Mac’s Brew News – August 2, 2015


I know you all have been wondering what’s going on at Mac’s this summer.  With the new cooled stainless steel fermenter, there has been no need to take a summer vacation from brewing.  I recently brewed a lager, and will be brewing a blond ale in a couple of weeks.  In spite of this, I am (unfortunately) running low on draught beer.  There is still a significant amount of Cherry Wheat and Janitor In A Drum, but the Smackdown is nearly gone (I would be surprised if there’s two pints left in the keg).  I still have some Club 21 and Cherry Wheat in bottles, so I’m going to have to make them last for a few weeks.  By the time the lager and the blond are ready for consumption, the draught Cherry Wheat will likely be gone, leaving me with only three draught selections for Sheila’s retirement party.

Retirement?  Yes, Sheila (Mrs. Mac) is retiring October 5, 2015.  Her last day of work is September 24, 2015, and she will take some vacation time until her official retirement on October 5th.  Congratulations, Sheila!  There will be a retirement party at Mac’s Brew Pub the evening of September 24.  Let’s hope I’m up to the challenge, with at least 3 fine beers on tap.  Here’s what has recently been brewed and what will be brewed in the near future at Mac’s.

Maktoberfest: Brewed 07-07-2015 in collaboration with Mr. High and Mighty (Joe Garcia); currently lagering (cold conditioning).  5.4% ABV.  I have brewed this recipe before, but have never used a lager yeast for fermentation.  My new fermenter allowed me to do just that.  Here is a photo of Mac and his beast of a fermenter:


I fermented this beer for just under 2 weeks at 54° F, raised the temperature for 3 days for a diacetyl rest, then began lowering the temperature 2° F per day for cold conditioning.  Right now it’s resting at 40° F in the refrigerator (I racked it from the fermenter to 2 glass carboys when it got to 48°, and placed them in the fridge for storage).  I will keg Maktoberfest on or after 08-25-2015.  I know this is a good Oktoberfest recipe; it remains to be seen how successful my lager fermentation protocol is.

Sheila’s B(ee)FD Honey Blonde Ale.  To honor Sheila, I’m brewing this beer for her retirement celebration.  I’m collaborating with my friend Scott Vandeventer on this brew (note: Scott is a fine fellow, but he is not a brewer, so this will be his first brewing experience; however, he is a bee keeper, and is supplying the honey made by his “Really Nasty Bees” for my recipe).

I have never brewed a blonde ale before, so this is a new recipe for me.  I need to give some credit, however, to my friend Joe Renden, a true brew master, who won a gold metal at GABF (Great American Brew Festival) for his honey blonde ale a couple of years ago.  Joe gave me some specific guidelines and suggestions for this recipe, so I’m hoping the first edition of this beer will turn out excellent (it better, as it will be served, untested, to a pub full of people at the retirement party on 09-24-2015).

The recipe includes a small amount of sweet orange peel and coriander seed for subtle citrus flavors, and prominently features Scott Vandeventer’s home grown organic honey.  It will be a low alcohol ale, finishing somewhere around 4.5% ABV, with a noticeable, but not overwhelming, honey flavor.

Oh, a little bit about the name of this beer.  Sheila is my honey, and she is retiring from the BFD (Brea Fire Department).  Of course everyone knows this event is a BFD (c’mon people, that stands for Big Fat Deal . . . just ask Sheila).  Now, you can’t have honey without bees, so to acknowledge Scott’s contribution of his honey to my honey’s celebration ale, it will be called B(ee)FD Honey Blonde.

I’m going to have to get busy again with more brewing right after the blonde, or I won’t have enough beer on tap for the fall.  I want to brew Smackdown and Mac’s PAPA again very soon, plus I need to get busy with some stouts (Nutcase comes to mind) and winter warmers.

OC Fair Update: I got shut out!  I’m a little surprised that Black Forest Stout did not place, but it’s really an imperial stout that was entered into the fruit beer category.  I have to accept that it may not have fit well within the style guidelines for the category (or maybe it just wasn’t that good).  I guess I’ll find out when I get the judges notes in a month or so.  Club 57 was too strong and boozy, so I’m not really surprised about that one.  The others I entered only to get judges comments/suggestions and expected no high scores.

Scott, thank you so much for the honey, and please thank your “really nasty bees” for all their hard work, and their willingness to contribute to this collaboration.  Of course, you get to keep 5 of the 10 gallons of ale we produce, but your bees get nothing.  Please treat them right!

That’s it for now.  Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – June 20, 2015


Well, it’s time for a new edition of Mac’s Brew News.  It’s been just a little more than a month, so this shouldn’t be too lengthy.  Today’s edition is published in honor of Sheila, who is 29 years old today.

A ravishing beauty is Sheila
Her gaze will induce anesthesia
To her charms I’m resigned
In my heart she’s enshrined
She commands my life like a diva

In years past, I would be on summer hiatus from brewing due to the warm weather and the associated difficulty in keeping fermentation temperatures under control.  However, a few months ago I bought a 14 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter that is cooled and heated.  Maintaining safe temperature ranges are now simply a matter of programming the temperature control unit to appropriate specifications and the temperatures are automatically maintained within ±1° F.  That means I can continue to brew throughout the summer, regardless of the ambient temperature.  Due to the size of the fermenter, I can also brew 10 gallon batches.

Here’s what is brewin’ at Mac’s . . .

Mac’s Cherry Wheat: Brewed on 05-19-2015.  This has become a standard at Mac’s Brew Pub.  It’s the same wheat ale recipe I use for all of my fruit beer, and for Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen.  With each of the beers, however, I just add different fruit in the fermenter and or in the keg (in the case of the Bavarian Hefeweizen, I just use a different yeast to ferment).

I brewed a 10 gallon batch with the intention of bringing a case to our annual beach house vacation per Sheila’s request (this is two years in a row that the beach house beer has been brewed per Sheila’s request – happy birthday).  It’s light and refreshing, perfect for a warm summer day thirst quencher, and at 5.5% ABV, one can drink a lot of it and still keep their wits about them.

I kegged 5 gallons on 06-06-2015, and it’s currently on tap.  I bottled the other 5 gallons on 06-13-2015.  One of the two cases will go to the beach for vacation consumption.

Smack Down: Brewed in collaboration with Mike Matulich on 04-16-2015.  This beer (described in the previous newsletter, May 7, 2015) is now on tap in the pub.  It’s a nice IPA, but a little too hop mild.  There are a couple of reasons for this, the main one being the hop straining bag I used on brew day was too fine and did not allow for good hops utilization.  There are a couple of other minor recipe revisions necessary (to dry out the beer, make the body lighter) which will be tried in order to dial this one in just right.

Smack Down has a very nice citrus hop aroma, but the bitterness is too low (this is the result of poor hops utilization as described above).  It’s 6.7% ABV, and is good drinking; there’s no doubt it’s an IPA, but I think it should be a little more bitter and hoppy.  Because this is the first time I brewed this recipe, I was expecting that revisions would be necessary, so I’m not too concerned about the result this time.  All of the problems I perceive have easy fixes.

Maktoberfest: To be brewed on 07-07-2015.  I’m scaling up the recipe to brew a 10 gallon batch, but changing it just a bit to bring down the alcohol content.  Because I can control the temperatures now, I will ferment this with lager yeast for the first time.  It should be ready for consumption in September just in time for the Oktoberfest celebration.

Mac’s Brew News – May 7, 2015


Mac’s Brew News is published today in honor of my daughter, Rosie (aka “Warhead”) who is 21 years old today.  Happy Birthday, Rosie!  Have a fun day today, and have a blast at your party tomorrow evening.  I can say with confidence that there will be plenty of good beer at the event, including a hefeweizen brewed especially for this occasion (see Club 21 below).

The Princess was born on this day,
It was May ’94, by the way.
Though her beauty was torrid,
Andy dubbed her the Warhead.
But she’s Mac’s Pride and Joy, may I say

It’s been several months since I posted anything on this site.  I apologize for the delay – I had some technical issues and was unable to access Macs Brew for a couple of months.  I just recently regained access, so here’s the latest on what’s happening at Mac’s.

I’ve been quite busy brewing this winter and spring.  Right now I have 5 beers on tap plus two new beers in bottles and one additional brew in the fermenter.  That’s really more beer than I can handle here, so I guess it’s a problem.  Imagine that . . . having too much beer – now that’s a good problem to have.

In March I got a new stainless steel conical fermenter.  It’s heated and cooled, so I can precisely control my fermentation temperatures, which means my beers should taste better.  It also means I can brew lagers now, as I can keep the temperatures in the low 50’s.  I think my first attempt at a lager will be a schwarzbier (black lager).  I currently have an IPA in the conical; it’s the second batch in this fermenter.

So, here’s what’s been brewing . . .

Mac’s Black Forest Stout (update): Bottled 01-21-2015.  8.6% ABV.  It’s very good, with a pronounced cherry aroma and flavor.  It has a high finishing gravity, so it’s somewhat sweet with a full body and velvety smooth mouthfeel.  I think it’s better than the first time I brewed it (2012) and I am hopeful that it will place well in the fruit beer category at the OC Fair.

Red Headed Step-Child: Brewed 01-09-2015; kegged 02-23-2015.  7.4% ABV.  This is the second time I brewed this beer – this time in collaboration with the Gilberstadts (see previous newsletter for details).  Like the last time I brewed this beer, I oaked it again.  However, I used French oak this time, cubes instead of chips, and kept it on the wood for only 8 days.  The oak is very subtle, but gives it a very smooth, mellow character.  This is a very nice and easy drinking beer.  You gotta be careful, though.  At 7.4% ABV, it can hit you pretty hard.

Mac’s PAPA (Paper Ass Pale Ale): Brewed 01-27-2015; kegged 03-03-2015.  6.0% ABV.  So, what’s with the name of this beer (Paper Ass Pale Ale)?  I’m glad you asked.  There’s an old expression, “you talk like a man with a paper asshole.”  My dad used this expression, but I didn’t know what it meant until recently when I looked it up in the urban dictionary.  It refers to someone who talks a lot, but without substance.  He can’t back up his talk; he speaks nonsense, foolishness.  In other words, he’s full of B.S.  This is a perfect description of Mac, who is constantly talking about beer, but is really full of crap in regards to the subject.  Yes, that’s me, and now I have a brew to prove it (my Paper Ass Pale Ale).

This is the first time I’ve ever made a pale ale recipe.  I was aiming for a slightly hoppy pale ale, but not so hoppy as to remind one of an India Pale Ale.  This is a very simple recipe and it turned out quite nice, although I think a little dry hopping would help (next time).  It’s slightly hoppy, very drinkable and enjoyable.

Aeronautical Amber Ale: Brewed 02-16-2015; kegged 03-21-2015.  7.0% ABV.  My old stand-by amber ale recipe.  It’s quite good – well balanced, malty, yet hoppy for an amber.

Janitor In A Drum: Brewed 03-09-2015; kegged 04-27-2015.  6.1% ABV.  This is an English style brown porter, a la Fuller’s London Porter.  I used small amounts of cacao nibs toward the end of the boil and in the secondary fermenter.  It has a nice, but subtle, chocolate flavor, and the nutty flavor from the brown malt is noticeable.

This is my first porter recipe and I’m not sure what to think about it.  It tastes good, but the chocolate is not as pronounced as I wanted it to be.  I entered this into the OC Fair to get the judges comments (I don’t expect it to score high or win an award).  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Oh yeah, about the name of this beer, “Janitor In A Drum”.  A porter is a janitor, and this beer lives in a stainless steel keg.  I think “Janitor In A Drum” is appropriate.  If you’re old enough, you will remember the cleaning product in the 1970’s, Janitor In A Drum.  If you’re not that old, then the name of the beer might sound silly (oh well, your loss).

Club 21 – Warhead Weissbier: Brewed 03-23-2015; kegged 04-14-2015 (5 gallons), bottled 04-25-2015 (5 gallons).  5.7% ABV.  This was brewed to drink for Rosie’s 21st birthday party.  It’s my standard Bavarian hefeweizen recipe, but Rosie helped me brew it, and because it is for her birthday, it’s called “Club 21 – Warhead Weissbier”  If you know Rosie, you may be aware that “Warhead” is one of her nicknames.  It’s a long story; I’ll have to tell you about it over a beer.

We brewed a 10 gallon batch.  The 5 gallons in the keg is for Rosie’s B-day party.  One of the two cases I bottled is being donated to Eddies Barber Shop in Placentia.  My nephew, Russ, created and painted the Mac’s Brew Pub logo prominently displayed in the pub, and he works at Eddies.  They serve beer to the customers waiting to get their hair cuts.  Club 21 will be available to the public while supplies last at Eddies Barber Shop, so here’s your opportunity to get a great haircut (make an appointment with Russ) and have a great beer while you’re there.

Mac’s Citra Smack Down: Brewed 04-16-2015; 7.8% ABV.  Currently dry hopping.  This was a collaboration with Mike Matulich.  It should be in the keg within the next two weeks. It’s a brand new recipe (featuring Citra and Amarillo hops),so I will have to wait to see how it turns out.  I tasted the sample I collected for a hydrometer reading – it’s very good, but dry hopping should vastly improve it and give it more flavor and hoppy aroma.

Club 57 (update): Brewed 03-27-2014; kegged 03-28-2015,  14% ABV.  No, that’s not a typo.  It was a year between brewing and kegging.  I conditioned it for an extended period of time  on oak and bourbon because the alcohol content is so high.  This really helped smooth out the alcohol taste, although it’s still noticeable.  The bourbon flavor had faded over the year, so I added a little more when I kegged Club 57.  I think that might have been a mistake, as the harshness and the booziness form the bourbon is noticeable again.  Oh well, It should be perfect in a few more months.  Unfortunately, it may be a little harsh when judged at the OC Fair in a little over a week.

Orange County Fair Homebrew Competition entries:

  • Club 57
  • Black Forest Stout
  • Red Headed Step Child
  • Aeronautical Amber Ale
  • Mac’s PAPA
  • Janitor In A Drum

I think the only ones with a realistic chance of winning any awards are Club 57 and Black Forest Stout.  The others I entered just to get judges comments and suggestions (especially for new recipes, Mac’s PAPA and Janitor In A Drum) to help me improve my beer.

Well, this newsletter is longer than I intended, so I’ll sign off for now.  Stay tuned, though, as I have a number of beer reviews to be posted soon.  Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – January 10, 2015

Happy New Year to one and all.  I hope each of you had a fun and festive holiday season and were able to enjoy some good beer.  It’s been busy here at Mac’s and I offer you this opportunity of catch up on the latest news.

Mac the Annihilator: brewed 10-14-2014; kegged 11-22-2014.  10.3% ABV.  This was ready for consumption just in time for Thanksgiving at Mac’s Brew Pub.  It turned out pretty good, but not as good as I hoped for.  I think I got the grain bill just right this time, and will make no further adjustments to it, but I might change up some of the hops in the future.  Also, I might mash at a slightly lower temperature to get a lower finishing gravity and a drier beer.

Maktoberfest: brewed 10-28-2014; kegged 11-22-2014. 6.1% ABV.  I brewed a 10 gallon batch and divided it into two 5 gallon portions for fermentation.  I kegged 5 gallons and bottled the other 5 gallons.  The kegged version, like MTA, was ready for drinking on Thanksgiving.  I bottled the other portion 12-04-2014.

It’s interesting to note that both portions were exactly the same (from the same kettle) and I used yeast from the same starter (poured it more or less half and half when I pitched into the two fermentation carboys), but they turned out differently.  Now, I believe some of the taste differences can be attributed to the different serving protocols (draught vs. bottle conditioning), but there is definitely more to it than that.  The bottled version tastes better (that’s unusual!) and finished at a lower gravity resulting in a higher alcohol content (7.2%).  The bottled version is also much more clear

I’m stumped on this one.  I pitched a little more yeast into the kegged portion, but not a whole lot more (there was a little more wort in that carboy as well), so I can’t imagine that affected the final gravity too much.  I might have to check with the Brew Master, Joe Renden, to get his expert opinion.

The kegged version is pretty cloudy, which is unusual for the yeast strain used.  The flavor is malty and somewhat sweet, within the Oktoberfest style range, but not as good as past versions I brewed (third place at the 2013 OC Fair under the name “Whatchamacallit”).  It’s good, but not great.  Now, the bottled version on the other hand, has a much cleaner appearance and flavor.  It is very good, with a lager-like taste sensation and malty caramel notes.  I proudly gave a case to my father for Christmas.  He says he is enjoying it, consuming a couple of bottles a week.

Mac’s Black Forest Stout: brewed 12-11-2014.  This beer is still conditioning in the carboy on 5 oz of cacao nibs.  It is currently 8.6% ABV, and likely to stay there (the fermentation is over).  The flavor is very good – I sampled a little bit of it when I took a hydrometer reading.  I will probably bottle it in about 2 weeks and let it bottle condition for about 3 months.  I plan to enter it into the OC Fair in May.

Red Headed Step-Child: brewed Friday 01-09-2015 (yesterday).  The original gravity was high, but one gravity point lower that it was the last time I brewed this recipe.  That’s to be expected, as I collected an additional half gallon of runoff this time.

Last time I brewed RHSC, I collaborated with Mike Matulich.  This time I collaborated with Martin Gilberstadt and Martin Gilberstadt II.  All three of us really enjoyed brew day, and we each have 5 gallons for consumption.  Well, to clarify, I have 5 gallons, and they have 5 gallons between them.  I plan to oak my portion, like I did last time, but will use French oak, and will use cubes rather than chips (should give a little smoother oak flavor).  I think Gilberstadts are planning on dry hopping their portion.  We will have to get together and sample our creations together.  Martin and M-II, thanks for your company, your assistance, and the great burrito.  I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did.  Maybe we could do this again.

I’m not sure what’s up next at Mac’s Brewing.  Maybe a hefeweizen or another IPA.  Possibly a pale ale, or  . . . so many possibilities.

That’s if for now.  Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News 10/26/2014 – A Tribute To Wyatt Earp

“The fighting has commenced.  Go to fighting or get away.” (Wyatt Earp to Ike Clanton, October 26, 1881;  Tombstone, Arizona)

Today is the 133rd anniversary of the gunfight at the OK Corral.  To commemorate this event, Mac’s Brew Pub is proudly releasing this newsletter.  I trust that’s OK with you.

Well, summer is over, and so is my vacation.  I enjoyed the break from the rigors of brewing, but I also missed the challenge and the fun.  My kegerator is almost empty, so it’s time to fire up the brew kettle and make some more beer.  I have only one beer left on tap (Red Headed Step-Child) and that is almost gone, so more home brew is definitely in order.  I can’t complain, though, I haven’t brewed since May and my beer lasted until now – not too bad (beer on tap for 4 months without brewing).  This is what’s going on at Mac’s Brew Pub.

Mac the Annihilator: I brewed a batch of Mac the Annihilator (MTA) on Tuesday October 14, 2014.  I tweaked the recipe a little (much to Mike’s chagrin), so this is Generation II of MTA.  The color is just right (although it’s a little hard to tell when it’s in the fermenter) and the Original Gravity was 1.092.  This should finish out in the high 9% ABV range – at least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

Maktoberfest: On Tuesday October 28, I’m brewing Maktoberfest.  See Mac’s Whatchamacallit in previous newsletters – it’s the same recipe (third place at the 2013 OC Fair).  This time I’m brewing 10 gallons.  I will keg 5 gallons and bottle 5 gallons.  I love Oktoberfest (Marzen) style beers, so this is my “ale” answer to the Marzen style (a lager).  The ale yeast I’m using ferments very clean, like a lager, so the end result is a lager-like ale.

Baby Luke’s Barrel Aged Barley Wine: I was going to let this age one more month, but since there is almost nothing on tap at Mac’s, I decided to keg Baby Luke’s Barley Wine today.  It’s been conditioning/aging on bourbon soaked oak cubes since March 30, 2014 (with a little bit of fermentation going on as well).  It’s 12.2% ABV with a decent bourbon barrel aroma and flavor.  We’ll see how it stands up to carbonation (it’s being carbonated now) – I’m afraid it’s going to be a little too dry as the final gravity was much lower than I intended (1.012).  I might have goofed up by adding the champagne yeast after primary fermentation – it brought the gravity down, but much more than I intended.  Oh well, we’ll see how it tastes.  Baby Luke is now 9 months old and this was brewed in his honor shortly after his birth.  You’re a blessing, Luke; Papa loves you!

Ok, that’s it for this edition of Mac’s Brew News.  It’s nice and short, but all the latest information is here.  I hope that’s OK with all of you.

Speaking of OK, if anyone is interested in the gunfight at the OK Corral and/or Wyatt Earp, there are several good books on the subject.  In my opinion, the most comprehensive and fair treatment of the life and times of the Earps is Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind The Legend by Casey Tefertiller (copyright 1997).  I have read several Wyatt Earp books, but this one is by far the most compelling, well researched and comprehensive treatment of the subject.  I highly recommend it.  The 1994 movie, “Tombstone” is a pretty good  and accurate treatment of the subject until it gets to the vendetta, where it depicts a lot of gratuitous violence.  Up to that point, however, it is historically accurate and very compelling.

As many of you are aware, there are several photos of Wyatt Earp in Mac’s Brew Pub.  I think it would have been fascinating to spend an afternoon with him sharing war stories and a beer.  He truly is an American legend.

Here’s to you, Wyatt (03/19/1848 – 01/13/1929).  YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION!.  From one law man to another – Cheers!!!!!!!

Mac’s Brew News – July 27, 2014

It’s been quite some time since my last newsletter, but I’ve only brewed one batch since then – I’m enjoying my summer break.  I will attempt to bring everyone up to speed on the happenings at Mac’s Brew Pub without making this too lengthy and boring.

Mac’s Cherry Wheat: Brewed Monday May 19, 2014.  5.5% ABV.  I collaborated with another brewer, Mike Young.  We brewed 10 gallons of wheat ale – it’s a very basic recipe I use for all my wheat beers, 60% malted wheat and 40% malted barley.  Mike Young made an apricot wheat beer with his 5 gallons and I made 5 gallons of cherry wheat.  Unlike my apricot wheat (brewed in February 2014), I did not use any real fruit in the fermenter.  I simply fermented the wheat ale and added concentrated cherry flavoring when I kegged it.  It’s got a nice fruity/cherry aroma with an ever-so-slight pink tinge (from the cherry concentrate).  Initially, the sweet cherry flavor bursts in your mouth, but then fades into a well balanced American style wheat beer taste.  This is a LOW hopped beer (2 oz of Cascade hops in 10 gallons), but it is not overly sweet, especially once the cherry subsides.  Overall, it is well balanced.  There is no doubt you’re drinking a beer (it does not taste like carbonated cherry juice) but the fruity aroma and flavor are both satisfying and very refreshing.  It is very comparable to Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat and is a great summertime beer.

As I previously mentioned, Mike Young made his 5 gallons into apricot wheat – he added pureed apricot to the fermenter.  I haven’t tasted it, but he informs me it’s quite good.  I guess you can see that this is a very versatile base beer; not only do I use it to make fruit beers, I use the same recipe (with different hops) to make Bavarian and American style hefeweizens (of course, I also ferment with different yeast strains).

Red Headed Step-Child: Brewed Saturday April 26, 2014.  7.4% ABV.  As mentioned in my previous newsletter, this was a collaboration brew with my brother-in-law, Mike Matulich.  We brewed a 10 gallon batch; Mike fermented 5 gallons and I fermented 5 gallons.  Mike’s beer tastes different than mine because he dry hopped his (i.e., added hops to the secondary fermenter) while I oaked mine (added oak chips to the secondary fermenter).  Dry hopping adds a lot of hop aroma and flavor to the beer,  so I’m calling his batch, “Bitter Red Headed Step-Child.”  The oak chips in my beer added the soft vanilla and coconut flavors that are characteristic of wood aged beer, so I’m calling my batch, “Spanked Red Headed Step-Child” (after all, I hit it with some wood).

This recipe was meant to be a hoppy beer.  I used a lot of Chinook and a little Cascade hops in the recipe.  My intention was to make something similar to Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale (it’s not a clone; I wanted to be in the same neighborhood, but not sleeping in the same bed).  Mike’s version is very reminiscent of Arrogant Bastard and is quite good.  Mac’s version is very different.  The aroma and initial flavor is hoppy, but the hops rapidly fade to the vanilla flavor of the oak.  This beer becomes all about the mellow oak flavor mid palate and in the aftertaste.  My initial reaction to this was that it was too oaky (2 oz of oak chips in the fermenter for 2 weeks) and I was somewhat disappointed.  I was just trying to impart a hint of oak (think, Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale).  Obviously I spanked this step-child way too hard.  However, the more I drink this beer, the more I like it the way it is.  Yes, the mellow oak flavors are well developed and quite pronounced, but it does not ruin the beer, which was intended to be more about the hops (if you get a chance, buy a bottle of Widmer Brothers’ “Downward Spiral” which is an Imperial IPA aged on oak spirals; it’s a VERY good beer).  Don’t know how I will treat this beer if I brew it again (that’s pretty likely), but it’s a good beer either way.

Club 57: Brewed March 27, 2014.  13.4% ABV (beer fermented out to 12.3% then added oak and bourbon).  It has been in the aging “bourbon barrel” since June 6, 2014.  I will periodically sample it to determine how the aging process is going.  It’s currently resting on 2 oz of medium toast American oak cubes (previously used) with the bourbon.  I will probably bottle this late next spring or early next summer.  I tasted a small sample when I racked it to the aging “barrel” (before adding the bourbon soaked oak cubes).  It’s very good – thick and chocolaty with a noticeable booziness already.  I will monitor the oak level in the beer to see if I need to add additional bourbon soaked (previously used) oak cubes.  I might also add additional cacao nibs if I think it necessary.

Now for the rest of the news regarding Mac’s Brew Pub.  I currently have 4 beers on tap: Mac’s Apricot Wheat; Mac’s Cherry Wheat; Mac The Annihilator; and (Spanked) Red Headed Step-Child.  Everyday I struggle to decide which beer to drink for happy hour (5:00 PM – 9:00 PM daily).  I guess that’s a good problem to have, huh?  It’s not entirely unusual for me to have a little (8 oz) of each, but in that case, it’s Mac The Annihilator last (don’t want my taste buds to get annihilated right off the bat).

I previously reported that I entered 4 beers into the Orange County Fair.  As expected, none of my beers won awards, but I’m not disappointed.  I didn’t expect to win anything because, although they were all good beers, none of them stood out (except maybe Mac The Annihilator, but that had obvious flaws and would not stand out much in the IPA category, which is the most competitive).  I’m anxious to get the judges scoring sheets to review their comments so that I can improve all of my beer.

I decided to enter my last 2 brews (Cherry Wheat and Red Head) into the LA County Fair a couple of weeks ago.  The cherry wheat will not win anything and I have no idea about my Red Head – it’s pretty unusual, but does not fit strictly into any one category as defined by the BJCP guidelines (that’s why it’s a “Step-Child”).  Because it’s highly hopped, but also oaked, it may not fare too well, as that combination is kind of a, “No, No.”  I entered it into the Wood Aged Beer category.  However, it was necessary to identify the underlying style – an American Amber Ale.  Because it’s hopped more like an IPA, it’s not really true to the amber ale style.  We’ll see what happens.  The judging takes place on Saturday August 2, 2014 and the LA Fair is in late August/September, so I have to wait for awhile to hear the results.

I will probably resume brewing in late September or early October; I will try to post some beer reviews between now and then.  I hope all is going well with each and every one of you.  If you know the location of Mac’s Brew Pub, you’re welcome to stop by for a draught beer.  Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – May 12, 2014

The weather is getting warm again so another brewing season at Mac’s Brew Pub is coming to a close real soon.  I’m trying to brew enough beer to last through the summer and fall so I don’t run out before I can get another batch brewed and on tap in November.  I don’t think that’s going to happen.  I’m sure I will still have some bottled Mac’s Brew to drink, but I think the kegerator will probably be empty.  Oh well, they still sell lots of good beer at Total Wine (and they also have quite a selection of craft brews at Costco now) so at least I won’t totally run out of beer.  Here is what’s been happening  at Mac’s.

Red Headed Step-Child: Brewed Saturday 04-26-2014.  OG 1.075.  It seems like everybody is doing collaboration brews these days, and I’m no different.  I collaborated with Mike Matulich to brew this beast.  We had perfect brewing conditions (cool but sunny) and brew day went real smooth.  This is a fairly high gravity beer and we hit in the middle of my target gravity range.  The fermentation is progressing nicely.  I racked the beer to the secondary fermenter on Saturday 05-03-2014.  The gravity was 1.020 at that time (7.3% ABV) so I don’t expect it to drop much (if any) further.  The alcohol content will probably remain the same, or could possibly increase .1 – .2%.  It’s got a real nice “hop forward” flavor, but the specialty malts are very noticeable in the taste.  It should be ready to keg after about 2 – 3 more weeks of conditioning.  Be patient.

Mac’s Bourbon Barrel Stout: This fermentation was over, but the final gravity was quite high and the alcohol was a bit low for the style (just under 8% ABV).  To correct this situation, I added additional yeast to the carboy and have been adding dextrose (corn sugar).  Because dextrose is completely fermentable, all this will add is alcohol – no sweetness.  The flavor is REALLY good and the beer has loads of body.  The (eventual) high alcohol content should be well hidden beneath all that flavor and viscosity (the final gravity will remain the same).  I should be done with the “alcohol boost” by late next week, and hope to get it somewhere around 12.3% ABV.  After that, it’s got about a year of bourbon barrel aging (which will also increase the alcohol content).  Be patient.

Mac the Annihilator: 9.8% ABV.  After extensive dry hopping, I kegged this brew on Monday 04-28-2014.  It’s fully carbonated and is being served in the pub/tasting room.  It’s a very nice Imperial IPA.  Unfortunately it’s much more hazy than Smack Down was, and I’m disappointed in that characteristic.  I was hoping it would clear up a little before I bottled some of it for the fair competition.  Alas, no such luck, but I submitted it anyway.

Mac’s Cherry Wheat: On deck.  This is another collaboration brew.  This time I’m brewing with Mike Young; brew day is Monday 05-19-2014.  This is a very simple recipe and will not be high gravity.  I’m just planning on making a very drinkable moderate ABV ale.  I want something refreshing for the remainder of the summer.  I should have this one kegged and carbonated 3 – 4 weeks after brew day.  Who knows, I just might have two fruit beers on tap at the same time (Mac’s Apricot Wheat is still plentiful).

I entered 4 beers into the 2014 Orange County Fair competition.  My entries are: Aeronautical Amber Ale; Mac’s Apricot Wheat; Mac the Annihilator; Mac’s Bourbon Barrel Stout (2013 vintage).  I bottled each of these (except for the Bourbon Barrel Stout) from the keg, using a counter pressure bottle filler.  This is a great device.  It’s the same thing commercial breweries use to bottle their beer, except I can only bottle one at a time whereas commercial breweries bottle multiples (dozens) at a time.  Anyway, it’s a cool piece of equipment and it’s pretty easy to use.  (Kevin, if you’re reading this, I also bottled some for you, so you can expect a nice delivery from UPS soon.)

I don’t anticipate that any of my entries will win awards. The best chance (I think) is the Aeronautical Amber Ale. It’s really good. The Annihilator is quite good, but it’s too cloudy and the IPA category is the most crowded in the competition (I imagine there will be 200 – 300 in that category alone), so my chances are pretty slim. The apricot wheat is very good, but doesn’t stand out, and the stout is under-carbonated and over-oaked, so it will be graded down for both flaws. I am interested, however, in the judges comments about my beer – it will make me a better brewer and will help me improve my beer.

I’m drinking a Stone Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout while finishing this post.  It has been aging in my refrigerator since August 2008 (yes, almost 6 years).  The years have been kind to this beer.  It’s quite good, but has changed significantly since 2008.  It has mellowed considerably.  It’s 9.2% ABV, and I remember that it used to be quite boozy (at least, it seemed that way in 2008 when I was still somewhat of a novice craft beer drinker).  It’s no longer boozy, even though the ABV remains the same.  I still have a few more bottles in the fridge and will have to drink one every year or so.  The first all grain batch I brewed (in January 2011) was a clone of Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.  It was very good, but I missed the gravity target significantly and ended up with about 7.75% ABV.  Well, nobody does it like Stone.

That’s it for now.  Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – April 16, 2014

Well, I hope all of you came through tax season with minimal damage.  As for me, Uncle Sam and Uncle Jerry were NOT so kind this year.  I’m hoping for a better 2014.

Here is all the brew news that’s fit to print (at least as the brew news pertains to Mac’s Brew Pub).  Mac the Annihilator, Club 57, and Redheaded Step-Child are the latest creations courtesy of Mac.  I’m trying to brew something worthy of my big investment (the new brewing system).

Speaking of the new brewing system, I’m now 4 batches in.  Each time the process has gone a little easier.  I think I’m really getting the hang of it now and the last brew day was problem free.  I think I’m successfully adapting my techniques to the sophisticated equipment; I hope my beer improves as well.  Only time will tell.

The New Brews

Mac the Annihilator: Brewed 03-11-2014.  OG – 1.088.  It’s currently dry hopping in the secondary fermenter so I don’t know what the final alcohol content will be, but it was 9.1% ABV when I transferred it to the secondary.  I anticipate it will finish somewhere between 9.2% – 9.5%.

Everyone (at least every beer aficionado) has heard of (and hopefully tasted) Pliny the Elder, by Russian River Brewing.  Russian River also brews and releases, once a year, the monster IPA, Pliny the Younger.  I have never had Pliny the Younger because I’m not willing to stand in line several hours to get one pint.  However, the beer is legendary and is rated in the top 5 among all beers world wide.

Now, back to Mac the Annihilator.  So, there’s Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger.  Both are huge imperial IPA’s, in high demand, and among the best beers in the world.  And now there’s Mac the Annihilator (it had to be Mac the Something, so why not the Annihilator?).  This is a big imperial IPA, but not too different from Smack Down.  In fact, I used the Smack Down recipe as a baseline, and then modified it just slightly (lowered the Carapils ratio, and raised the Caramel malt ratio).

If it finishes up nice (no diacytl) and in time, I will enter this brew into the Orange County Fair home brew competition.  It has to finish dry hopping and conditioning.  After that I cold crash it, keg and carbonate it and then fill 3 bottles for the fair – all by May 10.  If I can get it into the keg within about 10 days, I should be ok.  The IPA category is probably the most crowded and competitive in the competition.  EVERYBODY is brewing IPA because it’s such a popular style right now.  I hope I can place in that category, but will be surprised if I do.  Oh well, at the very least I’ll get some valuable tasting notes from certified judges, which will help me improve my beer.

Club 57: Brewed 03-27-2014.  OG 1.096.  I just racked it to the secondary fermenter a few days ago.  It’s about 8% ABV right now, and will probably not go any higher.  The gravity is still pretty high, but I mashed at a fairly high temperature and used a lot of “body” malts to give it a thick mouth feel, so the high terminal gravity is not unexpected.

I tasted a very small sample when I transferred it to the secondary.  It’s delicious.  I added cacao nibs to the secondary fermenter to boost the chocolate profile (also used a lot of chocolate malt in the grist).  I might do something to boost the alcohol a little before racking to the tertiary fermenter, but I’m not sure about that.  There will be a little bit of bourbon (and oak) in the beer while it’s aging, so that will boost the alcohol a little.  I plan to age it for about a year, so will not be drinking it till next spring.

So why is it called Club 57?  I’m glad you asked.  I was born in 1957 and I brewed this on my 57th birthday (well, actually the day before my 57th birthday, but it’s close enough).   I used 19.57 lbs of base malt (2 row pale) with a total grain bill of 29.57 lbs.  I used 5.7 oz of Cacao nibs in the boil to add bitterness and chocolate flavor.  As you can see, there are a lot of 57’s related to this beer, so I think Club 57 is an appropriate name.

These are what I have brewed since the last newsletter, but I have more planned before summer vacation.  On Saturday 04-26-2014, I will collaborate with Mike Matulich to brew Red Headed Step-Child.  We’re attempting to brew an American strong ale/amber IPA (a la Arrogant Bastard), so it’s not a typical or straight ahead IPA.  The flavor profile will emphasize the fruity and caramel notes along with the hops, so my recipe calls for a lot of crystal/caramel malts.  Not sure what it is gonna taste like, but it should be hoppy, and that’s good.  It’s gonna be deep red/amber in color but not a true amber ale family member (too hoppy for the style), thus the name, Red Headed Step-Child.

Update on Previous Brews

Mac’s Apricot Wheat: I bottled 5 gallons on 03-15-2014 and kegged the other 5 gallons on 03-19-2014.  It’s 7.05% ABV and is very refreshing.  I added concentrated apricot flavoring to the bottled batch but did not add it to the keg.  I have had both and I prefer the legged version (the kegged beer gets all of it’s apricot flavor from the puree added during fermentation).  I think the apricot is a little too much in the bottled version, but Sheila likes the bottled version better.  The bottles are going to the beach house in July (or at least one of the two cases will be served at the beach), but we are enjoying the keg at Mac’s Brew Pub for now.  I plan to fill 3 bottles from the keg to enter into the fruit beer category at the fair.

Baby Luke’s Barley Wine: 9.25% ABV.  I transferred it to the aging carboy with oak cubes and bourbon on 03-30-2014.  I’m not sure how long I’m going to age it in the “bourbon barrel,” but it will be somewhere between 8 – 12 months.  Just like my grandson, baby Luke, it will change a lot with age, but I’ll just have to wait to see what the change will bring.


Mac’s Brewing is just a few miles from the epicenter of the earthquake that struck on 03-28-2014.  We really got shook up, but I’m happy to report we had no loss of beer.  I was actually in the pub at the time the quake hit, and I watched in  horror as everything, including the walls, moved violently.  I had two full carboys, one at high kraeusen, when this happened.  The beer sloshed around pretty good, but the carboys remained in place and there was NO LOSS OF BEER (remember the quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  Obviously God wants me to be happy because he preserved ALL of my beer).  I have a lot of empty beer bottles (bomber size, various brands and types) on a shelf about 5 feet from the floor.  14 bottles fell off the shelf, but only one broke.  Amazing, huh?  A lot of the wall decorations were knocked cattywhompus, but remained on the walls, with no breakage.  See photos.IMG_7117 IMG_7118


That’s it for now.  I think I’ll go have a beer . . . Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – March 2, 2014

Mac's Brewing System

Mac’s Brewing System

I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks, learning the “ins and outs” of my new equipment, brewing, trouble shooting and creating recipes. As promised in the last newsletter, I will try to provide additional details of Mac’s activities and brews over the last several months.

I have desired a sophisticated brewing system for the last couple of years. Unfortunately they are quite expensive, so I had to wait and save money in order to purchase what I wanted without sinking into debt. When I retired, Sheila made a very generous donation to Mac’s Brew to help fund a brewing system. After a lot of saving and researching, I decided to purchase a “Single-Tier Brew Sculpture” (with digital controls) from MoreBeer at the end of December, 2013. This decision coincided with an end of the year sale at MoreBeer, so I was able to save a little money.

Not only did I upgrade the quality of my brewing equipment, I also doubled my brewing capacity. I opted for a 10 gallon system (the smallest available), which is more than enough for my purposes. I was previously able to brew only 5 gallon batches. The “Brew Sculpture” is made entirely of stainless steel, which makes maintenance and cleaning much easier. My system is pictured in the photo above, taken on brew day #1.

My first batch on the new brewery was nearly a disaster. The nature of this system (especially the digital controls) allow me much greater precision and control over the process; however, everything is so different from my previous equipment that it seemed complicated. Needless to say, I had some real difficulties, and there is definitely a learning curve involved in brewing on a system like this.

On February 12, 2014, I initiated operations on the new system by brewing Baby Luke’s Barley Wine. It probably wasn’t a good decision to attempt such a big and difficult beer when I had never used the system before. Nevertheless, my arrogance got the best of me and I forged ahead with this endeavor. Now, you may be asking yourself, why was it not a good idea to brew a barley wine on my maiden “Brew Sculpture” voyage. There are several reasons: 1. Barley Wine recipes are notoriously difficult to brew right – even commercial breweries struggle with efficiency when brewing ultra high gravity beers like barley wine; 2. Barley wines are expensive beers to make because of the enormous grain bill – my recipe cost $78.00 for a 5 gallon batch; 3. Barley Wines are typically aged for extended periods to mellow out the high alcohol, which can give the beer a boozy and hot taste – any equipment or procedural problems leading to flavor flaws won’t be known for a long time because of the aging process; 4. Unfamiliarity with equipment, or use of new equipment almost invariably leads to problems and unanticipated headaches – e.g., malfunctioning pumps, leaks, misdiagnosis, wrong connections and improper usage. Why risk those inevitable problems with an expensive and difficult recipe, when you can brew something easy and cheap while learning how to use the new equipment? Like I said, my arrogance convinced me that I could sail through this undertaking without much of a problem. FOOL!

Suffice to say, I had a lot of problems on my first brew day, but Baby Luke’s Barley Wine turned out alright (I hope). My efficiency was much lower than anticipated (see Baby Luke’s Barley Wine description below) and I had a catastrophe while cooling the wort. In addition, I had several other minor catastrophes during the brewing process, but managed to escape with 5 gallons of barley wine in the fermenter. I’m going to have to wait (a long time) to see how it turned out. Enough said about day one at Mac’s new brewery.

When you fall off a horse, you need to get right back on, as they say. I applied that principle to my new brewery, having learned by my mistakes and previous problems (it’s not that I enjoy attending the school of hard knocks, it’s just that I frequently find myself there, seated in study hall). I brewed batch two 13 days later (February 25, 2014). This went much smoother, although I still had some problems during the day. I brewed a “smaller” beer (a wheat beer), but increased the batch size to 10 gallons. See Mac’s Apricot Wheat Ale description below for additional details. I have already started on my recipes for the next two batches (an imperial IPA and a bourbon barrel stout). I hope to brew both of those within the next 3 weeks, depending on any intervening events. After that, I’ll make some refreshing “lawn mowing” beers before taking my annual summer break from brewing.

Ok, so now a little information on the current/recent offerings at Mac’s Brew Pub. I recommend you stop by for a draught pint or two before these kegs dry up.

Mac’s Novemberfest: 6.8% ABV. Brewed 11-01-2013. Kegged 11-23-2013. OG 1.075 FG 1.023
This is an Oktoberfest recipe, but fermented with ale yeast (rather than lager yeast). It’s the same recipe as the award winning Whatchamacallit, but fermented with a different yeast. I’ve brewed this recipe three times now, and each time I have used a different yeast, with slightly different flavor results. It’s a beautiful copper color with a nice sweet malty taste, but well balanced with hops. I should have let this condition about one more week in the secondary fermenter, but was in a hurry to get it on tap for Thanksgiving. Next time I will condition awhile longer, and ferment with the same yeast I used the first time I brewed this recipe a couple of years ago. It’s quite good (several people, who aren’t hop-heads like me, like it better than anything else I currently have on tap, including a commercial keg of Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale).

Smack Down: 9.9% ABV. Brewed 12-03-2013. Kegged 01-05-2014. OG 1.090 FG 1.017.
This is the same Smack Down recipe I brewed last April. This Imperial IPA is what I would call bittersweet, as it is very hoppy, but with a lot of residual malty sweetness. This is another one I should have let condition for another 7 – 10 days before cold crashing and kegging. It’s very good, but suffers from a little diacytl. I might be more picky than many others, because even when I point out the flavor flaw to those who have imbibed, no one has been able to detect it. Oh well, I think I know how to eliminate this the next time I brew it.

Mac’s Aeronautical Amber Ale: 6.1% ABV. Brewed 01-08-2014. Kegged 02-09-2014. OG 1.066 FG 1.020
Ah, yes, Mac’s Aeronautical Amber Ale – You’ll Be Soaring With Pleasure. I brewed this same recipe a couple of years ago; don’t know why I didn’t brew it again until now. It’s really good amber ale. I like my beers on the hoppy side, so I made this a little hoppier than a typical amber. The first time I brewed it, I was trying to create something along the lines of Anderson Valley’s Boont Amber Ale (kinda hoppy). Anyway, this is a little hoppier than Boont, and it is wonderful beer. I might try to keep this one available at Mac’s Brew Pub all the time. It doesn’t taste hoppy to me (did I mention that I like hoppy beers?). In fact, I would describe it as sweet, but well balanced. Sheila, however, said it is hoppy, a comment echoed by a couple of others. Well, what can I say? I brew beer the way I like it (that’s why I brew, after all). This was well conditioned, and has no off flavors. In my opinion, it’s the best I have on tap right now (at least, it’s the one without obvious flaws, but maybe not as tasty as Smack Down).

Baby Luke’s Barley Wine: Brewed 02-12-2014. OG 1.095 (FG & alcohol content TBD)
This is the beer I had so much trouble with on brew day (due to equipment – see above). I was hoping for a significantly higher original gravity (10% – 15% higher), but had very low efficiency on brew day (same thing happened when I started brewing all grain about 3 years ago with my old equipment), so I am not too surprised. This is currently in the secondary fermenter (I added additional yeast, a different variety, into the secondary fermenter to help bring down the gravity that was still too high when I transferred from the primary to the secondary), and will probably be there for another couple of weeks). I then plan to age on oak/bourbon until the beginning of December (maybe longer), so I won’t know how this turns out for several months. Stay tuned . . .

Mac’s Apricot Wheat: Brewed 02-25-2014. OG 1.060. (FG & alcohol content TBD).
Mac’s second brew on the new brewing equipment. This is a 10 gallon batch (I could brew a maximum of 5 gallons on my previous equipment). Brew day went much smoother, but I had some difficulties during the cooling process. Hopefully next time this will not be a problem. This batch is currently in the primary fermenters (had to divide the 10 gallon batch in order to get it into 6.5 gallon fermentation vessels). I added the apricots yesterday, and will probably rack to the secondary fermenters in another 4 – 5 days. When the batch is done conditioning (late March), I will keg 5 gallons and bottle the other 5 gallons to bring to the beach house vacation in July.

Mac’s Bourbon Barrel Stout: 11.8% ABV. Brewed 01-14-2013. Bottled 11-21-2013. OG 1.1054 FG 1.021.
This beer turned out quite nice, although there is room for improvement. The final gravity is a bit lower than I wanted (I was hoping to finish around 1.028 – 1.030) so next time I will mash at a higher temperature (like the first time I brewed it) and I will add some other specialty grains to increase the viscosity of the beer. Also, the oak flavor is just a little stronger than I wanted, so next time I will re-use the same oak cubes from this last batch, in order to mellow out the wood flavor. I only drink this once or twice a month (12 oz bottles), so it should be available at Mac’s for awhile.

I think everyone has heard of Pliny the Elder (a double IPA from Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA). It’s consistently ranked among the top beers in the world. Russian River also brews Pliny the Younger, a triple IPA that is next to impossible to find as it’s brewed only once a year in limited quantities. This is ranked as the 3rd best beer in the world ( and Beer Advocate). So why do I mention these in this newsletter? Because you have Pliny the Elder as a top ranked beer, and Pliny the Younger as another impossibly good beer (both are IPA’s). Therefore, I am next going to brew “Mac the Annihilator”, and make my own great Imperial IPA. I tweaked the Smack Down recipe ever so slightly to come up with Mac the Annihilator. I hope to squeeze 10%+ ABV out of this beast. Let’s hope I’m up to the task!

So, Mac the Annihilator is next, and then another huge barrel aged stout. After that, I will turn my attention to some smaller beers for awhile in order to keep the kegerator full for the summer. That’s it for now. I know this newsletter is a little long, but I had a lot of old news to catch you up on. The next newsletter won’t be so lengthy (assuming I publish it in the near future). Thanks for your indulgence, and I hope you appreciate some of the technical “beer geek” stuff.

Mac’s Brew News – February 14, 2014

Beer, anyone?

Beer, anyone?

It’s been quite awhile since I last posted Mac’s Brew News. I guess that means I have a lot of catching’ up to do.

So then, where to begin? First, a happy Valentine’s Day to all. Now, let’s get to the beer news (after all, that’s why you read this newsletter). I last reported in July 2013, so I’ll give you the quick facts and try to keep it brief.

I finished building my 4 tap kegerator in November, 2013. This was a very involved project and I learned a lot by doing it. It involved carpentry, electrical work, fabrication and beer/keg science to make this both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I got the idea from a “Brew Your Own” magazine article (February 2012 issue) and visited several on-line posts for input and ideas. I couldn’t find information on some of the things I wanted to do with it, so I flew by the seat of my pants a little bit. However, that just added to the challenge (and to the satisfaction). I laid awake in bed at 4:00 AM on numerous occasions thinking about how to solve certain problems, what might be the best approach to assembly, and alternative choices. My sleeplessness paid off, in that I came up with several good brilliant ideas to solve dilemmas and/or problems I was encountering.

The kegerator turned out quite nice (See photo above). It had to look good so that I could park it in the family room. It also had to be portable, so it’s on wheels and easy to move.

It has four taps with three secondary regulators (to concurrently allow different carbonation levels and serving pressures for different beer styles). I also built it so that the entire thing could be disassembled if necessary (although it won’t be easy, and I pray that never has to happen). I spent significantly more than I planned, but even at that I saved a huge amount of money over the cost of a commercially built unit (I don’t even know if there are 4 tap kegerators available). I can’t even tell you how much time I spent on the internet looking for parts and ideas, and the number of trips to Home Depot for hardware parts is embarrassing.

I finished build out the week before Thanksgiving (Sheila wanted me to have a beer on tap for our annual family Thanksgiving celebration, so I cleared my schedule for about 3 – 4 weeks in October and November to complete this beast). I brewed the first week of November in order to have one beer ready for Thanksgiving (more on that beer below). It was a little rushed, but we had one draft beer on Thanksgiving (November 28, 2013). I now have four beers on tap – one is a commercial keg of Firestone Walker “Double Barrel Ale”; the other three are Mac’s brews.

I ended my summer 2013 brewing hiatus at the beginning of November. I will give just a brief description of my brews here (in order to keep this newsletter to a reasonable length). More detailed information on the brewing activity (and other brewery updates) will be posted soon in the next newsletter.

Mac’s Novemberfest (6.3% ABV): This is the Whatchamacallit recipe, with a different yeast. It turned out pretty good, but I rushed to keg it (wanted it for Thanksgiving), so it could be better with a little more conditioning.

Smack Down (9.85% ABV): The same recipe as last time with minor modifications. This Imperial IPA is good, but in my opinion, suffers from a little diacetyl. Additional conditioning would have really helped this (big beers like this really benefit from bottle conditioning, but IPA’s are not typically good candidates for lengthy bottle conditioning).

Mac’s Aeronautical Amber Ale (You’ll be Soaring With Pleasure – 6.1% ABV): My first brew of 2014, and it’s a winner. I kegged it last weekend, and it just finished carbonating. I sampled it today and really like it (actually, I’m having another sample as I write this).

Baby Luke’s Barley Wine: Brewed yesterday on my new brewing system (more on that in the next newsletter). Brewed with love and in honor of my second grandson, Luke Vanderpool (thank you, Krissy and David!). I plan to age this on oak/bourbon for an extensive period of time, so I probably wont’ be drinking this until next Christmas.

Mac’s Bourbon Barrel Stout (11.8% ABV): I finally bottled this in November. It’s been aging since last March. It’s really good, but not an everyday beer. I will brew it again (with modifications) , and am considering entering this into the 2014 Orange County Fair.

There’s more to say about all of these brews, but this newsletter is already getting too long. I will provide more details in the next newsletter. I’ll also update additional Mac’s Brew Pub information at that time. Sorry for the delay in putting out this newsletter. The next one will be real soon.