What happens when a Byron Bay distiller and brewer collaborate?

When COVID-19 hit Australia and bars and pubs around the country were forced into lockdown, Stone & Wood brewery bought back their kegs which were unable to be stored or sold by their customers.

This resulted in a surplus of beer that would have overflowed a swimming pool, but also gave Cape Byron Distillery the idea to create some sustainable magic with their local friends. The result is Pacific Moonshine – a clear and unusual spirit distilled from Stone & Wood Pacific Ale.

Co-Founder and Distiller of Cape Byron Distillery, Eddie Brook says, “At the beginning of the Pandemic, life looked a little dull, hand sanitiser trumped alcohol sales, and the word ‘pivot’ made its way into daily business chat. With heavy uncertainty, the hospitality industry cleared their cool rooms, emptied their bars and locked their doors until further notice. An industry that had brought so much joy to others was now at the mercy of whatever laid ahead.

“Naturally we couldn’t stand the thought of all that delicious Pacific Ale going to waste. So, we asked ourselves, how can we lighten the load for our beer brewing buddies?

“Initially, one idea was to attempt distilling the beer to create hand sanitiser and then the idea of distilling Pacific Ale evolved into the peculiar idea of making a ‘beer spirit’ to be enjoyed as a delicious drink. Our hands rose to the sky as we offered to ‘take some off their hands’, and thus, the experiments began.”

The Pacific Moonshine is described as “bursting with flavours of tropical fruits such as fresh pineapple, lychee, passionfruit and mango, along with hints of malt on the nose. The taste is citrusy and dry with a medium to long finish”.

Sustainability Manager at Stone & Wood, James Perrin said: “We’re a brewery that proudly produces quality beer while sharing the love for community spirit, so it was a no brainer when our good friends, Cape Byron Distillery, came to us with their unusual ideas.

“Sustainability is at the core of our business, with waste being a key focus, so we couldn’t be prouder that our perfectly good Pacific Ale that couldn’t be sold has found a new home, and has been transformed into a delicious spirit.”

Once the decision was made to distil the beer it was transported to the Cape Byron distillery were it was distilled twice through ‘George’, the 2000-litre copper pot still to create a spirit quite similar to single malt whisky. After the second distillation the spirit is blended with spring water to be bottled at 44 per cent ABV, with a small amount also stored away into barrels.

Eddie adds: “The moral of the story? In spite of everything, the sun and moon continue to shine, and with dark times, good times arrive. So here she is, our Pacific Moonshine, a spirit to raise your spirits.”

The Pacific Moonshine will also raise funds for the community with Cape Byron donating $6 from every bottle sold to the inGrained Foundation, a not-for-profit also based in the Northern Rivers that supports grassroots environmental and social charities. This is projected to generate around $15,000 in donations.

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