There is something very prosaic about watching beer being made. It starts with some heavy lifting and clouds of dust. Lots of pushing of buttons, turning of knobs. Standing around. Shovelling. Cleaning. It doesn’t really lend itself to poetry, or to the sort of romanticised dialogue you get in Sideways when Miles starts explaining his love of pinot.
Maybe you could speak of it in the same wistful winey tones; about how the hops are grown only in certain latitudes so the sun lingers long over the leaves, tantalizing them but never smothering them with its love. That the brewer must artfully mash the malt, coaxing the orchestra of enzymes to work together to produce a symphony of sugars to feed the yeast and fuel the beer.
You could but, with beer, it’s just silly and very, very affected.
But, having been fortunate this year to be present to watch the brewing of the 2012 Stone beer, it would be nice to talk about the enthusiasm and excitement palpably bubbling amongst the brewers as they do something different and special; to capture the romance of gazing into the building fire as it consumes the wood, burning down to coals and leaving the volcanic rocks glowing expectantly; to describe the angry sound as the rocks scold the wort, unleashing a geyser of steam and searing the sugars. But I won’t. Mainly because Sam has said it already and said it much better, and far less pretentiously.
So, I’ll just say it’s available.
Another year, another Stone Beer
Winter marks a special place in the calendar at the Stone & Wood brewery, because it’s that time of the year when we get out our stones and heat them in a wood fire at the brewery as part of brewing our limited release Stone Beer. It’s a beer that has evolved over the years and the 2012 brew is no exception.
After releasing our Jasper Ale as our year round dark ale earlier this year, we had the opportunity to take yet another look at Stone Beer and see where it fitted amongst our range of beers.
Because we only brew and release Stone Beer once a year we have noticed a lot of beer lovers hanging onto the beer and pulling out bottles from time to time over the year between releases. It’s great to see people getting into the spirit of a vintage approach to the beer, so we have improved the beer’s ability to age, at least over the year.
Although our previous releases of Stone Beer were a deep red, the research we’ve done into the traditional steinbiers found that they were much darker ales. However, when we looked at all the current German beer styles, there are no ales darker than Alt bier (apart from wheat beers), so there is a real hole in the spectrum.
So we thought that we could take the learnings from the last few years, add some darker roasted malts and use more of the noble hops (Hersbrucker) to create a darker, higher alcohol ale with a firmer bitterness.
The 2012 “vintage” Stone Beer marks a big step forward as we continually look at ways to brew a beer that captures the essence of what our mediaeval forefathers were doing, and gives today’s beer lovers an ale that surprises them on release and ages intriguingly over the year ahead.
Stone & Wood Stone Beer — 2012
Aroma: roasted malt and spicy hops
Palate: dark chocolate, aniseed and rich malts
Finish: firm, bitter and dry
* Note: Limited edition stone bottle available via the brewery website.
Editor’s note: Stone & Wood sponsor Brews News and Matt & Sam were their guests at the brew day.