Editor’s note: The following article was written last week, before another site published what appears to be a hit piece specifically focusing on bringing down Holy Mackerel. Florida Beer Media does not condone that article, nor support any of the opinions that were contained therein. Also, we do not support attacking small businesses, especially at a time like this. We are big fans of the beer and the people involved, and strongly suggest that readers make up their minds for themselves.
I didn’t expect the beer to be actually be pink.
I have refined my view regarding contract brewing a bit since I first started this blog of over six years ago. I used to be a hard line, snobby, purist and if the beer wasn’t brewed and canned on site, then clearly it wasn’t their beer at all.
Of course, I knew absolutely nothing about the industry and over time, I have learned much more about the nuances in the marketplace. Contract brewing is perfectly fine, since it goes towards the very specific market of breweries that want to get their name out but don’t have the capital, the resources, the space to can and distribute.
Take Holy Mackerel, for example. They’ve been in existence much longer than this humble blog has been around, going through many changes of ownership and location. As of yet, they still do not have everything they need to make their own beers.
It doesn’t mean that the beers they offer are not their beers, though. With most contracts of this nature, the contract brewer is under very specific guidelines concerning how to brew the beer, how it should taste, and so on. I’ve even spoken to contract brewers (names not mentioned here) who have said they could make the recipe better than what the client wants, but they are contractually obligated to remain silent and to brew to the specifications the client asks for.
I’m not saying that’s what happens at Holy Mackerel. Far from it, current owner Frank Berecich and his team have quite the good head on their shoulders and are producing an excellent lineup of beers that are currently being contracting while they wait to get their brewing system up and running in their Wilton Manors smokehouse and brewery.
In the meantime, they have beers on tap and in package, some of which you’ve probably seen for quite some time. There’s the traditional Panic Attack and Cafe Cubano, which will probably go up for a second review on this blog some time in the future, but I was also able to get some Pink Freud IPA (IPA, 6.5% ABV).
The can art itself is quite trippy and is quite enjoyable for an old Pink Floyd fan like myself. But when I opened it, I did not expect the beer to actually be pink. Little did I know that it wasn’t an IPA as much as it was a Hibiscus IPA. And being hibiscus, it is probably going to have a good amount of thart to the flavor, in addition to the rosy hue.
I’ve noticed with flower adjuncts in beer, hibiscus is the one that brings the pucker.
So yes, the beer pours brightly pink, which I should have anticipated but enjoyed, and there is a wonderful aroma of tropical fruit with a mild dankness on the back end. The flavor is really fantastic, as if a West Coast IPA and a fruit-forward blond ale were fighting for dominance. You taste a big splash of hibiscus that gives way to wonderful tropical notes of pineapple, guava, and orange, which then subside to allow a pine resin flavor to come through.
Coming from liberal double dry hopping of Cascade, Citra, and Mosaic, this is not a shock at all. Those hop flavors tend to blend quite nicely with each other, and bringing the hibiscus in gives a great additional quality to the beer. Is it brewed by them? No, but you can see their influence in the beer the moment you open the can and the moment you taste.
It will be brewed by them soon, but it’s still great to get the beer out and the name growing so once they are operational, they will have a built-in fan base.
In the meantime, if you want to hate on it, you are more than welcome to. I am personally going to sit back and listen to Dark Side again.
Drink Florida Craft,
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