Before I left for Australia, I asked if anyone had any suggestions for places to visit or beer to look out for. Steve on BeersI'veknown had mentioned on twitter (I think) that I should keep an eye of for Murray's beers so the brewery was a destination I had in mind.
By the time I got to the brewery, I had already been to their bar in Manly so had experienced some of their beer. That was not going to put me off a brewery visit though.
Murray's brewery is located on the main road (Nelson Bay rd) towards Port Stephens, a sort of dual carriageway surrounded by wineries. It very much reminded me of winery and brewery tours in the USA.
You are given ample warning that they don't serve bland yellow fizzy stuff here. If you pass beyond this point, you have no one but yourself to blame if you can't find Tooheys New on tap.
I was lucky, originally we were going to park the campervan in a campsite and then get a taxi out for the evening but instead we decided to pop in for lunch. It was on the way and a lovely sunny day. Good thing because the brewery tour is at 2pm so we had time for lunch before starting the tour.
As well as beer, they also do wine from their onsite vineyard and they sell other foodie products like special hot sauce and cheese etc.
The setting for the brewery is just fantastic. There is nowhere better on a hot day. It also seems to get very busy with bus loads of people arriving. The brewery is located in a very scenic wooded area and surrounded by vineyards as well. They don't make their own wine on site, instead they send the grapes off somewhere else.
We both had fish and chips and it was by far the best fish and chips we have had in a long time. OK well the chips were nothing special but the fish was absolutely beautiful. This was not Cod, it was too good so I asked what it was and I was told Dory. A google search shows either a character from finding nemo, or a rather ugly looking fish. Ugly it may be but it tasted fantastic.
The Dark Knight Porter went very well with the meaty fish. It was absolute heaven with hints of coffee, caramel & chocolate. It was a little boozy but all in a good way. Dark fruits on the nose. I also thought this was the perfect beer to be drinking on the hot sunny day it was.
The tour brought us through their hop garden which was impressive to see, but they don't really use the hops in their beers because there is simply not enough. Instead they use it for show and the homebrewers use them for pilot brews at home.
Quite a simple setup. Grain goes in the mill and up the tube, in to the mash tun and so on. Nothing too interesting, at the end of the day there is usually little difference in how breweries work other than cosmetic differences.
They do have a semi-automatic bottling machine. This baby can bottle about 1400 bottles per hour and they can brew about 6000l per week.
I spied this little system behind some boxes. It turns out that they built this as a pilot brewery but they don't use it as the brewers mostly homebrew and simply experiment at home.
Oooh shiny brewery porn.
After you are done on the tour, you are brought back to the bar and given a tasting session of all the beers on tap. The best part of the tour as our guide said.
In the end I could not decide on somewhere to stay in Port Stephens so we drove on to Sydney which was about 3 hours or so away. This would give us a full day (2 nights) in the camp site on the edge of Sydney to just relax and enjoy the sun before we headed to the airport on Saturday.
If you are on the east coast of Australia and looking for somewhere to go, this is the place. It was by far my favourite brewery tour, topping even 4 pines, though not by much.