Mac’s Brew News – February 14, 2016

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Greetings from Mac’s Brew Pub.  I have not published a newsletter since December, therefore I have some catching up to do.  Today is Valentine’s Day, so I salute all you beer lovers out there.  This newsletter is dedicated to my Beautiful Valentine, Sheila.  Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all, but especially to Sheila!

In my last newsletter, I lamented the lack of draught beer at Mac’s Brew Pub.  Since then, I have kept myself busy and the aggravation is slowly improving.  Here is what has been brewed recently.

Mac’s WAD (Wide Awake Drunk): Brewed 11-22-2015; 4.9% ABV.
Mac’s WAD is an oatmeal coffee stout.  As mentioned in my last newsletter, this brew was a collaboration (recipe, cost, & labor) with a terrific young brewer (and friend), Bryce Lowrance.  This is an English style stout, low in alcohol but big in flavor (especially coffee).  Bryce and I brewed 10 gallons together on a weekend in November, and fermented the entire batch here at Mac’s.  After fermenting and conditioning in my fermenter, we split up the batch so that we each got 5 gallons to further our artistry with coffee.

The base recipe is an oatmeal stout conditioned with a lot of cacao nibs.  The mash had a high percentage of oatmeal and was conducted at a relatively high temperature.  The wort was fermented with an English yeast.  Those factors left the finished beer with a fairly high final gravity and a velvety smooth mouthfeel and thick body.  I cold brewed 2 1/2 cups of SUPER concentrated coffee using Modern Times Coffee “Black House” blend, then added it to the keg “to taste” (there was a little coffee left over once I was satisfied with the flavor).  Bryce coarse crushed his favorite coffee beans and added them to the keg for a couple of days (50+ hours).

The results are astounding!  This beer, although fairly puny for a Mac’s stout (i.e., low alcohol content) is right at home in the oatmeal stout low-medium ABV range, and is loaded with intense flavors.  The coffee is front and center for sure, but there are also strong chocolate/cocoa notes.  The coffee is not at all bitter or harsh, but mellow and full.  The only thing I will change if I brew this again (I will) is the amount of coffee – maybe about 10 -15% less next time so the flavor is just a little more subtle (note: Bryce’s version had even more coffee flavor, although it was not overwhelming; it was very good also, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so I prefer a lower amount).

Mac’s PAPA (Paper Ass Pale Ale): Brewed 12-22-2015; 6.2% ABV.
This is my second effort at Mac’s PAPA (see Mac’s Brew News, May 7, 2015 for additional information on this brew, including the name).  I changed the recipe just slightly from my first version, and I dry hopped this one with some Cascade hops.  It turned out wonderful and when I brew it again, I will not change the recipe or protocol.  The alcohol content is just slightly higher (6.2% vs. 6.0%), but the hop aroma and flavor is noticeably improved from the original.  I brewed 10 gallons, so I should have this one on tap for a few months.

Smackdown: Brewed 01-22-2016; 7.3% ABV (currently dry hopping).
I will cold crash Smackdown on Wednesday 02-17-2016 and then keg it a week later.  It should be on tap on 02-23-2016.  This iteration is a little different than last time and should  feature more bitterness and additional hoppy aroma and flavor.

Nutcase: Brewed 02-02-2016; currently in the secondary fermenter.
It’s been three years since I brewed this chocolate hazelnut oatmeal imperial stout (wow, that’s a mouthful).  It was 9.5% ABV when I checked the gravity today.  It should stay at that level.  The last time I brewed this in 2013, it won 3rd place at the OC Fair.  I changed the recipe and protocol a little, and believe it will be better this time.  It will need to condition for about 2 months before I bottle it, so I don’t think I will be drinking this until late spring or early summer.

My next brew will be a honey blonde in collaboration with two other fine brewers, Mike and Chris Boblit.  We plan to brew on Saturday 02-20-2016.  I will recycle the “Sheila’s B(ee)FD Honey Blonde Ale” recipe (see Mac’s Brew News – October 4, 2015 for more about this beer).  I’m not sure if I am going to revise the recipe/protocol at all, but will rename it this time, as “Sheila’s BFD” was a once in a lifetime sobriquet, brewed and named for Sheila’s retirement celebration.

Although it was tough being out of Mac’s Brew around here, I managed to satisfy my desire for delicious beer with a variety of commercial craft brews.  If you follow this blog, you have seen all of the beer reviews as evidence of said consumption.  But hold on, there are more reviews to come in the very near future . . .  That’s it for now, so go love some special beer for the rest of Valentime’s Day.

Slainte!

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