The sun is shining on a Friday in Byron and Northern Rivers Shire and it is most definitely Beer O’Clock. God’s Ale went out of fashion for a long time as the mass-produced brews took the soul out of this beautiful Australian past time.
The rise of the artisanal movement across all of the world is perhaps no more splendid that in our little corner and we are blessed to have some of the world’s finest producers of food and beverages. The craft and micro-brewery movement, though, is the one we are celebrating today as we focus on the new breed of beermaker that takes their craft seriously.
Focusing on quality and smaller batches with full flavours and locally sourced ingredients, the craft brewers of our region are giving us a veritable smorgasbord of locally produced beers and ales. So it is a tough job, but we have gone around and compiled our top beers from local producers. And here is our verdict:
STONE & WOOD
“Inspired by our home on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and brewed using all Australian barley, wheat and Galaxy hops, Pacific Ale is cloudy and golden. It is dry hopped to provide a big fruit aroma and a refreshing finish.”
“For those of you that appreciate a fruity flavour, the Pacific Ale from Stone and Wood will certainly have those taste buds satisfied. Pineapple, mango and peach aromas give it a sweet finish. Certainly, a beer you’ll order again (almost immediately,) such is its light and zesty appeal.”
BYRON BAY BREWERY
Hazy One Pale Lager
“This one is a hazy, straw coloured larger, loosely based around the Australian Larger. Take in the light fruity and floral aromas. Enjoy a little bitterness balanced by the biscuit-like malty notes that gives this beer a rounded fullness.”
Crisp, smooth with a hint of sweetness. I also sensed a hint of Arnott’s scotch finger as it went down but the biscuit-like malt isn’t overpowering at all. Easy to drink and a true all year rounder. Not one to give the “scotch finger” too.
PICKLED PIG BREWERY (BYRON BAY)
“(4.6%) Tangy Ginger beer brewed with fresh ginger and secret herbs and spices.”
A light ginger aroma that is refreshing as it hits and leaves the mouth, and may have the added benefit of settling the stomach. Secret herbs and spices tell a story of a true craftsman blend as the mix is just right. A delight on a hot summer’s day.
Fixation Obsession – Session IPA
“Obsession is our first session beer that packs a flavoursome, hoppy punch but comes in at a very balanced 4.6% ABV. Beautiful golden pale malt provides the base for the dominant piney and fruity aromas. Obsession is the perfect blend of flavour and drinkability. The hop aroma is instant and the taste is clean and fruity. This is a refreshing beer loaded with the best Simcoe and Mosaic hops.”
At first taste, you enter both a pine forest and a citrus farm; but it is more balanced than it might sound. It pours well as the head remained intact throughout the drinking. I wanted to eat something hot and spicy, which is the exact purpose of a good IPA.
FOREST FOR THE TREES BREWERY
“Saisons are complex yet refreshingly humble beers, a true reflection on how they traditionally came to be. Our Saison is deeply inspired by the traditions of Belgian brewing yet reflective of the world today with the benefits of modern brewing.
It pours into a stemmed glass with a vibrant, straw-like fluorescence and a dense white head. The delicate addition of freshly ground spice both compliment and accentuate the subtle yeast and fruit aromatics which are naturally derived during fermentation.
The aroma and bitterness of a subtle hop addition play a simple yet important balancing act. The pale malt backbone finishes undeniably and unashamedly dry, tight and zesty.”
Like a good saison, the pour was impressive with a thick, white head. The blend of spices was not overpowering and was balanced well with the fruity aromas. Pleasant on the way in and pleasant on the way down. A saison is good choice when you can’t choose between beer and wine. It’s a beer-wine, or a wine-beer…I’ll leave that to them to market.