Mac’s Brew News – July 2, 2023

Yes, I know it’s been over three years since I last posted.  For this I apologize profusely!

So much has happened that kept me away and took up my time.  First COVID, which gave me time to do LOTS of projects I had been putting off (e.g., painting the garage), so I ignored my “Mac’s Brew” responsibilities.  Then we did a complete exterior remodel . . . more projects.  New brewing equipment (brewhouse and fermentors), which resulted in me facing a learning curve to become proficient.  Family health issues were a major roadblock (all of 2022 up to the present time) as well.

Now, what does any of this have to do with me not sending out newsletters (at least occasionally)?  Nothing, really; these are just my pathetic excuses offered up so you don’t hold me responsible for my inattention (lack of commitment, really).

Well anyway, here’s my first Mac’s Brew News in 3½ years, and I’ll try to keep it interesting.  As usual, I strongly urge you to PLEASE READ RESPONSIBLY!

First, I must inform you about my brewery upgrade.  In early January, 2020, I purchased a 1-barrel (1-BBL[1]) jacketed conical fermentor.  I had been previously using a 14 gallon conical fermentor (for fermenting 10-gallon batches), but although it had cooling and heating capabilities, the cooling method was inferior and it was difficult to effectively cold crash a batch of beer.  As many of you have heard me say, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” so I overdid it and bought the new “jacketed” fermentor (a glycol cooled cavity surrounding the stainless steel interior, then covered with another layer of stainless steel, a layer of insulation and then another stainless steel skin).  It was expensive, but well worth it.

This new brewery addition did create a problem, however.  My old brewhouse was only capable of making 15-gallon batches.  This is unacceptable because the fermentor would be only half full, which creates a whole new set of problems.  For several batches, I would double mash on brew day, use a 22 gallon boil kettle and a 15 gallon kettle to end up with about 25 – 27 gallons of wort in the fermentor.  This was a lot of work (long brew day) and inefficient, so I decided to get a new brewhouse with a 1-BBL capacity.

I bought the new brewhouse (Ss Brewtech, 1-BBL electric, all hard-piped, no hoses) in November 2020, and brewed my first batch on it on January 02, 2021.  This brought a pretty steep learing curve as it was so different than my previous system.  Brewing the 1-BBL batch was easier, but the cleaning was more involved, so ultimately no time saved on brew day.  Oh well, it’s still worth it.

Mac with his new 1-BBL brewhouse.

After learning the new brewing procedures and protocol, I really love brewing on this system.  However, I still was not done modifying/expanding Mac’s Brew Pub.  My youngest daughter (Rosie) announced her engagement in 2022 and asked me to brew the beer for her wedding reception.  She and her fiancé wanted two different beers – a hazy IPA and a Blonde Ale.  In order to have both beers available and as fresh as possible (expecially important for the IPA), I really needed to have a second 1-BBL fermentor so that both batches could ferment and condition simultaneously.  What was the solution?  Purchase another 1-BBL jacketed conical fermentor of course.  This I did in May 2022.  Unfortunately, with the high inflation rate and supply chain issues between the two purchases, it cost me almost 50% more to buy the second fermentor.  OUCH!

Glycol chiller, two fermentors, 1-BBL brewhouse and “Mac’s Brew” logo in the brewery.
Glycol chiller and two 1-BBL fermentors (ferementing, conditioning two beers for Rosie’s wedding)
Valve control panel for cooling and heating fermentors

Not only did I add the second fermentor, I also finished remodeling the brewery (the third car garage is now dedicated to Mac’s Brewhouse).  Vents for the glycol chiller, a valve panel for the cold and warm glycol for both fermenters, an epoxy floor with “Mac’s Brew” logo and of course the 220 volt circuit (with 220v outlet, dedicated GFCI breaker, and safety shut-off, all added before I could use the brewhouse for the first time in 2021).

Well, Mac’s Brewery is a thing of beauty and wonder (in my opinion).  Now if I could just figure out how to make good beer with it, the cycle would be complete, and I would feel vindicated in regards to all the money I spent.

Well, there’s much more to write in order to bring you up to date on Mac’s Brew Pub for the last few years, but in the interest of time (mine and yours), I’ll end it here for now.  I’ll post more soon to fill you all in, and to amaze you with Mac’s adventures in brewing, and all things beer related.  For now, I think I’ll have a beer on this fine Sunday afternoon.


[1] 1 BBL = 31 US gallons.