Hang around the beer world long enough and smile nicely for long enough and, chances are, at some point you may get the chance to become involved in a brew. Usually, this will take the form of adding some grain or hops, pushing the odd button or, most likely, being asked to shovel the spent grain out of the mash tun so the brewer doesn't have to. With Stone & Wood's Stone Beer, there's a chance to take things a little further. Each year, the brewery invites friends, family and peers to join them at their Byron Bay home for the brew day, one at which head brewer Brad Rogers pulls out the volcanic rocks he picked up in Fiji and invites guests to help build a roaring wood fire in which to heat them so they can be craned (by humans) in a cage into the brew to aid caramelisation in a recreation of an old technique with origins in Germany. There's also plenty of beer and food going around, but the beer and its brewing are the spectacular stars. Each year, the beer has evolved, with this year the darkest yet, a deeply dark brown with a blood orange tinge, that weighs in a little lower in alcohol than the 2013 vintage but higher in terms of dark cocoa and soft roast aromas and flavours. Smooth on the palate with earthy, spicy characteristics from the hops too, it's another addition to the Stone Beer canon.
Watch the 2014 brew come together here.