This year saw a change in direction for the Byron brewers' annual stone beer. Sure, they still pulled out the same stones from Fiji and heated them in a wood fire on the driveway outside the brewery. And they still lifted them, when white hot, into a metal cage and lowered them into the brew to let them work their caramelising magic. But elsewhere, it was all change with an all new recipe that saw the beer become a much bigger affair. That it's a new beer is apparent from the moment it hits the glass: much darker and viscous than in previous years, a sight that heralds a multifarious malty mouthful. Toffee, chocolate, cocoa, cola, treacle - you name it and you'll get it as it makes its salubrious way from goblet to gullet. It's gently warming, as you'd expect at 7.2 per cent, with the hops contributing a subtle spicy aroma and a lingering bitterness that's aided and abetted by a little roastiness from the malts. That a very limited amount of this limited release comes in a stone bottle seems appropriate as it's the kind of beer you can imagine men of yore tucking into after a hard day's boar-hunting or maiden-rescuing; either way, well worth the effort.
Published July 23, 2012 2012-07-23 00:00:00