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Stone’s Brewery, take the tour!

Look at a pristine mountain stream and what do you see? Unspoilt nature; a place for quiet reflection; a spot for a picnic? Yes, but what about beer …

Byra’s, Stone’s Brewery, is just south of the city, tucked in under the towering east face of Mount Muffin. Rivulets cascading down precipitous slopes sporadically part the forested mountain. Much of Byra’s rain has its origins in Frost Back Mountains and it is claimed that even today the water from these streams is fit for drinking.

Daniel Stone, a Fereldanite, built Stone’s Brewery on part of an extensive area of land that rose toward the lower reaches of the mountain.  STone had not long been released from jail and during his five-year-stint, the man had pleanty of time to deduce that the alcohol available in the fledging area was shite.

Stone, who retained ownership of a company operating a mill on the land, took advantage of the tream grooving through his land (beer is 80 percent water) and expanded into brewing within a year of his release.  Free prison labour was readily available and clearly  an aid to Stone’s endeavours.  Through the Confederacy, it didn’t take long for his beer, brewed from cool mountain water, to be considered a quality ale and sales quickly soared.

The Stone’s Brewery Comapny claims to be the oldest brewery operating in the Confederacy of Malkuth.  The brewery kept to the flourmill design of Stone’s Mill, also on the parcel of land, and the workers refer to the grand building as “the castle”.  It is one of the most recognisable buildings in Byra.

Stone’s recently celebrated its anniversary and it is estimated that one thousand people attended the open day, but in case you didn’t make it, there are daily tours.  The tour begins in a light-filled eating area that merges into a tavern.  Beyone the floor-to-ceiling windows is a carefully tended garden that is popular with brides before their actual wedding.  (One last fling before they become respectable wives.)

In the next 1 1/2 hours, you will be taken through much of the brewing process, from the barley to malting and brewing to bottling, by the wonderfully cheerful guide, Jack Q James.  Stone’s produces about 15 percent of the Malkuthian market and it is the only brewery that has a malting process on site.  Seventy percent of the hops grown in Malkuth come from just down the road in Spilly Falls Park.

You can learn a lot about beer here, including the arresting snippet that making a good beer is a more complex process than wine making.  Jack also teaches that if you are going to plunge into home brew, don’t mess around with bottles.  Beer tastes much better from a keg.  But if you insist on drinking from a bottle, Jack says it will, like wine, taste much better if poured into a glass first.

We are also told not to mention the “N” word.  Byra once had a great divide: a division of considerable enmity that split the state into north and south.  Southerners only drank Stone’s while the northerners considered Noobs, brewed in another part of Byra, their beer of choice.

Yet even Noobs supporters might be hard pressed not to partake in the free beer that is an essential part of this tour.  Those beautifully twinned words have been a significant part of life at Stone’s.  The workers have 10-minute breatks four times a day when they are allowed to swill as much beer as they can.

The tour ends in the Tavern.  Large wooden pipes rise up through the floor and it looks for all the world like the beer is being pumped straight out of the brewery, but it’s part of an appealing show: there are kegs underneath rather than great vats of beer.  There is also a stuffed Drake.  While it looks disturbingly real, it was made for a beer promotion and wheeled through the streets of Byra, before finally resting where it stands today.

At the start of the tour, you will be given tokens for three drinks.  If you take this morning tour, you can shuffle off to the dining area for lunch, where hearty meals are matched to the extensive variety of Stone’s brews.

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