The Stone & Wood story is the closest you'll come to a fairy tale in the world of Australian brewing. It's the story of three friends who'd done rather well for themselves in the world of big league brewing and decided to head off and do it for themselves in one of the country's most beautiful spots. And it's a story that has got off to a flying start, with their two core beers already proving popular across Australia and one being spoken of as the new classic Aussie ale.
The three friends are Brad Rogers, Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich, who worked together at Matilda Bay, CUB's craft beer arm, having come through the ranks at Foster's. During that time, Brad tweaked old recipes and introduced a number of impressive limited release beers at the Garage brewery before the trio decided to up sticks to Byron Bay and start their own brewery in 2008. As they state on their website: "Our dream was to quit 'working for the man', shed the corporate garbage and get back to basics."
They kicked off with two core beers, a Pale Lager created in a subtle Germanic style, and a Draught Ale inspired by the beers made by European microbreweries that were designed to be drunk fresh within a few kilometres of the brewery. The latter – which uses all Australian ingredients and is the best example yet of the qualities of the Galaxy hop – proved so popular when a few kegs were sent further afield that it had to be packaged too to meet drinkers' demands. As a result, at the end of 2010 it was renamed Pacific Ale given it had left its draught roots well behind. Occasional limited releases, such as the Stone Beer made using hot stones in an ancient technique, an unfiltered kellerbier and beers made with non-beer industry collaborators under The Mash Collective banner have followed, along with Jasper, a red ale available year round..
Such has been the phenomenal success of the Pacific Ale that they reached a point where it was physically impossible to fit any more fermenters into their Byron Bay home – or work any more hours in the day. So, in the first half of 2014 a second, larger site was opened in Murwillumbah to help meet the insatiable demand for Pacific Ale at which they keep adding more breweries and tanks.
With the opening of the new brewery, the original site in Byron has become more of a hub for the public to come and experience what Stone & wood is about, as well as the place they brew their limited run beers. Look out for the occasional special event featuring new beer releases, local artists and the best of local produce, or join one of the daily brewery tours and enjoy a sample or two at the tasting bar. If you're just passing through, the cellar door is open every day for brewery-fresh takeaway beer.