Greetings to all (at least to all of you who follow Mac’s Brew News). The last month has been busy for me, but not a lot of brewing. I finally brewed again yesterday (03-18-2013). I had planned on brewing a couple of weeks ago, but I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.
Mac’s Whatchamacallit: Yes, that’s the name of my latest brew. I couldn’t really think of a true beer style, and struggled with a name that would appropriately describe it, so it became Whatchamacallit. This is a slight deviation of brew master Joe Renden’s Oktoberfest (brewed for High Sierra Brewing, Carson City Nevada). I couldn’t obtain all of the specialty grains in his recipe, so I substituted some others, and I added some extra base malts (Munich and Vienna) to boost the alcohol content. The biggest difference, however, is the yeast selection.
Marzen (Oktoberfest) is a lager, but I don’t have the necessary equipment to ferment with lager yeast. Therefore, Whatchamacallit is brewed with Oktoberfest ingredients (including the German noble hops), but fermented with ale yeast. Therefore, it’s an ale. It will be a light copper color (I brewed it once before), but is not really an amber or red style ale. Last time I brewed this, I called it Mak’s Oktoberfest (even though it’s not a true Oktoberfest) and I used a Kolsch yeast. The beer fermented very clean and crisp, and was so clear it looked like it had been filtered. However, it was a little dry, so I changed my yeast selection this time. I am fermenting with White Labs European Ale yeast. This should leave more of the malty flavor that I’m looking for. We’ll see how it turns out.
The OG was 1.071, so I anticipate somewhere between 7.0 – 7.5% ABV. Last time I brewed this, my OG was much lower (1.061) and the beer ended up at 5.7% ABV. I didn’t use any additional grain, so I attribute the difference to increased mash efficiency (that’s a good thing – it means I’m more competent as a brewer). This is a good time of the year to brew. It’s easy to control the fermentation temperature with the cooler weather. Right now it’s fermenting at the recommended temperature of 67° F. Now, if it can just stay there for the next couple of days, I should get the flavor profile I’m looking for. I hope to be drinking this beer by the middle of May.
Mac’s Bourbon Barrel Stout: This finished fermenting a few weeks ago and is currently conditioning in the “bourbon barrel” (a five gallon glass carboy with medium toast oak cubes soaked in 250 ml of bourbon). I will keep it conditioning in the “bourbon barrel” until late October or early November. It’s 11.8% ABV and loaded with taste (my decision to mash at a lower temperature paid off – much greater attenuation but the flavor is still sweet with full body). I think I will bottle this beer rather than keg it – it’s not an everyday beer, so I could imagine it being in the keg for a year or so before I would drink it all. That’s too long to take up kegerator space.
Nut Case: AKA, Mac’s Chocolate Hazelnut Stout. I bottled this beer on Saturday March 16, 2013. As with the Bourbon Barrel Stout, my decision to mash at a lower temperature delivered the desired results. The final gravity was 1.017 (still fairly high compared to most pale ales, IPA’s, etc.) with an alcohol content of 9.2% by volume. It’s full bodied with a delicious imperial stout flavor. The hazelnut extract was added at bottling, so I’ll have to wait to see how the final flavor profile turns out. The aroma is wonderful, and the carbonation should reduce some of the sweetness.
Although both of these stouts are relatively high in alcohol, neither has that hot “boozy” flavor. Both are quite tasty at this point, but I’ll see how they condition out. Stouts usually improve with a little aging (especially the high alcohol ones) so I anticipate they will be better a few months from now.
I have plans for several more brews soon – Phat Pliny, Mak’s Hefeweizen, an apricot wheat ale, maybe a pale ale, and who knows what else. I’m not sure which one I am going to brew next, maybe the Pliny . . . . .
I want to spend some time finishing the kegerator. It seems like there’s always something more urgent that needs to be done. Well, hopefully I can get to it soon. CHEERS!