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.