Black Raven Brewing (Coco Jones & Grandfather Raven)

Well folks, it’s time to open your minds and receive the first Beer Review lecture of 2019 from Mac.  Today I will enlighten you about two dark selections from a small brewery in Redmond Washington.  Please read responsibly!

Black Raven Brewing is not distributed to my area (Southern California), but as you know, I am well connected, and managed to score two bottles of each of the below listed beers.  In this case, the supplier is my overly generous uncle, Kevin McCaffrey, who lives in Seattle.  I love you, man!

Coco Jones: Black Raven Brewing, Redmond, WA.  5.6% ABV.
This is an award winning Coconut Porter.  The base beer is a Brown Porter, which is more in the English style, as opposed to Robust Porter which is more American style. That means Brown Porter is a bit sweeter, without the well-pronounced bitter roasty and coffee notes that characterize a Robust Porter.  [Note: Brown Porters are much more difficult to find than the ubiquitous Robust Porter style that abounds around these parts.]

I had heard of this beer, but was never able to obtain any because it’s not distributed widely.  When I found this on my doorstep, I was elated, and eagerly anticipated drinking and reviewing it.  My first impression, from smelling the aroma and taking that first sip, was disappointment. I was expecting a big bitter, roasty, coffee slap in the face.  It wasn’t like that at all.  In fact the flavors were much more subdued, and I was thinking that the praise I had previously heard about this beer was exaggerated.  It wasn’t until after I looked it up on the Black Raven website that I realized it was a Brown Porter.  After this enlightenment, I settled down and really appreciated this beer.

Coco Jones at Mac’s Brew Pub

Coco Jones pours dark brown with a ½” light beige head that lasts for a couple of minutes before fading to a substantial ring. The aroma is sweet – vanilla and semi-sweet chocolate, with a hint of coconut.  The flavor is more neutral, leaning toward bitter, but not sweet as suggested by the aroma.  Unsweetened coconut is front and center along with notes of slightly bitter cocoa, fading to a mellow and subdued coconut aftertaste that lingers for a short time.

The body and mouth feel is somewhat thin.  It is well carbonated, which bites the tongue and adds to the perception of bitterness.

As it warms, the coconut aroma increases as the sweetness in the nose decreases.  Of course the carbonation level decreases as it warms, causing the flavor to lose some of its bitterness, but cocoa and coconut flavors remain strong. There are no coffee notes in this beer, but I taste a slight roastiness.

Coco Jones is quite good.  It is very pleasant to drink; the cocoa and coconut flavors, and the low-moderate alcohol level makes it easy drinking.  Well done.

Grandfather Raven: Black Raven Brewing, Redmond WA.  9.5% ABV.
Grandfather Raven is a Russian Imperial Stout from Black Raven Brewing.  It is available on a rotating basis.

Grandfather Raven

This beer pours pitch black with a ½” cocoa colored head (in a tulip glass).  The foam persists for a few minutes, then fades to a very substantial ring and a thin covering.  The aroma is sweet, with notes of coffee, brown sugar, vanilla and chocolate.  The flavor is semi-sweet chocolate, coffee, and brown sugar, then fades to just semi-sweet chocolate in the aftertaste.  There are nuances of plum, raisin and prunes on the palate as well.  Alcohol, though fairly high, is not detected in the flavor or aroma.

The carbonation level is low-medium, with medium body and mouth feel.  As previously mentioned, the substantial foam ring and thin foam covering persisted throughout the session, so it is surprising that the beer left no lacing in the glass.

As Grandfather Raven warms, the alcohol becomes slightly evident in the aroma.  The coffee fades as the aroma becomes sweeter with more pronounced chocolate impressions.  The flavors become a bit stronger, but still no alcohol is observed.

Grandfather Raven is very good, but not distinguished from many other beers in the Imperial Russian Stout category.  It’s big (high alcohol with full and complex flavors) and a little chewy, but if you want an IRS that’s really in your face, try something like Stone “Woot Stout”, or any number of barrel-aged stouts on the market.

The bottom line for these beers: I can highly recommend Coco Jones; I also recommend Grandfather Raven, but it’s just another good Imperial Stout.  Coco Jones is a very good example of its style, and the coconut adds a special characteristic and depth to the brew.  Grandfather Raven is not particularly special like The Nothing (see my review of The Nothing by Smog City Brewing, posted 10-05-2018), but it’s still worth having.

I must give a little shout out and a special “Thank You” to my uncle, Kevin McCaffrey.  Sending these Washington beers to me in So Cal where I can’t get them was beyond considerate.  Imagine my delight when I found these at the entrance of Mac’s Brew Pub (the day before Thanksgiving).  Lucky for me, I still have one bottle of each to enjoy at my leisure.  Kevin sent several other Seattle beers as well. Stay tuned for reviews of those beers in the very near future.  KEVIN, YOU ARE THE BOMB!!

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – December 23, 2018

Greetings Beer Lovers.  It’s been awhile since my last newsletter, but now it’s time to bring you all up to date about what’s happening at Mac’s Brew.  Please read responsibly!

Fall is a busy time at Mac’s Brew.  Football games, travel, brewing beer – it all adds up to a very hectic schedule.  My favorite football team laid an egg this season.  Oh well, better luck next year.  I brewed only two batches of beer this fall (San Andreas Malt and Wide Awake Drunk).  Both are currently on tap.  More about those in my next newsletter.  Our travels were the highlight of the fall season.

Sheila and I went to Italy for a couple of weeks in October, along with Rose Evans (mother-in-law), Don Evans (brother-in-law) and Donna Evans (sister-in-law).  While there, I went on a craft beer quest – after all, I need to keep current on worldwide beer trends.  Good craft beer is not easy to find in Italy, but it is available if you seek it out. Most everyone has had Birra Moretti and/or Peroni – two well known Italian Pilsner Lagers that are available everywhere in the United States.  Of course they are ubiquitous in Italy, and I did drink some of it while I was there (they were the only things available in some of the restaurants where we ate). Those are typical Pilsners, although I would argue that they only rank as so-so in that style category.  Oh well, it was beer.

As a side note, just a couple of short years ago, Don was strictly a Coors Light drinker.  He has significantly expanded his horizons since then, and has become quite a discriminating craft beer lover (I hope I had something to do with that transformation).  Donna, on the other hand, is still a Coors Light girl.  To her credit, however, she was game and sampled much of the craft beer that Don and I drank in Italy.  Some she didn’t like at all, and several others drew this comment from her, “Well, I don’t hate it.”  And then there was actually one that she liked (noted below).

Now, about the beer in Italy (Craft and otherwise) . . . here is what you need to know about it.  I will provide very limited details of the beers I consumed while in Italy. Rather than giving you detailed beer reviews, I will just touch on the highlights and include them in this newsletter. I list them in the order I found/drank them, and offer just a few details of each one.  [Note: This is not an exhaustive list.  I had some non-craft beer that is not included here – I have no notes, and it was pretty forgettable.]

Our first stop in Italy was Venice.  As everybody knows, instead of streets, they have canals in Venice, as the city is built on swampland.

Theresianer Vienna: Antica Birreria Di Triesta.  5.3% ABV
(Silver at 2011 Chicago World Beer Championship; Bronze 2015 International Beer Challenge)

I can’t find my notes on this beer. This is a Vienna Lager.  Think Samuel Adams Boston Lager, but not that good. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but know that it’s decent beer, and shines compared to Birra Moretti.  I drank this at the bar in the Hotel Bauer in Venice (its where we stayed).

La Rossa: BirraNatura.  6.0% ABV
La Rossa means red.  A lot of Italian breweries put out a “La Rossa”, including Birra Moretti (the best La Rossa I had in Italy).  I don’t have my notes from this tasting, which occurred at the train station in Venice.  It’s a dunkle lager, but (because I couldn’t read the Italian printing on the bottle while drinking this one) I don’t know much more than that.  I can say this, however, it was altogether forgettable.

We took a high-speed train from Venice to Milan, then hired a shuttle to take us to Bellagio, on Lake Como.  The following three beers I drank at Far Out in Bellagio. Far Out is a small restaurant tucked in an alley just up from the lake, and adjacent to our hotel.  The restaurant offers a selection of craft beer. Don and I went there after dinner on Friday evening, 10-12-18, to sample the beer.   The proprietor, Roberto, was a gracious host who knew craft beer and made suggestions.  He spent quite a bit of time with us and informed us about a craft beer bar (Gambrinus – more on that below) within walking distance.  We enjoyed our experience there so much that evening that we returned there for lunch the following day with Sheila, Rose and Donna. They enjoyed the food and beer as well, and Roberto again treated us as if we were royalty.  Salute, Roberto!

Roberto and Mac at Far Out in Bellagio.

MILF Passion: Birrificio Legnone.  7.0% ABV
An English style Strong Ale.  Deep Amber in color with a light beige head.  Quite malty, and pretty good.  I drank three bottles of this at “Far Out” restaurant/bar in Bellagio (Lake Como).

Yes, I really had MILF Passion in Italy.

Monkey Planet IPA: Birrificio Legnone.  7.0% ABV
An American style IPA, but of course, brewed in Italy.  It was decent, though not terribly exciting.  There’s no doubt it is a mild IPA, but Americans are spoiled by the HUGE selection of outstanding IPAs we enjoy in our country.  This is one of two IPAs I found in Italy.

Spiga Di Legno: Birrificio Legnone.  5.0% ABV.
Golden Ale; very mild.  Low alcohol, easy drinking.  I visited this once, but that was enough.  Donna, a Pilsner drinker, really liked this one.

On Saturday afternoon, 10-13-18, while the girls were shopping, Don and I went to Taverna Gambrinus.  We sat outside in their beer garden and sampled some of their wide selection.  It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, and this is where I had the best Italian beer of the entire two-week excursion in Italy.  Don and I returned to the tavern on Sunday evening for a nightcap or two, and spent our time inside the bar talking to the owner, Fabio.  The place was rather small, but charming, and they had a large selection of craft beer (ok, not like Yardhouse or Heroe’s, but there were about a dozen beers on tap).  Over the course of my two trips to Gambrinus, I sampled the five beers listed next.

Don and Mac at the Beer Garden. Don is drinking Bibock; Mac is having Nigredo. Salute!

Sampling the selections on Saturday afternoon at the Taverna Gambrinus Beer Garden.

Nigredo: Birrificio Italiano.  6.5% ABV
This is a dark lager (schwartzbier), but a bit higher in alcohol than is typical for the style.  Good beer, not great.

Reale Extra: Birra del Borgo.6.4% ABV
American style IPA (hoppy).  Very good.

Bibock: Birrificio Italiano.  6.2% ABVB
This is a German style Bock beer.  It’s malty but mild and balanced.  Not as big as most German bocks, but very tasty. Both Don and I really liked this beer.

Big Sharp: Draco’s Cave.  8.6% ABV
This is a barrel aged strong ale with Brettanomyces. It’s sour but not overwhelming. Oak is noticeable in both the flavor and aroma.  It’s chestnut brown with an off white 1” head that lasts for quite some time in a tulip glass.  It’s very drinkable, not too sour.  This beer is EXCELLENT, and was the best beer I had while in Italy.

Big Sharp – the best beer I had in Italy.

Ghisa: Birrificio Lambrate.  5.0% ABV
This is a smoked stout on nitrogen.  It’s chocolaty with just a hint of smoke. It’s creamy smooth, which adds to the enjoyment of this stout.  I’m a sucker for nitrogen stouts, but this one was pretty forgettable.  Guinness, anyone?

Mac in front of Taverna Gambrinus.

After Bellagio, we moved on to Milan.  I really didn’t find any local craft beer there, but drank some “Craft” type offerings from Birra Poretti and Birra Moretti.  I found one craft beer while on a day trip to Verano.  There we ate lunch with our tour guide for the day, and our driver (for our entire stay in Milan), Fabio Marsala.

2969 Monpier de Gherdeina: Birrificio Gardena SRL.  5.0% ABV
This is a Helles style lager, brewed by Birrificio Gardena in the Dolomites region of Italy (near the German/Austrian border). The printing on the bottle was in both Italian and German.  It is dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo hops, which gives it a hoppy aroma, but the taste is more on the malty side.  This beer is pretty good, but the flavor is light.

In Milan Don and I each had a 1 liter Birra Porettiat a sidewalk café outside of Basilica Milano.  It’s a Pilsner lager, available everywhere, and not memorable.  Think Budweiser or Coors, but not as good.  I’m not going to waste any words describing this beer.  If you’re interested, you mightfind it at any Italian restaurant in the U.S.

Don and Mac having liters of Birra Poretti in the Duomo, Milano.

We ate dinner at a restaurant called Mozzarella e Basilico (right behind our hotel) where we had some pretty good Birra Morreti.  In addition, the servers brought us some delicious variants of Lemoncello – melon flavored and pistachio flavored liquor.

La Rossa: Birra Moretti.  7.2% ABV
As I already mentioned, there are a lot of “La Rossa” beers in Italy.  This was by far the best La Rossa I had.  It was a draft pour at Mozzarella e Basilico.  Deep amber in color, with lots of dark fruit and raisin notes.  Smooth drinking and the relatively high alcohol content was well hidden.  Very good beer.

From Milan we flew down to Sicily, where we stayed in Palermo.  Rose’s grandparents immigrated from Bisacquino and Santo Stefano, two little villages on the island of Sicily.  We went to the Roman Catholic Church in the village square (Bisacquino) where Rose found baptismal and wedding records of her grandparents and earlier ancestors dating back to 1829.

In Palermo we stayed at Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, one of the nicest hotels in town.  They had a bar where Don and I found several Italian Craft beer offerings (all were in 750 ml bombers).

Ulysses: Birraficio Dell’Etna.  5.7% ABV
This is a “Birra Bionda” (American Pale Ale). It’s hazy yellow with a subdued citrus hoppy aroma.  The flavor was grapefruit, but not strong.  It’s a nice enough pale ale, but will not be challenging Sierra Nevada anytime soon.

Polyphemus: Birraficio Dell’Etna.  6.6% ABV
A “Doppio Malto” (Double Malt) ale.  Based on the aroma and flavor, I would say it’s a Belgian Dubbel.  It’s cloudy light brown with a light head.  It has a sweet/spicy aroma and flavor – not too strong, but definitely Belgian.  I’m not a fan of Belgian style beers, but this was pretty good.

Ephisto: Birraficio Dell’Etna.  6.5% ABV
Birra Rosa Doppio Malto (a Belgian Dubbel Amber, bottle conditioned).  It’s hazy red with a white head.  Spicy sweet Belgian aroma and flavor.  The spicy-sweet notes are pretty strong.  It’s definitely a Belgian.  Not my style.

Alla Siciliana: Birra Moretti.  5.8% ABV
Blonde Ale with flower blossoms.  Alla Siciliana is deep yellow with a white head.  It has a sweet aroma with just a bit of orange. The flavor is clean and somewhat fruity, with light spicy and orange notes.  Very tasty beer.

On Saturday 10-20-18 we went into downtown Palermo to see the famous Opera House.  Around lunch time we stopped at a sidewalk café.  I had an ice cream sandwich with pistachio and hazelnut gelato. It wasn’t like our ice cream sandwiches in America.  They cut a bread roll in half and put scoops of gelato between the two pieces of bread. Delicious, if not unusual.  I also had another Italian craft beer.

La Rossa: Birra Vulcano.  6.0% ABV
The label says this is a Belgian Amber ale. It’s amber in color, but I didn’t really detect any signature Belgian flavors or aromas.  It’s sweet with some notes of raisin and dark fruit. Carbonation level is high (it’s bottle conditioned).  Pretty good beer.

The beer (Birra Vulcano) was forgettable, but the ice cream sandwich was delicious. In Palermo.

Well, that just about sums up my quest for craft beer in Italy, but I add one final beer tasting.  On the Alitalia flight home, I had my last Italian beer of the trip. I’m not sure, but it could be the same beer I had on tap at the sidewalk cafe in the Duomo in Milan.

Luppoli 4: Birrificio Angelo Poretti.  5.5% ABV
I just had to try it.  It’s a light colored Pilsner style lager with a nice sweet aroma. The flavor is mild, slightly sweet. I could have had more, but one was quite enough.

My Final Italian beer. It’s likely to be awhile before I have another.

We had lots of fun in Italy – the uniqueness of Venice, the beauty of Lake Como, the bustle of Milan, and the terror of driving in Palermo.  I could write a lot about the sights, but this is a beer blog, after all, and so you all get to hear about the craft beer scene (or rather, the relative lack thereof) in Northern Italy and Sicily.  By far, the best beer in Italy was in Bellagio at Far Out (thanks, Roberto!) and at Taverna Gambrinus (thanks, Fabio!).

I need to give a shout out here to our wonderful driver in Milano.  Fabio Marsala drove us all around the region for four days in a Mercedes Benz van.  He worked long hours, took us to out-of-the-way places, made food and restaurant recommendations, and was always kind and courteous.  Fabio, if you ever read this, know that all five of us (Rose, Sheila, Don, Donna and I) really appreciate your attentiveness.  You’re the bomb!

Our last night in Milano. Donna, Rose, Sheila and Don with our fantastic driver, FABIO.

That’s it for now, beer lovers.  Stay tuned for more beer reviews coming soon.  Merry Christmas.

Salute!

Curly Wolf & CBS

Greetings folks.  It’s time to get educated about good beer.  The cool weather brings out the winter warmers in the craft beer industry. Today I offer my insights into two big, dark ales.  As always, I admonish you to please read responsibly!

Curley Wolf: Barrelhouse Brewing, Paso Robles, CA.  10.3% ABV
Curly Wolf is the big boy offered by Barrelhouse Brewing in Paso Robles.  Never heard of Barrelhouse Brewing?  It’s right down the street from Firestone Walker Brewing.  Curly Wolf is a Russian Imperial Stout, with maple syrup added to the boil, then aged in bourbon barrels with whole vanilla beans.

Curly Wolf pours black with a ½” light cocoa colored head that fades after abut 45 seconds to a 1/8” ring around the perimeter. The aroma is sweet chocolate and vanilla, but is not strong.  The flavor is semi sweet chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon, with notes of coconut, brown sugar, dark fruit, figs, and raisins.  These fade to bitter chocolate, licorice and grainy bitterness.  The bourbon/vanilla notes, though subdued, linger in the aftertaste, along with hints of cocoa.  Alcohol is not detected in the flavor (or aroma).

The carbonation level is low to low-medium.  Curly Wolf is surprisingly thin bodied for such a big imperial stout.

As the beer warms, it becomes much more flavorful. Caramel and maple notes emerge mid palate.  The chocolate and cocoa come through stronger.  The aroma is still a bit neutral, but brown sugar steps up significantly, as does licorice.  Alcohol also becomes noticeable in the aroma, but still not in the flavor.  The bourbon flavor fades away and licorice increases as it warms.

I sampled Curly Wolf on Sunday 12-09-2018 from a 22 oz. bomber that I bought at Barrelhouse Brewing in February 2018. The bottle was labeled “2017.5 RELEASE”. After purchase, I stored this bottle in my cellar and forgot about it until I noticed it last week.

I’ve had Curly Wolf in the tasting room at Barrehouse on several occasions, and have always enjoyed it immensely.  This bottled version was a bit of a disappointment, as the bourbon notes had all but faded away, and the body seemed a little thin. I don’t know if Curly Wolf is better when consumed from a fresh bottle.  What I can say is this – I highly recommend Curly Wolf when consumed on premises in the Barrelhouse taproom.  A 1½ year old bottle is good, but not great.  Next time I pass through Paso Robles I’ll probably buy another bottle of Curly Wolf, but will consume it right away. [Note: I’ve never seen this available for sale in Southern California, so I don’t know how widely it’s distributed.]

CBS: Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, MI.  11.6% ABV.
“CBS” (Canadian Breakfast Stout) is an Imperial Stout brewed with coffee and chocolate, then aged in maple syrup and bourbon barrels.  So let’s get right to it.

CBS pours black with a ¾” light cocoa colored head that fades after about three minutes to a substantial ring around the perimeter and a wisp of foam covering the surface.  The aroma is coffee, chocolate and vanilla.  The flavor is coffee, sweet chocolate, and vanilla, with just a touch of bourbon.  The sweet chocolate is strong mid-palate and early in the aftertaste, then fades to coffee, cocoa and vanilla, followed by notes of maple and bourbon, with a slight bitterness in the lingering aftertaste.  Alcohol is not noted in the flavor.

CBS is medium thick and silky smooth. Carbonation level is low, but enough to prevent this from being syrupy.  The substantial ring and thin covering lasted throughout the session, and it left nice lacing in the tulip glass.

CBS warms up nicely.  The aroma is a little sweeter, with more vanilla and just a touch of alcohol, but coffee remains front and center.  The flavor is also sweeter and very chocolaty.  At no time is alcohol detected in the flavor, but I notice a pleasant warming on the back end as it approaches room temperature.  The aftertaste remains the same.

CBS is excellent.  In fact, I would rate this as a world-class beer.  I liked it so much I bit the bullet and bought another bottle to enjoy on a future occasion.  It’s only available in November and December, so if you want some, you better get off your couch and get over to a discriminating retail outlet to buy yourself a bottle or two (drink one now, age the other one).  As an aside, if you can’t get your hands on a bottle of CBS, look for a six-pack of Founders Breakfast Stout.  It’s an excellent coffee-oatmeal stout (8.3% ABV) at a reasonable price.

I HIGHLY recommend CBS – it’s worth every penny ($24.99 for a 22 oz. bomber at Total Wine).  I also recommend Curly Wolf, with the caveat noted above (get it in the taproom).  It’s not widely distributed, so the possibility of finding it outside of the California Central Coast area is probably slim.  If you do go to the Barrelhouse taproom, be sure to also taste their Mango IPA; it’s delicious (you get thisrecommendation free of charge).

That’s it for now, beer lovers.  Stay tuned for more about beer in the days to come.

Sláinte!

Fundamental Observation & Stickee Monkee

After posting a flurry of beer reviews early this fall, it’s been nearly two months since my last one.  Here are two beers for your consideration this holiday season. Both of these are Special Release beers, so don’t wait too long if you think you might enjoy them.  Please read responsibly!

Fundamental Observation (2018): Bottle Logic Brewing.  Anaheim, CA.  13.2% ABV.
This is a big Imperial Stout, aged with Madagascar Vanilla beans in a blend of four different brands of bourbon barrels.

Fundamental Observation
November 18, 2018

Fundamental Observation pours cloudy black with a ¼” cocoa brown head that immediately fades to a paper-thin ring around the perimeter.  The aroma is SWEET – vanilla, chocolate, brown sugar, caramel and oak.  The flavor is also sweet, featuring vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, dark fruit, raisin, figs, and brown sugar.  The vanilla is very pronounced on the back end, but fades to a nice lingering chocolate and bourbon aftertaste.

This is definitely a sweet one.  The vanilla is prevalent, but not overwhelming or unpleasant.  It tends to balance out the dark grainy bitterness, which would probably be considerable.  Where is the 13.2% alcohol?  It’s not noticeable in the aroma or flavor, but of course my brain detected it in the form of a massive buzz for the afternoon.

As Fundamental Observation warms, the bourbon becomes quite noticeable in the aroma, along with more intense notes of maple, toffee, and brown sugar.  The underlying flavors – chocolate, dark fruit, raisin, brown sugar, and tobacco – deepen, increasing the complexity of this brew.  Alcohol is now noted in the aroma and taste.  The bourbon and vanilla flavors increase late on the palate and in the aftertaste.

The finishing gravity must be fairly high in this beer, as it has a HUGE thick, creamy, silky smooth mouth feel.  It is extremely full bodied with a low carbonation level.  The thick body and mouth feel were my first impressions, even before the intense flavors were noted.

Fundamental Observation is an amazing beer.  It is very reminiscent of Black Tuesday, but without the alcohol “slap-in-the-face.”

Note: Someone brought a bottle of Fundamental Observation and gave it to me at our Beer Appreciation party in September (see Mac’s Brew News, September 17, 2018, for additional information about the Beer Appreciation party).  Unfortunately I don’t remember who brought it.  Whoever gave this to me went WAY beyond thoughtful, and I need to say thank you to that brilliant person.  After I drank the gift bottle (November 18, 2018), I saw Fundamental Observation the next day at Total Wine and bought another.  Truly, this is one of the WORLD’S GREAT BEERS!

Stickee Monkee (2018): Firestone Walker Brewing.  Paso Robles, CA.  11.4% ABV.
According to Firestone Walker, Stickee Monkee is a “Central Coast Quad”.  So what is that?  It’s Firestone Walker’s take on the Belgian Quad style, brewed with Belgian candi sugar, then aged for over a year in bourbon barrels.

Stickee Monkee
November 25, 2018

Stickee Monkee pours dark brown with a very slight medium tan head that immediately fades away (leaving not even a slight ring). The aroma is brown sugar, toffee, and vanilla.  The flavor is sweet, dark fruit, figs, raisins and brown sugar, with nuances of chocolate and coffee.  No alcohol flavors (or aromas) are noted.  The aftertaste, which lingers forever, is vanilla and toffee, with slight notes of tobacco in the late aftertaste.  As Stickee Monkee warms, I note a bit more chocolate, along with some alcohol in the flavor and aroma.

This beer features a thick, heavy body, with a creamy smooth mouth feel.  The carbonation level is very low.

Stickee Monkee is really good beer.  I’m not a big fan of the Belgian style, but this one is different.  I don’t know if it was fermented with Belgian yeast, but I suspect not, as I did not note any of the typical Belgian spiciness.  I think Firestone Walker calls this a Quad because of the Belgian candi sugar among the ingredients.

I highly recommend these beers.  However, both are limited/special releases, so if you’re interested, you really need to look for them right away.  I purchased both of these last week at Total Wine – $23.99 for a 500 ml bomber of Fundamental Observation, and $11.99 for a 12 oz. bottle of Stickee Monkee – but they had limited amounts of both.

There you have it, beer lovers.  Now go and reward yourself with a couple of World Class beers.  Caveat: Fizzy yellow beer drinkers and cheapskates, don’t bother; these aren’t for you.

By the way, this is my 100th post on Macsbrew.com.  I hope you enjoy reading about beer and beer-related subjects.  [How dumb is that?  Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.]  Stay tuned for the next few years and we’ll see if I can make it to 200.  Special thanks to Joel Matulich, who set up this blog for me as a birthday present in 2012. You’re the bomb, Joel!

Sláinte!

Bravo & Punkuccino

I know all of you beer aficionados anxiously await my beer reviews.  What’s not to love about them, huh?  You get my recommendations, which are worth their weight in gold (ok, so my recommendations have no physical weight – they’re still priceless).  Anyway, here are two more reviews for your consumption. Please read responsibly!

Bravo: Firestone Walker Brewing, Paso Robles, CA.  13.2% ABV.
This is Firestone Walker’s bourbon barrel aged Imperial Brown Ale.  It’s unclear to me if it’s an annual release, with very limited availability (see below).

Bravo pours a deep hazy brown with a very slight, light beige head that rapidly fades.  The aroma is sweet, vanilla and bourbon.  The flavor features grainy bitterness, vanilla, and coconut, and then fades to a sweet vanilla, which lingers forever.  The bourbon is well represented in the flavor and aroma of this beer.  As Bravo warms, a nice mild chocolate flavor emerges mid-palate.

This is a heavy bodied beer with a thick, smooth mouth feel.  The carbonation level is medium-light, offering just enough fizz to keep it from being syrupy.

Bravo is all about the bourbon barrel – it’s front and center.  I have to describe this beer as EXCELLENT!  Bravo was released in early 2017, and I bought a bottle at Total Wine in February 2017.  I have tried to find Bravo since I drank the one bottle, but have had no success.  I’m not sure, but this may have been a one time release and unavailable now and in the future.  That’s too bad, because I definitely want more.

Punkuccino: Elysian Brewing, Seattle, WA.  6.0% ABV.
I’m not a pumpkin beer lover, but I try to get a couple of different ones each fall in the spirit of harvest celebration and American beer crafting.  Punkuccino is a Coffee Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing, one of Seattle’s premier breweries.  I bought Punkuccino this week at Total Wine ($8.99 for a 22 oz. bomber), thinking I might possibly like it because it has coffee in addition to pumpkin.

Punkuccino pours clear, dark ruby red (you’ll see the red if you hold the glass up to the light) with a light tan ¼” head that faded after about two minutes.  A very thin ring around the perimeter and slight surface foam remained through most of the session.  It smells like sweet coffee with a dash of pumpkin.

The flavor is sweet pumpkin and spice. Coffee is not noted until the pumpkin pie fades to the aftertaste, which is mostly sweet coffee.  So, how do I describe the flavor?  It’s pumpkin and spice (cinnamon and nutmeg, like pumpkin pie), then it becomes a bit stronger mid-palate, and then the pumpkin fades to sweet coffee, which is very pleasant.

The carbonation is fairly light, as is the body – it’s a bit thin.  But then again, it’s not a stout or a big beer by any means, so I would have to say it’s within the style category parameters.

Well, like I said, I really don’t care for pumpkin ales, so I was wary (but hopeful) when I bought and then drank this beer. This one is mild on the pumpkin pie/pumpkin ale spectrum.  It came in a 22 oz. bomber, so I had a lot of it to drink.  At first I thought I would not buy it again, but the more I drank it, the more I liked it.  The aroma is really enticing.  And for any of you who like Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, you might really enjoy this beer. But what you all want to know is, will I buy this again?  The answer is: probably yes, BUT . . . only one more bomber (after all, I can take only so much Pumpkin Ale).

So what’s the bottom line on Punkuccino?  In my opinion it’s good as far Pumpkin Ales go. If you like those types of autumn beers, this is one you should DEFINITELY try.  [Krissy – you’re the Pumpkin Spice Latte girl; you need to try this. Kevin – I don’t know if you are a Pumpkin Ale drinker, but you really need to support your homeboys on this one; no excuses!!]

Well, that’s it for now, beer lovers.  One of these reviews is probably a bit too late (Bravo), but the other is current and very relevant (Punkuccino), so get out there and support the craft brewing industry.

Sláinte!

Imperial Stout X-Coconut & The Nothing

Greetings, beer drinkers.  Are you getting tired of all these beer reviews?  I hope not, because there’s more to come.  Today I bring you a couple of dark beauties.  As always, I caution you to “please read responsibly!”

Imperial Stout X – Coconut: Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO.  11% ABV.
Boulevard Brewing released a number of special release Imperial Stouts in their Smokestack Series.  Imperial Stout X was the final release in the series.  I had several of the beers in the Smokestack series, and reviewed another one a couple of years ago.

ISX-Coconut is Boulevard’s Smokestack Series base Imperial Stout with coconut added during aging.  This beer is not barrel aged.

ISX-Coconut is a typical Imperial Stout – dark, thick, and sweet.  It pours black with a 2” creamy head of dark tan foam that remains for quite a while before fading to a substantial ring.  The aroma is sweet chocolate, coconut and vanilla.  The flavor leads with bittersweet chocolate and vanilla, then fades to sweet coconut and vanilla that lingers forever.  The carbonation level is low-moderate, and it has a medium to heavy body and mouth feel.  In other words, it’s pretty thick.

As it warms, it sweetens up further. ISX-Coconut has a big flavor profile, which masks the 11% alcohol content remarkably well (but don’t worry, it will quickly get you where you want to go).  In spite of this big, complex flavor, it’s not nearly as burly or as pleasing as some other Imperial Stouts out there, and the coconut flavor is a bit understated.  This is good beer, but not great, and a bit disappointing considering the price.  [Note: Refer to my post of January 5, 2016 for a review of another Smokestack Series Imperial Stout – Tart Cherry Stout.  The review reaches similar conclusions – good, but not great.]

The Nothing: Smog City Brewing, Torrance, CA.  9.3% ABV.
With a name like “The Nothing”, this should be an entirely forgettable beer.  Allow me to dispel that notion.

This beer is named after the evil antagonist from the epic fantasy book/movie, “The Neverending Story”.  The Nothing is described as, “a force of absolute oblivion that erases everything and everyone it touches from existence and leaves no trace whatsoever.” Anyone in its presence is, “compelled to jump into it and meet their doom.” (villians.wiki.com)

The Nothing pours midnight black with a thin cocoa colored head that immediately fades to a thin ring.  The aroma is sweet coffee and chocolate.  The flavor is sweet chocolate with some coffee late on the tongue.  The aftertaste, which lingers quite a while, is a nice, slightly bitter, coffee flavor.

As this one warms, the aroma becomes more chocolate, and less coffee, but remains sweet, maybe even sweeter.  The flavor is all about the chocolate, but the coffee forces its way through in the aftertaste.

The Nothing is thick, THICK, THICK, with a velvety smooth richness and viscosity (90 wt. gear oil comes to mind). The carbonation level is low, which helps to give it that thick mouth feel.  The alcohol level is low-moderate for an American Imperial Stout, but at 9.3%, it’s enough to “git ‘er done” (after ¼ of the bottle, I had a very pleasant buzz).

This beer is (The) Nothing short of amazing. Oh, and I’m sure you’ll agree that The Nothing is appropriately named (admit it now, aren’t you compelled by my review and description to jump into it and meet your doom?).  There are a lot of Imperial Stouts out there, but there’s nothing like The Nothing.

Recommendations
Imperial Stout X – Coconut was a special release and may no longer be available (I purchased it well after the release, and cellar aged it for a while before drinking it).  It’s a good Imperial Stout, but not as good as I would expect from a limited special release beer, especially for the price.  My recommendation is . . . I wouldn’t turn it down if someone gave me a bottle, but I wouldn’t pay for one.

The Nothing is a winter release (500 ml bottles).  Rosie gave me The Nothing for my birthday this year – thank you, Rosie!  I can HIGHLY recommend The Nothing, but be forewarned, it’s not cheap, and not always easy to find.  That just makes it all the more worthwhile in my opinion.  [Note – The Nothing is currently available at Total Wine, $11.99/bottle.]  Caveat: if you’re a cheap bastard or a fizzy yellow beer drinker, don’t bother looking for either of these fine ales.

Well, boys and girls, that’s it for now.  You’ve got all the information you need, so get out there and find yourself some good beer.

Sláinte!

Zombie Dust & Lucille

Hello Beer lovers.  It’s time to learn more about the wide, wide world of beers. Here are a couple of ales that are not widely available on the West Coast, but if you’re travelling and see them, by all means buy them.  Please read responsibly!

Zombie Dust: 3 Floyds Brewing, Munster, Indiana.  6.2% ABV, 50 IBU.
Zombie Dust is a Pale Ale brewed by 3 Floyds Brewing in Indiana.  This beer is very well known and highly sought after, yet it’s difficult to get because it’s not widely distributed (not really available outside of the Midwest). It was rated the 8thbest beer in America in 2018 by the American Homebrewers Association.  I’ve had it on one occasion, which is what generated this review.

Zombie Dust from 3 Floyds Brewing.

There’s a lot of hype and hyperbole surrounding this beer.  Beers that are difficult to come by have a mystique, and they tend to be rated high due to that mystique.  I’m not immune from this phenomenon (see my review of Pliny the Younger in the Macsbrew February 18, 2018 Newsletter for some thoughts on this), so keep that in mind while reading this review.

Zombie Dust pours hazy orange/gold with a ¾” white head that persists for quite awhile.  The aroma is citrus, grapefruit and a bit of orange peel.  The flavor is bitter, grapefruit, pine and apricot. The malt is noticeable in the mouth, although it’s not overly sweet or heavy.  There is a nice lingering bitter apricot aftertaste.

This pale ale is not dry.  As I mentioned, there is a good malt foundation, giving it a slight sweetness (compare to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is much more dry) but no heaviness is noted.  The body is medium with a viscous mouth feel, and the carbonation level is moderate-high. At 50 IBU, this pale ale is actually on the low end of the IPA bitterness scale, but the bitterness is well balanced by the malty sweetness.

Zombie Dust is very good.  It’s definitely one of the better Pale Ales I’ve ever tasted, and I would love to have it again.  That probably won’t happen anytime soon as I have no plans to travel to Indiana in the near future.

Lucille IPA: Georgetown Brewing, Seattle, Washington.  7.2% ABV, 85 IBU.
This IPA pours a hazy, deep golden-yellow color with a white 1” foamy head that remains for a couple of minutes.  The aroma is citrus, apricot and grapefruit.  The flavor is bitter grapefruit and pine resin with some tropical fruit notes.  It goes down pretty dry and bitter, with no maltiness noted.  The aftertaste is grapefruit with a lingering bitterness. Lucille has medium body and mouth feel, with a medium carbonation level.

Overall, Lucille is pretty bitter, yet easy to drink. The relatively high alcohol content is well hidden – I didn’t note it in the taste at all – but is very effective on an empty stomach.  This is a nice IPA in the classic Northwest style.

Lucille, by Georgetown Brewing

Neither Zombie Dust nor Lucille are available in Southern California.  So how did I manage to obtain these two worthy beers?  Zombie Dust was given to me by my young brewing friend, Dave Hollandbeck.  His family lives in Indiana and he makes an annual trek there in March to visit his family and score some Dark Lord from 3 Floyds (for more information on Dark Lord and on Dave Hollandbeck, see my review of Dark Lord, posted June 9, 2015). Dave was kind enough to give me a 12 oz. bottle of Zombie Dust, because that’s the kind of thoughtful young man he is. Cheers Dave!

As for Lucille, Kevin McCaffrey gave me a sixer when we met in February 2018 at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, to indulge ourselves with Pliny the Younger.  [Note: The six-pack of Lucille is LONG gone; my notes for this review are from February 28, 2018.]  Kevin is a thoughtful uncle, who pampers his grateful nephew.  Cheers, Kevin!

I strongly recommend both of these beers.  The trouble for you (and for me as well) is finding them.  If you’re wondering why I bother to review beers that are not readily accessible to you beer lovers who follow this blog, the answer is simple – I love great beer, and when I get my hands on it, even though it’s hard to come by, I feel compelled to pass along the experience.  The solution to this problem is easy: get in your car and drive to these locations (or get in your car, drive to the airport and then fly to these destinations). If you’re not willing to do that, then you’ll just have to taste them vicariously through my descriptions in this blog.  As long as I have relatives like Kevin, and friends like Dave, who so generously give me World Class beers from far away locations, I will graciously accept them, drink them, and review them.

Well beer friends, that’s it for now.  But worry not, more reviews are coming soon.

Sláinte!

Bits & Bobs, and Black Imperial IPA

I’ve been telling you that I have lots of notes on beers I have sampled in the last year, but have not taken the time to post the reviews.  Today I start catching you all up on what’s good to drink out there.  Today it’s two beers from Reuben’s Brews in Seattle. Please read responsibly!

Bits & Bobs: Reuben’s Brews, Seattle WA.  7.0% ABV
“Bits and bobs” is a British term that means “bits and pieces”.  In this case, Reuben’s will be releasing this on a seasonal basis, but it will be different each year, based upon the bits and pieces the brewers have learned since the last release.  This is a review of the 2018 version, released in January 2018.  I drank a bomber of this in early March 2018.  Unfortunately I didn’t realize this was a one-off seasonal, so I apologize for the lengthy delay (it almostmakes this review meaningless and obsolete).  It probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as this is not available outside of the State of Washington.  Since you can’t get this version any longer, I guess my description is just going to have to satisfy you.

Reuben’s Brews Bits & Bobs. Forgive the wine glass – that was the only thing available at The Gosby House in Pacific Grove.

Bits & Bobs is an IPA.  It pours a crystal clear, pale, yellow color with a ½” white head of foam that fades after about a minute, to a thin covering and a ¼” ring. The aroma is citrus – orange, grapefruit and lemon.

The flavor is bitter grapefruit and lemon, but it’s not overly bitter.  Some malty sweetness makes an appearance late on the palate.  The lingering aftertaste is bitter, but not unpleasant.  It’s clean and dry, very crisp for an ale, with medium-light body and moderate carbonation.  This beer is very drinkable.

Black Imperial IPA: Reuben’s Brews, Seattle WA.  8.1% ABV.
Reuben’s calls their Black IPA a Cascadian Dark Ale (in case you’re not aware of it, Cascadian Dark Ale is another style name for Black IPA). This one pours midnight black with a 1” creamy beige head. The aroma is hoppy, with citrus and chocolate notes.

Reuben’s Brews Cascadian Dark Ale

The dark malts predominate in the flavor over the hops, but just slightly so.  It’s roasty and chocolate with slight peppery notes from the rye malt.  The hops kick in mid palate, with citrus and grapefruit bitterness.  It fades to a mellow combination of roasty and bitter, with a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.

The body is medium, which was somewhat of a surprise given the creamy thick appearance of the head.  Carbonation level is medium.

This is an Imperial IPA with the typical bittersweet profile, except the sweetness from the malt is quite subdued.  Instead, roastiness mixes with the hoppy bitterness to create that bitter chocolate citrus flavor that is so common in these Cascadian Dark Ales.  This is one of the better ones – very good!

Mac enjoying a Reuben’s Brews Black Imperial IPA in front of the outdoor fireplace at Mac’s Brew Pub, April 27, 2018.

I can highly recommend both of these beers. Bits & Bobs is released annually in in limited quantities in January and February.  Of course it will taste different each year as the recipe is revised yearly.  Black Imperial IPA is released annually in November and December.  Black IPA’s have faded in popularity and are getting hard to find these days (e.g., Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Black IPA was discontinued a couple of years ago; see my review of SSR posted 11-26-2012).  Get this one while you still can.  It won a gold medal at the 2015 World Beer Cup.

Both of these beers (22 oz. bombers) were given to me by my uncle, Kevin McCaffrey, who lives in Seattle (thank you Kevin for your generosity).  See you on February 6, 2019 at Russian River Brewing.  We’ll have Pliny The Younger again, and raise a toast to The Younger, The Elder, and to Mac’s Brew.

Sláinte!

Underbite Double IPA

Well, I’ve got tasting notes on lots of beers I’ve sampled in the last several months.  Here is one review for your beer drinking pleasure.  Please read responsibly.

Underbite Double IPA: Big Dogs Brewing Company, Las Vegas NV.  8.7% ABV.
In my last newsletter I mentioned this beer, and promised a review, plus the story behind the brew and how it ended up at Mac’s Beer Appreciation party.  Now, I know that was a tease, but here’s the story, and I didn’t make you wait long for it.

On Saturday August 11, 2018, I attended the Festival of Flavors at the Brianhead Resort in Brianhead Utah with my brother, Don Evans.  This was a beer, spirits and wine tasting event (held annually at the resort). There were several Utah breweries in attendance, including Wasatch, Talisman, Squatters, and others.  While there, Don introduced me to his friends, Charlie and Amanda Koeller.  It turns out Amanda is one of the three brewers at Big Dogs Brewing Company in Las Vegas, Nevada.

While talking with Charlie he showed me a photo of his dog, Sorrel, a Bordeaux Mastiff (think Tom Hanks’ dog, Beasley, in the movie Turner and Hooch), and explained that the photo inspired the drawing on the Underbite Double IPA can (which he also showed me a picture of).  With my curiosity piqued, I spoke to Amanda, and immediately formed a bond of friendship when I discovered that she was a brewer at Big Dog’s Brewing Company.

Amanda explained how she came up with the recipe for Underbite IPA the night before it was brewed, putting the finishing touches on the recipe well after midnight.  It was supposed to be a one-off brew, but demand for the beer was very high, and Big Dogs decided to add it to their core line-up.

I told Amanda that I found IPAs difficult to brew exactly how I envisioned them, and was impressed that her first iteration of this brew was spot on and so wildly successful.  Unfortunately, Amanda said Big Dogs beer is not distributed outside of Nevada, so I was not going to be able to get it in California.  Lucky for me however, the story doesn’t end there.

That night, long after the event was over, Amanda and Charlie came over to Don’s cabin in Brianhead and brought Sorrel, along with a couple of Underbite Double IPAs to share.  Although I had already had enough beer for the day, how could I turn down the opportunity to drink this IPA with the designer/brewer and the dog whose face graces the can?  Of course I sacrificed and had a can of Underbite with them (see photo).  I REALLY enjoyed the beer, and Amanda agreed to give Don a case of it to bring to Mac’s Beer Appreciation party.

Amanda Koeller (the brewer), with Sorrel (the inspiration) and Mac, enjoying Underbite Double IPA.

Don proudly served this beer at the party, and it was thoroughly enjoyed.  Fortunately for me, there were several cans left over.  I retained the excess Underbite and have been enjoying it at Mac’s Brew Pub.  Now YOU get to vicariously enjoy this beer through my description, but if you want to taste it for yourself, you’ll have to go to Nevada, or come over to Mac’s before it’s all gone.  NOW, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it . . . but enough of that, here’s what you’ve really been waiting for – the review of Underbite Double IPA

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Underbite pours a slightly hazy straw yellow color with a ½” head that fades after a couple of minutes to a thin ring around the perimeter.  The aroma is tropical fruit, apricot, citrus and lemon.

The flavor follows the nose – citrus, grapefruit, lemon, and pine, with a dry finish and a bitter grapefruit/lemon aftertaste.  The bitterness lingers on the back of the palate.  There is some malty sweetness to this beer, as is typical with a Double IPA, but overall the sensation is bitter and dry.

Underbite has a medium carbonation level with medium body and mouth feel.  The alcohol content is fairly high at 8.7%, but is well hidden, and not noticeable in the flavor.

This beer is very refreshing and easy to drink. It’s a typical bittersweet DIPA, but it leans more toward bitter, less toward the malty end of the style range. One could put a lot of it down on a hot day, but be careful, that high alcohol content could put the hurt on you.

Very well done, Amanda!   And Sorrel, thanks for inspiring her.  I highly recommend this beer.

Underbite Double IPA is available in 12 oz. cans. Unfortunately for most of us, it’s only available in Nevada.  But, next time you go to Las Vegas, pick up a sixer or two and bring it back home with you (and in that case, what happens in Vegas WON’T stay in Vegas).

I normally review more than one beer when I publish beer reviews, but this one got quite lengthy because of the associated story.  Stay tuned, however, I’ll post more beer reviews soon.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – September 17, 2018

Greetings, beer fans.  It’s been way too long, but I will try to catch you up without getting too lengthy.  Please read responsibly!

Well, where to start?  How about an update on a couple of items from the previous newsletter . . .

Maktoberfest– Brewed June 22, 2018.  5.5% ABV, 26 IBU. (Now on tap)
I brew this malty German Märzen each year in late June to have on tap during the Oktoberfest season.  It features a caramel sweet flavor with enough German noble hops to give it some balance.  This is an easy one to like.

Strange Addiction– Brewed May 30, 2018.  12.1% ABV (so far), 78 IBU.
When I last wrote about Strange Addiction in the previous newsletter, it was conditioning in glass carboys on cacao. I finally racked it to the bourbon barrel on Friday September 7, 2018.  It conditioned in the carboys for about 2½ months, which was about a month longer than I had planned, but there’s a good reason for the extensive cacao aging.

At the end of June I was planning to add some fresh bourbon to the barrel for a few weeks to get it ready for the stout. I first thought to fill it with water to confirm that it was watertight.  Good thing I didn’t just put the bourbon in the barrel without checking – that would have been an expensive mistake.  It leaked like a sieve.  Yes, I let it sit dry for too long (I bought the barrel at the end of November, 2017), and who knows how long it had been dry before I got it?  It took me about a week of filling the barrel with water and draining it each day before it was leak-proof.

On July 5, 2017 I finally added the bourbon to the barrel – 1.75 liters of Maker’s Mark (not the good stuff, their lower end bourbon).  I rotated the barrel daily to infuse the entire barrel with fresh bourbon.  I thought the entire amount of bourbon would be absorbed, but it never was, and although I couldn’t really tell how much was still in the barrel, it sounded like a lot when I would slosh it around each morning.  Finally on Friday September 7 I decided enough was enough, and removed the remaining bourbon so I could fill the barrel with beer.  Much to my surprise, there was only 300 ml of bourbon left when I drained it.  [Now, the question is, how much of that 1450 ml was absorbed by the oak, and how much was lost to evaporation.  I can’t know for sure, but I’m thinking most was absorbed, as it wasn’t really in the barrel for that long, and it was well sealed.]

I racked the 15 gallons of Strange Addiction to the barrel and topped it off with the 300 ml of bourbon that I had just removed. I also checked the gravity to see if it had changed at all during the 2½-month conditioning.  I expected no change, as I had not seen any evidence of slow fermentation during that time.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find it had dropped a couple of gravity points to 1.027, which raised the alcohol level to 12.1% ABV.  Now if I can just be patient for a few months and let this beast develop the sweet bourbon and oak notes; that’s not going to be easy.  I’ll start tasting it in early January to assess its progress.

Strange Addiction’s home for the next few months.

Strange Addiction is aging in this “Few Spirits” bourbon barrel

So much for the old news.  Let’s get to the recent stuff.

Hurricane Mac: Brewed July 30, 2018.  7.0% ABV, 110 IBU. (Now on tap)
I’ve brewed numerous IPAs (my own recipes), but not one of them has been to my satisfaction.  Although most of them were pretty good, they just never turned out like I wanted them  . . . until now.  Finally, I nailed an IPA.

Hurricane Mac is a Category 5 Tropical Fruit Hop Storm. It’s a New England style IPA (juicy and slightly hazy), with overwhelming tropical fruit and citrus notes. In spite of the relatively high IBU level (this is per BeerSmith, my brewing software, and I suspect it’s not really that high), I used only 1½ oz. of hops in the boil (12½ gallons volume post-boil).  Instead, I saved most all of my hop additions for whirlpooling and dry hopping – 21 oz. of Citra, Mosaic and Zythos.  It’s not a bitter bomb.  In fact, as I noted, it’s actually a tropical and citrus fruit bomb.  It’s delicious, and very refreshing (but watch out, at 7% alcohol, it can put the hurt on you).

San Andreas Malt: Brew day September 19, 2018.
This is my first attempt at a California Common style lager.  So you’re not sure what that style is?  Think Anchor Steam Beer (thanks to Fritz Maytag for rescuing this style from the dustbin of history when he purchased Anchor Brewing in 1964).  Although this is not a clone of Anchor Steam, I am hoping to get it pretty close – caramel malty, but dry, with noticeable hop bitterness and flavor.

What’s more common in California than earthquakes, huh?  That’s why I’m calling it San Andreas Malt.  We’ll see how it turns out.  I’ll brew in a couple of days, then ferment and condition for several weeks (it’s a lager, so fairly lengthy cold conditioning is required).  This is a collaboration brew with Jeff Nash (he’s been brewing for awhile, but it’s his first foray into all grain brewing).  I should have it on tap in early November.

I put on my annual Beer Appreciation Party on Saturday September 8, 2018 (we missed it last year due to extensive backyard remodeling and construction).  There were about 60 people in attendance.  The theme this year was IPAs.  Sheila and I provided some; several attendees supplied many more. We served samples of 13 different IPAs over the course of the evening – from Anchor’s Liberty Ale (the first post Prohibition American IPA), to Hurricane Mac, to Pliny the Elder (the IPA game changer, and still the IPA standard bearer).

Of note, Don and Donna Evans came from Utah to attend the party, and Rose Evans came from Arizona to attend.  Now that’s a real commitment to beer!  Don brought Underbite Double IPAfrom Big Dog’s Brewing Company in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It’s a double IPA that’s not available in California (or anywhere outside of Nevada).  There is an interesting story behind this beer getting all the way to Mac’s Brew Pub, the brewer, (Amanda Koeller), and the dog who inspired it (Sorrel). I will enlighten all of you when I post a beer review on Underbite Double IPA very shortly.  You won’t want to miss it.

Don Evans (with Mac) presenting Underbite Double IPA at Mac’s Beer Appreciation party, September 8, 2018.

Well, that’s all I have time for right now, and this newsletter is getting longer than I had intended.  Check back real soon, because I plan to post some beer reviews, including the review of Underbite (since I just teased you with a little introduction) in the next few days.

Sláinte!