In this 2 part episode, we chat to a giant of the Australian craft beer scene, Stone & Wood.
In part 1, we talk Head Brewer Caolan Vaughan about their annual winter release Stone Beer and everything behind this unique style.
In part 2, we chat their Creative and Community Manager Jasmin Daly about Festival of the Stone and how this all ties in to the amazing work Stone & Wood does for the community, both through the brewery and their Ingrained foundation.
Buy this year's Stone Beer here.
Full Text Transcript Below:
Lachlan: Welcome, everyone, to The Inside Word. My name is Lachlan McLean from Beer Cartel, Australia's number one craft beer retailer. In this two-part episode we chat to a giant of the Australian craft beer scene, Stone & Wood. In part one we talk to Head Brewer Caolan Vaughan about their annual winter release Stone Beer and everything behind this unique style. In part two we chat to their Creative and Community Manager Jasmin Daly about the annual Festival of the Stone and how this all ties in to the amazing work Stone & Wood does for the community both through their brewery and their Ingrained Foundation.
Lachlan: Welcome, Caolan. Thanks for joining me today.
Caolan: My pleasure.
Lachlan: So, we're here to talk about Stone Beer, but I guess the first thing that we can always talk about is what's going on at Stone & Wood at the moment, what's been happening. What's been going on lately?
Caolan: Well, it's always a busy time of year for us, even though it's the cooler months. It's actually one of my favorite times of year. I don't have to tell you that-
Lachlan: It's lovely time up at Byron.
Caolan: Yeah. It's beautiful. Sunny, blue skies up here in Byron at this time of year. So it's a great time of year, but it's also a time of year where we release our annual winter seasonal, so our wonderful beer called Stone Beer. So we're-
Lachlan: So that's obviously what we're here to talk about. Stone Beer. It's been around for a little while, but I don't actually know how many people would actually know what it actually is. What actually is Stone Beer?
Caolan: Okay. So yeah, as I said, Stone Beer is our winter seasonal. This is out 11th year brewing Stone Beer. Our concept of Stone Beer and where it came from, Brad, one of our founders, one of the brewers, the brewing founder of Stone & Wood, he used to work in Fiji making beer over there. And so he got used to the tradition of cooking with hot rocks in kind of what you call "a hangi", so basically heating up hot rocks, burying the food and using rocks. So he's sort of always had that idea of bringing it in and when they created Stone & Wood, they were like, "We have to do this."
Caolan: And it is actually an old traditional... or not even a tradition, old technique of making beer. So a couple hundred years ago, sort of before steam and electricity it sort of really taken off. People were using hot rocks, like heating up hot rocks in the fire, and then using them to boil the wort. Very similar towards how it's being used in cooking and things like that. You know, using those hot, red-glowing rocks to boil the wort. So yeah, we've been making it for, like I said, 11 years, and yeah.
Lachlan: So it's 11 years, and correct me if I'm wrong, isn't Stone & Wood... this is your 11th year?
Caolan: Yeah, yeah. So we [inaudible 00:02:54] our 10th anniversary in November last year.
Lachlan: So you started brewing Stone Beer right back at the beginning?
Caolan: Absolutely, yeah. Brad, Jamie and Ross, the founders of Stone & Wood just had this... yeah, they always loved celebrating winter and we always wanted to have a celebration of some pretty maltful of beers. And those beers have evolved and changed over the years. It's always a different recipe.
Lachlan: So one thing with, I guess, the whole hot rocks in terms of, I guess, going into the actual brewing process, because on your website you say, in the quotation, "Each year under the night sky we honor the ancient technique of our brewing ancestors." So it's obviously an ancient technique, but is there kind of a twist? Like, do you take that ancient technique and apply it to modern principles or is it simply following the old-school recipes?
Caolan: Well, yeah. So it's definitely the technique. So, as I mention, it's a way of boiling the wort, adding a little bit of flavor and yeah, really paying homage to the way things used to be done. You know, when things were done a lot slower and all those sorts of delights. It is really around celebrating brewing traditions, bringing people together. So we have... it's called a Stone Brew Day. That's not open to the public, that's just the time of year where we invite good friends, good family, good customers from all around the country to come in and brew the beer with us, and that is done absolutely under the night sky. We start that evening with the lighting, ceremonial lighting of a big fire and placing the hot rocks in. And we continue to heat those rocks for a number of hours until the boiling point. Until we're ready to add them to the kettle.
Lachlan: I found a quote on... I think it was somewhere in the Stone & Wood website, maybe from old blog years ago, and it was, "We invited a bunch of mates to Byron Bay. Have a party. Create a big fire. Chuck in some volcanic rocks. And when they're hot enough, lower them into the beer as it hits the fermenters for a bit of added caramelization." I think that kind of sums up that whole, "Honor the ancient traditions, but have a great time."
Caolan: Absolutely. It's just as much around bringing people together, having a beer, eating some delicious food and having a bit of fun. It's like, without people and without sharing these experiences... that's the best thing about beer, is being able to share it with people and bring people together. So yeah, that's what it's really all about.
Lachlan: I guess for the hot rocks itself, just kind of the last thing, I guess, consumers would kind of ask, "Why? Does adding hot rocks do something different to the beer opposed to just normally adding it into the kettle?" Like, are you still adding the hot rocks into the kettle, like is it going once it's coming out?
Caolan: Yeah, absolutely.
Lachlan: What does the hot rocks actually do to a beer?
Caolan: When you see these hot rocks when they're glowing red and you are lowering them into a sugary solution, hands down this is absolutely going to be adding sort of like a caramelization to the beer. We've never really done like full analysis, "Can you taste it?" blah-blah-blah. It's not necessarily about that. But when you see the eruption of steam coming out of the kettle once you've lowered them in there, it undoubtedly is doing something to the beer. And that's why it was an ancient brewing technique, and that's why these sort of techniques are still used in cooking around the world when people don't have gas or electricity. People do still use hot rocks for cooking.
Lachlan: It is the ancient technique?
Caolan: Yeah, yeah. So yeah, absolutely. It's doing something. When you're adding whatever 100 degrees, several hundred degree... whatever the glowing temperature of rocks is, I actually do not know from my very limited amount of geology studies. But yeah, it is a celebration definitely paying homage, yeah.
Lachlan: I guess for the rocks themselves as well, I don't know what batch size you're doing for the Stone Beer, I imagine it's, I don't know, 50 hec or 25 hec?
Caolan: Yeah. Well, it's a 25 hec. It's always brewed on our original brewer house. The brewery that we started with back in 2008. So yeah, which is the 25 hectare [inaudible 00:07:24] brewhouse.
Lachlan: And you adding a couple of big rocks or is it a whole bagful? Like, how much is it?
Caolan: Yeah, so that is a good question. We probably got somewhere between 50 or 60 rocks in, and they're probably, maybe... I'm just trying to think in a size, somewhere between a mango, maybe, and a large avocado. Somewhere in-between that size. And we actually need the fire to die down as much as possible, because once you've had the fire as big as we had, it is quite challenging to get these volcanic rocks out. So we do have very long tongs and wear an apron, like a blacksmith's apron and gloves, because trying to get fires out of a glowing embers is quite challenging. So we try and get as much as we possibly can. Lifting those is also quite dangerous, though we try.
Lachlan: I could imagine.
Caolan: We've modernized it and we've made it a lot safer to do this sort of thing than the way we used to do it, but yeah, it is literally, we get as much as we possibly can and lower them into the fire... into the wort, into the boil.
Lachlan: So I guess on the Stone Beer, the style of what it actually is. So it's obviously adding these hot rocks into the kettle after you finished it which caramelizes it, and I guess previously it was in a 500 ml bottle and it was called a dark ale. I know that the recipe changes year to year, just kind of tweaking it.
Lachlan: But a couple of years ago, I think it was the last year's release, you moved it into 330 ml bottles.
Lachlan: And it was titled a wood-fired porter. From a consumer point, is that a completely new recipe or is it just a marketing term for the same kind of style of beer?
Caolan: So that absolutely is just like, we wanted to change the format. We really loved the idea of it being sold in a four-pack, so there's a marketing aspect on that. We've actually been making... it's been a porter, or variation on a porter for a number of years now. It's probably in our fourth year, I think, of being a porter. So it's actually similar beer styles to the last sort of four years, but everything is changed and the recipe is changed each time we make it. But we just really wanted to celebrate kind of what we were doing with that beer. So it's absolutely a wood-fired porter, because we are using those wood fires to heat up those rocks and lower them into the brew. So it's really just sort of calling out some of the fun that we like to have with making beer, really.
Lachlan: You mentioned that it's been a porter for a number of years. What was it beforehand?
Caolan: I'm just trying to think. I've been with Stone & Wood four and a bit years, and the year before then... oh, I'm just trying to remember. Yeah, I wouldn't even call it a stout, I wouldn't call it a porter, it's definitely a big, black, sort of like dark ale. It had essences of somewhere between a stout and a porter, but it's not always sort of super-stylistically defined. The original Jasper actually came out of one of the early Stone Beers. So, very much inspired by sort of brown ales, dunkels like dark lagers, things like that. So yeah, it's evolved a lot over the years, and it will continue. That's part of the fun is, showcasing beer and beer styles or variations on styles that really suit the winter months.
Caolan: And we think that porter is, yeah, a great example of the beer that we like to drink in our barmy Northern Rivers winters.
Lachlan: It's a bit warmer up where you are, I can tell you that.
Caolan: Yeah. [inaudible 00:11:44] 22 today and sunny, maybe even 23. Yeah.
Lachlan: Oh, fantastic. You were mentioning before that the whole brew day of inviting a bunch of mates over, have a party and really celebrate the community. The whole Stone Beer kind of recently... I don't know how recently, actually, kind of launched into the whole Festival of the Stone, of which we're going to touch on later in this podcast. But the whole community and Stone & Wood has become so paramount. I think it's so well reflective in Stone Beer itself. How, from you as, I guess, the head brewer, does that community really engage the beers?
Caolan: Well, for us, seeing community is incredibly important. From, not only are they the people that support us, they've grown with us throughout the years, and without the community we wouldn't be who we are, we wouldn't be where we are. So very important to us is kind of looking after the community that we live in and giving back to the community. So, just for example, Festival of the Stone is, all the funds raised from that go to local charities and that's something that we've always done and that's actually something that we'll always continue to do. Very similar to our Open Day which we have at Murwillumbah, which is where we open the brewery up once a year. All the funds raised go to local community organizations.
Caolan: So this year we raised I think just over $10,500 for the Mullum District Neighborhood Center and that goes through our Ingrained Foundation. So we actually do have a charity arm of our business that allows us to, yeah, really give back and support the community.
Lachlan: That is fantastic, and I think that whole community buying into the brewery and into the business is really showing, I think, the stat that I was absolutely staggered by was that in your "backyard" as what you call it, I think you're talking about it's majority or 50% of all Stone & Wood beers drunk in that region.
Caolan: Yeah, yeah. Spot on. So we call it our backyard and that's up to around Noosa in the Sunny Coast and down as far as Coff. So it's around that three-hour radius of the brewery. And that's 50% of our beer, approximately 50% of our beer's sold in that location. So Melbourne and Sydney don't even... yeah. I think we are a part of that, but looking after our backyard is far important to us than it is to... even though we love sending beer to other states around the country. But looking after our local community, the people that really know who we are and what we're about, they're always our biggest priority.
Lachlan: And for the Stone Beer, going back to that, you have Stone Beer and I know I was actually lucky enough to be at the Festival of the Stone and you poured it on nitro as well, which was amazing.
Caolan: We did, yeah.
Lachlan: There's also a barrel-aged version.
Lachlan: How long has that been around for and what's the barrel-aged Stone Beer?
Caolan: So, barrel-aged Stone Beer. I think this was our third-year release of the barrel-aged Stone Beer. This was just started as a bit of fun and, like most things with beer, it is fun. Each year we barrel-age a portion of this year's Stone Beer. So, for example, this year's Stone Beer went into a whole bunch of new, first-use barrels, a whole bunch of second-use barrels and a couple of third-use barrels. So we add new barrels each year, but we won't release that until next year's Stone Beer, at Festival of Stone, basically. So the barrel-aged Stone Beer that was released this year was actually the last year's Stone Beer.
Caolan: So yeah, it's sort of like, again, with brewing traditions, beer was traditionally always stored and traveled in barrels and aged in barrels, being shipped around the world. And imparting wonderful flavors and aromas. So that's what we were doing, really bringing the whole Stone & Wood aspects to life. And yeah, it was amazing. I was not at Festival of the Stone because I wasn't feeling too well for very long, but I did have a true joy which was having this year's Stone Beer released. This year's Stone Beer on nitro. And then this year release of barrel-aged Stone Beer which was the Stone Beer from last year. So it's in a barrel for a year. So it was pretty special to have three-
Lachlan: It was fantastic.
Caolan: Three variations of Stone Beer right next to each other. It was, yeah, pretty awesome.
Lachlan: And barrel-aged Stone Beer, the other very unique thing about it is not just the barrel-aging, but the bottle it actually comes in. I know we call them "a crock".
Caolan: Yeah, we call them crocks.
Lachlan: Do you know where it came from or-
Caolan: Actually they come out of Germany. The company that makes them, I think, is called [Crocksons 00:16:56], that's why we call them crocks. But they are a ceramic bottle and have an incredibly long order, like delivery timelines and things like that. So we actually are ordering them now for next year. That's just the-
Lachlan: Oh, wow.
Caolan: But they are just special and it's our barrel-aged Stone Beer, it's a special kind of beer. We like to celebrate it. So yeah, it's a beautiful bottle. We don't make a lot of it, and that's kind of like the beauty of it. It's very small volume, so if people do get their hands on it, the lucky few that do, it's definitely one to sort of watch out for.
Lachlan: Do you know how many bottles you made for this year's?
Caolan: This year we did about... it was not many. So, about 1,200 bottles.
Lachlan: Yeah, right. It's not many at all.
Caolan: No, no. Not at all. And a lot of those are gifts that we like to give away to our good friends and our good customers.
Lachlan: Yeah, I know. We've got some sitting downstairs and we're going to be doing a Stone & Wood winter release. I think probably in about five-six weeks.
Lachlan: I think we've got... we're going to have the Stone Beer. When this podcast goes out, maybe in about a month's time, a new beer which you probably know about, but I won't spoil and say it yet.
Lachlan: Unless you want to, I'll hold off.
Caolan: There may be a new beer coming out soon, but [inaudible 00:18:20], yeah. That's all.
Lachlan: Well, we'll hold on for that one. And I think we've got some 10-year bottles squirreled away somewhere.
Caolan: Awesome. That sounds like an amazing-
Caolan: I'm salivating just thinking about that, actually, so yeah.
Lachlan: On the Stone Beer as well, there was some... actually featuring yourself, some pretty unique marketing done for the first time ever. I think yourself, you can be seen on your social media and popping up everywhere in a little video you guys put together.
Lachlan: What was all that about?
Caolan: Oh, look, again, it's fun. We like to have a load of fun with what we're doing. But kind of little like a 1930s sort of get-up, a little bit of fun, Peaky Blinders almost-esque. You know, going back a few years and just having a little bit of fun getting dressed up and really sort of telling the story of what Stone Beer is and what to look out for. And yeah, it's just us having fun with telling the story of Stone Beer and getting it out to people.
Lachlan: So for everyone out there, if you haven't actually had the Stone Beer yet, jump on the Stone & Wood Facebook page and look for the 1930s-inspired video, and Caolan is the star man of that video.
Caolan: Yeah. We were meant to be serious and I don't think we can hold a serious face, so there's a... it was a bit of fun and a few laughs in that as well. So yeah, good fun.
Lachlan: And last but not least, Stone & Wood opened their brand-new-spanking brewery end of last year. And as the head brewer, how has that been for you?
Caolan: It's very special. It's like a, Byron's always been our spiritual home. It's where we started. And it's where we're always going to be. So we've always had the shed in... I used to be in Boronia Place, so we've now got the new brewery which is on Centennial Circuit which is like maybe 500 meters away from the original location. But what we have now is just, it's an amazing space. It's got not just our offices, so everyone's in the one building in our Byron location. We've got an amazing tasting room. We've got an amazing canteen making lots of wonderful food.
Caolan: And it's really allowed people to come on in and enjoy, and experience the whole Stone & Wood, you know, what we're about. It's the kind of Stone & Wood experience. So for that it's just an amazing opportunity to not just showcase lots of different beers that we like to produce here at Stone & Wood, but also invite people in and for people to really see what we're actually really about, see the authenticity of who we are and what we do, and share with people what we love and what we do. So yeah, it's amazing space. If anyone comes to Byron, I highly recommend coming in and getting a tasting paddle and getting some delicious food. And just learning a little bit more about what we're about.
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely. I think if anyone goes to Byron, I was there two weeks ago and I can't recommend it enough. They really have done an absolutely fantastic job at engaging the community and the whole community aspect of Byron really seems to follow Stone & Wood. But on that, thank you so much for joining me, Caolan, and taking a time out of your busy day to have a chat about Stone Beer, and I can't wait to drink some more of it.
Caolan: Yeah, I can't wait for your winter release in a few weeks' time. That sounds absolutely amazing. Maybe I might try and get some of that. Get in on that too.
Lachlan: Too easy. Thanks so much for joining me.
Caolan: Bye. [inaudible 00:22:03] thank you very much.
Lachlan: If you are looking for any of the Stone Beer or any other Stone & Wood beer, check out the Beer Cartel website at www.beercartel.com.au. In part two I am joined by Creative and Community Manager Jasmin Daly. We dive into all the community work that Stone & Wood does, from Festival of the Stone through to their very own Ingrained Foundation.
Lachlan: Thank you so much for joining me today, Jas.
Jasmin: Thank you very much for having me, Lachlan.
Lachlan: I guess before we get into a bit of everything, what's your role at Stone & Wood?
Jasmin: Yeah, so I've been a bit of a hybrid role. I look after communications and community engagement for Stone & Wood and I also sit on the board as a director for the Ingrained Foundation, which is our national not-for-profit.
Lachlan: Yeah, fantastic. I think we're going to get into what that is a bit later, but what does the community engagement role mean for you? What do you have to do on a day-to-day basis?
Jasmin: Yeah. So I guess to give a little bit of context, so I've been with the business now almost for six years and when I started back in 2013, we started a community program. So as you may or may not know, since the beginning community has really been intrinsic to who Stone & Wood is. And for us it's about continually being able to look at ourselves and think how we're actually giving back to the communities where we work and live. So from when I came on in 2013, this community program was really established to give a little bit more rigor to that.
Jasmin: And so the way that we went about doing that is, starting to give one dollar per hectoliter to this community program. And we'd put that money back out into the community whether that was through donations, whether that was through karma kegs where we basically set up a keg of beer for a community group or not-for-profit or potentially individual in need, and we'd work it on the karmic law that, basically, you pay what you want for that beer, but that money will go directly back to that initiative. So the more that you give, the better karma you're going to have. And then also just through converting the events that we do, our own independent events, and actually making them all fundraisers.
Jasmin: So pretty much every event that we do, that we run ourselves, we work towards making a profit and we give that money directly back to a not-for-profit or a community group. And so over the past six years we've probably donated around well over now $800,000 back to a whole host of not-for-profits, charities, projects. And put it back into the communities where we work and live. So that's mainly along the East Coast of Australia, but it just depends on where we are and what we're doing. And last year we actually set up the Ingrained Foundation which is our national not-for-profit. And I guess for us that was really the next step in our journey in being able to do good and be able to fulfill our role as a independent brewer and be able to give back to the communities where we are.
Lachlan: Oh, that sounds all fantastic. I guess a lot of breweries, independent breweries get set up and everyone kind of tries to give back to the community, but I don't think anyone does it in the same way that Stone & Wood does it. Was there a reason or past experiences as why Stone & Wood have always been that so heavily involved in the community?
Jasmin: Well, firstly I will say, thank you, that's really appreciated. I would say it is intrinsic to the brewing origins. So, I don't know if I'm answering your question, but really for us, we've always been inspired by the idea of being a village brewery. And when you look back to where breweries originated from in Europe thousands of years ago, they were at the center of the community. And so they had a role to play just like every other business in being able to give back to the people that were drinking their beers. So I guess from the very start back in 2008 when Brad, Ross and Jamie set up the brewery here in Byron Bay, obviously this part of the world is very conscious and it's about connecting into that village vibe. And for us it's just been a part of our role, you know? Like, if we're going to be setting up a business and we're going to be producing something that has an impact on this community, we also have a role to be able to look after that community as well.
Lachlan: I think all that chat on brewing history and the old English pub and European pubs really tie into the Stone Beer of what I was talking earlier with Caolan about, and the Festival of the Stone.
Jasmin: Yes, the Festival of the Stone.
Lachlan: So I think Festival of the Stone ties in really nicely with that whole in-community engagement. A lot of people might not know that, but Festival of the Stone, what is it?
Jasmin: Well, Festival of the Stone is probably our most exciting event that we do on our annual calendar. It has a number of roles. So, Festival of the Stone is held every year at our brewery here in Byron Bay, and this year's one was actually held at our new brewery which we opened in December 2018. So it was extra special. And the purpose of Festival of the Stone is basically to bring our community together for a night to celebrate the release of our winter seasonal, which is Stone Beer. And so it's a night about friends, family, old and young being able to come together to be able to enjoy good company, good beer, good local food and epic music, and be able to celebrate the release of this beer while raising money for a local not-for-profit.
Lachlan: I was there this year. I was lucky enough-
Jasmin: Were you?
Lachlan: I was. I was lucky enough to come up for it.
Lachlan: And it was an amazing experience. I think I said to our rep down here and Caolan, it was one of the best-put-together events that I've been to. And I don't know if you're organizer of it, but it obviously has a lot of work that goes into it. What do you have to do to put together that event?
Jasmin: Oh my God, it's absolutely bloody huge. I think anyone who hasn't worked in events or until you've been married, you don't really realize how much goes into an event. And the scale at which Festival of the Stone has grown to, I guess you kind of really got to understand that we've been doing it for around eight years. And when we first started doing it, it was just this tiny, little barbecue that was in the brewery where the three boys invited the whole team and friends and family, and we got our local bands and it was pretty low key.
Jasmin: What it is now is this multi-faceted 2,000-person event that has all of the logistics and legalities of a big festival. We had I think six bands this year. We had a rave cave. We had a kids' area called "Malt Disney". Like, there's a lot that goes into it. And so it's definitely not on one person, but my team look after actually creating the event. But it's very much the whole business that gets involved. And like a lot of the events that we do here and also in different states, we get everyone involved. So someone from customer service or finance or logistics are actually volunteering on the front gate. You've got all the people behind the bars, you've got security. Like, it's full-on. You know, the whole, "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, that child is the festival. And yeah, it's a pretty hands-on baby.
Lachlan: You say how much work it takes.
Lachlan: Is there ever a thought of, I guess, why do you do it? Or, it's always for the community?
Jasmin: That's a good question. And again, I guess anyone who's ever worked in events, there's so much that goes into it, so much laid up. But when you put on an event where you've got people and you can see the delight and you can see just how excited they are to be there, and they're connecting with their friends that are there, but they're also making new friends. Or, you're having people that walk up to the bar and you can just see how stoked they are to be at a Stone & Wood event, that is what makes it all worth it. And then I think the next step is being able to then tie that back into a greater purpose, which is actually around raising money for a community organization where you know that is actually going to do good. Well, then that's sort of the next level on, well, this is why we do it, right?
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely. When I was there, the staggering kind of fact that I saw was the amount of families and the amount of people that knew everyone and people-
Lachlan: Which is what, again... and kind of knowing the staff and with their kids. You said you had the kids' area, and the community engagement for Stone & Wood is truly phenomenal. And, like you said, I think we mentioned it earlier. You've got the Ingrained Foundation?
Lachlan: Which ties, I guess, perfectly into it. And I'd imagine that the funds you raised for a Festival of Stone used to be used for the Ingrained Foundation kind of programs?
Jasmin: Yes. Yes. And look, I guess just to kind of take a step back and kind of add to that "why" as well, I feel really passionate about this. I see beer as a tool. It's a connector and it enables people to be able to come together and to be able to have a nice time and have deep conversation. And so if you think about what Festival of the Stone is and why we actually relate it to Stone Beer and its release, it's about celebrating the seasonal that only comes out once a year. And obviously, the end point is about people coming together and having a good time.
Jasmin: I guess then flowing on to what you're saying about the Ingrained Foundation, the Ingrained Foundation, as I was saying before, is that next step in us being able to do good. So it's set up as a separate entity to Stone & Food. It's a not-for-profit. And let me tell you, there's a lot of legalities that go into setting up a not-for-profit. I think we were probably a little bit green in not knowing sort of how much goes into it, and it took us probably a good 12 months to kind of get all that happening and get a bit of momentum behind it. And the reason that we wanted to set up this not-for-profit is, it actually enables us to be able to legitimize more of what we're being able to do.
Jasmin: So rather than just Stone & Wood being able to give donations to this foundation and for that money to go back out into the community, we can actually take donations from anyone, whether that's our customers, whether that's our suppliers, whether that's generous individuals or fans of Stone & Wood, drinkers. It really enables us to be able to create a platform to be able to do more good, to be able to invest a portion of that money into ethical investments so it grows in perpetuity so it's got sustainability to actually go on for future generations. And then there's a responsibility for us to then be putting that money back out into the communities where we work and live.
Jasmin: And the reason I keep saying "work and live" is because at the moment the majority of what we do within the community is around the Northern Rivers, but the vision of this not-for-profit is actually to be national. So if there is money coming in from Sydney or Melbourne or Adelaide or WA we actually want to be making sure that we're impacting those communities meaningfully and helping to capacity-build for the future of those areas.
Lachlan: You mentioned that you're in the Northern Rivers mainly at the moment.
Lachlan: What sort of causes do you kind of support? I guess the idea of the foundation, is it kind of specifying on one sort of cause or a whole variety?
Jasmin: Yeah. Good question, Lachlan. So from the beginning, like even with the community program that we had with Stone & Wood, it really has been around supporting social and environmental not-for-profits. That's something that everyone within the team at Stone & Wood is very passionate about. And I guess to give an example of that because that seems quite broad, we actually put out our first grants around in May earlier this year. And we had 26 applications which, considering for a small region like the Northern Rivers and the first time that we're doing it, we were really happy with that response. And of those 26 we were able to grant three not-for-profits with money to be able to make their projects come to life, and that was a pool of $60,000.
Jasmin: So the three not-for-profits that we supported was, one was Bangalow Koalas where they're actually trying to rehabilitate the areas within the hinterland to be able to enable koalas to have a habitat to be able to live. I don't know if your listeners know, but koalas are actually not in a particularly good position, just because of all of the urbanization that's happening in the areas where they naturally come from.
Jasmin: We also supported SHIFT Project, which is an amazing social enterprise, and they essentially take women in who have either been in difficult situations, domestic violence, rehabilitation or they've been homeless, and they basically take them in and they give them employment so that they can earn some money, they can also be skilled and then they can go back out and be able to have a platform to be able to reintegrate within to society. And so the social enterprise that we actually helped fund was basically for a commercial laundry so that all of the accommodation places in Byron can give their laundry to this social enterprise. They can then launder it and give it back to them. So it's like this full-closed loop, circular economy, progressive way of actually doing business where you're actually helping a community group.
Jasmin: And then the final one was Shaping Outcomes which again is this amazing not-for-profit that basically connects parents who have just found out that their children have got disabilities with the services that they need which apparently is actually quite difficult. And so the money that we're giving them will actually go directly to 45 families over the next year to be able to enable them to get the services that they need to be able to facilitate their kids growing up and being able to get the most out of life.
Lachlan: They all sound absolutely incredible causes to be giving to. If you kind of were looking maybe a year or two down the track?
Lachlan: Where do you see the Ingrained Foundation?
Jasmin: Yeah. So where I see the Ingrained Foundation in two years is kind of as what I was mentioning before. So, what we would love is to actually extend this beyond the Northern Rivers. We'd love to be able to do more within South East Queensland. Our sister entity, Fermentum, which is based down in Melbourne, they have the incubator which is a tasting room/brewery in Fitzroy. They are actually giving us donations, so we'd actually like to start doing more down in Melbourne. And likewise with all of the independent events that Stone & Wood put on, we would like to make sure that the money that's raised for those corresponding events actually goes back out into the areas where they're being put on to community groups where they're doing grassroots work.
Jasmin: The big thing for us, even within two years as we will hopefully grow, is that I think there's a really important distinction in being able to give back to grassroots not-for-profits. You know where the money is going, the people who are working with them are super engaged, and for us it allows an opportunity for us to be able to partner with them. And I guess from a partnering perspective, if you think of Stone & Wood as a business, we have a team of really highly skilled, highly engaged employees. It gives them an opportunity to be able to utilize their skills and help these not-for-profits so that they can do more good and be on the ground doing the work that they're meant to.
Lachlan: You mentioned there consistently, I guess, through the last 15 minutes about how engaged the staff are and how the staff of Stone & Wood are doing a lot of these causes and that a lot of them are highly engaged with the business. Is that something that Stone & Wood has always been about in terms of getting... you know, the staff is not just a person at a cell but they're actually kind of part of the family. Family, has that always been a part of Stone & Wood's philosophy?
Jasmin: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we actually refer to our team as our family and that kind of comes from the three founders Jamie, Brad and Ross wanting to create a business that's here for multiple generations. But it's also about a team that it's beyond just having a colleague that you come to work with. And they've done a lot in setting up this business to be able to support the team. And there's also a high expectation that the team supports the business.
Jasmin: One of the initiatives that we... we call it "a brew life initiative". It's a program for our team is that we have an employee-share program. And so that means after a year of being in the business you actually get shares within the business. So you essentially become an owner. And so I guess for me what that means is you've got skin in the game. You're not just showing up to work to be able to get a paycheck. It's like you actually care. And I think this community spiritedness is intrinsic to our culture and something that I think all of us realize is really important to preserve as we continue to grow and evolve.
Lachlan: And you've been there for six years now is it?
Jasmin: Yes, I have. Yes.
Lachlan: But I think-
Lachlan: Almost [crosstalk 00:39:48]
Jasmin: September, yes.
Lachlan: I think a lot of the Stone & Wood staff that I've dealt with over my time, I can't really remember one, I guess, leaving to go to another career, to another brewery. They've either kind of moved up through the business... and I think that engagement with the staff and the brewery really showcases that where the staff want to be there. And I don't think there's any other brewery... or I think even in just businesses in general it's a real highlight of Stone & Wood, and I think a lot of bigger businesses can really learn a lot from what Stone & Wood has done. So there's massive kudos from us, especially Beer Cartel, in regards to all that. I guess lastly, before we kind of wrap up this, in the Ingrained Foundation... we talked about Festival of the Stone.
Lachlan: There's one other, I guess, big festival that you hold that... have you had it? It's the Open Day.
Jasmin: Yes. Our Murwillumbah Open Day, which is in March. Yes.
Lachlan: So you've just had it. Yeah, or earlier in the way. What's the Open Day? And is there plans with new venues opening up to have more of those sort of events?
Jasmin: Yeah, good question. So Murwillumbah Open Day is a little bit different to Festival of the Stone. Firstly, we hold it during the day and it's up in our Murwillumbah Brewery which is around 35 minutes up the road from our Byron Brewery. And the purpose of that is basically, it's a day for the community. Murwillumbah is this beautiful, picturesque, small town just on the south side of the Queensland border. And we just wanted to provide a day for the town, essentially, so people can come in... because we don't operate a tasting room out of there, we actually give them the opportunity to be able to go on a tour of the space. And it's always been wild, because literally from ten o'clock when those doors open, people are lining up to go on that tour.
Lachlan: Oh, wow.
Jasmin: And essentially we just set up bars, set up music. Again, we've got a kids' area. And really, it's just a day for the community to be able to come together. And the beautiful thing is, each year we've been partnering with the Wedgetail Retreat and Palliative Care, which essentially is a place where people, when they get to that part of their life where it's pretty much time to pass, they have this beautiful place to be able to go to be able to spend their last days with their friends and family.
Jasmin: And when we first did the Open Day, we actually went out into the community and asked different people on the street, different businesses, "Hey, who do you think we should support?" And just time and time again people were like, "You need to support this Tweed Palliative Care. They do amazing work." And so other the past three years we've actually partnered with them and each year we donate around $30,000 that's raised through this Open Day.
Jasmin: Yeah, and it just goes back into allowing this amazing facility to be able to continue operating.
Lachlan: Is there any... I guess, on the horizon for similar events like Open Day? Because I know you've just recently announced your Brisbane venue?
Jasmin: Yes, I just realized I didn't answer the second part of the question. Sorry.
Lachlan: That's all right.
Jasmin: Yeah, most definitely. So I guess to give a bit of an update around Brisbane, we're looking to be opening the Brisbane Brewery in September. And look, we don't want to create the same event for each space, but we'll be doing something that definitely makes sense. And being able to give an opportunity to be able to have people come in, to be able to enjoy, of all different ages, and then to be able to raise money. Because that, again, is the end purpose of a lot of the events that we're doing.
Jasmin: One of the other events that we're doing that's coming up is the Backyard Invitational. And this is the second time that we've done it. We're actually holding it this year on the Gold Coast. It's coming up on the 17th of August and essentially what it is, it's basically bringing together basically friends within the brewing industry. So, other independent breweries and distillers. And bringing them together for a day to be able to have people come, trial all the different beers, to be able to have good food, be able to go to masterclasses and be able to basically deep-dive with Luke Robertson from Ale of the Time and learn about the incredible world that is beer.
Lachlan: One thing I guess... well, I should've asked you this way back at the start. You're obviously so passionate about the Ingrained Foundation, Festival of the Stone, Stone & Wood. But how did you get a job, or how did you get into beer? Like, how did you kind of get into the industry?
Jasmin: Yeah. Okay. So, this is-
Lachlan: Should've started this way back at the start of the podcast.
Jasmin: This is like sort of an unorthodox answer, and, like, to be honest, I didn't come from the beer industry. I actually worked firstly in the arts and then I went into brand management. And I was sort of at a crossroads in my career where I was really questioning whether I wanted to remain in marketing and trying to market things that didn't mean a whole lot to me. And I was actually traveling at the time and sort of had the realization I needed to start looking for work.
Jasmin: And I essentially was on my laptop and I logged into Facebook and there was an event that came up that I was invited to for a friend who needed a kidney transplant. And he was having a karma keg put on him by a brewery called Stone & Wood. And up until that point, because I'd been overseas for a year, I was in South America, it would've been, yeah, 2011 or '12, I actually hadn't heard of Stone & Wood. And I was just really inspired by the concept of what a karma keg, what it could do, and for some reason it just stayed in my mind. Basically, serendipitously, a few weeks later I was Seek looking for a job and Stone & Wood had a job come up, which was the creative and community engagement manager that I ended up taking the job of. And that's how I got into the beer industry.
Lachlan: That sounds a fantastic way to get into the industry and I guess six years later Stone & Wood have shown how good they are to work for and I hope to continue to see all the developments in the Ingrained Foundation, of what Festival of Stone continue to be.
Jasmin: Yeah, absolutely.
Lachlan: That's all very, very exciting.
Jasmin: Thank you so much. Thank you for your time, Lachlan. And I appreciate-
Lachlan: No problem.
Jasmin: ... the opportunity to be able to talk about the Ingrained Foundation. And what I would say to any of the listeners out there is, please follow us on social media. We always have different events coming up and we would love to be able to, you know, give you a beer.
Lachlan: Absolutely. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Jasmin: Thank you.
Lachlan: Stone & Wood have really led the way when it comes to giving back to the community. Not only has it seen the community prosper, but the brewery as well. Stone & Wood have truly entrenched themselves as part of the Northern Rivers, and with their continued community support I believe this will only continue to grow. Once again, thank you so much to both Caolan and Jasmin for joining me today. And if you have any questions, please let us know on our Facebook group, Beer Cartel's Craft Beer Collective. If you'd like to continue to stay up to date with the latest from the craft beer industry, please hit subscribe at either iTunes podcast, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcast. That's it for today, I'll see you next time.