The 12 Steps It Takes To Make A Sweet Delicious Craft Beer

24 May 2017 1

Sally Mac

Coastalwatch Digital Editor

The harvest of the hops from Tasmania

The harvest of the hops from Tasmania

STONE & WOOD | SPONSORED STORY

The Making Of Stone Beer - Water, Hops, Malt & Yeast

Earlier this month I spent the weekend in Byron Bay and Murwillumbah at the Stone & Wood brewery. You might be familiar with their Pacific Ale beers that are now on tap at many good watering holes Australia-wide. My personal favourite is the Green Coast larger, but it is trumped each June by the release of the annual Stone Beer – a special limited edition brew made with the traditional beer brewing methods, including the use of hot rocks which pays homage to a time when things were slower, and more simple; the way it should be.

Over the course of the weekend in the Northern Rivers myself and a group of beer aficionados from Queensland, NSW and Victoria became immersed in the aromas, tasting and methodology behind the Stone Beer and the brewers who make some of Australia's best craft beer. It's more than putting together a monster homebrew kit; it's a delicate balance of ingredients and timing.

The Stone Beer will be released at the Festival of the Stone event at the Byron Bay brewery on Sunday 11th June with Kingswood headlining the event supported by Polish Club, MT Warning, Your Mates DJ and Bunny Racket for the kids. Limited tickets are available so get your name down so you don't miss out.

Before brew day, the ingredients are sourced and collected from various locations on the Australian coastline and abroad. The hops are harvested in Tasmania and transported up to Byron ready for the brew.

From the start: The aromas are mouth-watering

From the start: The aromas are mouth-watering

Stone & Wood's Head Brewer Coalan, walked us through the ten steps to creating this sweet, delicious beer.

1. At the start of the day we light a big fire in the firepit outside the brewery to prepare for the heating of the rocks.

2. Time to mill the grain (or crush it)

3. Time to mash. After the grain is grushed which it is then mixed with water, that’s called the mash. Inside the mash the water and grain are mixed to make a porridge consistency. which is converted from starch into fermentable sugars that the yeast feeds off the sugars during the process to create the alcohol later on. This process of conversion takes about an hour.

(You can’t access the starch unless it’s crushed. When we add the water the water has access to the starch. There are enzymes that convert that starch into sugars.)

4. We transfer the mash into Lauter Tonne, basically, it's a process of separating wert (pronounced wort), the sweet liquid unfermented beer, from the grain. The Lauter Tonne is a separation vessel used to filter the wert and leave the grain/remove the sweet wert behind.

5. We put that wert into a vessel with a false bottom, like a sieve and once it’s in there we use it as a filter, the husk of the malt creates a filter bed so we end up with a nice clean wert straining through.

6. Once the clean wert is run off, we wash all the sugar out of the grain.  

Retrieving the hot rocks from the fire-pit.

Retrieving the hot rocks from the fire-pit.

Coalan drops in the hot rocks.

Coalan drops in the hot rocks.

7. Now we’ve collected the wert, we add the hops (hops are a harvested plant that adds bitterness to the beer) and boil it for an hour.

8. During the hour boil we add the glowing red-hot rocks that have been burning for hours. Heating up rocks and adding them in gives you this instant caramelisation, it adds an incredible complexity to the beer. Toffee-caramel is the blend of roasted flavours you get as the smoldering rocks settle into the liquid.

9. We leave the rocks in the beer and continue to boil and caramelize the beer for an hour. It's amazing watching the rocks continue to boil the beer.

10. Removing the hops. The hops are the removed via a whirlpool on a tangential angle that causes the solids and hot materials to form in a cone at the bottom of the tank so the sweet, delicious wert can be transferred over. 

11. Hot wert and cold water are run through the tank together and it’s cooled down by running it through a heat exchanger (or wert cooler). We cool it down to 16 degrees, then add yeast which metabolises/eats the sugars that creates the Carbon Dioxide and the alcohol. All the sugars that are made in the first stage of brewing are eaten up to make the delicious beer.

12. Now it sits in the fermenter for 3-4 weeks then we keg it and pack it.

13. This year we’re putting Stone Beer in barrels as well, and releasing it after a year at next years Festival of the Stone event. It will be barrel aged. What the oak barrelling does is imparts flavour, a rich vanlla, coconut flavour that gives it an additional layer of complexity. The barrels previously stored whiskey in them so that smooth, wintery flavour is infused with the beer over the year in store.

See you at the 2017 Festival of the Stone for the epic live music line up and Stone Beer unveiling.

The oak barrels will rest some of the Stone Beer until June 2018.

The oak barrels will rest some of the Stone Beer until June 2018.


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