When life gives you a surplus of beer, what would you do?

When COVID-19 hit Australian shores, Stone & Wood was left with an abundance of beer and no chance to sell it all. But, the highly-awarded Cape Byron Distillery saw an opportunity to create some ‘sustainable’ magic and swooped in to save the day. Collaborating with Byron Bay’s biggest brewery, together they brought us Pacific Moonshine – a clear and unusual spirit that was artfully distilled from kegs of Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale.

Tropical and salty, just like your first post-surf sip, Pacific Moonshine is the lovechild spirit born from this pandemic. 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.

But you better be quick! There are only 3000 units available, making this one strictly limited-edition sipper!

Pacific Moonshine Bottle. Image Supplied

Pacific Moonshine Bottle. Image Supplied

“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, life looked a little dull – hand sanitiser trumped alcohol sales and the word ‘pivot’ made its way into daily business chat,” said co-Founder and distiller of Cape Byron Distillery, Eddie Brook. “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.”

In a devastating blow, Stone & Wood bought back their kegs which were unable to be stored or sold by all of the pubs and bars around the country. This resulted in a surplus of beer that could of easily overflowed a swimming pool. This is no joke!

“Naturally we couldn’t stand the thought of all that delicious Pacific Ale going to waste,” Eddie continued. “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.”

Inspired by Stone & Wood’s home in the Northern Rivers, located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Ale is brewed to be best enjoyed with salty hair and sandy feet in your favourite beer garden. The Pacific Ale is a sessionable summer ale, bottled at 4.4% ABV, featuring Australian barley, wheat and the signature ‘galaxy’ hops grown in Tasmania, with characteristics of passionfruit and tropical fruit aromas.

This is what they have long called ‘Byron Bay in a bottle’.

This fresh Pacific Ale was transported just a short 10-minute drive up the road to Cape Byron Distillery where the beer was artfully distilled twice through ‘George’ – the 2000-litre custom-made copper pot still – to create a spirit not too dissimilar to the production of a single malt whisky. The twice-distilled spirit that runs clear off the still is then blended with a touch of spring water to finally be bottled at 44% ABV.

For James Perrin, sustainability manager at Stone & Wood, this collaboration has helped them hold strong on being sustainable.

“Sustainability is at the core of our business, with waste being a key focus,” James said. “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.”

And here’s the icing on the cake: this collaboration will raise funds that will be directed back into the Byron Bay community. Cape Byron Distillery will be donating $6 from every bottle sold to the Ingrained Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation also based in the Northern Rivers that supports grassroots environmental and social charities. This is projected to generate around $15,000 in donations.

“The moral of the story?” Eddie concludes. “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!”

So, what do you do with this ‘beer spirit’, we hear you ask? Well, try mixing it with soda or some refreshing pineapple juice served in a tropical tiki-style glass! Or, for some serious shaking, use this spirit to create a Mai Tai or a Daiquiri.

<strong>Full Moon Mule Cocktail Recipe</strong>
Image: Supplied

Full Moon Mule Cocktail Recipe

30mL of Pacific Moonshine
Ginger beer
Squeeze a wedge of lime

Pour the Pacific Moonshine into a tall glass.
2. Top with the ginger beer and stir
3. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy!

You can buy a bottle of Pacific Moonshine at Cape Byron Distillery’s online store or from independent retailers.

Looking for more cocktail inspirations? Check out our Review of Spirited: Cocktails from Around the World – it’s a cocktail bible! And if you prefer to buy Aussie made, check out these 10 New Australian Made Spirits To Try In 2020.

Feature image supplied.
Editor’s Note: Hunter and Bligh was gifted by Cape Byron Distillery. All reviews are authentic and are in no way influenced by our partnership.