A record eight beers are being unleashed during Murray’s annual Dark Beer Month, headlined by the brewer’s iconic ‘Wild Thing’ Imperial Stout. The eight beers – 3 bottled, 5 draught - will be progressively released from Saturday 4 June.
“We’re aiming to give people some great survival tools for winter. Each June we bring out our darkest beers to help make winter warmer,” says brewery owner, Murray Howe. “These aren’t ordinary beers. They’re big, audacious, crazy Imperial Stouts, Coffee Stouts, Chocolate Porters, Strong Dark Belgian Ales, Brown Ales, Dark ESB’s and even a Dark Gose. We’ve ensured there’s something interesting for everyone.”
Following last year’s success, there will again be two ‘Wild Thing’ Imperial Stouts in the bottle – the original cult beer, PLUS Murray’s Wild Thing Coffee Imperial Stout, both brewed by the beer’s original recipe-meister and head brewer, Graeme Mahy.
“I love this beer! There is just nothing insipid about it – Wild Thing is just full of attitude,” says Graeme. “It’s well above the upper limits of flavour and colour for its class. Wild Thing is totally black - impossible to see through even when held up to the light.”
“And perhaps the most unusual beer this year is Black Gose. Gose is a tart and slightly salty style of German beer that dates back a thousand years — and was almost extinct. It’s now experiencing a renaissance in the United States, so we thought, ‘why not Bobs Farm too?’ And instead of the normal pale straw colour we thought we would darken it up a little.”
“I was in the USA recently judging Beer World Cup, and I have to say that of all the hundreds of beer styles I tried, I was most excited by Gose and some of the experimental sour beers. It’s an easy-drinking style that’s refreshing, mildly tart and lower in alcohol. We can’t wait to share it with you,” he added.
The original ‘Wild Thing’ Imperial Stout is a massive, intense drinking experience inspired by the great stouts favoured by the Russian Imperial Court. The colour is intensely black. The flavour is an intense hit of mocha with some malt sweetness but an aggressive hop bitterness and roast grain bite to balance.
The beer has been transformed this year with the addition of 1000 espresso shots to a batch to create the second bottled beer of the month, ‘Wild Thing’ Coffee Imperial Stout’. A massive coffee hit – intense, rich and complex with luxurious mouthfeel. Aromas of strong dark coffee espresso with hints of chocolate and toffee from the dark malts.
The third bottled beer is Murray’s Hell of the North, a Strong Dark Belgian Ale. “Hell of the North is one hell of a beer!” says Graeme. “Not only does this beer push the limits of alcohol, it pushes the limits for flavour. It certainly is an intense drinking experience.”
The brewer’s inaugural Schwartzbier, ‘Fly By Night’, is the fourth beer in the Dark Beer Month line-up, and the first of the draught showcase. Providing a lower alcohol, easy drinking alternative to the stronger dark ales, Fly By Night does not follow the rules of traditional Bavarian or Thuringian styles which shy from roasted flavours. Murray’s version gives a big tilt of the bowler hat to the British Porter, embracing chocolate and coffee tones. Its new world New Zealand hopping and low temperature fermentation of Danish yeast completes this edgy dark lager.
The fifth beer, on draught, is ‘Hey Porter’ American/New Zealand Chocolate Porter. It’s a full-bodied Porter in style, with increased amounts of British chocolate and roast specialty malts for intense chocolate/coffee character. Contrasted with a hopping regime more similar to an IPA, this beer is bittered with American Chinook, and then saturated with massive amounts of New Zealand hop blend for flavour and aroma.
Murray's ‘Angry Man’ Brown Ale, the sixth and also a draught beer. Strong, uncompromising flavour it is a BIG Brown Ale – bitter up front and smooth at the finish. Strong hop flavour and aroma and a little bit chocolaty. A beautiful dark ruby red when held up to the light, but solid dark brown in the shade.
The seventh beer is Murray’s ‘Dark Horse’ Dark ESB, a rich malty beer with tones of caramel and toffee, balanced by a firm bitterness.
And Murray’s Dark Gose (‘Sebastian’) closes out Dark Beer Month. This beer has a wonderful chocolate aroma and flavor, with tones of saltiness and coriander, and a refreshing finish from the acidity of the lactobacillus.
Murray’s Brewery will put on live concerts each weekend in June, headlined by Mark Wells Band on the June long weekend. The chefs are busy creating a huge line-up of comfort food to accompany the dark beers, including the return of the brewer’s famous one kilogram rack of dark-beer marinated ribs!
At a glance: Murray’s Dark Beer release program 2016