Back in March I had the good fortune of spending a weekend in one of my favourite places in Australia: Yamba. My wife’s family has been holidaying in this coastal hamlet for no less than 30 years. While my first visit occurred only 4 years ago, it was a revelation on two fronts.
Anyone who has spent any time with me at all will not be surprised that Revelation Number One is food related, and indeed about pies. How such a small town can maintain such an incredible saturation of pie shops and bakeries is both mysterious and beautiful. One might be tempted to think that it is probably quantity over quality, but every pie I have devoured in Yamba has been above average. And I probably haven’t even tried the best ones – the high-tech sorcery that is daylight savings means I’m always too late to grab the most popular varieties, which I’m guessing have a waiting list akin to that of MCC membership.
Revelation Number Two, and let’s face it – the reason I’m writing this post – is the prominence of all things Pacific. First, there is The Pacific Hotel. Perched atop a hill, looking down on the main surf beach and out towards the Pacific Ocean, it is an absolute gem and the heart and soul of the town (I assume). Aesthetics aside, its primary importance rests in the fact that it was in this very establishment that I tried Stone & Wood Pacific Ale for the first time.
While always keen to have a crack at new varieties of beer, four years ago I had no real idea what craft beer was – as I was suitably happy drinking pints of Toohey’s Extra Dry or whatever indiscernible lager was on offer. Unsurprisingly, I first found Pacific Ale to be truly shocking in the most magnificent of ways. The first mouthful left me intrigued, and instantly reminded of smashing down Passionas and trying to kiss girls at primary school discos. With every new glass (if I remember correctly I practically had to be bribed to leave the pub*), the upfront passionfruit flavour and aroma seemed to mellow into something indescribable but absolutely wonderful.
It wasn’t until I started home brewing that I learnt it was all about something called Galaxy hops. But at the time these pesky details were completely irrelevant. There I was; drinking what seemed to me to be the best beer I had ever had, inside a pub that I absolutely adored, looking out over the ocean where I had spent hundreds of happy hours in.
It was fucking meant to be.
Who would have thought that in a few years’ time, Brad and I would be drinking our first decent batch of homebrew, and that it would in fact be a Pacific Ale clone – aptly named The Pacific Solution – brewed in time for last year’s federal election.
Pacific Ale’s rapid growth over the last couple of years has been an absolute boon for me. It’s now essentially my fall back beer – one I know is likely to be at most bottle-o’s, restaurants and pubs, and that won’t disappoint. The imminent opening of Stone & Wood’s massive new brewery in Murwillumbah is a fantastic development for the craft beer community, and will see an unending river of Pacific Ale flow to all parts of Australia.
* Probably with a pie.