Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers will celebrate its first anniversary this Saturday, March 24, with an onsite festival including more than a dozen local breweries and the release of a new line of beers from owner/brewer Bobby Gordash.
Gordash, one of the area's first longtime homebrewers to begin brewing professionally, founded Holy Mackerel in 2006 after winning a Samuel Adams-sponsored homebrew competition in 1996. The prestige helped him launch the brand and, last year, reclaim ownership.
Much of Gordash's early success was based on the popularity of his Special Golden Ale, now one of the brand's four core brews, and today the brewery is best known for similar high-ABV, Belgian-style beers. But now Gordash is preparing to debut his latest beer brand, Weed Reaper.
"Before I got the Holy Mackerel name back to open the brewery, Weed Reaper was going to be the name I wanted to open with," Gordash says. "I kept the idea on the back burner, and now it just makes more sense to launch under a new name since Weed Reaper really focuses on hoppy beers."
Recently, the idea to release the new line of Weed Reaper beers was prompted by Holy Mackerel taproom general manager Felix Pons, who thought the beers would appeal to a wider audience.
Gordash's Weed Reaper project originated several years ago when he began experimenting with hops and brewing IPAs. But it's not all about the use of new or specialty hops, he says. Instead, the new brand — set to go into distribution later this year — will be a way for him to experiment with farm-based ingredients by using various herbs, spices, and, yes, weeds.
"I call them ales of a pastoral society. For example, I just brewed a New England-style IPA with rosemary and eucalyptus," Gordash says. "You've got the guys doing barrel-aged beers. You've got guys doing IPAs. And you've got the sour guys. This is the niche I'm playing with."
Gordash is most excited about a Scotch ale he's making for the anniversary. Called Sea of Sorrow, he'll brew it with sugar kelp and smoked sea salt, one of several Weed Reaper anniversary-edition beers to be unveiled at the event.
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Additional special releases include Burning Weed, an imperial smoked brown ale on cask and brewed with smoked sea salt and smoked Mexican peppers; Affliction and Misery, a New England IPA brewed with Citra, Columbus, El Dorado, and Lemon Drop hops and dry-hopped with Citra, El Dorado, and Lemon Drop; Smells Like Weed Spirit, the brand's double IPA, made with Citra, Columbus, Denali, and Idaho 7 hops and dry-hopped with Citra and Denali; Mike Drop chocolate cherry stout nitro; and the two-year-aged Mack in Black, a Belgian strong dark ale.
During the anniversary celebration, more than 15 guest breweries will pour 60-plus special- or limited-release brews alongside Holy Mackerel and Weed Reaper. The local lineup will also include several up-and-coming homebrewers and soon-to-open breweries, such as Descarga Brewing, Infected Brewery, Misfit's Brewing, and Palm Beach Draughtsmen Homebrew Club.
The Holy Mackerel first-anniversary and Weed Reaper launch event will take place from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 24. Each ticket includes a free tasting glass and drink samples from all participating breweries. Guests can also purchase $5 individual beer tickets for a ten-ounce pour.
Holy Mackerel Grand Anniversary Festival. 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers, 3260 NW 23rd Ave., Suite 400, Pompano Beach; 954-532-0196; holymackerelbeers.com. Tickets cost $35 via eventbrite.com and $40 at the door.