Not going to lie, this has been a long strange road for Bobby Gordash. In 1996, he was the winner of a Samuel Adams homebrewing contest. A decade later, he used the notoriety and his recipes to found Holy Mackerel beers, a contract-brewed series of beers that could be found in and around Florida. He eventually sold that, moving on to other things.
Eventually he made his way back to craft beer, working as a spokesman for a couple of other Florida breweries (This was the time that I met him, and I still have a great picture somewhere of him at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest in West Palm Beach).
The Mack was calling, so eventually he got back his IP and revived Holy Mackerel. This time, he settled on a facility in Pompano Beach, literally across a retention pond from Bangin’ Banjo. This he called The Garage Project, a living laboratory where he could make some of the beers he had been dreaming up all that time.
It’s been open for a few years now, and the name has actually been changed to both Holy Mackerel and the Weed Reaper Experiment, the latter being a touch on the original name for his brewing that he abandoned before deciding on Holy Mackerel as the namesake. Weed Reaper seems to be the perfect moniker, as a lot of the beers on tap in this cozy and art-filled brewing studio play with hops quite imaginatively.
I am not an overly hoppy kind of guy. I prefer to keep my alpha acids low, nowhere close to how incessantly brutal a lot of breweries can be. But I took a look at Solitary Man (New England IPA, 4.8% ABV), and saw that this New Englander was hopped with El Dorado and Equinox, and I could not resist.
I am a big fan of El Dorado hops, since they impart in almost a honeydew-like sweetness into the beer. Solitary Man was an excellent use of such hops. As a New Englander, it has a great hazy look and a nice, light aroma, partnered with a malt bill that tended to be soft and lightly biscuit forward. But if you search, just a touch past a sort of light flowery hop quality, you’ll find a wonderful melon sweetness in the beer. It’s not pronounced, but it is refreshing.
My friend Steve went the entirely different direction hop-wise and went for Pink Froyd (IPA, 6.5% ABV) one of Bobby’s frequent collaborations with Manny Jannes, whose own Descarga Brewing is finally slated to open this year.
This ‘Psychedelic IPA’ is the IPA for IPA drinkers who want an overly-IPA style IPA. It’s bold and citrusy, with an assertive dankness that is big and booming as a result of liberal additions of Azacca, Citra, and Columbus hops. It has a very classic resiny citrus flavor, and is well deserving of a lot of fans.
Bobby is a force unto himself, and checking out the Experiment should be a requirement for anybody traveling to South Florida wanting to get a feel for the heart of its craft beer scene. I will make it back, since I am lucky enough to be so close, and hopefully will be able to try more of what Mr. Gordash has up his sleeve.
I am sure many, many hops will be involved.
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