…and a little bit of Beer Karma
Those familiar with my writing will know that the concept of Beer Karma is something of a passion to me. The simple proposition “do good things, good things happen” (with thanks to Earl Hickey for that particular gem) is, while a little glib, a pretty good way to view the wider world.
Back in May I was fortunate enough to be invited north to Byron Bay to take part in the brewing of the fifth annual Stone Beer. Stone & Wood founders Brad Rogers, Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich are perfect examples of everything that is right with the beer community – great people, good family men, smart marketers and business operators who know that they are part of something bigger than their own little world. Oh, and they can brew some pretty decent beer as well.
The essence of the Stone & Wood life philosophy is encapsulated and acted-out in the brewing of the Stone Beer. More than a simple brew day and much more than just an excuse to bring people together, Stone Beer is almost like one of those museum dioramas – only much more lifelike. The heart of Stone Beer is a celebration of beer in its simplest and most honest form. It tells the story of man using fire made from wood to heat stone to boil the juice of the grain to make beer and, in the process, make many people happy.
It also serves to highlight that grain and farming and brewing and baking were the key reasons that ‘we’ as a peoples stopped our solitary wanderings for food and created communities and societies and began to catch on to the whole notion of civilisation. In a way, that’s exactly what the Stone Beer is all about – friends gathered together to commemorate a process that no doubt brought joy and hope and optimism to an ancient people.
Spending a couple of extra days at the brewery before the brew day, I was able to get a real sense of what Stone & Wood means to both Byron as a ‘community’ and the craft beer community as a whole. It’s all about keeping focus on the things that are truly important – being a real part of something bigger than yourself, being able to gather together friends old and new, drawing on those who ply other, but connected, trades to be a part of the scheme. There’s also the fact that being part of this implies a pact to pass on to others the desire to spread the good word.
I know this all sounds a bit ‘other-worldly’ or esoteric or whatever, but it is all an experience which still, some months later, is ‘differently memorable’ if that makes sense. Writers like James Smith from The Crafty Pint, James Atkinson from The Shout and Sam Fletcher from Brews News have all penned pieces that beautifully illustrate the experience that is Stone Beer – this bit is just my way of saying ‘thanks’ to the crew for the invite and to be truly thankful if you ever get that invite.
And the Beer Karma for this trip? While heading out on foot to get some supplies for a rather large breakfast for the many who stayed over and needed unhealthy sustenance I spotted a large dumpster moving in the bushes. Turns out there was a pretty disgruntled rubbish truck driver trying to shift the stuck wheels of the thing so he could get it onto the truck’s forks.
Well, I couldn’t just walk by and watch so I put my (at this point recovering dislocated) shoulder into the task and we managed to move it enough that he could finish the business. He thanked me then and once more on the return trip as the truck passed by and the driver gave a big ‘thumbs up’ to indicate my help was, well, helpful. I thought nothing more of it until later that day. Checking in just a half hour before boarding I didn’t even bother to check my seat number as I assumed it was going to be somewhere between ‘fat bloke with nasal occlusion and inability to operate deodorant receptacle’ and ‘odd-looking kid who stares’. Imagine my surprise as I entered the cabin and saw those two beautiful little symbols – 1 A. 1A! Front row aisle!! Alongside a lovely couple who said ‘G’Day!’ then not much else as they could detect I had spent 3 days in a brewery with not much sleep and maybe a lot too much (very good) beer.
As I settled in and recounted in my head the events of the previous days and their sure-to-be long lasting impact, I imagined I must have looked a little odd to those around me. Snug in my new Stone & Wood T-Shirt and sporting a smile you couldn’t smack off with a cricket bat I couldn’t help wondering what all the poor people were doing right then.