From Byron to Brisbane – Stone & Wood opens its Fortitude Valley brewery
Back in 2008 – when Australia’s craft-beer scene was in its infancy – it was a humble Byron Bay-based brewery that first forged some of the initial major in-roads into Australia’s consumer consciousness. As craft beer has vied for a larger piece of mainstream beer’s market share over the past decade, Stone & Wood has emerged as one of the leading names of Australia’s new wave of boutique booze. Now, as one of the elder statesmen of the scene, Stone & Wood’s reach has spread far and wide, but the brand has retained its staunchly independent and community minded approach, choosing to focus on its own back yard instead of far-reaching expansion. Last Friday November 1 saw Stone & Wood open its first brewery and taproom outside of Byron Bay – tapping kegs at a brand-new hub in Fortitude Valley. Blending some carefree Byron vibes with some distinctly Brisbane grit, this beery arrival brings the coast to the city, marking a new chapter in Stone & Wood’s storied history.
If you take a trip down the M1 to Stone & Wood’s Byron Bay brewery, there’s a fair chance that a sizeable chunk of your fellow patrons will also hail from Brisbane. Although sitting across the border in northern New South Wales, Stone & Wood is almost considered a local drop by residents of southeast Queensland, with droves of hops-mad craft-beer lovers regularly making the pilgrimage south every weekend. This phenomenon hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Stone & Wood crew, who began tossing around the idea of opening a Brisbane hub based on the popularity of the brew amongst its northern clientele. Stone & Wood has boasted a strong connection to Brisbane ever since it started distributing its Draught Ale north back in 2009, but the team new that any foray into the Brisbane market had to be tailored to local tastes – especially as Brisbane boasts numerous beloved boutique beer outfits across town. As a community-oriented operation, Stone & Wood began asking its fans what local meant to them, ascertaining that interactivity – where one could see, touch, feel and taste – was crucial to enhancing the connection between consumer and product. Through this information, the vision for Stone & Wood’s Brisbane expansion evolved. In addition to being a base of operations for the brewery’s Queensland distribution and logistics team, it was determined that the hub would also house a fully operational brewery as well as a taproom, where fans could enjoy Stone & Wood’s iconic range plus some tasty brews tailored specifically towards local tastes.
Stone & Wood’s Brisbane HQ can be found on the outskirts of Fortitude Valley’s party precinct, inside the heritage-listed Trails Ltd Ice & Cold Stores building on Bridge Street – previously home to Smoked Garage. The location ticked all the boxes as far as size was concerned – not only did the building afford plenty of storage space and room for the brewery and 150-seat brewpub, but it also provided areas for training (or ‘beerification’), beer masterclasses, private function area for 100 people, merch displays and an on-site canteen. The team took steps to ensure the Brisbane brewery had its own identity, boasting custom-built furniture by Blackwood Collective, pops of greenery and plenty of exposed brick creating a rustic industrial aesthetic. Stone & Wood Brisbane features an eight-hectolitre brewhouse, five fermenters and three serving tanks, which will be used to produce and pour a range of small-batch beers exclusively for the Brisbane venue through the taproom’s 24 taps. The Stone & Wood team is also eager to revitalise and regenerate the immediate area, with a community engagement day slated for Thursday November 21 to discuss the activation of nearby Acland Lane for potential art, music and market events.
The food and drink
Naturally, Stone & Wood beer is the cornerstone of the Brisbane hub’s bar offering. The taproom will be pouring Stone & Wood’s core range of beers (from the summer Pacific Ale to the cloudy Green Coast Lager) as well as some limited batches from the pilot brewery, but it’s the small-batch Brisbane exclusives that will have long-time Stone & Wood fans intrigued. Brisbane’s lead brewer Macca has been given free rein to experiment with some out-of-the-box drops, concocting recipes based on his own tastes and conversations with punters over the bar. A total of 18 beers will cycle through the taps, offering plenty of quaffing material for those that don’t like to repeat drinks. As far as grub is concerned, the on-site canteen will host a selection of food vendors, each popping in for a three-month rotation. Mr Bunz is the first concept to take up residence, hawking the likes of freshly shucked oysters, pork crackling and popcorn chicken to drinkers looking to snack while they sip.
Stone & Wood’s Brisbane brewery and taproom is now open to the public. For opening hours and other details, head to the Stumble Guide.
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