Baby Luke’s Barley Wine & Supplication

Anyone interested in learning about some good beer, even if it’s hard to find?  Here are two such examples for your reading pleasure.  Oh, and please read responsibly!

Baby Luke’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine: Mac’s Brew Pub, CA.  12.2% ABV.

IMG_8338This special release English style barley wine was brewed on February 13, 2014, in honor of my grandson, baby Luke, born January 20, 2014.  It was kegged on October 26, 2014 after aging on bourbon and oak for 7 months.

This barley wine pours a cloudy, dark amber color.  It is low in carbonation, which is commensurate with the English style, so it produces only a slight head, light beige in color. The aroma is sweet bourbon – vanilla, coconut –  and slightly boozy.

The flavor follows the aroma, sweet, but not cloying or syrupy.  Bitterness is noted mid-palate, followed by vanilla and bourbon on the back end.  The bourbon flavor lingers in the very pleasant aftertaste.  This beer warms the throat on the way down, little wonder, as it is 12.2% alcohol after all.

As previously stated, the carbonation level is low (on purpose), and the body is medium to slightly full, with a velvety smooth mouth-feel.  The oak, though not overpowering, lends a slight astringent quality mid-palate.  That strong oaky note rapidly subsides and segues into mellow bourbon flavors.

This beer is good, but not great (you won’t confuse it with Firestone Walker’s Sucaba).  I think my recipe is capable of producing a great beer, and when I brew this again, I will not modify it (well, maybe a little more hops, but not much).  I will, however, change the fermentation protocol in order to end up with a higher final gravity, and will use French oak rather than American when aging it (to cut down on the harsh oaky notes).  I’m not too disappointed, as barley wine is a difficult style to brew.  This beer has some notable flaws, unlike its namesake (baby Luke, pictured above with a death grip on the beer tap), but it’s still pretty good.

Supplication: Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA.  7.75% ABV

This is a limited release beer that is available for only a short time each year.  I have heard about this in the past, but have never found it for sale or tasted it before.  I finally got my chance when I found it at Total Wine the other day.  I would have purchased more, but was prohibited by store policy (one per customer).

Supplication is a brown ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels.  It is aged for 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyes, lactobacillus, and pediococcus (these are special bacteria, used in lambics, which give the beer a funky, sour taste).

Although this is (according to Russian River Brewing) a brown ale, I would describe it as a light amber.  Supplication is bottle conditioned, and is well carbonated, with medium body.  It produces a light cream colored head, which lasts through the entire session.  The aroma is tart cherry.

The flavor is quite tart.  The cherries shine through, but the tart flavor makes one pucker.  The tartness fades to a slightly sweet and oaky flavor on the back of the tongue, which dissolves into a slight bitterness in the aftertaste.  Cherry is also noticeable in the aftertaste, but definitely subdued compared to the bitterness.  As the beer warms, the bitterness fades and the wine barrel comes forward late in the mouth and in the aftertaste.

In my opinion, this beer is REALLY GOOD.  However, you would have to like tart beer in order to enjoy Supplication.  Fizzy yellow beer drinkers, don’t bother – you won’t like it.  At $12.99 for a 12 oz. bottle, it’s not a cheap beer, but worth the price.  I would buy some more, but am doubtful I could find it.

So there you have it.  My opinion, such as it is, about two unusual beers.  If you have high standards, you would probably like them – I do (as Mac’s motto says, “I’ve upped my standards . . . UP YOURS!”).

CHEERS and Happy Thanksgiving!

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!!!!!!!