Craft Beer Discovery Tour
What a fantastic time we all had with Mount Warning Tours Craft Beer Discovery Tour. A warm and friendly welcome from Michael and Dean as we got on our tour bus started the day off on the right foot. Dean was our driver for the tour and hats off to him for that. No fun going on a brewery tour and not being able to sample the produce! Although, he had a smile on his face all day. Heading off on a bright sunny day with smiles all round and the wind in our hair.
Our first stop, Stone and Wood Brewery at Murwillumbah. The first Stone and Wood was built at Byron Bay 10 years ago, but soon after it outgrew its premises. So Murwillumbah brewery was built, it is 10 times the size of Byron Brewery and produces 13 million litres of beer each year. James greeted us with a beaming smile, he was our tour guide for the first behind the scenes tour of the brewery. The brewery has been producing for 5 years and has captured 1% of the Australian beer market. And if you know how much Australians like beer, you’ll understand what that means!
Stone and Wood was formed by 3 friends from the industry, Brad, James, and Ross and has a firm foothold in the Craft beer market. The brewery is spotless boasting shiny stainless equipment and 16 silos which hold 40,000 litres of beer each which were made in Canada.
The rest of the brewery endeavours to use local produce and suppliers. Cider that is made here uses apples from Stanthorpe and Warwick for a crisp, rich flavour. You can check them out online here. They are fully committed to sustainability, with the bottles they use being made from 70% recycled glass, a massive solar system on the roof, and when the malt has been processed through the mix, it is then sold as cattle feed to the local farmers.
When making beer it takes only 4 litres of water to make 1 litre of beer, which in industry standards is very creditable. It takes generally 18 days from start to a finish to produce the final packaged product to be ready for delivery. With quality control paramount, every step of the fermentation process is closely monitored. Having so much machinery, there are 7 full time engineers to keep the plant running with no time for down time on the line. After our informative tour it was time to sample some of the brews. I.P.A & Killer Queen were a few went down famously. All in all, a tour not to be missed. Thank you Stone and Wood for a wonderful and informative experience.
We then travelled to the Haven Taphouse Bar, with our friendly host Alan escorting us to our arranged table where an array of tantalizing dips, cheese, and crackers, and samples of Black Hops beer were waiting for us. Alan is passionate about using local suppliers from the Northern Rivers area with sustainable produce. Lunch was beckoning and following Alans recommendation of the “falling off the bone lamb shanks” with mash, veges, and a killer jus, it was time to order.
Barramundi expertly crumbed with a mountain of fries and fresh salad, T-bone beautifully char grilled with scrumptious sides, lovely Haloumi and chicken with fresh local salad and dressing, to a vegetarian pizza that looked good enough to satisfy any pizza diehard were all on the menu as well.
It didn’t take long for our meals to arrive, the table groaning as the massive plates came to rest in front of us. As we started, the compliments rang out as we savoured our selections. Then it was quiet as we were so engrossed in finding the bottom of our plate. And by quiet, I mean there was barely a word spoken. A real compliment to the chef.
More craft beer samples were shared as we finished our lunch, all of us well sated. A fantastic meal with quality craft beers, friendly, cheerful and attentive service made for a great lunch stop at the Haven Bar.
Our third and final stop on the tour was The Pickled Pig Brewery at South Tweed with lovely hosts Paul and Christine Brewer; it was only fitting they owned a brewery. They have owned the brewery for 9 years, brewing craft beers and ciders with intriguing names as -Moonlight Mid – Chillin Pig Pilsner – Jinja Beer, my favourite – Stoned Pear Cider to name a few.
A family run business with the motto – “As Organic As Possible”– They are all vegan products, the Cider is gluten free and loved the Stoned Pear Cider. Something really different and special is their own refiltration system that makes the water in their products as pure as a spring in the mountains. Recycling is high on the agenda with every effort made to minimise waste.
It takes 14 days from start to finish to produce a batch of beer, with the brewery making 1200 litres of beer each day. You can order your own batch! Bottled, labelled and packaged if you have a special occasion – perhaps a wedding or birthday. Find out more on their website here.
On occasion, there are also hosted and themed events held on site. Last month they had a Mexican night for 400 party goers, with specialty beer, Mexican food trucks and a Mexican band. With local trade, Moo Moos restaurant is one, export business and specialty brews, they are always busy, but they would love you to come and sample their range. A rustic homely bar at the front welcomes you. The perfect way to finish off our brewery tour.
Now that ends our incredible day. Many thanks to our tour operators Michael and Dean from Mount Warning Tours for making us so welcome, we will be back.
You can find out more about the tour and how to book by visiting the Mount Warning Tours website or calling Michael on 0439 554 525. Grab a group of friends and experience something different and worthwhile for your next weekend trip to The Tweed.
Images by Ryan Fowler Photography