Mac’s Brew News ALERT

I just learned today that two of Mac’s four entries into the Orange County Fair hombrew competition have won awards.  Last night I received an e-mail invitation (from the competition organizers) to attend the Orange County Fair Homemade Beer Party.  The e-mail didn’t say I won anything, but there was one sentence at the end stating, “The competition party is open to winners, judges and stewards.”  Today I found the results posted on the OC Fair website.  So here is how my two winners fared at the fair:

Little Levi’s Bourbon Barrel Stout – 2nd place in the Wood-Aged Beer class

Mac’s Black Forest Stout – 3rd place in the Fruit Beer class

Mac’s Aeronautical Amber Ale and Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen did not place in the competition, but I’m not disappointed, as two of my four entries won awards.  I’m proud of this accomplishment, and this may just motivate me to brew again . . . . . . .

Here is a link to the OC Fair Homemade Beer Competition Results:

The winners are listed in alphabetical order (6 pages – that’s a lot of beer; would that be fun to be a judge, or what!!).  I may just have to have a celebration party, serve some of my award winning brew and gloat!  Well, maybe I won’t gloat, but if I do, remember Mac’s motto says it all, “I’ve Upped My Standards . . .  UP YOURS!”

Samuel Adams Verloren & Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot (WTF)

I’m not brewing for the next couple of months, so expect to see several Beer Reviews.  Here’s the latest.

Verloren: This is a Gose (pronounced Go-sah) style limited edition brew by Samuel Adams.  It’s an old German style beer brewed with wheat, coriander and salt.  Does that sound weird?  Of course it does.  I will attempt to describe Verloren.

Wheat beers are typically cloudy (that’s what malted wheat does to beer).  However, Verlander is not really hazy/cloudy.  I noticed right away how clear this beer is.  It is a light blond color, has a sweet aroma, but a well balanced flavor – not sweet, and not hoppy.  The head is limited, and does not remain too long, but the beer has a significant amount of carbonation.  It has the signature coriander flavor (kind of peppery), with a nice malty aftertaste.  I did not notice any saltiness.

This beer is mild, with a well balanced flavor profile and only 6.0% ABV (so it’s easy drinking and refreshing).  The coriander is noticeable, lending it a very pleasant flavor.  This is a good beer (Sheila really liked it), but not my style.  I will not buy any more of this (if it’s even available any longer).  Let me emphasize, however, it is very good beer, just not a style I would prefer to drink.

Wilco Tango Foxtrot: You could legitimately call this WTF (Wilco Tango Foxtrot are the phonetic alphabet for WTF, except for W, which is actually Whiskey in the phonetic alphabet, but that might be too confusing [or even prohibited] on a beer label).  It’s a limited release beer brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma California.  So what is WTF?  The label on this beer says, “We’re not quite in the Red or in the Black . . . . . . Does that mean we’re in the Brown?”  The label describes it as “A Malty, Robust, Jobless Recovery Ale”

That pretty much sums it up.  This is a big brown ale.  It’s 7.8% ABV, and 64.2 IBU (OG = 1.072).  When you think of a brown ale, the most well known example is probably Newcastle.  When dealing with WTF, get that Newcastle image out of your mind.  They have very little in common.  The IBU (hoppiness) profile is more in line with an IPA, rather than a brown ale.  Most brown ales are malty.  This one is malty with a BIG hop bite.  It’s a reddish dark brown color, crystal clear, with a malty sweet aroma (stick your nose in the glass and smell it before you taste it).  The flavor, however, is much more on the bitter side, but not overwhelming (remember now, I like hoppy beers, including Pliny the Elder and Ruination).  This is a much more complex brown beer than something like Newcastle.  It certainly earns it’s name (WTF),  as it is quite unusual.  It’s very good, and comes with my recommendation.

This was a limited release in 2011(spring/summer), but I have seen it recently at Total Wine, so it’s still available.  The bottle (22 oz) I sampled today has been in my refrigerator since last fall.  If you want to get some, you probably should hurry, as I don’t know how much longer this will be available.  Buy it if you can find it.

I hope you find these beer reviews helpful.  I’m not a certified beer judge, and I’m not really that sophisticated when it comes to tasting and describing beer.  I just try to give an honest assessment of my impressions when I taste them.  Cheers!

Brew News Update – Mac’s Cherry Wheat

Mac’s Cherry Wheat is my vacation brew – created to enhance our summertime beach house vacation experience.  I tasted this brew on Thursday June 21st, to get an idea of it’s worthiness to serve to my fellow beach goers.

The color is dark golden with a slight reddish tint, cloudy as one would expect from a hefeweizen.  This hefe is an American style, quite different in flavor from a Bavarian style hefe.  As with any hefeweizen (American or German) it should be highly carbonated.  I sampled one bottle less than three weeks from bottling and noted that it is well carbonated, but not as highly carbonated as the style calls for.  Maybe another week or two of bottle conditioning will correct that.

It has a sweet cherry aroma, but the flavor is overwhelmingly that of tart cherries.  In that regard, I would characterize it as similar to a kriek (a Belgian tart cherry beer; compare to Lindemans Kriek – a sweet/tart cherry ale).  It has a very nice wheat aftertaste (5 – 10 seconds after swallowing), a testament to it’s American hefeweizen roots.  There is no hoppiness, just as one would expect with a hefeweizen.

This beer is very good, but I would not drink it to excess.  The tart flavor is front and center, which is a result of adding a lot of real cherry (puree) to the primary fermentation.  There is no doubt that the fruit in this beer is cherry (the flavor is unmistakable), but it is more tart than I had hoped for.  If I brew something like this in the future, I will not add real fruit (cherry) to the fermenter; I will only add cherry flavor concentrate to the bottling bucket (or to the keg).

So, in summary, I would describe this as a good beer, but not necessarily a crowd pleaser.  It’s more tart than I like, although it’s similar to a Belgian kriek, and someone who likes sour beers (like Flemmish reds) would probably like this.  I’m not sure that the usual suspects at the beach house will like this.  I might have them sample it before I bring it with me to serve at the beach.  If they don’t like it, I will leave it at the pub and enjoy it myself during the summer.

This beer should be considered health food.  It’s made from grain (barley and wheat), water, hops (vegetable) and fruit (cherry).  I guess you could say it’s good for you, so drink up, enjoy and get healthy.  Cheers!

Mac’s Brew News – June 18, 2012

Today I bottled Mac’s Irish Red (Toe) Ale.  It weighed in at 6.7% ABV.  It’ s a very nice dark amber color, with a malty aroma and flavor.  I tasted a small sample at bottling time, and believe this will maintain it’s malty characteristic through carbonation (carbonation tends to dry out a beer).  The beer is remarkably clear, with very little trub left in the fermenter after racking to the bottling bucket (only yeast left behind).  This should be ready for consumption in mid-July.

This was the last brew from Mac’s Brew Pub for a couple of months.  I brewed 7 different ales in about 5 1/2 months during the winter and spring of 2012.  I will probably resume in late August with some fall beers.  Hopefully by then, I will have my kegerator constructed so I can keg the beer rather than bottle it (much less work to keg).  So, Mac’s Brew Pub will not be producing for the next couple of months, but will still be in operation, and will be open to friends and family for beer tasting and consumption.  I currently have in stock: Little Levi’s Bourbon Barrel Stout; Mac’s Black Forest Stout; Phat Pliny; Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen; Mak’s Dunkelweizen; Mac’s Cherry Wheat; Mac’s Irish Red (Toe) Ale.  I also have a few bottles of some 2011 brew – Mac’s Vanilla Oat Stout.

Stop by the pub soon for a beer or two.  Cheers!

Fruet & Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA

It’s time for another beer review.  This time it’s about The Bruery and Stone.

Fruet – This is brewed by The Bruery in Placentia, California.  It’s their 4th anniversary ale, and it just recently became available (the end of May).  The Bruery has only been in business four years, but it is already world renowned.  How were they able to become so well known and respected in such a short period of time?  If you have tasted any of their beers, you understand why.  It’s because they consistently brew unbelievably good beer.  Fruet is the latest example.

This is a beer brewed with Belgian yeast, but does not have the signature Belgian flavor profile.  It’s a cloudy, dark amber ale, very complex, 15.5% ABV, and aged in bourbon barrels.  The aroma is the oak/vanilla from the barrel.  The overwhelming flavor is also bourbon barrel, but there is a noticeable fruity flavor as well.  I was at The Bruery’s Provisions Store looking for a bottle of Melange 3.  They were out of it, and I inquired about the 2012 anniversary ale in stock (Fruet).  I was hesitant to purchase (at $30 per 750 ML bottle), because, even though I love bourbon barrel stouts, this was not a stout, and I was afraid I wouldn’t really love it (when you pay $30 for one bottle, you better love it).  The guy offered a small sample (less than a mouthful); I tasted it and had to buy it (I got bottle number 18610).  Was it worth it?  Definitely.  If I’ve piqued your curiosity, and you’re considering buying a bottle, I can only tell you it is worth the price. HOWEVER, I must offer this stern warning: FIZZY YELLOW BEER DRINKERS WILL  NOT LIKE FRUET.  It’s too different, too complex and too expensive (so, you Bud Light drinkers, go to Costco and buy a couple of cases of your favorite Budweiser for the price of one bottle of Fruet – you’ll be happy, and the bottle of Fruet that you didn’t purchase will be available to someone who truly appreciates quality craft beer).  I intend to purchase one more bottle of this beer and age it for a few years.

Stone’s Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA – This is Stone’s special edition of one of their popular staples.  Ruination was first released in June, 2002.  It is 100+ IBU’s, and a fantastic double IPA (the name “Ruination” comes from it’s hoppy, bitter ruinous effect on the palate).  In honor of 10 years of Ruination, Stone changed up the recipe a bit and brewed this huge IPA.

If you’ve had Ruination, you know it’s fairly dry and quite bitter.  This special Anniversary edition is bigger in alcohol (10.8% ABV; regular Ruination is 7.7% ABV) and flavor.  The significantly higher alcohol content is from a bigger grain bill (not sure if it’s more of the same, or if some other grain malt variety has been added).  The extra malt lends a sweeter character to the beer (not as dry), although I would not describe it as complex (it’s all about the hops).  I haven’t had regular Ruination in a couple of months, so I’m not sure if my recollection is right, but here I offer a comparison of the regular Ruination with the 10th Anniversary edition.  Anniversary definitely has a more malty flavor.  I would describe it as bittersweet.  It is more like Bootlegger’s Knuckle Sandwich.  The hoppy flavor is also stronger, with more of a piney than citrus aroma/flavor.  I prefer more citrus, but this is very good.  I highly recommend this beer, especially if you’re adventurous or an IPA lover.  I plan to buy several more bottles and enjoy this one for awhile.

Disclaimer – As stated above (for Fruet), FIZZY YELLOW BEER DRINKERS WILL NOT LIKE THIS BEER.  In fact, I would go so far as to say they would hate this beer.  It’s very strong, but, as the Arrogant Bastard says, “Fizzy yellow beer is for wussies.”  Also, I have to be in the mood to drink a double IPA like Ruination.  Extrapolate that sentiment out a little further for the Anniversary edition.

Mac’s Brew News – June 7, 2012

Here is the latest and greatest from Mac’s Brew Pub

Mac’s Cherry Wheat – I bottled Mac’s Cherry Wheat on Saturday May 26, 2012 (I planned to bottle on Friday May 25th, but was laid up that day; see explanation under Mac’s Irish Red (Toe) Ale).  This American style hefe ended up at 7.1% ABV.  It doesn’t look like a traditional wheat beer because of the dark color.  It had been a nice golden yellow, but changed to a dark red/maroon when I added the pureed cherry to the fermenter.  I could have avoided this by not adding the fruit, but then adding flavor concentrate when I bottled.  This would have given it the cherry flavor without the color, but then it would not be a real fruit beer (it would have only been a fruit flavored beer), and I’m not sure if that’s right (it seems a little like cheating, although it really isn’t).  In addition, the fruit adds fermentable sugar, and in this case it boosted the OG by 2 points (conservative estimate), and boosted the alcohol content by approximately 0.3%.  By adding the fruit to the primary fermenter, most of the sugar and a lot of the flavor ferments out, so I also added the cherry flavor concentrate when bottling.

Mac’s Cherry Wheat is my annual vacation beer (beach house in Oceanside in July).  A couple of years ago I brewed an apricot wheat and last year I brewed a boysenberry wheat for vacation.  This year, of course, it’s cherry wheat.  I also used a different yeast this year – American Hefeweizen yeast vs. California Ale yeast for the fruit-wheat beers in years past.  I’ll probably sample one after about 3 weeks in the bottle to make sure it’s good, then start serving it on Saturday July 7th.

Mac’s Irish Red (Toe) Ale – This was going to be called Mac’s Irish Red Ale, and was going to be brewed on Monday May 28, 2012.  However, on Friday May25th, I had to have part of my toe nail (right big toe) removed (that’s why I couldn’t bottle the cherry wheat that day).  Needless to say, my right big toe was sore and red for several days, and I was unable to wear shoes.  My two daughters saw the bandages wrapped around my toe, and being extremely compassionate, laughed at the sight and said it looked like a cartoon foot (you know, when a cartoon character drops an anvil on their toe, it’s instantly huge/swollen and throbbing) . . . . . . come to think of it, not only did it look like that, it felt like that as well.  Anyway, this gave me pause to think about whether or not I would be up to brewing on Monday May 28th.  I decided to go for it, but on brew day, I still had a sore, red toe.  Thus, my brew became Mac’s Irish Red (Toe) Ale.

Now that you know the story behind the name, what about the beer itself?  My intention is to have a big malty Irish red ale.  What is Irish red?  It’s really just a dark amber ale, and I don’t believe the style or the name originated in Ireland – I’m pretty sure this style is an American innovation.  Nevertheless, the style is malty (try a George Killian’s Irish Red), with a nice caramel sweetness.  I added a little more hops than the style calls for to help balance the sweetness (and I’ve said it before, I like hoppy beer).  Notice I said balance.  I’m not trying to create an amber IPA, just a red ale that isn’t as sweet as usual.

Brew day was Monday, May 28th (Memorial Day).  Yes, the landlord (Sheila) was home that day and allowed me to brew (thank you, honey!).  You may not be aware of this, but Sheila really likes Irish red ale (maybe that’s why I had permission to brew that day) so she’s looking forward to the end result.

My OG was 1.064, so I am expecting another 7% ABV beer.  There was a nice vigorous fermentation for a few days but the krausen was pretty much gone and the beer was remarkably clear by Saturday June 2nd.  The ale is currently in the secondary fermenter, but looks like it will be ready for bottling within the next week.  I’ll shoot for Saturday June 16th.

Mak’s Dunkelweizen – (Similar review Posted previously in “Beer Reviews” – I’m just adding the tasting notes to the newsletter) It’s hard to describe this beer (but I’m gonna try).  I will make a comparison with Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen.  The color is a little lighter than I was aiming for (couldn’t find the dark wheat I was looking for), but it’s nice and cloudy.  The aroma is different than the hefe – it’s fruity, but not so much like banana.  This wheat beer is loaded with flavor.  Again, there is a fruitiness, but not as much banana and clove-like notes.  The caramel malts (Caramunich and Crystal 120) really add some depth to the flavor and aroma – giving it somewhat of a cherry flavor.  The hops are not an issue, but there is a little bit of bitterness from the dark grains (Crystal and Caramunich).

Overall, this is a very good beer.  I tasted it side-by-side with my hefe.  Mak’s Bavarian Hefeweizen tasted a little bland when drinking right after the dunkel, so I definitely got the deeper flavor profile I was looking for.  When I brew this again, I will attempt to locate the ingredients for the original recipe (Dark Wheat, and Dark Munich), but keep the Caramunich.

I’m waiting to hear about results from the OC Fair home brew competition.  I should know something around the middle of July.  If I win a ribbon, I’ll publish it in the news letter right away.  If I don’t win anything, then I never really entered any beer in the competition, so there!

After I bottle Mac’s Irish Red (Toe) Ale, the brew pub will be shutting down production for the summer.  That doesn’t mean I won’t have any Mac’s brew to drink for a couple of months.  I have a lot of it in storage right now, hopefully enough to last for several weeks, maybe get me to late August when I will brew another faux Oktoberfest for the fall.

If I used any terms in this newsletter that you don’t understand, please refer to the Terms and Definitions category.  I think just about any technical term I used in this newsletter is listed there.


Samuel Adams & Stone

It’s time for another beer review.  This time I tasted a limited edition Samuel Adams, and and anniversary beer from Stone Brewing.

Samuel Adams NORSE LEGEND: This is a Sahti style beer.  I found/bought it at Total Wine last week.  It’s a good beer, but first a little disclaimer.  I had no idea what Sahti was.  On the label below the style (Sahti), Samuel Adams identifies it as, “Ale brewed with juniper berries and aged on juniper berries.”  Hmmmmm, that sounded interesting, so I bought a bottle.

Now for a little beer lesson (one I just learned myself).  Sahti is a traditional beer of Finland – it’s been around for hundreds of years but I had never tasted it or even heard of it.  Well, let me be ignorant no more!  I looked up Sahti on the website where I purchase most of my brewing equipment.  I’ll quote their description, “Though modern brewers have taken some liberties with modern brewing materials, this anachronistic style is still being brewed by sahti masters as it was 400 years ago: in wooden vessels with a filter bed made of juniper twigs. As they say in Finland, “Kippis!”

So now you know as much about Sahti as I do.  But, let me continue with my review.  This beer is wonderful.  I would describe it as an amber ale, both in color and taste.  It’s very malty, with no hops in the aroma or flavor.  Obviously Samuel Adams didn’t filter this on a bed of juniper twigs, but they brewed it with and aged it on juniper berries, to (apparently) give it an authentic quality.  I really like amber ales, but most of them are so malty sweet that I only want to have one and then move on to another style of beer.  This Norse Legend did not leave me feeling like that (I don’t know that it’s even an amber ale, but it looks and tastes like it).  I drank two glasses yesterday, and did not feel overwhelmed.  It was DELICIOUS!!!  I highly recommend this beer

13th Anniversary Ale (brewed by Stone Brewing): This is the 13th anniversary of Bottleworks, not Stone Brewing.  Bottleworks commissioned Stone to brew their anniversary ale.  It’s brewed with 13 different grains and 13 different hop varieties.  This is unlike a typical Stone brewed beer.  It’s very good, but not hoppy (as one would expect with a Stone ale).  I would describe it as a sweet stout, in the tradition of an Imperial Russian Stout.  It’s 11% ABV, but is easy drinking.  The flavor is chocolatey, but no hint of coffee, as is typical of an IRS (no roasted barley in the grain bill).  No bitterness, and no boozy taste.  This is a very enjoyable beer.  Obviously, with 13 different hop varieties, it’s got a lot of hops, but it is very well balanced, not overly sweet, and not overly hopped.  I think it’s excellent, and would recommend it.

Both of these beers are limited release, so if you are interested (after reading these descriptions) you better purchase them pretty soon.  There are limited quantities, and they are both excellent beers.  They probably won’t be on the store shelves very long.

Cheers.    MAC