Our latest brewer heading up the Pilot Batch brewery.

Our Pilot Batch beers are experimental brews created by our team of brewers, with occasional help from collaborators within our community, all at our Pilot Brewery in Byron Bay.

These small batch brews are special, limited and, once gone, may never return. The Pilot Batch brewery is a space for our brewers to get creative – an opportunity to trial weird and wonderful things, turning the brewery into an experimental playground to get a little fruity.

Every three months, one of our brewers takes up the helm in our Byron brewery, running the day-to-day operations. During this time, they have the chance to brew their favourite beers and run the Pilot Batch program.

Meet Michael Barnes, who, usually based on our Murwillumbah brewery, has just started his three-month stint in the Byron brewery.

Give us a bit of background about yourself.

I live in Cabarita Beach and have been at Stone & Wood for two years, after nearly spending a decade in the army. I’ve been brewing – as a home brewer – for at least 10 years now but only professionally since joining Stone & Wood.

What are your favourite styles of beer and why?

Anything from Belgium or in that style. I love them all, from the big Trappist beers to the delicate Blonde. I just really enjoy the unique flavour and the brewing tradition from that region.

What will you be brewing during your time here in Byron?

I currently have The Gatherer and a ‘French toast’ milk stout fermenting, plus a delicious 3.5% session beer. I’ll be brewing all sorts of amazing Pilot Beers during my time in the Byron brewery, as well as plenty of Counter Culture brews on the big kit.

Any beers you’re really excited about brewing and why?

I’d really like to brew a nice, big Belgium quad in the Trappist style, but I’m generally excited about all the different Pilot Beer batches that I’ll be able to brew. It’s great fun to push the boundaries and experiment with brewing.

I also like to focus on Australian malt and hops. There are some amazing hops coming out of Australia these days that rival the best of the US and New Zealand.

What do you like about the using the Pilot Batch brewery to experiment?

The thing I like most about brewing on the Pilot system is the variety and experimentation – to me, it’s like a pumped-up version of my home brew kit!

Stay tuned over the next 3 months to see what Mick will be filling the brewery tanks with.