Mac’s Brew News – June 26, 2018

Greetings beer lovers.  Allow me to impart some wisdom about beer and about Mac’s Brew.  Please read responsibly!

It seems like my last newsletter was ages ago. I’m so sorry for depriving all of you, as I know you have been eagerly anticipating the beer news.  As I stated in the last update, I had not brewed for quite some time.  It ended up being almost five months, but finally I had enough time between vacations that I was able to fire up the brew kettle again on March 7, 2018.  I’ve been on a binge since then, brewing five times in an attempt to catch up.  Before I give you the details about my recent brews, I need to provide a little background so you can appreciate the full story behind the Imperial Stout.

In May, Sheila and I went to the Kentucky Derby with Rose Evans (Sheila’s mother), Don Evans (brother) and Donna Evans (sister-in-law).  You know, this is sort of a bucket list thing, and who wouldn’t want to go to the world’s most famous horse race?  I watch it on TV every year, and we all wanted to go.  So we went to Louisville, attended the Derby and drank mint juleps.

Don, Donna, Rose, Sheila and Mac in Aristides Lounge at the Kentucky Derby

While at Churchill Downs, we hung out a lot in Aristides Lounge and met a fascinating Australian couple, Peter Chapman and Tasia Hull.  Peter owns several thoroughbred racehorses and he came all the way to Kentucky from Australia to attend the Derby.  His most successful horse is “Strange Addiction,” who won numerous races, but is now retired. When Peter told me about this animal’s exploits, I asked him if it would be OK to name a special beer after his special horse.  He agreed of course, and so my newest BIG brew is called “Strange Addiction” (more on that below).

Strange Addiction – Peter Chapman’s racehorse.

Thank you Peter, for allowing me to name this extraordinary beer after your extraordinary horse.  CHEERS, MATE!  [Note: Peter, being a thoroughbred horse owner and involved in the horseracing industry, was much more familiar with horseracing and betting than anyone in our group.  He helped us with tips and information for betting at Churchill Downs on Friday (at the Kentucky Oaks) and Saturday (at the Kentucky Derby).  Thanks so much Peter, your insight was invaluable!]

Don, Mac, and Peter at the Kentucky Oaks, Friday May 4, 2018

Now that you have a little bit of background on one of my latest brews, here’s the lowdown on what’s been happening at Mac’s (probably more than you may want to know).

Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy– Brewed March 7, 2018.  7.8% ABV, 113 IBU
Great name for an IPA, right?  Unfortunately after I decided to name this beer, “Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy” I considered that the name had likely been taken by another brewery already.  Turns out I’m not so clever, and I was right – there was already such a beer. However, as far as I can tell, the brewery (Riverside Brewery & Restaurant) made this beer in 2014, and has since gone out of business (or at least has changed names).  I have found no reference to “Don’t Worry Be Hoppy” IPA since 2014 on Google.  That’s good enough for me – I’ll use the handle for now, but won’t be arrogantly boasting about the clever name of this beer.  [Caveat: you can find lots of merchandise (t-shirts, etc.) on the internet with a “Don’t Worry Be Hoppy” slogan.]

So what about this beer?  It’s a double IPA, my latest recipe makeover for “Smack Down.” This wasn’t just a recipe tweak, however, it was a major overhaul. – that’s why I couldn’t call it “Smack Down” this time. In this case, IPA stands for “India Pale Accident” because it didn’t turn out the way I intended.  I completely changed the hops used in the recipe, which resulted in more of a tropical flavor than a citrus flavor. Although I intentionally went away from the three “C’s” (Cascade, Centennial and Chinook), I didn’t expect to get such a tropical note.  The flavor and aroma is somewhat on the sweet side, with notes of pineapple and melon. At first I was disappointed, not wild about the flavor, but Sheila LOVED it.  She says it is by far the best IPA I’ve ever brewed.  After drinking a couple of pints and realizing DWBH follows the hops profile, I have to say I’m really starting to like this beer. There’s no doubt it’s an IPA as the bitterness is very apparent, but the fruity notes really shine through. Enough said about this one.

Mac’s Apricot Wheat– Brewed April 9, 2018.  6.2% ABV, 15 IBU
My annual summertime fruit beer.  This year it’s apricot.  This is a 10-gallon batch of wheat beer, brewed with German noble hops. It’s just a basic wheat beer recipe; no changes in the last few years.  I split the fermentation into two 5-gallon batches to make an American style wheat beer, then added the apricot to one of the fermenters late during the fermentation.  The result is a very light and refreshing wheat beer with a strong (but not overwhelming) apricot presence.

Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen– Brewed April 9, 2018.  6.2% ABV, 15 IBU
This is the other 5-gallons from the wheat beer brew day.  I used a German hefeweizen yeast to get this Bavarian classic with the necessary banana-clove notes.  I have this on tap every summer at Mac’s Brew Pub.

The Apricot Wheat and the Bavarian Hefeweizen are both great “lawn mowing” beers – light, easy-drinking, refreshing and not too high in alcohol.  I usually have the hefeweizen after I mow the lawn on these hot summer days (twice a week from June thru September – no, this beer won’t last that long, nor will the Apricot Wheat, but it sure is nice while it lasts).

 Goldihops (And the Free Beers)– Brewed May 11, 2018.  5.1% ABV, 13 IBU
This is another summertime stand-by.  This is one of the only beers for which  I have never changed the recipe since the first time I brewed it.  Of all the beers I brew, this is the biggest crowd pleaser, and the keg that empties the quickest.  It’s brewed with honey (for this batch I used Orange Blossom honey), sweet orange peel and coriander seed, for a subtle orange/citrus aroma and flavor.   This year I collaborated with a terrific young man, Johnny Bryant.  Johnny has been brewing for over 20 years, so I had to make sure to bring my “A” game to brew day – can’t embarrass Mac (the arrogant and condescending beer geek who talks like a man with a paper asshole), right?  Anyway, it was a real pleasure to brew with such a pleasant young man.  I hope you’re enjoying Goldihops, Johnny.

Strange Addiction– Brewed May 30, 2018.  11.8% ABV (final ABV is TBD), 78 IBU
This is the monster of Mac’s Brew.  I didn’t mention in previous newsletters that I bought a 15-gallon bourbon barrel in November 2017.  That means I needed to brew a 15-gallon batch of beer to age in said barrel.  Well, Strange Addiction is that beer.  This is the same base recipe I have used the last couple of years to brew Wide Awake Drunk (see previous newsletters for more on Wide Awake Drunk).  However, in order to make this an Imperial Stout (that just means REALLY big) I use a 10-gallon grain bill to make a 5 gallon batch. That’s not so easy to do on my 10-gallon system, so I bought a larger mash tun and then brewed a double batch on brew day.

So, what is it like to brew a double batch on brew day?  I have been putting this off for several months because I knew it was going to be a BIG job.  I talked a lot to my good friend and homebrewer extraordinaire, Bryce Lowrance, to get some ideas on how to shorten and make brew day go smooth, as he also bought a 15 gallon bourbon barrel and brewed an Imperial Stout to fill it (Thanks, Bryce, your input was invaluable!!!).  Alright, to answer the question I posed in the first sentence of this paragraph, it was the longest, hardest brew day of my life.

I started at 5:30 AM, and finished at 11:00 PM that night.  And even at that, I wasn’t really completely done, as all of my equipment was (mostly) clean, but not put away (that took a couple of hours the following day).  So what about the wort I made that day? [Not sure what “wort” is? – refer to “Terms and Definitions”, published in this blog on May 4, 2012.]  Original Gravity (see “Term and Definitions”) was 1.117. Final Gravity was 1.029 (for 11.8% ABV). It’s currently conditioning in glass carboys on cacao nibs to increase/accentuate the chocolate notes. I tasted it when I racked it from the fermentor to the conditioning carboys – it’s really good, although a bit boozy right now.

After about a month or so in the carboys, I will transfer it to the bourbon barrel, where it will age for several months. How long?  Well, that will be determined by taste, as the beer matures in the barrel.  With the bourbon absorption from the barrel, I anticipate the final ABV will be somewhere between 13% – 14%.  Stay tuned.

15+ gallons of Strange Addiction – Mac’s Imperial Oatmeal Stout.

This beer was a lot of work!!  Was it worth it?  That remains to be seen, but I’m confident it’s going to turn out very well. I will say this however, it’s going to be a long time before I undertake another endeavor like this again (a double batch in one day).  Now that should make Mrs. Mac very happy!

Note: A shout out and special Thank You again to Bryce Lowrance.  As I mentioned, he is a very talented homebrewer.  So much so that he is going pro.  He has accepted a position as head brewer for Far Field Beer Company, a start-up brewery in Los Angeles.  Congratulations Bryce!  I’m wishing you and Far Field Beer Company all the best in this endeavor.  I’m sure you will be a great success, and I hope to be there on opening day to sample your beer!

Maktoberfest– Brewed June 22, 2018.  ABV – TBD, 26 IBU.
My annual Märzen (Oktoberfest) brew.  No recipe change on this one; I think it’s dialed in.  Malty, sweet, with German noble hops.  It’s currently fermenting and progressing as expected.  This will be on tap in late August or early September.  I’m going to have 10 gallons for myself, so maybe you all should stop by for a pint or two.

Well, so much for the beer I’ve been brewing the last few months.  Keeping in mind that this newsletter is already too long, let me mention (briefly) a couple of other newsworthy items.

  • I hope to remodel the pub in the next month or two. I hope I can find the time.
  • I recently got some new equipment; I know I’m a beer geek, but this is really exciting stuff!More about this in another newsletter.
  • I’m not sure what to brew next, but I’m thinking of a couple of other lagers – a schwartzbier (black lager – think Köstritzer) and a Vienna lager (think Samuel Adams Boston Lager).
  • Sheila (Mrs. Mac) REALLY deserves special recognition for putting up with me and all the brewing/beer activity here. She really is a keeper (I love you sweetheart!).

Well, that’s it for now.  I have so many pages of notes about beers I’ve sampled that I really need to get to writing/posting those beer reviews.  So sorry to deprive you beer lovers of this critical information; please forgive.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – February 18, 2018

GREETINGS, BEER AFICIONADOS. The holidays are over, and I’ve been on two vacations since the beginning of 2018. Now it’s time to bring you some beer wisdom. Please read responsibly!

I haven’t brewed since October (Lights Out, black IPA). I was too busy with our outdoor fireplace project and then the holidays. In mid-January, we went to Italy and Spain for a couple of weeks, then the first week of February I went to Santa Rosa to score some Pliny the Younger. I’m hoping to brew in the next couple of weeks. I really need to get going because I’m running out of beer at Mac’s (only 4 beers on tap right now, with two taps empty and a third nearly empty).

Ok, so what about Italy and Spain? Sheila and I were on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, with stops in Italian and Spanish ports of call. We were travelling with Rose, Don and Donna Evans.

Well, the beer scene there leaves much to be desired. There is a well known craft brewery in Northern Italy (Baladin), but we never made it to the north, and I was unable to find Baladin anywhere in Tuscany, Rome, or Southern Italy, including Sicily. The beer was pretty much limited to Peroni and Birra Moretti (both are so-so, uninspiring lagers available stateside; don’t waste your time – I didn’t). Heineken was also widely available. Now if you’re looking for wine, that’s a different story – it’s everywhere, and it’s very good. I much prefer red wine, with it’s more complex and robust flavor, to white, and I certainly had my fill of it in Italy.

On board the ship, they had a great black lager (Köstritzer, 4.8% ABV), a porter (Carnegie Porter by Carlsberg, 5.5% ABV) and a Belgian double amber (Grimbergen Dubbel Ambree, 6.5% ABV), so I was able to have some good beer for part of the trip. My go to beer on board was Köstritzer, but I also drank the Carnegie Porter on occasion. Don (my brother-in-law) and Sheila drank the Grimbergen almost exclusively (it was good, but not my style). Donna stuck with a light colored draft Pilsner (I believe it was Carlsberg). Note: Donna – we gotta coach you up and expand your horizons; there’s a lot of good beer out there waiting for you to sample.

In Spain the beer situation is a little better, but still underwhelming. San Miguel brews some decent beer, but doesn’t offer much variety. In Madrid I drank some Cruzcampo Gran Reserva. It was a good (not great) amber lager that had a little more flavor than a typical pilsner. I had never heard of Cruzcampo, but have since learned it is Spain’s largest beer producer. This Gran Reserva was the best beer I found in Spain, but I don’t plan on looking for it at home.

Mac and Don having a San Miguel and tapas in Madrid. January 26, 2018

Now let’s talk about some real beer. On February 5, 2018, I left home on a pilgrimage to Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California, in order to secure some Pliny the Younger – a triple IPA. This beer is consistently rated among the top five beers in the world. It is brewed once a year and is served on tap only, beginning the first Friday of February and for two weeks thereafter. There are a VERY few locations in Orange County where this wonderful beer is also available during this time, but the waiting lines are prohibitively long, so I have never tried.

If you want to get some PTY at Russian River, plan on going to the brewery during those two weeks in February, and waiting in line for a couple of hours (or up to 6 – 8 hours on the weekend). I went with my father, Bob Waddell, and met my uncle, Kevin McCaffrey (from Seattle, WA), and cousin, Jordan Schiller, at Russian River Brewing.

Mac, Kevin, Bob and Jordan waiting in line at Russian River Brewing. February 7, 2018

Going to Santa Rosa and drinking PTY was a bucket list thing for me, and is something Uncle Kevin and I have been talking about doing for 3 – 4 years now. After driving over 500 miles and waiting in line for more than two hours, I must say the reward (three ½ pints of PTY) was worth all the effort, and I will definitely do it again in the future. Pliny the Younger is marvelous!

Mac and Jordan drinking Pliny the Younger at Russian River. February 7, 2018

If you’re an IPA lover and have ever had Pliny the Elder, you know how good it is and how loaded it is with juicy citrus flavors. We shared a pint of Pliny the Elder to taste alongside our Pliny the Younger. Although PTE itself is a hard and hoppy punch in the mouth, it tasted washed out compared to PTY. I say that to say this: If you like Pliny the Elder, you’re gonna love Pliny the Younger. You just gotta have some. It’s hoppy and bitter, but has a huge malt foundation that sweetens the bitterness and creates a very complex IPA. The hoppiness is bigger than PTE, but I would also say it’s more balanced due to the increased maltiness. The body is also heavier, thicker and smoother, lending additional complexity to the brew. The ABV is 10.25%, compared to PTE, which is 8.0%. The higher alcohol is not prevelant in the flavor, but is definitely warming in the throat and thus is more noticeable. If you’re and IPA lover, this beer is a dream come true.

Bob and Kevin raising a glass of Pliny the Younger at Russian River Brewing. February 7, 2018

After heaping all this praise on Pliny the Younger, in all fairness, I must ask myself, “Do I rate it so highly due to the ‘mystique’ surrounding the beer?”

  • Is it really that good, or am I responding to all the hype, the difficulty obtaining it, and the time and effort involved?
  • Would I rate it so highly if it was easy to obtain (like, for example, Lagunitas IPA)?
  • If I didn’t know that it is annually rated among the greatest beers in the world, would I still gush over it?

Of course my answer is only speculation, but I believe I’m being objective when I heap all the afore mentioned praise on Pliny the Younger, and when I say it is definitely as good as advertised, possibly even better. I have an idea . . . why don’t you go to Russian River Brewing next February, have some PTY and decide for yourself. Then you can be the judge.

Well, I need to close out this newsletter before it gets so long that you lose interest. I need to come up with a recipe for my next brew (an IPA), and spend some time posting more beer reviews. Sooooooooo, that’s it for now, but check back soon for more of Mac’s beer wisdom. Better yet, subscribe to Macsbrew.com now and you’ll be notified whenever a new post is added.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – December 18, 2017

Greetings, beer lovers. Sorry I’ve been away so long. I have been busy with some backyard remodeling projects. These projects have cut into my time for blogging and brewing. Now that I have a little time, I’ll catch you up on what’s developing at Mac’s Brew Pub. Please read responsibly!

Rob Gundling is a friend of mine; he also owns Phantom Ales in Anaheim. Phantom Ales is a small craft brewery and homebrew supply shop (best prices around for brewing supplies!!). Rob sampled Fat Ass in a Glass and liked it enough that he requested the recipe in order to brew it at Phantom Ales. I gave him the recipe with the proviso that he allow me to participate on brew day.

Rob and I brewed a 3-barrel batch of Fat Ass on August 9, 2017.   It finished at 12.2% ABV and was on tap at Phantom about a month later. Rob chose to name it “Duck Waddle” (c’mon Rob, “Fat Ass in a Glass” is a great name for a big beer – but you’re running a business, so I get it). I brought a bottle of Fat Ass to Phantom so Rob and I could sample it along side of Duck Waddle. They tasted very similar, although there were some subtle differences. I thought Duck Waddle was very good (though it would have benefited from some aging), and it sold out in a couple of months. I don’t know if he will ever brew it again, but let’s hope he does.

Thanks, Rob! I appreciate that you were willing to take the chance and brew this recipe. And to any of you homebrewers in North Orange County who are not purchasing your supplies at Phantom Ales, you’re paying too much.  Oh, and the beer is very good too, so get on over there for some good times. ( http://phantomales.com)

One of the backyard projects I just recently completed was a barbeque island. The island includes a two-tap Perlick kegerator. I have reserved this kegerator for nitrogen dispensing – that means I will be pretty much limiting it to stouts and big beers. I have to say, it’s really cool to have nitrogen beers at home. That dispensation adds so much character to certain beer styles.

Well, I currently have 6 beers on tap at Mac’s Brew Pub, although I haven’t brewed anything for two months (too busy). Here is what’s currently being served.

Maktoberfest – Brewed 06-23-2017. 5.3% ABV
I brewed 10 gallons, and am currently on the second keg (5 gallons). It’s delicious and much in demand.

Smack Down – Brewed 08-19-2017 7.9% ABV (123 IBU)
I brewed this in collaboration with Dave Hollandbeck. This is a completely revised recipe. I cut way back on the crystal malts and changed the hop varietals, leaving this version much less malty sweet, and more citrusy. It’s the best Smack Down I have brewed, but still is not where I want to take it. More revisions to come.

Goldihops (and the Free Beers) – Brewed 07-24-2017. 5.5% ABV
I brewed 10 gallons with my neighbor, Barry Pulis – 5 gallons for the neighborhood block party, and 5 gallons for Mac’s Brew Pub. Same old recipe. The keg lasted about two hours at the block party, and the keg at Mac’s is almost empty.

Lights Out IPA – Brewed 10-22-2017. 7.3% ABV (122 IBU)
This Black IPA is a collaboration brew with Bryce Lowrance, a talented and award winning young brewer whom I am proud to call my friend. This is Bryce’s recipe, and I gotta say it’s a keeper. It’s got the roasty and slight chocolaty notes of a small stout, but with the hoppiness of an IPA.

This style (Black IPA) was quite popular a few years ago, but has kind of lost some of its following. It’s not as widely available as it once was. When Bryce offered his recipe for our collaboration, I jumped on it. It turned out wonderful – slightly sweet and roasty, but without the grainy bitterness of a typical stout.  Then add lots of hop character, and it’s a great flavor sensation. Good job Bryce!

Phat Head – Brewed 06-03-2017. 11.7% ABV.
This is my chocolate coconut imperial oatmeal stout. I brewed this in early June, then conditioned it for four months. I added the toasted coconut when I kegged it in mid-October. It’s on nitrogen in my outside kegerator.

This beer is REALLY good! Very chocolaty and thick like a milkshake. The coconut flavor was very pronounced, but faded after about a month (when it was first put on tap, it was like drinking a mounds candy bar). I toasted another ½ lb. of coconut and added it to the keg a week ago. I plan to leave it in the keg for another week to infuse additional coconut flavor, and am hoping that it will stand up to extended keg storage.

Wide Awake Drunk – Brewed 09-30-2017. 5.4% ABV
This is my annual coffee stout brew. This year I brewed it in collaboration with Martin and Marty Gilberstadt. I think this is my third collaboration with Gilberstadts – it’s always such a pleasure to brew with these guys.

Wide Awake Drunk is also on nitrogen. As always, I added cold brewed “Black House” coffee from Modern Times Brewery/Coffee Roastery. There’s a reason why I keep brewing the same recipe year after year without revision – it’s really good. This year however, it’s better than usual because it’s on nitrogen. Thick and creamy from the oatmeal and nitrogen, it’s like a mocha latte. Come over to Mac’s and get some if you have the time.

Well, that’s what’s on tap at Mac’s right now. If any of these sound appealing to you, come on down to Mac’s Brew Pub for a pint (or six). Unfortunately, with the backyard projects (not quite done yet), the holidays, and upcoming travel plans, I’m not going to be able to brew again until late February. That means I’m going to end up with empty faucets on my kegerator before I have more beer available. It also probably means I won’t have anything to enter into any homebrew competitions in 2018. Oh well, such is Mac’s plight. So much for being retired and having all the time in the world. . .

That’s about all I have time for this newsletter. And I know you’re glad, because you have only so much time for reading superfluous drivel such as this. I have numerous beer reviews to publish, but I have to find the time. I promise to get to that real soon. That’s it for now. Christmas is one week from today, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Sáinte!

Mac’s Brew News – July 5, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!!

Well, it’s been way too long since I posted a newsletter.  I was kept busy with the Vendome Beer Panel, and couldn’t seem to find the time to compose a newsletter.  I don’t know what happened with Vendome, but they haven’t had a beer panel in a couple of months.  During that time I’ve kept busy brewing . . .

I provided the beer for Nathan Roberts’ wedding reception on May 13, 2017.  I brewed a Pale Ale (I originally called it “Prothalamion Pale Ale”, but eventually settled on “Hoppy Wedding Day”) and a Honey Blonde Ale (“Honeymoon Sweet”).  I was honored to brew the Beer for Nathan and Nicole’s wedding, and received nothing but positive feedback.  Unfortunately, I ended up with very little beer at Mac’s because it all went to the event. The good news is I brewed two wheat beers a few weeks before the wedding, and  I have brewed three batches since then (see below).  It’s good to have lots of beer at MBP again.

I recently bought a counterflow wort chiller, hoping to speed up and simplify the wort cooling process.  So far it has done just the opposite of what I wanted.  It’s more time consuming and complicated, and uses more cooling water than the immersion chiller system I was previously using.  So far it’s proving to be a costly mistake, but I’m hoping I can figure out some way to make it more efficient.

I entered three beers in the American Homebrewers Association national competition – Fat Ass in a Glass, Wide Awake Drunk and Paper Ass Pale Ale.  This competition is so large (just under 9000 entires this year) that I did not expect any of my beers to progress past the first round, but was hoping to score well and get judges comments to help me improve my brews.

All three scored quite well, but Wide Awake Drunk and FAIG scored extremely well.  In fact, Wide Awake Drunk scored higher than any beer I’ve ever entered into competition (including two second place winners at the OC Fair in years past), but it was entered into the most crowded category of the competition.  FAIG scored just two points lower than WAD.  I received very positive feed back on both entries.

I decided to enter those two beers into the OC Fair Homebrew Competition as well.  I haven’t received my score sheets yet, but I was notified that Fat Ass in a Glass won first place in it’s category (same category entered in the national competition, Strong English Ale).  So my uncle, Kevin McCaffrey, was apparently right – after consuming a glass of Fat Ass, he commented it could very well be called, “Fine Ass in a Glass.”  Thanks for the kind words, and vote of confidence, Kevin!  The blue ribbon validates your observations and opinion, and I’ve been gloating for several days now.

So what am I serving at Mac’s Brew Pub these days?  I’m glad you asked.  It’s summertime, and we have summertime beers available right now

Anchor Steam Beer – When I had only two of four taps dispensing beer (because of the wedding), I had to buy a commercial keg to increase the selections.  Anchor Steam Beer is a “no brainer” when it comes to deciding what to put on tap.  Although not technically a summertime beer, it’s a light and refreshing lager, the beer that launched the craft beer revolution in the mid 1960’s.  It’s been on tap here since June 1st, and is running low.  Fortunately I have something to take it’s place when it runs out later this month.

Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen – My go-to refreshing “lawn mowing” beer.  I never get tired of this one.

Mac’s Cherry Wheat – I alternate cherry wheat and apricot wheat for my fruit beer selection each summer.  This year it’s cherry.  This beer and the hefeweizen listed above, were brewed in the same batch, but fermented separately with different yeast in order to get drastically different flavors (then cherry was added to the one to get cherry wheat).  This is really thirst quenching and refreshing.

Aeronautical Amber Ale – As the name implies, you’ll be soaring with pleasure when you drink this one.  I haven’t brewed this recipe in at least two years, but on May 26, I brewed this with Rick Pullen, Reid Pulled and Mike Pierson.  I changed the recipe just a little because they don’t like their beer as hoppy as I do.  It tastes just a bit more malty, and not as bitter as previous renditions, BUT I think I actually like it better this way.  It’s more true to the American Amber Ale style, and is really delicious.

Chocolate Coconut Imperial Oatmeal Stout – I brewed this on June 3; it’s still in the secondary fermenter with cacao.  Last time I checked, it was 9.6% ABV.  I plan to age this for a few months before kegging and adding the coconut.  It should be on tap in September.

Maktoberfest – Ah yes, my annual Oktoberfest lager.  I brewed this on June 23.  It’s still in the fermenter, where it will stay for another couple of weeks.  This will be on tap late August or early September.

Goldihops (and the Free Beers) – To be brewed in a few weeks.  Half of the batch (5 gal) will go to our annual neighborhood block party.  The other half will be on tap here.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Vendome.  There hasn’t been a beer panel since late April.  I’m not sure if they plan to resume the beer panel, or if it’s run it’s course and is finished.  I enjoyed the opportunity to serve on the panel and assess the many fine beers they provided.  A huge THANK YOU to Vikki Dawson at Vendome Wine and Spirits!

Well folks, that’s it for now.  Fat Ass in a Glass is nearly gone, so you better get over to Mac’s Brew Pub real soon if you want a bottle.

Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – March 12, 2017 (Farewell to Valiant Brewing)

Well folks, this is just a quick note to pass on some sad news . . .

I heard at church this morning that Valiant Brewing in Orange, California, is closing it’s doors at the end of this month (March, 2017).  After hearing the rumor, I went home and checked on line to confirm.  Unfortunately, the news is true.

Valiant brewing, after 4 years in business in Orange, California, is permanently closing it’s doors at the end of March.  That’s really unfortunate, as they truely are one of the great breweries in Orange County.  The owner/head brewer, Brian Schroepfer, opened Valiant on February 13,2013.  I went to the tasting room late that same year (2013) and was immediately impressed.  Their quality and selection has improved since then to become what it is today.  One of their IPAs, Citcoe Drive, was proudly served at my annual beer tasting party in September 2016.  Really good stuff!

Unfortunately, Brian refused to consider outside investors for his brewery (I understand, Brian – you could lose control of your creativity, your dream, and your “manifest destiny”).  If you ever read this, Brian, understand that I would have invested money with no strings attached, just to keep your brewery doing what it does so well (brewing great beer).  When I found out you were closing, my wife suggested that I buy Valiant Brewing.  I don’t think I would have done it, but that’s irrelevant, as the equipment was already sold.

After getting this sad news, I immediately went down to Valiant Brewing with Bob Waddell and Russ Matulich to have some excellent beer this fine Sunday afternoon.  After a Coconut Imperial Brown Ale and a Chernny Medved with coffee (Chocolate/Cherry/Coffee Imperial Russian Stout), and a few sips of California Gloom (a New England style IPA), I left with a growler of the Coconut Brown Ale.  It doesn’t get any better than this!

To Brian Schroepfer and Valiant Brewing, a sincere thanks for 4 years of “blood, sweat and beers.”  You will be sorely missed, but never forgotten!!

Mac, Russ and Bob at Valiant Brewing
March 12, 2017

Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – January 7, 2017

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Happy New Year to all you beer lovers (and those of you who aren’t beer lovers, but have the good sense to read this blog)!  I hope you had a good holiday season and are ready to face the new year.  I have a little news to pass along, so relax and enjoy these insights, along with a glass of beer.  Please read responsibly!

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I had surgery in mid October, so I was unable to brew in September and October.  I resumed in mid-November, but because of the brewing gap, I ran out of Mac’s Brew right after Thanksgiving.  That’s right, there was no beer on tap for a short time, but the problem has since resolved, with two ales currently on draught.

Fat Ass in a Glass: Brewed 08-13-2016.  10.5% ABV
Fat Ass is HUGE.  It’s a very malty English style Barley Wine, with a high alcohol content.  I kegged this beer on 12-21-16, after a 3 month conditioning period that really helped to smooth it out and mitigate the alcohol taste.  This is very good – quite malty and a little sweet, with just enough hops to give it some balance and keep it from being syrupy.  The alcohol is noticeable in the flavor, but is not harsh or unpleasant – it provides a nice warming sensation (and of course, it will easily get you where you want to go).

Now, this is not an everyday beer.  In fact, it’s a sipping beer, perfect for consuming on cold evenings, or lazy Sunday afternoons.  It’s on tap now, so stop by Mac’s Brew Pub for a glass.  After all, who can resist a beer called “Fat Ass in a Glass”?

Wide Awake Drunk: Brewed 11-15-2016.  5.0% ABV
This is the second time I have made Wide Awake Drunk, a coffee stout.  I brewed it in collaboration with Sam Simpson, a talented brewer I met through our mutual friend Dennis Bauer (Dennis is not a brewer, but he is a beer connoisseur, and likes Mac’s Brew, which makes him an all around fine fellow).

I experimented with this one a bit.  Sheila had some very aromatic herbal tea, “Caramel Almond Amaretti”, that had a wonderful coconut, almond aroma.  The flavor followed the aroma, but was more subdued.  I decided to include 6 oz. of this tea in the cold brewed coffee concentrate before adding the mixture to the finished beer.  I added a portion of the resulting coffee/tea brew to the beer, but it didn’t turn out as expected, or to my liking.  I ended up cold brewing a little more “Black House” coffee and adding that to the mix to bring up the coffee aroma and flavor.  The caramel and almond aroma is pleasant, with mild notes in the flavor, but the almond flavor is a little “imitation” tasting, which is disappointing.  After a couple of weeks, the tea flavors have mellowed and the coffee is now more prevalent along with the cocoa flavor.  I think it’s very good, if not a little unusual, but I prefer this one without the tea.

Mac’s PAPA: Brewed 12-17-2016.  Estimated ABV – 6%
Ah yes, the old stand by, Paper Ass Pale Ale.  I collaborated with Martin and Marty Gilberstadt on this brew (we previously collaborated on Red Headed Step-Child; see Mac’s Brew News – January 10, 2015).  This recipe is dialed in, so no changes from the last time I brewed it (about a year ago).  It’s dry hopping right now, and should be on tap in about 10 days.

Smack Down (Generation III): To be brewed 01-21-2017.
I will be collaborating with Dave Hollandbeck on this Imperial IPA.  I am going to drastically revise the recipe from the last time I brewed this (August 2016).  The grain bill will remain the same, but I will change the hops to give this a very different flavor profile.  It seems like I change this every time I brew it.  Eventually I’m going to get it just right.

In my last news letter, I mentioned the QuickCarb keg carbonator I had recently purchased.  I used it for “Fat Ass in a Glass” and “Wide Awake Drunk” a couple of weeks ago.  What a great device!  In one afternoon, I kegged and carbonated both beers, and was serving them that evening.  What will they think of next?

My friend and neighbor, Barry Pulis, has a kind hearted brother, Randy, who is a beer connoisseur, and therefor a friend of mine.  Randy gave me a bottle of “Black Tuesday”, from The Bruery, for Christmas.  This gift is way beyond generous – it’s very expensive; it’s very hard to come by; and it’s the best beer in the world (my opinion).  I will be drinking this with Bob Waddell and Mike Matulich in a few days to celebrate USC’s Rose Bowl victory over a very good Penn State team on January 2, 2017 (the three of us attended the game and are just now catching our breath).  Thank you, Randy and Barry.  I REALLY appreciate your thoughtfulness.  You’re always welcome at Mac’s Brew Pub, where the beer is (usually) plentiful and the conversation always engaging!

Well, that’s it for now.  I have several Beer Reviews I need to publish, so check back soon.  Oh, and come by Mac’s Brew Pub for a pint or two.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – October 14, 2016

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It’s been three months since my last news letter.  Sorry for the delay.  Here is the latest news from Mac’s Brew.  Please read responsibly.

I have brewed two batches since my last report – both in August.  I was too busy in September (plus the fermenter was in use for the first three weeks with the IPA I brewed at the end of August), and now I am recovering from surgery a few days ago, so I won’t be brewing again until November.  The good thing is I have enough beer to last for awhile, so I shouldn’t run out here.

Maktoberfest: Brewed 06-23-2016; 5.1% ABV
Same recipe as last year with no revisions.  And like last year, it’s REALLY good.  Strong malty caramel notes with German noble hops give this the classic Märzen (Oktoberfest) flavor.  I allowed for an extensive lagering period (5 weeks) and then kegged 10 gallons on August 19, 2016.  I have already drained 1 keg while sharing this wonderful beer with family and friends (I served it at our annual beer appreciation party, and took growlers to our neighborhood block party, my Beer & Brats event in early October, and my Brother-In-Law (Don) in Utah, and sent bombers to Kevin McCaffrey in Seattle.  I’m glad that I still have enough to last until Thanksgiving.

Fat Ass in a Glass: Brewed 08-13-2016; 10.3% ABV
This is an English style barley wine.  I used the Baby Luke’s Barley Wine recipe with several revisions, to brew this.  I decided to forgo the bourbon barrel aging in order to properly assess the base recipe this time.  Big beers are notoriously hard to brew.  I learned a lot when I brewed Baby Luke’s Barley Wine two and a half years earlier, and incorporated that knowledge into this brew.  This is where keeping lots of data and good notes pays dividends.

This beer is so big that its name is well deserved, “Fat Ass in a Glass.”  It is currently in the tertiary fermenter, conditioning until mid-December.  I tasted a sample when I racked to the secondary fermenter – very much the flavor of a barley wine, but quite harsh from the high alcohol content.  I also tasted a very small sample when I moved it to the tertiary vessel (09-27-2016).  The harshness had subsided somewhat, but it was still in need of further conditioning.  I hope to be drinking this by Christmas.

SmackDown (Generation II); Brewed 08-26-2016; 7.8% ABV
I have brewed this IPA many times, revising the recipe a little each time.  It’s getting closer to where I want it, but it’s not quite perfected yet.  This version was brewed in collaboration with Mike Matulich, so we each have 5 gallons in our kegerators.

SmackDown is an Imperial IPA.  The high alcohol content is well hidden behind the huge “punch-in-the-face” hoppy aroma and flavor.  It’s 96 IBU, which places it in the middle of the IBU range for the style category.  It’s bitter, but not overly so, and is easy to drink (if you like IPA’s).  The huge hoppy aroma and flavor derive from the extensive hopping during the post boil hop stand (Citra and Cascade) and the dry hopping regimen (11+ oz. of Columbus, Amarillo and Citra hops in 11 gallons of beer).  It really does smack you down with hoppiness (have I ever mentioned that I like hoppy beers?).  The one disappointment is how hazy this beer is; I believe that is a direct result of the extensive dry hopping.

Orange County Fair update: As previously mentioned in the July 18, 2016 newsletter, Goldihops (my blonde ale) won 2nd place in the American Pale category (blondes and pale ales) at the Orange County Fair homebrew competition.  I have now received my judging sheets from the OC Fair.  All four of my entries scored very well (Goldihops, SmackDown, Mac’s PAPA, and Nutcase) and I received lots of very positive comments.

I recently purchased a QuickCarb keg carbonator by Blichman Engineering.  I used it for the first time last week when I carbonated SmackDown.  I can now do in 45 – 60 minutes what used to take me 6 days to accomplish (carbonate a keg of beer).  This device is easy to use and is very effective.  Is it necessary?  No.  Is it worth the money? Yes, without a doubt; no longer do I have to wait a week for carbonated beer.  It’s not cheap, but it’s not overly expensive either, so In my opinion, it’s worth the cost ($180).  My compliments to Blichman Engineering – they consistently design and manufacture high quality equipment for homebrewers.

I have several collaboration brews lined up for the near future.  I just need to finish my recovery so I can get back to brewing.

Well, beer lovers, that’s it for now.  Stop by Mac’s Brew Pub for a pint or two if you get the chance.  There’s plenty of beer on tap.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – July 18, 2016

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Greetings to all you Mac’s Brew followers.  It’s time to share the latest news from Mac’s Brew Pub.  Please read responsibly.

I’ve been on vacation, and busy with exterior home remodeling.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the brewery is being neglected.  Au contraire, there is much to report and update.  Mac’s Brew is continuing to put out great beer and will soon be brewing even more great and unique beer.

Recalcitrant Redhead: Brewed 05-07-2016; 7.7% ABV / 113 IBU
This beer is an Imperial Red IPA, brewed in collaboration with Dave Hollandbeck.  The aroma is hoppy with strong flowery, citrus notes (grapefruit and orange). The flavor is surprisingly well balanced for an IPA with this much hopping. The initial sensation on the palate is bitterness, but that rapidly changes to sweet from the heavy doses of Crystal, Melanoiden and Special B malts. The sweetness fades to a bitter aftertaste that lingers for some time. The body is well developed and pleasant in the mouth.

This is a pretty complex beer. The color is right for a Red IPA, but the thickness and residual sweetness might be a little high for the style. However, there is no doubt this is an IPA – both the bitterness and hoppy aromas/flavors demand one’s full attention and acceptance of the categorization. At the end of the day, one is left with a bitter taste in the mouth that lingers forever.  There, now, doesn’t that description make you want to stop by for a pint?

Mac’s Apricot Wheat: Brewed 06-06-2016; 5.8% ABV
I’ve brewed this beer before (last time in 2014), but altered the recipe ever so slightly this time.  I added 1% Crystal 15 malt to the grist to give the beer just a little additional color, body and sweetness.  The base beer started as a 10 gallon batch on brew day, but was split into two fermenters to make two different beers – apricot wheat and Bavarian hefeweizen (see Mac’s Brew News – June 8, 2016 for further details).  I ended up with 5 gallons of apricot wheat and 5 gallons of hefeweizen.

I think I got the apricot infusions right this time.  Mac’s Apricot Wheat has just the right amount of apricot flavor. It’s a little tart from the fermented apricot puree (49 oz. per 5.75 gal). The apricot aroma is noticeable, and the apricot flavor is just right.  It’s light, refreshing, and easy to drink.  The alcohol content is low enough that you can drink a few before you feel the effects.

Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen: Brewed 06-06-2016; 5.8% ABV
The other half of the wheat beer brew day.  Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen is wonderful. The banana/clove ratio in the flavor is just right. The beer is sweet, but not overly so, and is spot on for the German style hefeweizen (try some Paulaner, Franziskaner, or Erdinger, all good weissbiers, if you’re not sure what Bavarian style wheat beer tastes like). The color is a little deeper than previous batches, due (I believe) to the small (1%) Crystal 15 addition. I don’t know if that percentage allows for any taste difference, but I will definitely keep the Crystal addition from now on.  The German yeast is not highly flocculent, so the beer is hazy as per the style guidelines.  Like its apricot brother, this beer is light and drinkable, but is even more refreshing.  This is the one I drink after mowing the lawn on a hot day – it’s a real thirst quencher!

Maktoberfest: Brewed 06-23-2016; 4.9% ABV (so far)
This is the same recipe and protocol used for the last batch of Maktoberfest I brewed last year.  It’s currently 4.9% ABV, and I don’t expect it to go any higher.  I just started the lagering process (cold conditioning) yesterday.  I will continue to lager it for another three or four weeks and then keg it.  I brewed 11 gallons, so I will end up with two 5 gallon kegs.  It should last until Thanksgiving.

I tasted a small sample a week and a half ago when I dumped the trub and took a gravity sample.  It’s very malty, as a märzen should be, with a low hop rate.  It should end up tasting the same as last year’s version.  I will update you once it’s on tap in late August or early September.

I think the next brew will be a barley wine.  I will make a 5 gallon batch and let it condition for 3 – 4 months before kegging and bottling it.  I learned a lot from my first barley wine brew (see newsletter of March 2, 2014, and review of Baby Luke’s Barleywine, November 26, 2014 on this blog).  I’m going to try again, and hope to have it on tap for the holidays this year.  After that, possibly an imperial stout, then another IPA (gotta keep IPA’s on tap at all times if I want to keep Mike as a friend).

Orange County Fair update:
The results are in – Goldihops (and the Free Beers) won a red ribbon (second place) in the Pale American Ale category (Blonde Ales and Pale Ales) at the OC Fair this year.  I’m proud that this beer won an award (I thought this one had a very good chance to score well and win an award).  The other three beers, Mac’s PAPA, SmackDown, and Nutcase, did not win any awards, but I am still awaiting the judging sheets.  I am especially curious to see how well Nutcase scored – I think it should receive fairly high marks.  I submitted Mac’s PAPA and SmackDown with no expectations (just looking for judges comments and suggestions).

Well, beer lovers, that’s it for now.  I hope you enjoyed the newsletter.  I will be posting several more beer reviews as soon as I can find the time.  If I used some terms that you are not familiar with, refer to a very early post on this blog, “Terms and Definitions” (May 4, 2012), for explanation of those terms.

Sláinte!

Mac’s Brew News – June 8, 2016

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There’s a lot to update about what’s going on at Mac’s Brew Pub, but I will keep it brief.  Here’s all the Brew News that’s fit to print.  Please read responsibly.

Recalcitrant Redhead: Brewed 05-07-2016; 7.7% ABV.
I brewed this beer with my young brewing friend, Dave Hollandbeck.  Brew day spent with Dave was a pleasure as well as a resounding success.  This is an imperial red IPA.  It is currently cold crashing, and will soon be kegged and carbonated (as soon as I have room in my kegerator; all four taps are currently occupied).  Anybody interested in coming over to Mac’s Brew Pub to help me finish off Mac’s PAPA?  I think that keg is almost empty; as soon as it is, Recalcitrant Redhead goes on tap.

Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen / Mac’s Apricot Wheat: Brewed 06-06-2016.
I brewed one 10 gallon batch of wort, but am creating two different beers from the same wort (see “Terms and Definitions” if you’re not sure what “wort” is).  These will be wheat beers (60% malted wheat, 40% malted barley in the grist), each fermented with different yeast to create two different beers.  I will add pureed apricot to the one fermenter (fermenting with a Chico yeast strain), while the other is being fermented with a Bavarian yeast.  Both should end up around 5.5% ABV, but will taste completely different – oh the marvels of yeast!!  I will end up with 5 gallons of Bavarian style Hefeweizen, and 5 gallons of Apricot Wheat Beer (American style) out of the one brew day batch.  You gotta love it (well, at least I do)!

I plan to brew Maktoberfest on Thursday 06-23-16.  There will be no deviation from last year’s recipe, so I should have some great tasting Märzen on tap in late August or early September.  Did I just say September?  Yes, this is a lager, so it requires an extended fermentation and lagering (conditioning) period . . . but, it will be worth the wait!

I’m not sure what is coming up after Maktoberfest.  Maybe a barleywine or a porter.  I guess I have a little time to decide.  I also need to decide if I’m going to collaborate with another brewer, or do it all myself.  Hmm . . .

I entered four beers in the Orange County Fair competition:  Goldihops, Mac’s PAPA, SmackDown, and Nutcase.  Goldihops and Nutcase are good enough to score well.  I entered Mac’s PAPA and SmackDown just to get judges comments and suggestions.  We’ll see how this all plays out.

Well, that’s it for now.  Slainte!

Mac’s Brew News – May 1, 2016

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My last news letter was rather lengthy, but did not address what’s happening at Mac’s Brew Pub.  Here’s all the Brew News about Mac’s beer that’s fit to print.  Please read responsibly.

SmackDown: Brewed 01-22-2016; 7.3% ABV.
SmackDown turned out wonderful this time. I significantly changed the hopping rate and protocol to create a citrus forward hop bomb imperial IPA. It really is excellent, although next time I will lower the percentage of the crystal malts in the recipe. I brewed 10 gallons, so I should be serving this one for some time to come. When I suggested to Mike Matulich that I was going to change up the recipe a little, he became despondent and threatened me with bodily harm. Don’t worry, Mike, I won’t change the hops at all, so it should have all the same aromas, but with just a slightly lower caramel flavor.

Mac hard at work in the brewery mashing in  SmackDown.

Mac hard at work in the brewery mashing in SmackDown.

Nutcase: Brewed 02-02-2016; 9.5% ABV.
Nutcase is my guilty pleasure – a chocolate hazelnut imperial oatmeal stout. The chocolate leads, and the hazelnut is quite noticeable, but subtle (unlike Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout, where the peanut flavor is very much “in your face”). I think the blending of the chocolate with subtle notes of hazelnut makes for a much more complex and rewarding tasting experience. The alcohol level is high and is noticeable in the taste, but is not hot or unpleasant. This beer has a velvety smooth mouthfeel and so much body that you almost need a spatula to get it out of your glass.

Goldihops (and the Free Beers): Brewed 02-20-2016; 5.2% ABV.
In a previous newsletter (02-14-2016), I mentioned that I was going to brew my honey blonde ale again. I brewed the recipe again, without alteration, with Mike and Chris Boblit on February 20, 2016. I used store-bought honey this time as I did not have access to Scott’s outstanding homegrown honey. That was unfortunate (no homegrown honey), but the batch turned out VERY GOOD anyway. It’s crystal clear, light, refreshing and very drinkable. This is a great summertime beer, but I have a feeling it won’t even last until 4th of July.

Mac’s PAPA (Paper Ass Pale Ale) and Mac’s WAD (Wide Awake Drunk) are also still on tap although I think WAD is just about gone. That makes five draught beers currently being offered at Mac’s Brew Pub. You should make an excuse to come by for a pint or two of delicious beer. Up next is a red IPA I plan to brew with Dave Hollandbeck on May 7, 2016. Dave is a fine young man who came to Mac’s Brew Pub about a year ago to do some work. We became friends due to our shared interest in brewing beer and decided to collaborate on an IPA.

After the IPA, I will likely brew a hefeweizen to have on tap for the summer, then probably a Marzen (Oktoberfest) so It will be ready for September.  Sometime soon, I want to brew a schwarzbier . . . gotta find more time and more kegerator space!

That’s about all I have to enlighten you with today.  Stop by for a pint or two – enjoy some good beer and good company.

Slainte!