It’s been a long time between drinks but it’s not as if I haven’t been doing my research. In fact, for this beer, I went straight to the source and toured the Stone & Wood Brewery in nearby Byron Bay. Why it took me so long to make this pilgrimage to the birthplace of Pacific Ale (surely one of Australia’s top beers), I’ll never know.
Both of my regular readers will know that I’m not a huge fan of wheat beers but The Gatherer may just be an exception. Light and fruity, it has elements honey-dew melon and floral flavours. It would make a nice cooling summer drink or a great accompaniment to a hot curry. Not Stone & Wood’s finest but worth a try. In fact, worth a try every year, as the recipe changes with each seasonal brew.
In truth, having ‘done’ the Stone & Wood Brewery tour, I would say that my judgement has been so clouded that future reviews may be unreliable. What I can say is, if you’re in or near Byron Bay and your remotely interested in the art of brewing, how to run a community business and/or have a good time, then book your place at S&W. Our tour guide was a legend, we learnt plenty about beer and we were having such a good time that the tour over-ran by 45 mins.
From the Kings of Australia craft brewing we go the Queens of The Stoneage and the aptly named “Feelgood Hit Of The Summer (even though it’s Autumn)………..
“Redback Original is Australia’s original craft beer — first launched in the late eighties. Produced around the time of the Americas Cup defence — Redback’s innovation and unique style took an Australia starved of beer diversity by storm.” Thus says the Matilda Bay Brewery website and it would be true to say that Redback was the first Australian craft beer I tasted, way back in 1989. My girlfriend at the time (my future wife) was working at the Brass Monkey pub in Perth and apart from the delightful service, I remember Redback on tap being a refreshing change from the nondescript brews available elsewhere.
The red paint dash on the label references the deadly spider after which it’s named but this beer is far from poison. Golden in colour, it has the aroma and feel of a German white beer. Fruity and smooth on the palate, I always pick up a slight hint of banana chips with a good wheat beer. Matilda Bay recommend it be drunk with prawns, as ‘Australia’s culinary coat of arms’. I had mine with fillet of salmon and it was just as good.
I was expecting big things from Murray’s Whale Ale, after all, it has one of the world’s largest mammals on the label. Cloudy straw in colour, it’s an American styled wheat beer that left me searching for a distinctive taste. There was no trace of blubber or ambergris, though I did get a hint of sea salt.
It reminded my of the wax jambu fruit I ate earlier this evening, pleasant enough without leaving a lasting impression. I had hoped this cetaceous brew would have made a bigger splash but alas, I was left wanting.