Starting out as the brewery that gave the Pub With No Beer its beer, the Murray's operation moved to Port Stephens once word of its high quality brews meant they could no longer be contained by a pub in regional New South Wales. Now sharing a site with Port Stephens winery a short drive up the coast from Newcastle, the ever-expanding brewery is housed in a former wine storage shed next to rows of vines just up the hill from a bar, restaurant and function room.
The original brew system is a wonderful copper clad piece of engineering, the likes of which would have filled Heath Robinson's dreams. It had, however, become incapable of meeting demand alone so has been joined by a second system that allowed the brewers to double batch brew - something that's essential given the number of short run specials they produce in addition to the year round Murray's regulars. As of 2014, however, a new brewhouse is in place - a 25 hectolitre system to allow for further expansion.
With a fondness for pushing the bounds of brewing and mixing and matching styles - not to mention a love for the new wave of Kiwi hops - they're known for producing full-flavoured beers, whether lower alcohol ones like their Punch & Judy or the big, bold Wild Thing and Spartacus.
The ongoing expansion of the brewhouse is in keeping with Murray's aim of seeing good craft beer all along the East Coast; every nook and cranny of the shed is steadily being filled with beer and the gear with which to make it, including the wooden barrels used for their annual Anniversary Ale releases. These come in champagne bottles and have been known to feature - deliberately - brettanomyces, the wild yeast used to add farmhouse and souring characteristics to some Belgian styles.
At the end of 2014, one head brewer - Shawn Sherlock, who had joined as a home brewer before becoming head brewer and then being crowned Brewer of the Year in 2013 - moved on to start up his own brewpub to be replaced by Murray's original brewer. Graeme Mahy returned from his native New Zealand to take up the post he had last held when Murray's operated out of the Taylor's Arms pub. He wasted little time in picking up where he'd left off, overseeing plenty of new additions ranging from an experimental series of Berliner Weiss' to big American IPAs to the brewery's first cider, AppleShack, and a ten-plus percent ABV Belgian strong ale.