By James Atkinson

Stone & Wood invited members of the trade to its Byron Bay brewery to get involved with production of its fifth annual Stone Beer, the winter seasonal brew that celebrates beer's medieval origins.

Publicans and media joined founders Brad Rogers, Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich and their burgeoning staff of 16 last Friday for the Stone Beer brew day, in which wood-fired stones are used in the brewing process, as in ancient times. 

"When we first started Stone & Wood we thought this was a great way to bring the brand to life," Cook told TheShout. 

"It celebrates the fact that beer is a very medieval, historical product and it's very elemental. It's a bit of an ode to what brewers used to have to do back in the day to brew beer."

Rogers said the 2013 Stone Beer will be in a similar vein to last year's, which was darker, more bitter and higher in alcohol than in previous vintages.

"It's probably slightly darker than it was last year, and we've used a hop out of Bushy Park in Tasmania called Enigma that will impart some really interesting flavours as well," he said.

Brad Rogers, Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich

"But the Stone Beer really is about the rocks sizzling in the kettle. The sugars caramelise around those rocks, then we put the basket of rocks into the fermenter and let the yeasts do their thing."

Jurisich said the most recent releases have been ramped up in the knowledge that the Stone Beer was developing a cult following among drinkers who were cellaring it to compare with the following year's release.

"Now that this is the fifth brew, it gives the punters out there who have followed us the opportunity to see how it evolves over time – the fifth generation of stone beer will be completely different to the first," he said.

The Stone Beer will be launched Saturday May 4 at The Rails Hotel in Byron Bay, when Stone & Wood hosts the Festival of the Stone.

As with last year's Stone Beer (pictured left), a small number of the beers will be sold in limited edition ceramic bottles on Stone & Wood's website.

Pictured above right: Rails Hotel, Byron Bay licensee Mike Spalding (L) with Stone & Wood brewer Nic Sandery.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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