BEER: Stone and Wood Stone Lager (Byron Bay, NSW)
$10 500ml, 5.3% http://www.stoneandwood.com.au/
|Stone & Wood Stone Beer|
As a tribute to the brewers of the Middle Ages we brewed (the Stone Lager) by adding wood fired stones to the kettle to rouse the boil and intensify the malt characters of the brew.
Long before the wizardry of steam was invented, brewers used stone and wood to brew their daily beer. They built a fire to heat large stones until they were hot enough to be added to their wooden vats to create a boiling brew. Apart from the obvious heating effects, the brewing stones also caramelised the brew to create subtle but rich toffee like flavours.
We have a perfectly good boiler, but it is those intense malt flavours from caramelising the wort that we have gone to great lengths to create. To add further complexity we then added the sticky cooled stones to the fermenter to let the yeast have a real treat feeding on the “wort candy” during fermentation.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? A production process that uses archaic, laborious, hands on methods in an attempt to create a more interesting, complex final product.
Much like wine really.
And just like fine handmade wine, this is one beguiling beer. When I initially pulled it out of the fridge it showed very little – too cold – but now, after an hour at room temperature, it is finally showing some skin.
Amber in colour, the nose shows milk chocolate, treacle and a suggestion of sweaty/bretty characters (which would be yeast derived I’m guessing). The palate is super dry, almost severely dry, long and powerful, though not in an obvious way. Rather, it’s almost underplayed, with smoked, malted grain characters all through the finish, but with just a suggestion of caramel flavour through the rest of the palate. The palate then finishes with faint hoppy and astringency and moderate bitterness, sitting long but also somewhat awkward.
In all honesty, I really struggled to finish a 500ml bottle of this, and ended up drinking one of these (which I think is one of the best boutique beers in Australia) whilst it warmed up (and I warmed to it).
Finally then, as a drink this is all too bizarre, dry and hardcore to be truly satisfying. But in terms of Australian brewing this is a beer to be celebrated – the more interesting beers the better I say.