Mac’s Brew News – November 3, 2019

It’s time for Mac’s Brew News again.  What can I say?  I’ve got a lot of news to share with all you beer lovers out there, but I’ll try to keep it short.  Please read responsibly!

I have only written about one beer I brewed in 2019 – “Reefer Nearness”, so I will try to catch you up on what has been created this year (so far) at Mac’s Brew Pub.  I’ll try to be brief about each beer – after all, I don’t want you to lament that you didn’t get any.  For information about Reefer Nearness, see Mac’s Brew News – January 26, 2019.

Goldihops (And the Free Beers): Brewed February 18, 2019.  5.2% ABV, 14 IBU.

I brewed this honey blonde ale in collaboration with Martin and Marty Gilberstadt.  It’s my usual honey blonde ale, and this time I brewed it specifically for the Orange County Fair homebrew competition.  When I entered this a beer few years ago, it won second place and the judges made suggestions for improvement.  Well, this time I followed their advice and revised the recipe slightly, per their suggestions.

The beer turned out very good but didn’t score as well.  Normally there is a section to write comments about the beer when entering it into the competition (all entries are completed online).  But his year, there was no allowance for comments in this category.  The judges dinged me for off flavors that were intentionally brewed into the beer (honey, sweet orange peel, coriander seed).  They perceived the nuance of honey and the citrus notes as imperfections and scored the beer accordingly.  Oh well, c’est la vie!

San Andreas Malt: Brewed March 6, 2019.  5.5% ABV, 43 IBU.

I brewed this lager in collaboration with Sam Simpson.  I added just a bit more hops than I did in the original iteration because I suspected that the hops were a little old and might not have the alpha acid content indicated on the package.  I was wrong, however, and San Andreas II turned out just a bit hoppier and more bitter than the original (see Mac’s Brew News – January 26, 2019 for details about the original SAM).  Although it was very good, I’ll go back to the original recipe next time I brew this.

Mac’s Apricot Wheat/Cherry Wheat: Brewed April 23, 2019.  5.6% ABV, 15 IBU.

My standby summertime wheat ale brew.  I normally brew a 10-gallon batch of wheat ale and split the fermentation in two – 5 gallons of fruit-wheat ale, and 5 gallons of Bavarian style hefeweizen.  This year I decided to divide the fermentation and make two different fruit beers – apricot and cherry.  Both turned out delicious.  I still have some cherry wheat on tap, but the apricot has been gone for a while (it’s a little more popular).

Woolly Bugger Blonde (Every Fisherman Should Have a Couple): Brewed April 30, 2019.  5.2% ABV, 14 IBU.

Goldihops (And the Free Beers)” by any other name is still Mac’s Honey Blonde Ale, and that’s exactly what Woolly Bugger Blonde is.  I brewed a 10-gallon batch of this beer for a fund raiser that we hosted on June 1, 2019, at Mac’s Brew Pub.  The event benefited Wild Warrior Adventure, a group that takes wounded combat veterans (including those suffering from PTSD) on fly-fishing retreats in wilderness areas of the Western U.S.  In an effort to encourage mental and spiritual healing and renewal, the men are removed from the stresses of daily life, where they spend their days fly fishing in pristine rivers and streams.  They are encouraged to build meaningful relationships by engaging in deep conversations with the other veterans and the retreat guides/facilitators.  Wild Warrior Adventure has been eminently successful in helping these wounded veterans gain a new and healthy view of life.  The costs associated with the retreat and the transportation expenses to get to the wilderness venues (airfare, ground transportation, etc.) are covered by this organization, so the participants are charged no money for the experience.  [Note: Don Evans (my brother-in-law) is on the Board of Directors, and Paul Cunningham (an acquaintance) is the Director of Wild Warrior Adventure.  For additional information about this fine organization, refer to their website at: ]

Woolly Bugger Blonde (aka: Goldihops) is easy drinking and refreshing.  I always have it on tap during the summertime; it’s Mac’s most popular brew.  But what is a “Woolly Bugger” you ask?  It’s a fly fishing lure (or fly).  In fact, it’s one of the most common lures found in a fly fisherman’s tackle box (thus the slogan attached to the name of the beer . . . “Every Fisherman Should Have a Couple.”).

Fat Ass in a Glass: Brewed July 6, 2019.  12.0% ABV (so far), 72 IBU.

This is an English style Barleywine, the same recipe (scaled up) that won first place at the Orange County Fair homebrew competition in 2017, and brewed commercially at Phantom Ales in Anaheim, CA.  This time I brewed a 15-gallon batch (in collaboration with my young friend, Dave Hollandbeck) in order to age it in a 15-gallon oak bourbon barrel.  The beer was conditioned, post fermentation, in three 5-gallon carboys for three months.  It went into the Few Spirits Bourbon barrel at 12% ABV on October 23, 2019, where it will remain for 6 – 8 months while developing a smooth Bourbon character.  I tasted a small sample when I racked it to the barrel – it’s quite good, sweet (as per the style) and smooth for such a big beer that’s this young.  I will have it on tap (on nitrogen) sometime in late spring or early summer 2020.

Hurricane Mac: Brewed July 24, 2019.  7.2% ABV, 45 IBU.

Our homeowners association has an end of summer block party each year.  They asked me to brew a batch of beer for the party; this year I brewed 10 gallons of Hurricane Mac (a Category 5 Tropical Hop Storm).  I brewed this recipe once before (for Mac’s beer appreciation party in September 2018), but I couldn’t get the same hops this time (Zythos was unavailable), so I substituted with Mandarina Bavaria.  I think this was a good choice – the beer was delicious, with loads of citrus, tangerine, grapefruit, melon, berry and mango flavors.  Unfortunately, all the neighbors were thirsty that day and drank most of the 10 gallons.  I was left with just a few pints for myself, so I brewed it again on October 15th (this time with fellow brewer Jeff Nash).  It’s currently dry-hopping, and I hope to have it back on tap by mid-November.  If you spend Thanksgiving Day at Mac’s Brew Pub, you can have as much Hurricane Mac as you like, and then you will be truly thankful!

Strange Addiction: Brewed May 30, 2018.  13% ABV (est.), 78 IBU.

I’ve written about Strange Addiction for over a year, and now it’s finally on tap.  This is a 15-gallon bourbon barrel aged English style Imperial Oatmeal Stout.  After barrel aging (in the Few Spirits Bourbon barrel) for 7 months I racked it to three 5-gallon kegs in April 2019.  I added coffee to one keg (Strange Addiction – Coffee), and coconut to a second keg (Strange Addiction – Coconut).  The third keg was left as the unmodified base beer (Strange Addiction).  Strange Addiction and Strange Addiction – Coffee were carbonated and then pressurized with nitrogen for dispensing in April.  SA – Coconut required extra attention.

It took me about 3 months of experimenting with the coconut version and sampling it for the flavor development.  Finally, in August (2019) I carbonated it and put it on nitrogen with SA – Coffee.  I removed the unmodified SA from the nitrogen tap and bottled it (500 ml bottles).  I now have three versions of Strange Addiction available at Mac’s Brew Pub.

[A quick side note about Strange Addiction: The name of this beer originates with an Australian fellow I met at the 2018 Kentucky Derby, Peter Chapman (refer to Mac’s Brew News – June 26, 2018 and Mac’s Brew News September 17, 2018 for full details about the brewing, aging and naming of this incredible beer).  I told him I would ship one bottle of each version of Strange Addiction to him when it was all ready.  I filled three bombers (one of each version) and when I contacted FedEx to send them to Australia, I learned the shipping charges would be a minimum of $230 USD.  Being the cheap bastard that I am, I backed out of my agreement with Peter and instead sent him a Strange Addiction tap handle (about $40 for shipping via US Postal Service).  Hey Peter, my apologies, mate, but if you make it over to the colonies any time soon, you’re welcome to come by Mac’s Brew Pub and have as much Strange Addiction as you want – if I still have any by then.  Thanks for your understanding!


I entered Strange Addiction – Coffee and Strange Addiction – Coconut into the Southern California Regional Homebrewing Championship (October 19, 2019).  SA – Coconut won gold, and SA – Coffee won a silver medal.  I knew these were excellent beers, but I didn’t know how well they would compete.  Beers on nitrogen have a special consistency and creamy smooth mouth feel that add a lot to their enjoyment.  HOWEVER, when bottling a nitrogen dispensed homebrew, something is lost in the translation because the nitrogen effect is lost (commercial brewers can effectively bottle nitrogen beers because they have expensive, specialized equipment that allows nitrogen carryover in the container).  So, I increased the volume of CO2 in the Strange Addiction variants for a couple of days prior to filling a few bottles for the competition, hoping that it wouldn’t seem to be completely flat when the judges opened the bottles and sampled the competition beer.  I guess it worked, or maybe it made no difference as the beer was so good that it didn’t matter.  Whatever the case, it pleased the judges.  When I get the score sheets with comments, I’ll look to see if they mentioned anything about the carbonation level.

That’s about it for all the latest news about Mac’s Brew.  However, I must give a “Shout Out” to a couple of fine young fellows I met on Friday (November 1st) at Fullerton Brew Company in downtown Fullerton.  I walked into the establishment for Friday afternoon Happy Hour when a group of about 8 – 10 young men started shouting at me, “They have Pliny on tap, they have Pliny on tap!”  In my arrogance I assumed they all knew I was the award-winning Mac of Mac’s Brew Pub, and they wanted to gain my favor by informing me that the nearly impossible-to-find Pliny the Elder (Russian River Brewing) was available on tap.  Well, it turns out that I’m not so famous after all . . .  they had no idea who I was (nor did they care) but were just being helpful and courteous when they saw I was wearing a Russian River Brewing “Pliny the Younger” shirt.

Later, after having two pints of PTE, I went over to their table to thank them for their kindness in notifying me.  By then most of the group was gone and only two remained – “Condor” and “G”.  I struck up a conversation with these two delightful young men and found out they are Firefighters for the City of Fullerton (this was also when I learned that they didn’t know who I was, but informed me about the PTE because of my shirt).

At Fullerton Brew Co., November 1, 2019. Deb, “G”, Mac, and “Condor”; Rose is center, front row.

So, “Condor” and “G”, I offer a huge THANK YOU for the heads-up about the PTE at Fullerton Brew Co.  Also, thank you for your service to the community – I wish all the best to you, and admonish you to be safe out there.  Oh, and you are always welcome at Mac’s Brew Pub (just contact me through this website and I will give you the taproom location where the award-winning beer is plentiful, cold and free).