Beer & Wine

Holy Mackerel Brewing Opens Nanobrewery and Tasting Room in Pompano Beach

Founder and brewer Bobby Gordash at the newly opened Holy Mackerel Garage Project in Pompano Beach.
Founder and brewer Bobby Gordash at the newly opened Holy Mackerel Garage Project in Pompano Beach. Photo by Nicole Danna
The Holy Mackerel Garage Project, a nanobrewery and tasting room, opens today in Pompano Beach.

To celebrate, Holy Mackerel founder and brewer Bobby Gordash is serving up $5 beers through Saturday, February 18, for anyone who stops by the tasting room located at 3260 NW 23rd Ave., Pompano Beach, just a short drive from nearby Bangin' Banjo Brewing Company and newly opened Broski Ciderworks.

Gordash, one of the area's first longtime homebrewers to begin brewing professionally, founded Holy Mackerel Beers in 2006 after winning a Samuel Adams-sponsored homebrew competition in 1996. The prestige helped him launch his business based on the success of his Special Golden Ale, now one of the brand's four core brews.

When Gordash began brewing for Mack House, a Davie brewpub located in the former Stage 84 space, the project would make it one of Broward's first nanobreweries alongside LauderAle, which opened in 2014. Gordash sold ownership of the brand in May 2011, but remained on at Mack House as the brewer and sales representative for the next several years before deciding to reclaim full ownership of Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers last year.
click to enlarge The Holy Mackerel tasting room and nanobrewery is now open in Pompano Beach. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The Holy Mackerel tasting room and nanobrewery is now open in Pompano Beach.
Photo by Nicole Danna
Today, all Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers in distribution are currently made offsite via contract brewing at Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, South Carolina. Rather than build a full-scale brewery, Gordash and his business partner, Corey Brysman, built the Garage Project space as a sort of Holy Mackerel ground zero.

"Think of this as my test kitchen," Gordash says. "With this setup, I'll be able to experiment with new recipes, including a few lighter styles to compliment our current beers, which are mostly strong or high ABV."

Behind the ten-seat bar, guests can select from one of 20 taps, two of them nitro with one permanently dedicated to Fort Lauderdale-based Calusa Coffee Roasters cold-brew coffee. The tasting room offers a rotating selection of national and Florida-made craft beer, as well as Holy Mackerel's complete core lineup. An opening tap list offers an impressive selection of guest taps, including Civil Society Brewing Co.'s Fresh IPA, Angry Chair Brewing's Two Pump Chump hazelnut porter, Cigar City Brewing's Tropical Flan stout, and Stone Brewing's Pataskala red IPA and Jinidia Pale Ale double IPA.

The small brewhouse — home to a small-batch brewing system made up of a combination of three- and five-barrel fermenters, as well as a custom-made Colorado Brewing Systems machine — will allow Gordash to offer patrons first taste of any new recipes and dozens of limited releases, including his popular Psycho Fish (30 percent Panic Attack, 70 percent Golden Ale) infused with pomelo fruit.
click to enlarge The tasting room includes a ten-seat bar and spacious seating area sporting custom murals. - PHOTO BY NICOLE DANNA
The tasting room includes a ten-seat bar and spacious seating area sporting custom murals.
Photo by Nicole Danna
Some of the experimental beers Gordash brews here will eventually become part of the Holy Mackerel core lineup that currently includes the flagship Panic Attack, the brewer's signature Belgian-style strong ale; Mack in Black imperial stout; and Mack Infusion, a coffee-infused beer made by cycle-steeping Panic Attack in beans specially roasted by Calusa Coffee Roasters. You can also find an ongoing Bangin' Banjo collaboration, Folky Fish, an IPA brewed with Centennial, Columbus, Citra, and Amarillo hops that will be available exclusively at the Garage Project taproom.

Once the brewhouse begins production, customers can also expect to find up to eight experimental one-offs, adds Gordash, who will use customer feedback from the tasting room to add to Holy Mackerel seasonal and full-time releases. Expect a number of his signature infusions, as well as a series of more session-style beers.

If you're looking to get involved, a GoFundMe page that launched several months ago continues to collect donations from people looking to get a piece of the brewery by helping to pay for decor and brewing equipment. The tiered contribution system ranges from $50 to $600 donations, rewarding contributors with specialty Holy Mackerel swag. The most recent donation of $2,000 from Scott Hirsch helped to pay for one of the brewery's three five-barrel fermenters.

"It's been a labor of love, but I couldn't be happier," Gordash says. "Holy Mackerel finally has a home base."
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna