Interview – Justin Miles, The Mack House/Holy Mackerel

The Mack House is the tap room/nanobrewing arm of Davie, FL-based Holy Mackerel Brewing. Recently, I was able to sit and chat with their brewmaster, Justin Miles.

Holy Mack exterior

The Mack House in Davie

What is your brewing background?

I started home brewing about 3 years ago, then I was bringing my stuff into the bar (Mack House). Eventually, the previous head brewer here left and they wanted to keep brewing. I brewed a test batch of a honey-lime ale, and they liked it.

What was the beer that got you started in beer?

If I had to say certain breweries, they would probably be Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog.

What is your general process for deciding on a new beer to brew?

We start with a lot of brainstorming, looking at the seasons. This fall, we could do some over the top culinary beers, but not many yet. We are going to be doing a honey brown rye and a rye IPA soon.

How do you source some of these ingredients? I know Davie has a lot of agriculture.

We get all of the honey in our beers from a local farmer in Davie, Natural Chai Farms. That farmer actually takes our spent grain and feeds it to the pigs on his farm. Sometime in the future, we are planning on doing a pig roast with a pig that has been raised on the grain from our beers.

That pig farmer is growing coffee, too. We also use locally sourced sweet potatoes. That gives the beers a great richness.

Which of your beers are you most proud of?

Probably Nib Slip (a chocolate Porter). It’s a really good beer. We used an experimental, grapefruit-y hop from Yakima and local cocoa nibs.

Will you ever do a Dunkelweizen?

Probably winter. It can be hard to get people to try different beers like saisons.

Yet you brewed a brown ale with andouille sausage. How hard was it to get people to try that?

For our craft beer people, it was actually pretty easy.

Did you use actual sausage in the beer, or the andouille sausage spices?

That’s Whole Foods actual fresh sausage in the beer. When we brew it, we let it sit for an additional 20 minutes to let the grease separate. Then we can skim the grease right off.

Holy Mackerel is one of many breweries in Florida that contract their bottling operations out-of-state. Do you think there is a negativity in the industry about that?

It depends on who you talk to. Some people bash it. I think it’s a great way to get your recipes out there. It’s a good way to distribute beers without investing in a setup like Funky Buddha.

So are you going to start doing collaborations with other Florida brewers?

We actually just did one with 3 Sons Brewing. We made a base saison and did two different treatments. We did one we called Sound Machine, with lime and rum-soaked mint leaves. 3 Sons did one with pink peppercorn and star fruit.

Craft beer in Florida is starting to boom. How do you feel about the future of the industry in Florida?

There’s still room to grow. We went to Atlanta and there are so many breweries there. Downtown, there are lots of places and they’re all doing well. Places like (The Mack House) where you go just for their beer are going to be big.

With Florida breweries that already exist, no one competes with each other. It’s a win for everyone.

Drink Florida Craft,

Chris & Dave

@floridabeerblog

floridabeerblog@gmail.com

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8 thoughts on “Interview – Justin Miles, The Mack House/Holy Mackerel

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