The Bicep’s Back

The Bicep’s Back

Thorny Devil, one of Australia’s most awarded craft beers, is available online, at bottle shops or in your local pub, club or restaurant: if not, ask us and we will organise all.


It started as a bit of fun. Challenged with brewing an unusual beer for the Media Brew beer competition at Beervana, The Crafty Pint approached Murray’s to be its partner. They agreed and were soon afterwards presented with the following proposition:



“I think it should be a beer that reflects the origins of the three parties involved: Scotland, New Zealand and Newcastle. It looks like there are different species of mussels native to each of those three areas, so how about we do a mussel stout with all three in? And can we use some peated distilling malt too, just cos I like Islay whisky?”


We can only imagine the huge, resigned shrug that must have taken over Murray’s head brewer Shawn Sherlock’s shoulders. But being someone who’s game for pretty much anything when it comes to beer, he accepted, suggesting it was an imperial stout (more room to hide the molluscs, perhaps) and accepting our request that we use the Belgian yeast found in their awesome Heart of Darkness.


In the end, only mussels native to Scotland (Blue) and New Zealand (Green-lipped) were used as it turned out the freshwater ones native to NSW are “rough tucker” used for cleaning shit out of ponds. Instead, fresh Port Stephens oysters were substituted and a 25 litre batch of what was to become the Auld Bulgin’ Boysterous Bicep was brewed and promptly went on to win the Media Brew comp with a perfect 45/45 score.


All of this (and more) is documented here. But that wasn’t the end of the story. We’d always hoped Murray’s might be tempted into brewing the beer on a commercial scale – after all, who wouldn’t want to throw several hundred sea creatures into their expensive brewery? – even if there appeared to be reluctance. However, there were occasional flickers of hope…


Soon afterwards, the brewery owners asked about replicating the artwork created for the beer by Andy Shaw, a good friend of Nick O (AKA Crafty Pint NSW) based in Wellington, for posters in their venues. Then, a few months later, when they were working on plans for their Trump Cards, it turned out the ABBB would feature. Surely they wouldn’t commit a beer that was never commercially released to such an honour…

And then came the call.

“We’re going to brew the Bicep as a winter seasonal so we can release three different imperial stouts again,” said Shawn. “Are you available to come and brew it?”

Of course we were.

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