Well, I hope all of you came through tax season with minimal damage. As for me, Uncle Sam and Uncle Jerry were NOT so kind this year. I’m hoping for a better 2014.
Here is all the brew news that’s fit to print (at least as the brew news pertains to Mac’s Brew Pub). Mac the Annihilator, Club 57, and Redheaded Step-Child are the latest creations courtesy of Mac. I’m trying to brew something worthy of my big investment (the new brewing system).
Speaking of the new brewing system, I’m now 4 batches in. Each time the process has gone a little easier. I think I’m really getting the hang of it now and the last brew day was problem free. I think I’m successfully adapting my techniques to the sophisticated equipment; I hope my beer improves as well. Only time will tell.
The New Brews
Mac the Annihilator: Brewed 03-11-2014. OG – 1.088. It’s currently dry hopping in the secondary fermenter so I don’t know what the final alcohol content will be, but it was 9.1% ABV when I transferred it to the secondary. I anticipate it will finish somewhere between 9.2% – 9.5%.
Everyone (at least every beer aficionado) has heard of (and hopefully tasted) Pliny the Elder, by Russian River Brewing. Russian River also brews and releases, once a year, the monster IPA, Pliny the Younger. I have never had Pliny the Younger because I’m not willing to stand in line several hours to get one pint. However, the beer is legendary and is rated in the top 5 among all beers world wide.
Now, back to Mac the Annihilator. So, there’s Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger. Both are huge imperial IPA’s, in high demand, and among the best beers in the world. And now there’s Mac the Annihilator (it had to be Mac the Something, so why not the Annihilator?). This is a big imperial IPA, but not too different from Smack Down. In fact, I used the Smack Down recipe as a baseline, and then modified it just slightly (lowered the Carapils ratio, and raised the Caramel malt ratio).
If it finishes up nice (no diacytl) and in time, I will enter this brew into the Orange County Fair home brew competition. It has to finish dry hopping and conditioning. After that I cold crash it, keg and carbonate it and then fill 3 bottles for the fair – all by May 10. If I can get it into the keg within about 10 days, I should be ok. The IPA category is probably the most crowded and competitive in the competition. EVERYBODY is brewing IPA because it’s such a popular style right now. I hope I can place in that category, but will be surprised if I do. Oh well, at the very least I’ll get some valuable tasting notes from certified judges, which will help me improve my beer.
Club 57: Brewed 03-27-2014. OG 1.096. I just racked it to the secondary fermenter a few days ago. It’s about 8% ABV right now, and will probably not go any higher. The gravity is still pretty high, but I mashed at a fairly high temperature and used a lot of “body” malts to give it a thick mouth feel, so the high terminal gravity is not unexpected.
I tasted a very small sample when I transferred it to the secondary. It’s delicious. I added cacao nibs to the secondary fermenter to boost the chocolate profile (also used a lot of chocolate malt in the grist). I might do something to boost the alcohol a little before racking to the tertiary fermenter, but I’m not sure about that. There will be a little bit of bourbon (and oak) in the beer while it’s aging, so that will boost the alcohol a little. I plan to age it for about a year, so will not be drinking it till next spring.
So why is it called Club 57? I’m glad you asked. I was born in 1957 and I brewed this on my 57th birthday (well, actually the day before my 57th birthday, but it’s close enough). I used 19.57 lbs of base malt (2 row pale) with a total grain bill of 29.57 lbs. I used 5.7 oz of Cacao nibs in the boil to add bitterness and chocolate flavor. As you can see, there are a lot of 57’s related to this beer, so I think Club 57 is an appropriate name.
These are what I have brewed since the last newsletter, but I have more planned before summer vacation. On Saturday 04-26-2014, I will collaborate with Mike Matulich to brew Red Headed Step-Child. We’re attempting to brew an American strong ale/amber IPA (a la Arrogant Bastard), so it’s not a typical or straight ahead IPA. The flavor profile will emphasize the fruity and caramel notes along with the hops, so my recipe calls for a lot of crystal/caramel malts. Not sure what it is gonna taste like, but it should be hoppy, and that’s good. It’s gonna be deep red/amber in color but not a true amber ale family member (too hoppy for the style), thus the name, Red Headed Step-Child.
Update on Previous Brews
Mac’s Apricot Wheat: I bottled 5 gallons on 03-15-2014 and kegged the other 5 gallons on 03-19-2014. It’s 7.05% ABV and is very refreshing. I added concentrated apricot flavoring to the bottled batch but did not add it to the keg. I have had both and I prefer the legged version (the kegged beer gets all of it’s apricot flavor from the puree added during fermentation). I think the apricot is a little too much in the bottled version, but Sheila likes the bottled version better. The bottles are going to the beach house in July (or at least one of the two cases will be served at the beach), but we are enjoying the keg at Mac’s Brew Pub for now. I plan to fill 3 bottles from the keg to enter into the fruit beer category at the fair.
Baby Luke’s Barley Wine: 9.25% ABV. I transferred it to the aging carboy with oak cubes and bourbon on 03-30-2014. I’m not sure how long I’m going to age it in the “bourbon barrel,” but it will be somewhere between 8 – 12 months. Just like my grandson, baby Luke, it will change a lot with age, but I’ll just have to wait to see what the change will bring.
Mac’s Brewing is just a few miles from the epicenter of the earthquake that struck on 03-28-2014. We really got shook up, but I’m happy to report we had no loss of beer. I was actually in the pub at the time the quake hit, and I watched in horror as everything, including the walls, moved violently. I had two full carboys, one at high kraeusen, when this happened. The beer sloshed around pretty good, but the carboys remained in place and there was NO LOSS OF BEER (remember the quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Obviously God wants me to be happy because he preserved ALL of my beer). I have a lot of empty beer bottles (bomber size, various brands and types) on a shelf about 5 feet from the floor. 14 bottles fell off the shelf, but only one broke. Amazing, huh? A lot of the wall decorations were knocked cattywhompus, but remained on the walls, with no breakage. See photos.
That’s it for now. I think I’ll go have a beer . . . Cheers!