In the lower Blue Mountains town of Glenbrook, there’s quite the buzz for a place that’s home for just over 5,000 folks.
Weekend markets and great places to eat have made the town a stop worth the trip and not just a refuelling station between Sydney and Katoomba. Trying to find a parking spot in Glenbrook on the weekend is probably the easiest, yet most frustrating, way to see how busy the town at the heel of the mountain has become.
If you’re after good beer while there, head off the main street, down from a bakery, deli and café, and you’ll find Murray’s Porters Liquor Glenbrook. This slick, wide and well-lit local bottleshop has the best method to ensure staff are up to date with their craft beer offering: one free beer for each of them per shift. “When staff take a staffie we encourage them to always take something different,” the titular Murray told The Crafty Pint. “It’s been a huge benefit to customers. I’m really pleased we did it.”
Murray’s came to life back in September 2015, when Murray and his business/life partner, Charlotte, took over the local shoe-boxed size Glenbrook bottleshop.
“[The purchase] was early in our relationship,” Charlotte says. “Murray was a bit nervous when he arrived home and said the owner of the local Glenbrook bottleshop – which he had been checking in on as a Bacardi rep – was selling. This is funny to us now as we both knew it was something that would either make or break us.”
Just four years later, the couple had opened two more shops in nearby Warrimoo and East Blaxland (both of which you'll find in The Crafty Pint app), as well as doubling the size of the original venue, adding a growler filling station there along the way. The old shoe-box size Glenbrook bottleshop was then affectionately referred to as “Little Glenbrook”, furthermore to remind them of simpler times.
One thing that has remained consistent at Murray’s is the level of dedication to craft beer, which has been a part of the store’s offering since day one. At any one time, Glenbrook stocks more than 300 craft beers (at Blaxland East it’s 280; at Warrimoo 160) meaning beer-loving locals are so spoilt for choice it pays to have an expert on hand. Luckily they have beer purchaser Ben, who convinced Murray to start in-store craft tastings.
“We still get Great Northern drinkers,” Ben says, adding: “We’ve built up a lot of trust with people and I reckon I’ll find a craft beer that you’ll like.”
Murray’s mix of Australian and international craft beer features hyperlocal favourites such as Squinters Brewing, Mountain Culture and Brew Mountains, whose beers are often available as growler fills too. There’s usually a few more decadent offerings from the likes of California’s The Bruery available – almost all of which Ben has tried firsthand, of course.
“Seasonality is a really important trigger. Autumn is all about reds and IPAs, stouts in the winter, Oktoberfest beers in spring, and, of course, pilsners and lagers in the summer,” he says.
Crafty locals tune in to the Murray’s Porters' Liquor Facebook page every Friday, waiting for Ben to post the new releases available over the weekend. In-store shoppers can enjoy discounts on mixed sixes and tens too, and if you want to skip looking for a parking spot, their online store is a mere click away.
Mountain Culture may be playing the most high profile role in putting the eyes of the beer world on the Blue Mountains these days, but Murray, Charlotte and their team have been bringing the beers of the wider world to the Blue Mountains even longer. And, through their support of up-and-coming local breweries such as Squinters and Brew Mountains, beer sale by beer sale, they’re helping to make the Blue Mountains a hoppier place from the Sisters to the flat lands.