A bright red 'Brewery' sign, lit up in the waning Florida sun, is all that beckons patrons to this little retail bay amidst a shopping plaza in Davie. Behind this humble exterior is the inner workings of The Mack House, a nano brewery building upon the pedigree of beers established many years ago with Holy Mackerel's Panic Attack, Mack In Black, and Special Golden.
We know of breweries, and brewpubs, but a nano brewery? At least one self-proclaimed nano brewery puts the definition as a facility which produces less than "3 [barrels] in production per batch." That's exactly what's going on here at The Mack House.
The fundamentals of brewing are being tested here; small batch brewing, blending, and conditioning. If you're a fan of the Holy Mackerel line of beers (widely distributed across our area), then a journey out to this spot is definitely required.
On this particular Saturday evening, a man was running the bar and cheerfully talking golf with some regulars. This is Kyle Hatfield, who runs the house and does a lot of the brewing work.
"We have a 55 gallon system," he says, pointing to the three stainless steel kettles sitting at the front of the space. He says that on brew days, they'll pop out back, assemble the setup and get brewing, aiming to finish up by the time they open the doors at 4 p.m.
"It happened out of the blue, it was shocking," Kyle remarked, stressing, however, that the parting was not sour. "We wish him the best of luck."
Beyond the standard distributed fare, the on-site created offerings were beers such as Psycho Fish (a blend of Panic Attack and the Special Golden Ale conditioned with Florida blood oranges; the orange peel and meaty pith flavors give it great complexity) or the Holy Mole Nitro (a chocolate oatmeal stout with chili peppers, served up through nitro; the peppers giving a nice bite to the finish, while the dark chocolate notes keep it all in check.)
Both beers even source their ingredients locally: local chocolate from neighbor Schakolad Chocolate Factory in Davie, and fresh Florida grown blood oranges from the farmers market down the street.
"That's the best thing, to be able to just go down to the market and grab what we need," Kyle explained.
Coming up in a week or so will be the release of a honey lime summer ale, of which I had the privilege to sample. Kyle knocked out about an ounce from the conditioning tank to see where the beer was in the process. Honey biscuit flavors dominated with a bit of the Key Lime sourness coming through. Once carbonated, it'll be a refreshing sibling to Psycho Fish.
As it currently stands, the Mack House is open for only five days out of the week, though they are looking to expand into being open every day starting in July.
"Most of the regulars that come here are just looking to have a place where they can come and chill, and relax," Kyle said. "They want to be able to talk and not have their conversations drowned out by loud music."
In addition to the standard fare of happy hour deals ($2 off drafts from 4 to 7 p.m.), for the "hardcore beer enthusiasts" as Kyle puts it, every first and third Wednesday there is a bottle sharing gathering at the House, where participants come bearing gifts of beer for their fellow man to share and experience. The dozen or so patrons are welcomed with open arms to share in the joys of beer from far and wide. There's only a modest $10 'corkage' fee per person.
It may not be in a 'happening' place or situated in a foot traffic heavy downtown area, but The Mack House can stand out with its knowledgable staff and unique brews and treatments. Sometimes you have to seek out the good things in life.
As always, drink good beer, and #drinklocal.
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