Beer & Food: Murray's Belgian Dinner
Nick O / 25.03.12
When Murray’s at Manly reopened a few months ago and we began the news article with a reference to Moby Dick, we didn’t realise how many literary connections would start to stack up. Murray’s already brew an Imperial Stout called Heart of Darkness – the title taken from Joseph Conrad’s masterpiece – but that was easily explained having learned that head brewer Shawn Sherlock has a background in literary arts, spending time as a lecturer and Conrad being one of his favourite authors.
So when Murray’s At Manly held an eight course Belgian beer dinner this week that concluded with a 100 per cent Brett-fermented Imperial Stout which had been brooding for 12 months and weighed in at a rollicking 12.8 per cent abv, there was only one name that would do it justice: ‘The Horror’. These are some of the last words uttered in the Heart of Darkness novel and this beer makes a claim to being the last word in heavy Australian Imperial Stouts. Even a slab of Roquefort Blue Cheese struggled to contain this beast.
Before The Horror was unleashed, there were seven other food and beer courses to get through. Five of the evening’s eight beers – a barrel-aged Grand Cru, barrel-aged ‘Imperious’ Blond Ale, Abbey-style Dubbel, Strong Dark Ale and The Horror – were brewed especially for the event and were effectively available for one night only. While that’s not much use if you missed out, the release of very sessionable Libertine goes some way towards making up for it and it will definitely please fans of the farmhouse style. It was certainly an evening of incredibly complex beers and can’t help but make you wonder what else they’ve got hidden away up at Bob’s Farm.
And just one more random book and beer gem to round things off; since Ian Watson joined the Murray’s brewing team, all the beers are officially brewed by Sherlock & Watson. You could hardly make this stuff up.
You can read about the Libertine – the only new featured beer to get a wider release – here. Here’s what we made of some of the one-night-only beers to pour…
Taking its name from a line in the last page of Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness (from which Murray’s regular Imperial Stout also gets its name), ‘The Horror’ is an Imperial Stout with a difference. It has been aged for 12 months and, right from day one, has been deliberately 100 per cent fermented with brettanomyces. It is based on the original Heart of Darkness recipe but fermented 100 per cent with a pure culture of Brett Lambicus. Clocking in at a healthy 12.8 per cent abv, this dark beast challenges the norm and despite the ominous tones, this is a horror in name, but not in nature.
Barrel Aged Grand Cru
This one-off is an adaptation of Murray’s regular Grand Cru with an interesting twist; it was aged in French oak barrels formerly used to house Chardonnay. Because the same base beer was used, Grand Cru fans would still find plenty to like about this beer. The oak gives an interesting dimension without being overwhelming, also allowing some of the Chardonnay and vanilla flavours to come through.
Barrel Aged Imperious
Having sourced some high quality oak barrels from a close contact in the wine industry, Murray’s produced this one-off, one-night only special as part of their autumn Belgian beer event. It’s an aggressively oaked, 11 per cent abv Belgian Blond Ale that belies its origins with a particularly evident passionfruit hit.
You can follow the author of this piece’s other beery adventures at Water&Hops&Malt&Yeast.