Okay, Stone & Wood aren’t from Sydney but they’re from NSW and they’ve done a lot to bring craft beer to the Australian main stream.
Stone & Wood’s Beers of the Earth is a limited release six pack “celebrating that we’re the only planet with beer”. Seems as good a reason as any to brew some special beers.
This six pack celebrates famous beer styles from around the world. It’s purely a coincidence (although, great minds… yada yada…) that this is brought out at pretty much the same time as the 4 Pines Story of Pale Ale.
But while the 4 Pines brewers focused on telling the story of a particular and well-loved style of beer, the Stone & Wood six pack showcases a range of styles that tell a wider story of beer.
From the classic London porter, through Czech pilsners and saisons to the modern day vogue of American IPAs and “Antipodean” pale ales, there’s a range of beers here. It’s a perfect introduction for craft beer newbies, and a brilliant example of styles (and the brewery’s versatility) in a handy six pack.
Hopefully this is an idea that will spread among brewers. It seems like a fantastic way to deliver limited release and small batch beers in an accessible form. If there’s a way to hook in craft beer sceptics, I think this might be it.
Get ready for a world tour, here are the beers one by one…
It’s a very, very pale golden straw colour. It’s absolutely crystal clear which is what pilsners are famous for.
All the character of this beer comes through in the aroma, the spiciness of the noble Saaz hopes are there in abundance.
You can smell the sweetness from the malt too. It smells like beer did when I was a child, when the smell of my dad’s beer and the smell of pubs was so exaggerated and intense to my childish senses.
However, this aroma is more natural, it doesn’t have the sterile smell of macro lagers – it’s exactly what you want in a pilsner that is true to style.
The head is fizzy. Not bubbly or frothy but really fizzy, and it doesn’t stick around. Almost as soon as it rises up the glass, it’s on it’s way back down, leaving a very fine film sitting on top of the golden liquid.
The malt sweetness is there along with the bite of the Saaz hops but it settles into a solid bitterness. It’s almost surprisingly bitter. It hugs the edges of your tongue and the sparkle of the carbonation echoes through your mouth.
Unfortunately the carbonation doesn’t seem to last and after the first few sips the glass is no longer bubbling and the tingling sensation on your tongue disappears.
It would still make an excellent companion to a massive range of foods and would act as a really good palate cleanser between courses.
It’s not often you could imagine a beer going equally well with something rich and hearty, as with some light and fresh. It’s a quality which isn’t talked about enough in beers but this is a great example of it.
If you like this you might also like Young Henrys Natural Lager.
It pours a light, hazy golden colour with an amazing frothy, cloudy head. It fluffs up and it looks so plump and enticing. It has familiar yeasty aromas.
I really wish I’d spent more time just enjoying the smell but it was too tempting and I dived in a bit early.
Oddly, the first few sips taste a bit like cornflakes, in a really satisfying organic cereal kind of way. That big frothy head fluffs up beautifully in your mouth.
Following the cereal taste, there’s a definite but subtle sweetness, kind of like you get from white rice. Then it kicks in. The bubblegum esters from the yeast. It teases you in and then lets you know what it’s all about with a big yeasty kick.
It’s tempting to swig it down but try to savour it and enjoy the lacing down the glass which extends after each gulp.
I drank this hefeweizen from a wheat beer glass; slender, tall and curvy.
There are a lot of great hefeweizens out there but I’d recommend the 4 Pines Hefeweizen as a great starting place if you like this style.
Plunging my nose into the glass I’m hit with gorgeous roasty aromas. There’s something quite meaty to the smell, like the dripping juices from a smokey, roasted joint of meat.
It smells rich, it’s welcoming and comforting. The head is a butterscotch colour which bubbles down to a thin layer.
It’s surprisingly sweet with a light carbonated tingle across the tongue which you wouldn’t expect from the weight it has in the glass (in this case, a Spiegelau stout glass).
There’s a flavour like under-done caramel, like white sugar bubbled in a pan and cooled before all the crystals have dissolved. The sweetness lingers on the tongue and after a few gulps it coats the palate with a delightful silkiness.
The sweetness is accompanied beautifully by a smokey, roasted taste that dances around the edge of your mouth. It’s subtle, like inhaling the steam from a roast beef straight from the oven.
The brewers have done well to capture the English style, with the smokiness being reminiscent of a traditional English pub and the aromas being comforting and familiar.
It’s originally a working man’s ale, named after the porters who moved goods from the ships around London’s streets in the 1700s.
It’s the perfect drink for a cold, rainy night after a hard day’s work. I could imagine sinking a few pints of this in a warm and reliable London boozer.
Unfortunately I wasn’t in an English pub, but I did enjoy it while listening to my only Record Store Day purchase, Music to Drink Beer To, a compilation album brought out by American craft brewery Dogfish Head (worth checking out their beers if you haven’t).
With the rain lashing outside, it was quite a nice way to enjoy it.
It says 6.3% ABV on the bottle but it’s actually 6.8%. Stone & Wood included a note of apology in every box explaining the mistake.
The packaging was already made when the beers (this and the American IPA) came out at higher percentages than they had targeted.
No complaints from me but it does mean the units of alcohol (standard drinks) on the bottle are slightly off.
As soon as the golden liquid pours from the glass, those typical saison aromas erupt. Bubblegum yeast esters, alongside an explosion of white pepper. The aromas are backed up by the flavours.
This beer shows off some fantastic carbonation. The bubbles rocket up the glass, fizzing to form a solid, frothy white head.
It’s a super refreshing saison. This would have delighted any Belgian farmhand after a hard day’s toil under the baking sun.
It has a satisfying sweetness and a solid boozy hit. You wouldn’t drink more than one or two or you’d never get back to the farmer’s field the next morning.
Aussie hopheads rejoice!! That smell. That yankee IPA smell. HOPS. Juicy fruity and rock solid pine.
Just opening up the bottle, you can smell the booziness and the bitterness. And it gets so much better in the glass.
The colour is a gorgeous, deep amber with an off-white head which balloons up the glass and leaves a gorgeous lacing as you gulp at it.
It’s an incredible example of an American IPA. This is another one of the batch which came out with a higher than expected ABV. A rocking 8.2%, you’ll want to take it easy over.
That silky resin is all there, making up a huge part of its character, just as you’d expect.
American IPAs are big beers and this lives up to the style. This could have come from Lagunitas, Stone or any of the other big craft breweries that make rocking IPAs. The fact that it’s from our own shores is awesome.
It’s got an almost mashmallowy mouthfeel, it’s chewy for an IPA. You want to chow down on it but, obviously, you never get a satisfying enough bite. The bitterness gives a massive kick and it’s everything you want from an IPA.
Out of all the beers from this six pack, this is the one that Stone & Wood should be making permanently.
It really blew me away.
Antipodean Pale Ale
This one is a bit of an amalgamation. It takes the best of the typical Aussie pale ale (à la Coopers Original Pale Ale) with some of the fresh grass aromas of New Zealand hops.
It’s light and refreshing with a solid malt backbone with swirling hops aromas and green flavours. There isn’t any big fruit, citrus or pine. The hops are understated.
It’s sparkles and has a solid frothy white head which sits nicely on top of the beer and doesn’t budge. Stone & Wood have captured the quintessential character of the modest Aussie/NZ pale ale.
If you like your local pale ales, try 4 Pines Pale Ale.
Enticing beer geeks and newbies alike
As with the 4 Pines Story of Pale Ale six pack, Stone & Wood’s Beers of the Earth is another massive success. It entices beer geeks and newbies alike. Take it to a big party and it’s going to be a talking point, or bring it home and savour it over a couple of weeks. It’s incredible.
Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on the Stone & Wood Beers of the Earth six pack.