled version a few days prior and I couldn’t hold off cracking it open!
Straight away the roasted malt aroma attacked my nostrils. Aromas of burnt coffee and chocolate essence started to make me salivate.
A lot more robust and porter-like compared to previous Stone Beer releases, its dark chocolate and bitter coffee provides an overwhelmingly smooth finish and there’s an underlying spice brought to the party by the inclusion of Sylva and Helga hop varieties. The thirteen different malts included in the bill are responsible for the intense complexity.
To locate your nearest bottle of Stone Beer try the Stone & Wood beer finder.