Taste of success for Tweed brewery
THERE'S nothing like the taste success to make a beer that much better, especially if the brew was panned when it was first released.
Ten years ago, Stone & Wood were the 'new kids on the block' when it came to the craft beer market and took a chance with a drop called Pacific Ale.
Now, Managing Director Nick Boots is toasting the beer's success with drinkers who have voted it number one on the Great Australian Beer Spectacular (GABS) Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll.
The people's choice poll attracted more than 177,000 votes from beer lovers who attended the GABS show in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne with Pacific Ale coming out on top for the fourth time.
This year's achievement follows wins in 2011, 2015, 2016 and is a measure of the beer's popularity and appeal.
"To think when Stone & Wood first came out with Pacific Ale, there were plenty of people slagging off about it - calling in a 'passionfruit bomb' among other unmentionable things, but now, it has set a benchmark among drinkers and its commercial popularity also reflects the changing palate of beer drinkers," Boots said.
"While this award isn't a game breaker for us, to be recognised in a market that has so many new craft beers coming into play makes this award more relevant than ever.
"To have a beer that is 10 years old and still proving to be a winner with drinkers is a testament to the likes of Brad Rogers and the team who developed it."
Boots said Pacific Ale had always been intended to be an "entry point" brew for those curious about craft beers.
"We wanted to have something new and different to mainstream beers and it has certainly been that," he said.
"In many ways it has been a bit of benchmark and I suppose imitation is the best form of flattery with many other brewers now producing beers similar to Pacific Ale."
He said while the beer was proving popular with women, it was never intended to be made specifically for any one segment of the beer drinking market.
"We wanted a beer that was reflective of where we are from and having achieved that, it's now case of Pacific Ale being synonymous with Stone & Wood," he said.
The brewer has opened a new boutique brewery at Byron Bay and has its main production plant at Murwillumbah which about undergo further expansion.
It wasn't the only Stone & Wood product which made the top 100 list with Cloud Catcher (pale ale) coming in at 23, The Gatherer (American wheat beer) at 69 and Sticky Nectar (milkshake IPA) from the Counter Culture range landing at 82.
"We are finding that there are still many mainstream beer drinkers who are 'discovering' craft brews and while they may not change from their regular drop, they are at least willing to try something different," Boots said.
"I think the market is expanding with so many craft brewers offering up non-traditional styles."
The success of Stone & Wood has drawn the attention of major corporate players in the beer industry and while Boots said having them involved might assist in production volumes, the company was more interested in maintaining its integrity and quality.
"We are very mindful that the big players are looking at us but we want to build a long-term legacy and don't want to rush thing along which might compromise our values," he said.
"We are happy to look ahead to the next 10 years of making quality beers."
And perhaps continuing to ride the waves of success that is Pacific Ale.
I'll drink to that!