Brad Rogers, the co-founder of Stone & Wood Brewing Company, has been named as the winner of the 2019 Beer & Brewer Lifetime Achievement Award.
The awards recognise the key brewers, breweries and beers from across the Australian brewing landscape, with awards such as Best Brewer, Best New Brewery and Best Beer Venue, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award, for which Rogers has been recognised.
While Rogers was fascinated by brewing from a young age he actually studied Oenology at Roseworth Agricultural College in Adelaide in 1990. A career in wine beckoned until he was offered his first job in brewing, at the now extinct Kent Brewery, part of Carlton & United Breweries.
“Once in brewing I knew this was where I belonged,” Rogers told Beer & Brewer. “I am fascinated by the brewing concept of bringing together simple raw materials – water, malt, hops and yeast, to create the final brew. I also love the immediacy of brewing beer. You only have to wait weeks to drink the fruits of your labour – not years.”
While at the Matilda Bay Brewing Company, Rogers met Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich and the trio reinvigorated that brand. During that time the three decided they want to become part of the growing number of small, independent breweries and in 2008 after two and a half years of meticulous planning they set up Stone & Wood Brewing Company in Byron Bay.
“It was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Rogers said.
“In 2005, it became clear that there was a growing number of beer drinkers willing to shift to more flavoursome products and there was an untapped thirst for knowledge about beer and interest in exploring beer and all its forms and styles.
“I’m most proud about the simple fact that the three of us left great jobs and backed each other that we could get to where we are today. The other great aspect is our people and our culture. Our people right across the business are so important to me, and it’s very satisfying to see our team grow and develop and take on new challenges as our small craft beer business continues to grow.”
Stone & Wood has been one of the major success stories of the growth of the Australian craft and independent beer scene. The brewery now has over 120 employees and is Australia’s second largest independent brewing company, behind Coopers.
One of Rogers’ major achievements has been the creation of a whole new style of beer, Pacific Ale, and he explained how the popular beer came about.
“The Stone & Wood philosophy, across all of the business, is to keep things simple. I always wanted to use the Galaxy hop, so I just had to work out a way to use it cleverly to get the most out of the tropical fruit, passionfruit character I knew and loved about it. The Pacific Ale makes me happy every day. It’s such a great beer to brew and enjoy.”
As well as his achievements with CUB and Stone & Wood, Rogers has also become an influential part of Australia’s craft brewing industry. In 2012 he became the founding chairman of the Craft Beer Industry Association, and was also chief judge at the AIBAs. He then co-founded Fermentum – a collection of breweries and cider makers – of which he is currently executive director and head brewer.
This unique vantage point has helped Rogers witness a lot of what is happening in Australian craft brewing, as he told Beer & Brewer.
“The world keeps getting smaller, and the ease with which craft brewers can communicate and help each other is as healthy as it’s ever been,” he said. “With this in mind, the quality across small independent craft brewers has continually improved.
“Craft brewers continue to lead the way with true innovative thinking, both directly with their beers, but also in the way they run their businesses. There is a real sense of community and inclusiveness across brewers and their breweries, which I believe fuels the industry.
“I’m extremely humbled by this award. I need to thank my co-founding partners, Jamie, Ross and Tom, as it’s very much a team game. You can’t do what we’ve been able to do as an individual. And a huge thanks goes out to the entire Stone & Wood and Fermentum team who help make going to work such a joy each and every day.”
The Beer & Brewer Awards were relaunched in 2017, and Rogers is the second recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, with Chuck Hahn recognised in the 2017 Awards.