After spending an afternoon snorkeling at Julian Rocks we had earned a drink. Of all the gin joints in all the world we would be walking into one shed in particular.
Nestled in a corner of an industrial estate just off one of the main roads out of Byron Bay is the place where a gambit by three friends turned into one of those fairy-tale stories. Fed up with “working for the man” at one of the larger brewing companies they decided to take their hopes, dreams, recipe ideas and savings and brew beer in their own way.
Their local Pacific Ale soon became a firm favourite at home and abroad including winning a Silver Medal at the World Beer Cup in 2014.
We knew we had reached the right shed when we heard the pumping tunes from the DJ competing with the gaggle of voices of the patrons in the beer garden but the doubt was gone when we saw the big logo hanging above the bar and the fermenting kilns neatly arranged to the side. We were 10 mins early for our tour but that only meant a ‘no dramas’ from the barman and a welcome schooner of their Green Ale to tide us over.
This was the original brewery before demand outstripped the tools of supply and now it serves as a heritage center of sorts. A way for the Stone and Wood ethos to carry on in the community. The main brewery is now located in the town of Murwillumbah some 60km to the north.
Green Coast finished and high-viz singlets donned we walked away from the bar and were led to a circle of boxes at the far end of the compound by our host.
20 minutes were spent divided between insights into the brewing process, the back story of the company, samples of hops and oats to smell and touch and, of course, more samples of beer to try.
It is worth noting that while we sat in that old shed supping ale from an independent brewing company, 700 miles away the ink was drying on the sale of Four Pines Brewery to AB InBev further consolidating the craft beer industry in Australia.
The rest of the tour involved walking around the walkways and peering into the kilns and fermentation tanks. We also got to sample ‘pure oxygen’ wort from one of the tanks.
Our reward for finishing the tour was an individual tasting platter, containing the Garden Ale, Cloud Catcher and the red Jasper ale. Oh and a pin badge 🙂
It turned into such a nice evening that we decided to walk along Byron Bay beach into town before grabbing some dinner.
Come With Me and you’ll be..
Spending a few days in Byron allowed us to explore many of it’s streets and alleyways. An explosion of Street Art over the last number of years have turned these into outdoor galleries. A lot of the action is centered on the alleyway called Surf’s Alley. Recently re-painted by art project Popped Collective it is packed full of character and content and features work by Jeremy Austin, Art Collective Nitsua (Founded by Austin), Teazar, Schmick, Wilderness Road (aka Anabelle Thomas) and many more artists.
The alleyway previously immortalised 16 locals influential in the surfing scene and their contribution was kept as part of the new look.
Away from Surf Alley, there are other piece on Fletcher Street,Marvell Street and Fletcher Lane. It’s also not just the walls that are painted on. Benches, fences, bus stops and utilities have all gotten a new lease of life.
Some of the murals had messages, others were just a brain dump of the inner workings of the artist’s mind. Some were advertising for other creators, (King Bunny and his band Bunny Racket on Marvell Street stands out here), but all worked in tandem to create something special.
The explosion in street art has been part enabled by cooperation with the council and buy-in from local businesses too and it really adds to the buzz around town but all real credit has to go to the artists who have shaped the streets into a world of pure imagination.