Brew News Update – April 14, 2012

I bottled Phat Pliny and Mac’s Bavarian Hefeweizen last Saturday (April 7, 2012).  Phat Pliny weighed in at 10.1% ABV.  Yes, you read that correctly and it’s not a typo.  PHAT PLINY IS 10.1% ABV.  I was looking to give Pliny a little boost, but I didn’t expect this much of kick.  It tastes quite good also, although it’s a little difficult to assess the flavor before carbonation.  It is the ultimate hoppy beer, but also has a nice malty taste.  Hopefully the carbonation won’t dry it out too much.  There are 48 x 12 oz bottles, and tasting day is Saturday May 5th.  Bob Waddell and Mike Matulich are already whining, afraid that they won’t get any of it.  The need not worry; if they’re nice I’ll let them split a 12 oz bottle (just kidding dad, there’s plenty for you guys).

I also bottled Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen last Saturday (poor planning on my part – bottling two batches of different beer on the same day was a lot of work).  This brew has a nice fruity flavor with no hoppiness (the hallmark of a German style hefeweizen).  It’s cloudy with a nice light golden color.  It is 6.4% ABV, a little high for a German hefe, but the alcohol is not noticeable (the flavor that is, not sure about the effect).  Again, we’ll see how it holds up to carbonation, but it should be a nice refreshing summer beer, available for drinking in early May (Saturday May 5th, same day as Phat Pliny) just as the weather starts getting hot.  I ended up with 50 x 12 oz bottles and two growlers.  There is a little extra priming sugar in this batch, as German hefe is typically a highly carbonated beer.

I brewed a Dunkelweizen on Tuesday April 10, 2012.  It was a good day to brew  – nice cool weather, no one to bother, and a day off of work.  I had some trouble getting the ingredients I wanted, so I had to revise the recipe at the provisions store.  I based the recipe on my hefe, with some dark grains substituted and/or added.  Not sure how it will turn out, it might taste just like Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen as I had to settle for third choice on the grains (the Dark Wheat and Dark Munich were unavailable).  I really had an efficient mash though, (90% as calculated by my ProMash software), so I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.  Right now it’s in the primary fermenter, with a lot of the yeast/krausen in the pot of water next to the carboy (good thing I used a blow-off hose instead of an airlock!!).

Next up is a cherry wheat concoction for summer vacation (July).  I’ll brew that at the end of this month or the first week of May.  I guess I need to sharpen my pencil and come up with a recipe pretty soon.  My dilemma is whether to ferment with the pureed fruit or to just put flavor concentrate in the beer at bottling.  Hmmmm, maybe I’ll flip a coin – there’s pros and cons to either method.

That’s it for now.  I think I’ll go open a bottle and relax with a good brew.


Mac’s Brew News – April 1, 2012

Sunday April 1, 2012

Well, I’m officially a Senior Citizen now, and yesterday had occasion to take advantage of my newfound status – I got the Senior citizen Discount at the movie.  Yes, I only had to pay $9.00 at the show instead of the adult matinee price of  $9.50.  Wow, I’m completely under whelmed.  Oh well, it’s better than a kick in the butt with a pointed boot.

The first thing I need to do on this blog is to thank my nephews, Joel and Russ.  They set this up for me (their birthday present to me) and gave me a quick lesson on how to  use it.  Thank you Joel and Russ.  I’ll try to keep it up, and hopefully I won’t have to bother you too much for advice and help.  You guys are the best.

Mac’s Brew News
Ok, now let’s get to what this blog is all about – BEER.  Specifically, Mac’s brew.  I haven’t sent out Mac’s Brew News in awhile, so I will try to catch everyone up with what’s been going on at Mac’s Brew Pub.

Phat Pliny the Elder: What is Phat Pliny you ask?  It’s Pliny the Elder with grain added (base malt – 2 row pale – with some Crystal 40 and some Carapils).  Now, Pliny is excellent beer as brewed by Russian River Brewing, so I wasn’t really hoping to improve the flavor.  I just was trying to boost the alcohol content a little and give it slightly more body.  I think my recipe worked pretty well, as the Original Gravity (OG) was 1.088, significantly higher than the base recipe target of 1.072 – 1.076.  I think 9.0% ABV (or thereabouts) is quite likely.

I like to drink Pliny the Elder, but it is pretty scarce, so in order to have it in abundance, I brewed it myself.  I brewed it on March 5th, and it is still in the secondary fermenter, although I will probably bottle it sometime this week.  I have exactly 5.gallons in the carboy, but the bottom is pretty deep in hops (dry hopping with 5 oz of  Simcoe, Columbus and Centennial hops), so I imagine I will probably have about 4.5 gallons in the bottling bucket.  I hope to have about 48 – 50 x 12 oz bottles – and yes, I will share it with friends and family.  It should be drinkable around the beginning of May.

Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen: Ah yes, nothing like a German style hefeweizen to quench your thirst on a hot day.  This beer is meant to be consumed in large quantities.  This is a very low hopped beer (2/3 oz of Noble hops used as compared to Phat Pliny, in which I used 14 oz of hops for the same batch size), so it is not at all bitter.  It is quite refreshing, and is likely to finish in the neighborhood of 5.5% ABV, which means you can drink a lot of it without getting too bent..  This is Sheila’s favorite beer style, and I don’t think she will be disappointed with this one.  It was brewed on March 13th, and is also in the secondary fermenter at this time.  The OG was 1.058, just slightly higher than I expected when I made the recipe.  We’ll see how it tastes, but in the future (see next listed beer) I might cut down the grain in order to make the beer right around 5.0% ABV.

Mak’s Dunkelweizen: See previous description (Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen) and add some dark specialty grains for a nice amber color and a little extra flavor.  This is my next project – I hope to brew this on April 9th, and should be drinking it in mid – late June.  I haven’t decided what my grain bill is going to look like, but it will be very similar to my regular hefe.

Mac’s Cherry Wheat: Every year for our annual family beach house vacation, I brew a refreshing, drinkable beer that will appeal to just about everyone..  This year I think I’ll brew a cherry wheat beer.  This will be an American style wheat beer base recipe (as opposed to the German style hefeweizens listed above – very different taste), with  some fruit added.  Yes, I typically brew a fruit beer for the beach house (apricot wheat, boysenberry wheat), so this year, in staying with the precedent, it will also be a fruit wheat beer.  I’m not sure if I’m going to add cherry puree to the fermenter or just add concentrated cherry flavoring to the bottling bucket.  Last year I pureed boysenberries and added to the fermenter (plus boysenberry concentrate to the bottling bucket).  The beer was good but had the color of dark pink lemonade from the fruit.  I guess I’ll figure it out and brew it sometime in late April (after the Reno Jazz Festival) or early May.  It should be ready just in time for July 7th, our first day at the beach (yes, the men will sit on the patio, consume good beer and smoke cigars while we solve the world’s problems and watch the sun set).

Little Levi’s Bourbon Barrel Stout: I previously described this beer, so this is just an update.  I bottled it on  February 20th, 2012.  It’s 9.3% ABV with a wonderful Imperial Stout flavor.  The bourbon flavor is much subdued, until you let it warm up to correct serving temperatures (55° – 60° F = cellar temperature).  The oak flavor is quite obvious and is really good.  However, if you let it warm to the correct IRS temperatures, you will be rewarded with the mellow bourbon and oak flavors.  This has a huge stout flavor and the body is as thick as motor oil.  This is exactly what I was aiming for, except for the subdued bourbon barrel flavor (next time I brew this I will age for 6 – 9 months on the bourbon barrel chunks).

Mac’s Black Forest Stout: As with Little Levi’s, I already described this brew, but wanted to provide an update.  I bottled this beer on March 6th (the day after brewing Phat Pliny) and tasted it last week (Thursday March 29th).  It’s 9.0%ABV, and the taste is (excuse me for being an arrogant bastard) amazing.  To be able to brew something like this (as I stated in my previous newsletter) is why I brew my own beer and make my own recipes.  This still needs several months of aging, but already is a very good beer.

OC Fair Update: I still plan to enter some of my beer in the homebrew competition at the 2012 Orange County Fair.  I realized last week, however, I will only be able to enter something I have already brewed.  The fair starts in July, but the entries must be made by May 14th.  I don’t have enough time left to brew, ferment, bottle, carbonate and condition anything by that date if I start now.  Sooooooo, I plan to enter Little Levi’s Bourbon Barrel Stout, Mac’s Black Forest Stout and  Mac’s Aeronautical Ale into the competition.  I may also enter Phat Pliny, but that is more of a clone (Pliny the Elder) with some detours than my original recipe.  I don’t think it’s right to enter someone else’s recipe into a competition, although people do it ALL THE TIME.  I did change it somewhat ( it should be about 9% ABV vs.. Pliny which is 8%), so I might enter it after all ( I have to decide if I feel right about that – I have to live with myself after all, and I would like to think of myself as a man of integrity)

I’m wrapping up for now, so I hope you enjoyed this update (wow, if you read the whole thing, you  must really be into beer, like I am).  So, until next time, relax with a beer and enjoy life.

By the way, you were probably wondering, am I drinking any beer while writing this blog?  Well, wonder no more.  How could I write about Mac’s Brewing without having some good beer to go along with my thoughts?  Of course I couldn’t.  I’m drinking Art of Darkness, by Ommegang.  It is described as “A SPELLBINDING HOMAGE TO BREWING’S DARK ARTS.”  It’s a Belgian style dark beer, 8.9% alcohol, and was given to by my father on my birthday.  Thanks, Dad!  Good beer.