Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

McKenzie Hops SMaSH Review and Tasting

We got our hands on some hops from our friends at Yakima Valley Hops with the name of McKenzie hops. This variety is one that caught our eye mainly because we had never heard of them before. Maybe you are in the same boat as us. If that’s the case, learn along with us as we taste a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) beer and talk about the aromas and flavors this hop brings to the beer.

Details of This Hop Variety

McKenzie hops are a new variety of hops bred by the West Coast Hop Breeding Company in Oregon. It’s formally known by its not ready for prime time name C-148 and it is the first experimental variety this breeding company has brought to market.

The hops have an alpha acid range of 9-11% although my pouch listed the AA as 11.7%. I’m special.

From the YVH site, this hop was first made available in 2021. Looking at the product page, you can also purchase products from the 2022 harvest. I bought a 2 ounce pouch and use half of it to brew this beer.

I produce my SMaSH beers following a 1 gallon batch format. The ingredients include 2 pounds of 2-row malt, 2 gallons of water, and 1 ounce of hops. Finally, the yeast is always SafAle US-05.

McKenzie Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting Notes

From the nose, there is a sense of something different. With each whiff, the picture becomes clearer. There is a hint of vanilla in the aroma. Along with the vanilla, there is a strong melon aroma.

In the taste, the Yakima Valley site nails the description for me – bright and fruity. Mike interprets the bright part as lime or lime-like. I taste more lemon in this hop.

We both really like this one and we hope you try it out. If you are feeling adventurous, you could brew a batch with this hop and Sabro!

Can’t wait to see the other varieties that the WCHB produces.


The House Brown Ale Series

We have discussed the topic of having “house beers” in the past. These are beers that we have on tap on the regular throughout the year. As homebrewers, we have the ability to learn beer styles and brew them excellently, tweaking recipes to get them to be just right and to our liking. One of the beer styles that Mike wants as a part of his house is English Brown Ale. This post is a first of a series where Mike will brew this style until he gets it just right.

Vacay Brown Ale Recipe

Since he brewed this recipe during his annual holiday break, Mike is calling this beer his Vacay Brown Ale. Here’s the recipe:

68% Maris Otter Pale Malt
17% American 2-row Malt
4.3% Flaked Barley
4.3% Pale Chocolate Malt
4.3% Special Roast Malt
2.1% Extra Special Malt

1 ounce (28 g) of Challenger hops – boiled for 60 minutes
1 ounce (28 g) of East Kent Goldings hops – boiled for 10 minutes

1 packet of Lallemand LalBrew Windsor Ale Dry Yeast

Spring water with 1.5 g of calcium chloride and 1.5 g of calcium sulfate added

Fermented for 2 weeks at room temperature.
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.5%

Our House Brown Ale Tasting Notes

First off, hats off to Mike for a crystal clear beer. The copper color really shines. It could be a little darker to wear the brown ale name better.

Remember, this is a House Brown Ale series. He can modify the color as a part of the process.

Secondly, the head is off white with a nice lacing on the glass. The aroma took a bit to get used to, but after a few sips, the malt presence is clear.

The flavor has a nice harmony of malts. We like the wheat toast note, and the lack of caramel notes.

For next time, Mike is going to play around with using chocolate malt instead of pail chocolate malt and maybe switch up the yeast.

We will have to see how the next iteration goes.


Small Batch APA – Closed Fermentation & Transfer

Mike brewed a small batch American Pale Ale (APA) to practice a closed fermentation and transfer of his beer to his keg. We know that oxygen is the enemy of hoppy beer. To defend against it, Mike has been playing around with batch sizes and repurposing some of his equipment to do complete closed fermentation. Learn more about this APA and what he did to preserve that hops goodness.

Look at that American Pale Ale.

Small Batch APA Recipe

Mike has a simple recipe for you to follow – His Pale Ale # 6

Batch size: 3 US gallons


80% Dingemans Belgian Pilsner Malt (1.6° L)
20% Light Munich Malt (~7° L)


1.5 ounces of Cascade hops at 60 minutes left in the boil
2 ounces of Cascade hops for 10 minutes left in the boil
2 ounces of Amarillo hops for 10 minutes left in the boil
1 ounce of Citra hops added as a dry hop


1 packet of LalBrew Verdant IPA yeast


Spring water treated with 1.5 grams of Calcium Chloride and 3.2 grams of Calcium Sulfate
72 ppm of Calcium
49 ppm of Chloride
100 ppm of Sulfate
0.9 ppm of Magnesium


Original Gravity: 1.058
Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 4.99%

Our Tasting Notes

The color of this beer is a hazy dark gold with a strong citrus aroma. The body was medium and the mouthfeel was soft. The flavor is a wonderful marriage between tropical and citrus flavors. The simple malt profile supported the hop flavor and we feel the lack of Crystal malt was a big part of this beer’s success.

Mike’s Closed Fermentation Process

With the small batch size (3 US gallons), Mike ferments right in his Torpedo keg. He uses a grey gas out connection with a blow off tube on it. At the end of fermentation, he transfers to another Torpedo keg that has been sanitized and purged with CO2.

He has modified his dip tube in his fermentation keg so that it sits a few inches off the top so that the trub doesn’t transfer over to the serving keg.

For this beer, he did open the fermentation keg to add his dry hops but he did it quickly. His big success is with the small amount of hops that he used. It still brought big flavor to the beer. With his process, he feels this beer will maintain its aroma and flavor profile for a long time.


Viewer Submitted Beer Recipe #2 – Dry Stout

After taking a few months to focus on the Jar of Destiny challenge, we’re back to run through our Viewer Submitted Beer recipes. We started this series last year and we got a good number of submissions. The first beer we brewed was an extract NEIPA recipe, which we really liked. This time, Mike brews a dry stout from a viewer named Michael from Sweden.

Let’s take a look at how our second beer of the series came out.

Look at that dry stout!

The Dry Stout Recipe

Brew Dude Mike brewed this recipe as it was sent to us. If you are taking notes at home, be sure to see the batch size.

Batch Size: 2.7 Gallons
Boil size: 3.9 gallon

3.67 pounds of Maris Otter malt
0.92 pounds of Roasted Barley
0.92 pounds of Flaked Barley
0.31 pounds of Rye Malt
0.31 pounds of Malted Oats

0.729 ounces of Challenger hops at 6.9% AA for 60 minutes
0.367 ounces of Challenger hops at 6.9% AA for 15 minutes
0.676 ounces of East Kent Goldings hops at 5% AA for 15 minutes
0.462 ounces of East Kent Goldings hops at 5% AA

Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale

Mash 150°F for 60 minutes with hot water addition for mash out at end

Tasting Notes

The appearance of this beer was opaque black with some brown highlights near the edges when held up to the light. The head was dark tan.

The aroma had whiffs of rich malt and dark fruit. The mouthfeel was medium full. The flaked oars and rye brought

The flavor had notes of dark fruits and vanilla. For a dry stout, it had a perceived sweetness. We think that Brew Dude Mike boiled the wort longer than the recipe called for, which caused a different flavor profile.

No matter – this beer was a great wintertime brew and we enjoyed it.

You can find the original recipe here.

Thanks Michael – Skål and Brew ON!

Homebrew Jar of Destiny: The Fifth Pick

How about that? The Homebrew Jar of Destiny series has been picked up for another year of beer style exploration and homebrewing challenges. The Jar started us on this path early in 2022 and will continue for at least another year. Here are the fifth picks to start off 2023!

The Fifth Pick From The Homebrew Jar of Destiny

What Beer Styles Were Picked?

This time around, we got a couple of interesting selections:

25 C – Belgian Golden Strong Ale

From category 25, it’s another Strong Belgian Ale for me. This time, its the Belgian Golden Strong Ale. It’s similar to the Tripel (see the link below) so I will need to figure out the differences before I brew. I still have some of the former beer so we will need to taste them side by side too.

19 A – American Amber Ale

From the Amber and Brown American Beer category, we have the challenge of brewing an American Amber Ale that can stand out from the beers we have in our memories and the ones that are still available today. Can Mike brew an excellent version of the style? We shall see.

Thanks for following along on this path of homebrewing righteousness. We will have the outcome of our brews before March 31, 2023.

Here are all the links to the JoD series as of the posting date.

See All The Picks

Check out the First Pick and the start of it all!
Check out the Second Pick
Check out the Third Pick
Check out the Fourth Pick

See All The Results

Check out the British Strong Ale post
Check out the Black IPA post
Check out the International Amber Lager post
Check out the Belgian Tripel post
Check out the Double IPA post
Check out the Kölsch post
Check out the English IPA post
Check out the Wood-Aged Beer post

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