Beers, Community

Meeting the Makers, Growers and Craftsmen

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When you’re hanging out in Hobart, it’s easy to forget you’re in a city. A part from there being minimal traffic, there’s a real local vibe.

This seems to come from the emphasis on supporting local industry and local craftsmen. It’s similar to the Northern Rivers in that respect, except it’s colder and also there are hops…

It’s become a pilgrimage we make every year to see the protagonist of our Pacific Ale, Galaxy. What started with wanting to get our young new brewers close to the raw ingredients that make up our Stone & Wood beers has grown as the business has grown to get our people down to experience the magic of Tassie during hop harvest.

Owen Johnston from Hop Products Australia agrees the experience of connecting brewers to agriculture connects the process with the local quality ingredients and for our Head Brewer Brad, being able to work with the growers of hops throughout the year is invaluable.

“Hops are real and grown from the ground, harvested, processed into an airtight bag and then shipped up for us to brew with. Every time you open the next bag, that intense aroma of Galaxy takes you straight back to the hop garden! And more important is that when you taste our Pacific Ale, your mind sometimes wanders back to the HPA hop gardens and walking around picking and smelling the hops.”

The amazing experience of driving towards the hop fields in the Derwent Valley’s Bushy Park is that you smell them before you see them. It just smells so fresh. For our Brissy rep Hugh, breaking apart the Galaxy hops freshly plucked from the bine was a highlight of the trip.

“The smell of the hop exploded with a fruity aromatic freshness in my hand. It was like a Pacific Ale on hyper volume.”

The final day is always about the hops, learning about the process from garden to brewery and understanding where our local raw ingredients come from but the first two days are about checking out all the great producers and venues, and of course tasting Pacific Ale so far from home, with new friends in Tasmania, is always a bonus.

On the first night, we always start at the same spot, the New Sydney Hotel and everyone who’s in town is there. All the usual suspects, locals, Al the owner and those from breweries across the Tasman who’ve also flown over to check out the hops, the Moo Brew boys and the lads from Willie Smiths.

This is a chance for us to introduce some of the team to those we work alongside and friends we’ve made over the years.

With us taking down our Brewer Zach, three guys from the Road Crew – Ross, Hugh and Steve, Jasmin who looks after marketing and of course Brad, everyone takes something different away from the trip.

“Each person will get something completely different from the 3 days, but everyone will have a connection to where we get our raw materials and have a chance to meet others who are running businesses similar to ours.”

Ross, who looks after our Tassie customers said that while Hobart’s often overlooked as a world city, they’re really on the front foot with supporting locally sourced products. They share the belief of connecting with the community and believing local is key.

Most of the stores, cafes and restaurants are showcasing local products and ingredients and this adds to that Tassie experience.

After we catch up with our customers on the first night we spend our time at good breweries/cideries (Moo Brew and Willie Smiths), bars (New Sydney, Preachers and Brunswick Hotel), distilleries (Redlands Estate), wineries (Frogmore Creek) and MONA, while also meeting the people behind their crafts.

“There are a lot of similarities with whiskey, cider and beer. It was great to meet the makers, get an insight into the processes and understand the differences. The guys all share a passion and an incredible knowledge of their craft and field but also the history and culture of the land, ” Zach said.

Everyone in the team agreed that meeting Sam and Andrew from Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cidery was a memorable part of the trip.

“Getting to walk through the orchard and eat organic apples straight off the tree was pretty special.”

Andrew says that usually if they look good, they taste good and if you look at the photos, you’ll know how they tasted.

“Fresh is best, and boy they were fresh,” Commented Ross.

As 5th generation farmers, making the decision to change their processes and transition to a certified organic farm was based on a need to develop a point of difference from the rest of the market that was struggling. Through innovating and focusing on quality they have been able to diversify and benefit despite still being at the mercy of the weather like any farmer would know.

The pilgrimage to the hop fields is something we will continue each year with the team, connecting our people with agriculture and the raw ingredients that make our beer but connecting with these like minded businesses will also continue to be an important part of the trip. Each year we will visit like minded businesses who are doing great things within their community and also revisiting friends we have made from the year before!

Andrew taking the guys through how they sort the apples


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