Stone & Wood Hinterland Big Pale Ale

Strong Pale Ale

When the first beer in a series is so well received that it goes straight to the pool room (read: the brewery’s core range), it sets up a certain expectation for the next beer. Well, Stone & Wood’s second Hinterland beer has dropped. I expected something good. I got my favourite S&W beer to date.

Stone & Wood are known for their early and popular use of Galaxy hops from from HPA (formerly Hop Products Australia). But their relationship with HPA goes beyond Galaxy; for more than 15 years, this brewery-and-supplier duo has been working in harmony, sticking close like two strands of a double helix. HPA research and grow the hops, and Stone & Wood play around with the hops, trialling new varieties and showing off what they can do in beer. The brewery gets to experiment with exciting products. The supplier gets real life market research. The rest of us get to drink good beer.

But you’re not here for a romance story between two businesses.* You’re here for Big Pale Ale, the follow-up to Hinterland Hazy, in which HPA’s Eclipse and Vic Secret are doing their best to mimic the above courtship.

Despite the fact that Big Pale is Eclipse heavy, to me the flavour of sweet and bright pineapple (more attributed to Vic Secret) acted as the container holding the hop profile together. But there’s a stupid amount of orange zest and juicy mandarin (courtesy of Eclipse) bursting out of it. It’s like the TARDIS, somehow squeezing in more citrus character than should possibly fit according to something as mundane as real-world physics. And since I’m using a Dr Who analogy despite never having watched a single episode, I might as well double down with other Whovian concepts I’ve picked up from somewhere: the Companion is a dry pine note clinging on for dear life, while the Time Lord’s two hearts are beating out of sync with hints of ripe stone fruit and apple crumble. Throw in a nice foamy carbonation in the mouth, and you’ve got yourself quite the Gallifreyan.** [It reminds me of the original Cloud Catcher, before that was reined in to its current size, but more textural – Editor]

And while the suggested food pairing of miso-glazed eggplant sounds fantastic, I paired it with a BBQ dinner with mates while looking over the Brisbane River – and I can absolutely recommend that pairing.

Mick Wüst

*If you are here for that, watch this video featuring head brewer Caolan Vaughan; it’s basically a love letter to HPA and the vibrancy of Aussie hops.

**Had to look that one up, sorry.

Published April 17, 2024

Stone & Wood (Lion/Kirin)

100 Centennial Circuit
Byron Bay
NSW 2481

(02) 6685 5173
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