Tuesday night last week saw Murray’s Brewing head brewer Shawn Sherlock come to the monthly Ale Stars meet-up at The Local Taphouse. I have to say that I feel Shawn (pictured below, left) was expecting a crowd that would be more…divided in its love over the beer he makes. Not so! He was indeed preaching to the converted.
While Murray himself is not a brewer, he had something of a beer epiphany when he tried a Sierra Nevada pale ale for the first time. Interestingly enough, despite being initially and continually inspired by the US craft brewing scene, the brewery does not use any US ingredients.
A few days ago via The Local Taphouse blog, there was a most tantalising blog post on the 3 Beer Beef Burger. Yes yes, I know it’s not new but I hadn’t had it and had decided I had to eat it before Ale Stars. Peak-hour traffic of course had its own ideas so I was furiously stuffing it down when Shawn was up on the podium. I have to a big-up to Burger Adventure for further encouraging my inner ravening carnivore.
Behold, the 3 Beer Beef Burger in all its glory. A juicy medium-rare pattie with a subtle smokiness and perfect grill lines. Dear god, this thing has battered onion rings in it! Being a teensy lass, I had to eat mine with a knife and fork, incurring the ridicule of Tristan and my dear beer chum Jourdan. And the chips and mayo! Yeah, it’s a rad burger. The only gripe I had was I did have to discreetly spit out a few chunks of gristle but I can forgive. It’s worth taking your non-beer nerd mates to The Local for this burger, as well as many other delish items on the menu.
It was fab to see The Crafty Pint in attendance and if you don’t know who he is or what is site is about and you’re a beer-lover, you have your head under a…keg! I may never recover from having him introduce me to Die Antwoord and their ‘Evil Boy’ video clip (please note: not for prudes or those in the workplace). It has to be the most…inventive protest on African tribal circumcision I’ve ever seen.
Did I mention ‘Crafty’ (as he is affectionately called and also because there are many Jameses in the world) was kind enough to interview me for his site? There’s only a few days left, but it was pretty cool to be nominated October’s blog of the month!
I haven’t forgotten about the beer, promise. I’m taking a cue out of our beloved beer stalwart (I did say I’d quit with the ‘old man’ digs!) Prof Pilsner’s book and keep the beer nerdiness out of my Ale Stars posts from now on. Let’s see if I can keep my impressions on the beers brief, shall we?
Murray’s Punch & Judy ale – is this really 3.9%?!?!? Made in the style of an English bitter (though Murray’s Brewing is very clear that they brew to taste and use style as a guideline), this is an amazingly flavoursome beer. Sadly a seasonal – great shame given that it screams to be drunk by the multiple pint. There were whispers it may become permanent which would be freaking fantastic.
Murray’s Angry Man – who is the angry man in question (it was hinted at, but never uttered)? Don’t we all have an angry man within? Well yes, we do, as soon as we’ve imbibed this American brown ale (again, just a guide, not brewed to the letter). Shawn named this as his personal session beer. It’s late hopped and the crystal malts give it its brown colour along with the malty caramel flavour. Yum!
This is Jourdan’s Tristan-please-stop-taking-multiple-shots-it’s-hard-work-looking-fabulous face. With a glass of beer, natch.
Murray’s Grand Cru – a Belgian-style tripel/golden strong ale hybrid. I found this one very hard to define in terms of taste, but it was my least favourite. Not at all a criticism on the brewers or the brewery: it’s just not a style I really get excited about, probably because of the sweetness. It looks beautiful though – clear, gold colour with a thin to medium body. Fairly hefty too at 8.8% ABV. Shawn said it’s one of his favourites.
Murray’s Icon 2IPA – good god, if you want hops, you got hops with this beer. Some notes of citrus and pepper cut through the bitterness. The thing I am really beginning to appreciate is that an intensely hopped beer does not necessarily equal the sort of bitterness that makes you screw up your face. Shame that the brewery can only brew half batches of this.
Despite it not being available, there was considerable discussion about their Heart of Darkness stout. I confess I may have heckled Shawn a bit (not being able to let go of an opportunity to unite my new-found love of craft beer with an older love for modernist literature). I really do wish they had’ve put ‘the horror, the horror’ on the labels! Sorry about the heckling, Shawn! And no, you’re not really a dickhead if you don’t like it. The owner Murray said that for the lolz. A few of us Ale Stars mentioned that we felt it had got smoother and a tad sweeter a month after being in the keg. It was pretty bold when fresh, but I’ve discussed this all before at a previous Ale Stars session.
One last beer! The Murray’s crew were super-kind and aside from giving us extra Grand Cru, we were treated to Spartacus imperial IPA! I’d previously paid an exorbitant sum (I felt) for a goblet of it at Beer Deluxe but it was nice to revisit – it seemed more floral and less sweet than on initial tasting.
Before I shut up, I’d just like to add that this was probably one of my favourite Ale Stars sessions in terms of beers offered. It was ridiculously difficult to choose which beer I preferred overall – they all cater for different sorts of beer-drinking sessions. In some ways it would be like choosing which child you love more.
As always, you can read an account of this fabulous Ale Stars session on The Local Taphouse’s blog with Jimmy’s pretty pictures. Included therein is a link to Prof’s post – he’s a speedy man and always gets his posts up before me.