I found out near my family's holiday spot there is Murray's Brewery, in the sand hills south of Nelson bay on the way to Newcastle. Having been recently impressed with the Hunter Chrissy beer, I was interested to see what else is coming out of the Hunter.
I must say I haven't tried any of their beers before, which is sort of nice when you go to a brewery sometimes, as you can be open to what you are to try. I must say I was initially impressed with the beer trays I saw showing the number of beers that have come out of the brewery, which for me showed a good experimental approach, with seasonal and one off beers coming through. An open minded brewer is a great vibe to get before even trying a beer. Luckily, they had a beer tasting wheel, which while the tasting glasses were a bit big, is good to be able to have a taste of 6 of their beers without having to drink too much.
I didn't take any notes while doing it, but will try to recall what I can.
The Whale Ale was pretty standard with some hoppiness to it. To be honest, their is a general hoppiness style to the beers, so was a little concerned when i tasted this first up, and noticed it again with the Pilzner and the Nirvana. The Pils was a good attempt at this german style beer, and seems the hop is not quite the authentic hop, but the body and hop they have used is pretty close. The Nirvana had a bit of a dry hop flavour on the back in aftertaste, and so was probably my least favourite.
The Black Knight got me a bit excited, and have to say, i could not get much in terms of hops in it. Still, the coffee flavour was too much for me, and the dusty texture did not help either. A little dissapointed, but for a non-stout region, am happy at least to see people attempting it.
The Grand Cru was really where I got some interest from, and noticed on smell the bubblegum yeast that is a classic Belgian style beer. could also get the citrus which was nice and well balanced with the lighter body beer
What impressed me with the 2IPA was the creaminess of the beer, and the nice caramel malt up front. Until the dry hop finish came on, I was really enjoying the beer. Overall, there are great parts to this beer, but there is potential to possibly combine the flavours a bit more to create a better roundness to the beer. It also seemed quite cloudy, so would be intrigued to know more about this beer.
After going back into the bar, I tried the mid-strength punch and judy which again had the bubblegum and is good to see a midstrength beer with a bit of flavour to it. Still, the one that really got me was the punk monk, that had a great fruity flavour, some sweetish malt and again the bubblegum. This was my favourite from the tasting, and tried to buy a bottle, only to find I could only get it as a four-pack.
Anyway, I did buy a 5th edition Anniversary Ale and an Imperial Stout, which I am yet to try. Still, both can be aged for up to 5 years, so a bit of time up there will no do them any harm til I am next up that way. I was able to have a good talk with one of the staff as well, who was able to respond to all the silly questions I had. My respect for the head brewer increased as the staffie explained his approach to brewing and his willingness to get a recipe, and to have the common sense to know how it will taste, and how best to tinker with it to get something different from it.
Overall, the beers are quite clean with good flavour, and the brewery seems to have a good intent to produce such beers. they style with hops does not sit well with me personally, but am use to that by now. One beer I wish I had been able to try was the Heart of Darkness, and had also been told good things about Angry Man and Sparticus, so plenty seems to be going on here, and is great to see from a Hunter brewery. Hmmm, a brewery 10 mins from the beach. I like!