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)………..
“Untried, Experimental, Limited” is the motto of Stone & Wood‘s Pilot Batch series. At first taste, that motto about summed up this particular brew for me. Saison en Chene, made in collaboration with Jilly Wines from nearby Clunes was not immediately a great match for my palette.
The overwhelming aroma is of yeasty sourdough and at first I thought this was a wheat beer (of which I’m not a great fan). Had I read the label properly, I would have realised it was a ‘Saison’, traditionally a strong, fruity, pale ale with plenty of spice and fizz. The fruit that comes through most strongly with this one is bananas, reminding me somewhat of Hoegaarden ……. strangely a wheat beer I’m quite partial too. However, this beer grew on me as I worked my way down the glass and, like most beers, by the time I’d finished it, I was ready for another! Warning: at 6.7% this one could creep up on you.
From the Saison we get season. Here’s a very thirsty Paul Weller with the wonderful ‘5th Season’…….
Following my own advice for once, this evening I’ve opted for more of a winter-style ale, a chocolate porter. My recent experiences with chocolate ales have been favourable so I was quite looking to this one.
The Holgate Brewhouse is based in Woodend, Victoria and has been brewing since 1999. Their dark ‘Temptress’ is brewed with Dutch cocoa and vanilla beans and the taste is nicely balance between the two with a hint of coffee . Neither bitter nor sweet, it’s rich and smooth and better drunk at something like winter room temperature to allow the flavour to come through. At 6% its stronger than your average bar of Bournville. Try with slabs of wagyu beef or at bedtime.
To complete a treble word association, here’s Japan, with ‘Night Porter’ …………
Welcome back. Stone & Wood‘s ‘Pacific Ale’ has made a welcome return to Feddy in Alstonville. Strictly speaking, whilst taking ale on board at the Federal Hotel, I’m usually a Cooper’s Pale Ale man. Given the chance though, it’s great to jump into the cool Pacific.
Like Kool and the Gang once said, ‘It’s fresh ….. exciting’, a cloudy pale straw in colour it has the aroma of a bowl of fruit salad. There plenty of fruit on the tongue too, passionfruit, peaches and tinned pears …… this could be 3 of your 5-a-day.
Another winner from Stone & Wood, a truly refreshing brew …. it’s about time I visited the brewery.
With a cover from South Pacific, the closest you’ll get to a show tune on this blog, here’s Captain Sensible with ‘Happy Talk’
Byron Bay’s Stone and Wood Brewery wowed me last week with their Jasper Ale, so I was looking forward to trying their Limited Release Garden Ale. After a hard days work; fixing 2 broken steps; filling the green bin with waste from the garden and cooking a roast chicken dinner, I was ready for my evening constitutional ale. I was not to be disappointed.
Toffee brown in colour, it’s fruity aroma reminded me of ‘Love Hearts’, you know, the 70’s sweets with cheesy messages on? There’s a refreshing fizz and a beautiful zingy taste of berries and blackcurrants balanced with nice bitter finish. My first reaction was again, ‘wow!’ As was my second reaction. A sure-fire winner.
If this beer was Love Heart, it’d have ‘Drink Me’ written on it. Rush out and buy one now …… it’s limited release.
Here’s Siouxsie and the Banshees with ‘Hong Kong Garden’
When in Byron do as the Byrons do (that old chestnut), hence today’s beer is Stone and Wood Brewery’s ‘Jasper Ale’. Brewed in heartland of Byron Bay, Jasper Ale is a departure from the more well-known, stone-fruity, Pacific Ale. More English in style, yes, but less bitter than your average ‘Boys Bitter’. A deep rusty red in colour, there’s mild fruit on the nose and a slight ‘apples and pears’ taste on the first quaff. The mild bitter finish expands as the beer warms up and I learn from the website that this was intended as a winter ale ….. as much as we get a winter in these parts.
(Aren’t photos much better when not taken on an iPhone?)
Jasper Ale is not an earth shattering brew by any means, but it’s certainly fresh and very drinkable … ideal for a warm winter. As for Byron Bay, well I know it has it’s detractors but where else can you go on a Sunday afternoon, look down from a 113 year-old lighthouse and see a pod of 30+ dolphins playing in the surf?