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American Amber Ale Zach & Jack's African Amber

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thadeus_d3

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Wow this is great beer. I haven't tried the real deal, but this recipe will stay on tap.
 

brewcat

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Exciting news! I spent some time this past weekend with a guy who was formerly a brewer for Mac & Jack's. Since he no longer works there he was more than willing to share information about M & J's. Here are some of the things I learned:

OG = 1.054
Grainbill: Pale malt, Munich, Crystal 120, and Wheat (hence the cloudiness)
Hops: Bittering - Cascade 60 mins, Aroma - Mt Hood (Last 5 Mins), Dry - Cascade

They also add something called Allfloc. Not too sure what this is or exactly what it does.

He couldn't tell me anything specific about their yeast other than it is proprietary and they harvest from their kegs to keep it going. He agreed with what I have always thought - the yeast is probably the most important ingredient. The nice thing is they don't filter so it is fairly easy to harvest yeast from a keg or growler (if you're in the Great Northwest).

Since my last batch was fairly close I can't wait to tweek my recipe and try again.

Cheers,

Dwight
This is basically what I changed my clone to so we will see. I haven't had this in 5+ years. I only remember the Cascade dry hop.

I read the 2-row for Mac & Jack's is locally sourced. I bought something from Montana. I went with a pound of 120L and switched the carapils to white wheat malt. I'm doing Cascade to bitter and an ounce of Mt. Hood at five minutes. Then the Cascade dry hop. I went with Wyeast 1968 for the yeast.

Hopefully my brother that used to live in Seattle likes it. I think it will work. I'll try not to say anything until after the first one.
 

Brentk14

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One thing I forgot to mention, FG = 1.016. They check the gravity hourly once it gets under 1.020 and when it hits 16 they quickly chill it to 35F to stop the fermentation.
Sorry for quoting a post from 4 years ago, but I had a question on this. I've always been told to let the yeast clean itself up after it ferments. Will crashing before it cleans itself up lead to any off flavors?
 

brewcat

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Sorry for quoting a post from 4 years ago, but I had a question on this. I've always been told to let the yeast clean itself up after it ferments. Will crashing before it cleans itself up lead to any off flavors?
It shouldn't with good pitching rates and temp control. The yeast then won't necessarily produce off flavors that need cleaned up. Homebrewers generally say let the yeast clean up because most don't have the controls of a pro brewery.
 

brewcat

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After two weeks in the keg it is starting to come along nicely. I wonder if I reduced the IBU from 26 to 18 and did a second dry hop in the keg? It tasted more bitter than I remember but is starting to mellow so it might be ok.
 

ThreeDogsNE

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This is basically what I changed my clone to so we will see. I haven't had this in 5+ years. I only remember the Cascade dry hop.

I read the 2-row for Mac & Jack's is locally sourced. I bought something from Montana. I went with a pound of 120L and switched the carapils to white wheat malt. I'm doing Cascade to bitter and an ounce of Mt. Hood at five minutes. Then the Cascade dry hop. I went with Wyeast 1968 for the yeast.

Hopefully my brother that used to live in Seattle likes it. I think it will work. I'll try not to say anything until after the first one.
Brewcat, will you share your recipe?
 

brewcat

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Brewcat, will you share your recipe?
Sure, I'm sitting here drinking it at the moment. It is for 5 gallons and assumes 75% efficiency.

Mash @ 155
Grains:
2-row -- 8.0 lb
Caramel 120L -- 1.0 lb
Munich -- 1.0 lb
White Wheat -- 0.50 lb

Hops:
1.50 ounce Cascade @ 60 min
1.0 ounce Mount Hood @ 5 min

Yeast:
Wyeast 1968 London ESB

Dry hop 1 ounce Cascade for one week.

OG: 1.056
ABV: 5.0
IBU: 26.4

Notes as of today:
It has been kegged for 5 weeks. It seems more bitter than what I remember. That leads to me to think to back off the 120L or lower the IBU. If nothing else, a larger dry hop.
 

brewcat

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I did mine again. Did an ounce of Cascade for 60 but it ended up about the same IBU. Also did a 2 oz Cascade dry hop. I think the larger dry hop was what was missing. We'll see how it ages. Right now I think it is close after 5 days in the keg.
 

williebonney

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Sorry for quoting a post from 4 years ago, but I had a question on this. I've always been told to let the yeast clean itself up after it ferments. Will crashing before it cleans itself up lead to any off flavors?
As brewcat mentioned, it shouldn't produce off-flavors. However it should be noted that if you crash before hitting FG as it sounds like M&J does, there are still fermentable sugars left in the beer. So if you bottle it, you could easily over-carbonate it or end up with a bottle bomb, as that yeast will eat up the sugar you condition with plus whatever was left in the beer when you crashed it.
 

williebonney

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Just took a 1st with this...
Congrats Red, that's awesome! Did you use ohiodad's recipe as-is from the first post of this thread, or Biggben's tweaks to use 55L instead of 80L and 1968 London ESB yeast? Something else? I'm planning on brewing this next weekend.
 

Redtab78

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Congrats Red, that's awesome! Did you use ohiodad's recipe as-is from the first post of this thread, or Biggben's tweaks to use 55L instead of 80L and 1968 London ESB yeast? Something else? I'm planning on brewing this next weekend.

I used Ohio dad's version but with 1968 yeast, and I used 1oz whole leaf cascade and .5 oz pellets.....(just cause i needed to use the whole leafs) for dry hop.
 

Brentk14

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Here is round 2 for me on this beer. This is the first time I've messed with water chem as well, and my efficiency went up. I'm assuming because of hitting my pH. I forgot to buy mt hood hops, and only had an ounce left, so I used amarillo as my late addition. This batch smells incredible, and color is spot on. Can't wait to pour a glass on this.
FYI this is a 13 gal batch. Hit 1.062 SG, was shooting for 1.057. Also might tinker with the dry hop and add Amarillo with the Cascade. We'll see.

12.5 lb 2-Row
12.5 lb Maris Otter
3 lb Crystal 80L
3 lb Munich 10L
2 lb Wheat
1 lb Acidulated Malt
34 lb Total
Hops
3.5 oz Cascade 60 min
2.52 oz Amarillo 5 min
1 oz Mount Hood 5 min
2.52 oz Cascade Dry Hop
 

dwightr8

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Here is round 2 for me on this beer. This is the first time I've messed with water chem as well, and my efficiency went up. I'm assuming because of hitting my pH. I forgot to buy mt hood hops, and only had an ounce left, so I used amarillo as my late addition. This batch smells incredible, and color is spot on. Can't wait to pour a glass on this.
FYI this is a 13 gal batch. Hit 1.062 SG, was shooting for 1.057. Also might tinker with the dry hop and add Amarillo with the Cascade. We'll see.

12.5 lb 2-Row
12.5 lb Maris Otter
3 lb Crystal 80L
3 lb Munich 10L
2 lb Wheat
1 lb Acidulated Malt
34 lb Total
Hops
3.5 oz Cascade 60 min
2.52 oz Amarillo 5 min
1 oz Mount Hood 5 min
2.52 oz Cascade Dry Hop
What yeast did you use?
 

Brentk14

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I use a starter of Joystick from Imperial Organic (Basically Pacman) on almost all my beers. I was intending to harvest some yeast from a mac and jacks keg, but ended up not having time to step it up and get the pitch rate. I'll probably try a staight up clone with the yeast in a couple weeks. The malt backbone, and hop profile of my original recipe seemed spot on, but was missing something. We'll see if it's the yeast in about two months.
 

brewcat

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Brewed it for the 3rd time today. I was wondering what temp those that use Wyeast 1968 were fermenting at? I did 64 last time, but think I'll bump it to 66.
 

Wiking44

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I brewed the extract version of this for my first batch back in 2008. It became my go-to beer and everyone enjoyed it. I used the BYO recipe. I've only brewed sporatically over the last 5 years or so (living in Florida makes brewing a pain during the summer - especially when you chiller water comes out of the tap a 90 degrees!) In any case I've moved to Germany and I'm getting back into brewing more-or-less 'full time'.

I'm moving into all-grain brewing and I'm eager to try this recipe. Thanks to everyone over the last 9 years who has contributed to this thread. Now to the point of my post.

The last time I had Mac and Jacks - which was about 2 years ago - I seemed to detect a very subtle chocolate flavor. Was it just my palate? Has anyone thrown any chocolate malt in their recipe? I'm tempted to do so just to see what happens.
 

dwightr8

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I brewed the extract version of this for my first batch back in 2008. It became my go-to beer and everyone enjoyed it. I used the BYO recipe. I've only brewed sporatically over the last 5 years or so (living in Florida makes brewing a pain during the summer - especially when you chiller water comes out of the tap a 90 degrees!) In any case I've moved to Germany and I'm getting back into brewing more-or-less 'full time'.

I'm moving into all-grain brewing and I'm eager to try this recipe. Thanks to everyone over the last 9 years who has contributed to this thread. Now to the point of my post.

The last time I had Mac and Jacks - which was about 2 years ago - I seemed to detect a very subtle chocolate flavor. Was it just my palate? Has anyone thrown any chocolate malt in their recipe? I'm tempted to do so just to see what happens.
I have never noticed that and I know there is not any chocolate in the real thing.
 

VipperOfVipp

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Hey Brewcat and Dwightr8,

This has been a really interesting read. Just curious how your guys last batches came out. I used to love this beer and Seattle, so just looking to make something similar to that taste. Does the the 120L taste better than the 80L or just what they used at Mac and Jacks?
 

brewcat

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Hey Brewcat and Dwightr8,

This has been a really interesting read. Just curious how your guys last batches came out. I used to love this beer and Seattle, so just looking to make something similar to that taste. Does the the 120L taste better than the 80L or just what they used at Mac and Jacks?
I haven't tried the 80L. I did the 120L because that's what I gathered it should be and after brewing thought it was right.

Last time I brewed this I told my brother that lived in Seattle to guess what beer I brewed. He was spot on.

The one thing I'm changing for next time is to dry hop with 1.50 oz of Cascade. I thought 1 oz wasn't enough, but 2 oz was probably more than it should be. Still good.
 

Bitchin

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I always enjoy this beer on trips to the US here and there so like you guys I've been trying to come close at home. The brewery has never really given up specific details about the recipe other than 5.8% Abv and a few generalizations in spite of many attempts on my part over the years. These guys are tough! I just kegged 10gal of the latest rendition of my own recipe so I brought a growler home on the 6 hour ride back to Canada after catching some baseball this weekend. Difficult to clone something on just a recent memory of the beer so it was nice having the real deal in front of me for the side by side tasting of what I thought was getting close. Nope, I need to do a lot better.

I sacrificed some of my growler to take a TG reading which turned out right between 1.015 and 1.016. I think M&J's mashes this one hot. Given 5.8% Abv, that's an OG of 1.059-1.060 using a 154F mash and my yeast. Like any brewery, it'll vary a little from batch to batch.


My Latest Recipe:

OG 1.057
TG 1.016
SRM 13
ABV 5.4%
35 IBU

87% Gambrinus ESB
5% Gambrinus Munich 10L
5% C80
3% C120

1 oz Centennial 60 min
1 oz Centennial 5 min
1 oz Cascade in 30 min WP
1 oz Mt Hood in 30 min WP
2 oz Cascade (1oz dry hop per keg)

Mash 154F

S04 Yeast (not the best choice but convenient)

Ferment 68F and let rise to 70F for a D-rest. Crash to 40 and keg. Age for 3 weeks cold.


My version was a little dark so I can only assume that I added too much crystal 120 even adding just 8% total crystal in combination. The persistent head was a match, but mine had a lighter body. I also didn't use the wheat as you can see which may likely be the biggest contributor to the cloudiness of M&J's so tough to fully assess the SRM without the cloudiness present which would lighten the appearance. My citrus hop flavor was a little too pronounced as was aroma. Maybe I just need to go old school and move the WP hops back to the last 5-10 mins to knock them down a little? My maltiness and residual sweetness didn't stack up. The caramel was close but the beer lacked that herbal/tobacco thing that M&J's has, which also plays on the dark caramel as the beer warms up. You don't notice it nearly as much when it's cold.

You can see that my OG fell short which would explain some of the differences including the effect of alcohol presence on the finished product. Previous versions tasted too toffee/roasty to me when using all C120 and I think the C80 is the right stuff given that my color was too dark with some of the C120 still in the recipe. I may feel differently once I bring my OG up.

What would I change? Up the OG to hit 5.8% Abv. M&J's has a big malt flavor, so more Munich (10% instead of 5% although it may need more) and go all C80 to ensure less color without reducing my quantity to ensure that I still get the flavor. Add the wheat back but really only for that trivial cloudiness. Try Willamette instead of Mt Hood (both are classic PNW 90's micro brew choices from the era of this beer's origins). Looking for that rounded hop profile I've tried Centennial, Mt Hood, EKG and just Cascade in the late boil but I think it's more than just Cascade or Centennial. EKG is floral but too round and sweet. Mt Hood came closest for me but I didn't get the tobacco thing that M&J has. Willamette does this though. Less dry hop. I'll try 3/4oz in each carboy next time. I really should try a better yeast strain as well.

Cheers
 

dwightr8

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I haven't brewed this for a couple of years now. I've gotten really lazy since the brewery is only 15 mins from the house. The last time I brewed it I did a blind test with my brew and the real thing. Both my wife and another friend (who are both very familiar with the real thing) picked mine as the real thing! I still say the yeast is the key. Thought I'd post my current recipe in case anyone wants to try it:

5.5 gal Batch

Grains:
Pale Malt (2-row) 8.00 lbs
Munich Malt (2-row) 1.50 lbs
Wheat Malt 1.50 lbs
Crystal 120L 0.75 lbs
Cara-Pils Dextine Malt 0.50 lbs

Mash Schedule:
155F for 60 minutes
Batch Sparge

Hops:
1.00 0z Cascade @45
1.00 Oz Mt Hood @10
1.00 Oz Cascade Dry hopped in secondary

Mac & Jack's yeast harvested from growler

Primary Fermentation @ 65F until gravity reached ~1.016 (~ 5 days) then crash cooled to 34F

Secondary Fermentation in keg @ 34F

OG 1.062
FG 1.016
ABV 6%

SRM 13.5
IBU 31

If you can't get the real yeast, then 1968 is probably the closest you can do.
 

Bitchin

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This looks a lot closer than many of the recipes I've seen. So many of them are too low on the OG and usually on the TG. We know there's no orange peel either. Heheheheh. I agree on the cascade plus Mt Hood approach. It's more than just Cascade in there right? Some of those tobacco notes could come from the C120. I just found the C120 a little raspy. Could be my own low OG issue whereas the raspiness would be softened by the extra unfermentables. But yeast, absolutely. Will try some other yeasts as this evolves as well.

I can't get this beer easily. It's 2.5 hours to Omak, WA where there is often a tap or two so I'll keep plugging away. I only brew this a couple time a year so progress is slow.

I don't believe a beer can truly be cloned, even with the actual recipe in hand. Too many variables. Die trying!

Thanks for the update. I'll post along the way as well.
 

Bitchin

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A little history behind the name of this recipe, and the label I did for it. Mack & Jack's is so tight-lipped about the recipe, I named mine accordingly. Dirty Lil' Secret.:D

DLS.jpg
 

Bitchin

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My Final Recipe:

I recently learned a lot about the original from having a growler of African Amber all to myself over a couple of days. The last side-by-side tasting was humbling because I thought my recipe was so close. The beer was fantastic and two kegs were quickly vaporized by friends and family, but it wasn't Mac & Jack's. Tweaks (large and small) were made and another brew ensued. I actually pulled a little from my earlier versions of this. And I'm probably still wrong on the crystal but my palate says the blend of C80 and C120 works better than just C120. I also stuck with the Mt Hood instead of trying Willamette. The color is great, including the classic haze which is there now. The aroma isn't dominated by either hops or malt but the big malty wafts are now there as well thanks to the added Munich. Carbonation is at 2.3 volumes. The flavor becomes harsh beyond that level of carbonation. The head lasts forever and clings in layers to the glass. It's got that herbal/toffee/tobacco flavor as it warms but also that soft fruity, caramel with mild citrus that elevates everything. The WY1968 didn't attenuate enough on paper so I went WY1318. A smoother, fuller result than S04. I don't think I'd change anything at this point. Very happy with the results!

For 10 Gallons

OG 1.060
TG 1.016
SRM 12.5
ABV 5.8%
35 IBU

7.55kg 75% Gambrinus ESB Malt
1.0kg 10% Gambrinus Wheat
1.0kg 10% Gambrinus Munich 10L
350gm 3.5% C80
350gm 3.5% C120

1.75 oz Centennial 60 min
1 oz Cascade 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood 5 min
1.5 oz Cascade (.75 oz dry hop per keg)

Mash 154F, no mash-out, batch sparged in equal batches

WY1318 Yeast (460 billion)

Ferment 68F and let rise 70F after 4 days for a D-rest. Crash to 40 and keg. Age for 2-3 weeks cold.


What a great beer! Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread.
 

Bitchin

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Hey, if anyone from Mac & Jack's is reading this post about the African Amber clone, please comment on anything we should be doing differently, even if it's just to say "more crystal" or "lower fermentation temp." Feedback is appreciated.

Cheers!
 

brewcat

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Sitting here drinking a version with a 1.5 oz Cascade dry hop. 2 oz seemed better.
 

Harguf

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My Final Recipe:

.....

What a great beer! Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread.
Thanks for putting in the work on this recipe. I've been making mead for several years, and really the Mac n Jacks Amber is the only beer I like, so I decided to try my hand at making a clone.

I haven't tried all-grain brewing. Been sticking to extracts and steeping grains. I'd love to translate your all-grain recipe into an extract + grain-steeping one. For reference I did the recipe on the HomeBrew Heaven website:

https://store.homebrewheaven.com/articles/MacJacksClone.htm
 

Bitchin

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Harguf, Homebrew Heaven's recipe looks pretty dark and high on the IBUs. 12-13 SRM is where you want to be and about 35 IBU. The roasted barley is likely added just for color but shouldn't be there. You can't go wrong using either my last recipe or dwightr8's last recipe. Beersmith converts to partial mash.

1.67 kg ESB Pale Malt (Gambrinus)* (4.0 SRM) Grain 1 18.3 %
0.88 kg Munich Light 10L (Gambrinus)* (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 9.6 %
0.88 kg Wheat Malt (Gambrinus)* (2.3 SRM) Grain 3 9.6 %
0.27 kg Caramel Malt - 120L (Briess)* (120.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.9 %
0.27 kg Caramel Malt - 80L (Briess)* (80.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.9 %
5.19 kg Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)

Brewcat, 2oz of cascade is too pronounced in my opinion. I just finished a keg this weekend which had additional dry hops. It was good but seemed to have way more than M&Js.
 

Bitchin

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We're going stateside in the morning for a day trip. I hope we can find some M&Js in Omak.
 

Harguf

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Harguf, Homebrew Heaven's recipe looks pretty dark and high on the IBUs. 12-13 SRM is where you want to be and about 35 IBU. The roasted barley is likely added just for color but shouldn't be there. You can't go wrong using either my last recipe or dwightr8's last recipe. Beersmith converts to partial mash.

1.67 kg ESB Pale Malt (Gambrinus)* (4.0 SRM) Grain 1 18.3 %
0.88 kg Munich Light 10L (Gambrinus)* (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 9.6 %
0.88 kg Wheat Malt (Gambrinus)* (2.3 SRM) Grain 3 9.6 %
0.27 kg Caramel Malt - 120L (Briess)* (120.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.9 %
0.27 kg Caramel Malt - 80L (Briess)* (80.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.9 %
5.19 kg Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)

Brewcat, 2oz of cascade is too pronounced in my opinion. I just finished a keg this weekend which had additional dry hops. It was good but seemed to have way more than M&Js.
Thanks for doing the conversion in Beersmith. Is this for 10 gallons?
 

Harguf

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Yeah no problem. 10 gal. Beersmith handles that conversion with just a few mouse clicks.
Hey, did you temp control the ferment on the low side? Say 64-65 F?

When I make mead I keep the ferments on the low side in order to minimize the fusels.
 
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