February 17, 2011 by Crafty Pint
They don’t mess about at Murray’s. If they can ratchet up the flavour another notch or three they will, whether creating one of the best lower alcohol beers to come out of Australia in the form of the Punch & Judy or getting all brett on their 750ml Anniversary Ale releases. It’s a habit that’s continuing with the two latest releases from the Port Stephens Brewery: Spartacus and Imperious. The former is an Imperial American style IPA that first appeared in draught form last year and which Crafty revealed in an Epicure article last month is now appearing in bottles. The latter is an 11% Imperial Belgian Blonde that will launch Murray’s FBB range. They’re not saying what FBB stands for, although given it’s going to be for beers as strong or stronger that the Imperious, we’d suggest it rhymes with sucking pig ears.
“We love playing with big beers and big flavours,” says owner Murray Howe. “In an age where multinational brewers often too loosely use the term ‘premium’ in their marketing, we’re brewing our super premium ales to make a stand for local craftsmanship and authenticity.
“Spartacus Imperial IPA is a kick arse beer for the dedicated hop lover – big, robust and definitely a beer to savour. Imperious is an experimental beer and the first release in our FBB series.”
The Spartacus weighs in at more than 100IBU (international bittering units to the unitiated – with 100 being a s*!$load if them) yet is remarkably balanced and dangerously drinkable. As for the Imperious – if Crafty’s memory from last weekend’s GABS isn’t too shonky – it’s a case of stacking the tropical Kiwi hops high and squeezing as many of the fruity esters as possible out of the Belgian yeast, setting them on a collision course and savouring the explosive outcome. If you’ve tasted the brewery’s Wild Thing Imperial Stout, imagine swapping the darker, roasted malts for fruity Belgian esters and you’d be on the right track.
It’s the biggest beer yet created by head brewer Shawn Sherlock and is only on tap at the brewery, The Local Taphouses in Sydney and Melbourne, Beer DeLuxe in Melbourne and The Spotted Cow, in Toowomba. Spartacus will appear in bottles at quality bottleshops.