When people tried Bob Gordash's homebrewed beer for the first time they'd exclaim, "Holy mackerel, that's a good beer." So Gordash said it was natural to pick Holy Mackerel as the brand name for his beers, which are brewed under contract by a South Carolina brewery.
When people tried Bob Gordash's homebrewed beer for the first time they'd exclaim, "Holy mackerel, that's a good beer."
So Gordash said it was natural to pick Holy Mackerel as the brand name for his beers, which are brewed under contract by a South Carolina brewery.
"That was the very first name I thought of," said Gordash, 46, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "I kept trying to dismiss it, but I kept coming back to it. It's really the perfect name."
Gordash got his start as a homebrewer in 1993 and quickly grew to where he was brewing 40 gallons at a time. He began entering local contests, winning many of them.
In 1996, Gordash said he entered the Samuel Adams LongShot contest, a homebrewing contest where the winner's beers are brewed and bottled by the Boston Beer Company. He didn't win, but he scored well, so he tried again in 1997. His extra special bitter won, and he got to brew his beer at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain.
That sparked his interest even more, and in 2006, he left the souvenir and postcard business and began working with a beer distributor in Florida.
"I got into selling beer and promoting beer, and I figured if I was going to market beer, I might as well do my own beers and my own beer recipes," Gordash said.
Gordash's first Holy Mackerel beer, the Special Golden Ale, first hit stores in March 2007.
He originally brewed the beer under contract in Florida, but because they could not filter his bottled beers, he moved the operation to the Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, S.C. There, they brew the beer to his recipe.
The Special Golden Ale is still his top-selling beer.
"It's a cross between a Belgian tripel and a Blue Moon (a brand of Belgian-style witbier), brewed with orange peel and coriander," Gordash said.
The Special Golden Ale is 8.5 percent alcohol by volume and looks similar to a Duvel, a Belgian golden ale.
"It was a huge success for mainstream people, for those who weren't really into craft beers," Gordash said.
The Special Golden Ale is different than other golden ales, due to the orange peel and coriander used in it, spices typically used in Belgian-style witbiers, or wheat beers.
"The orange in it gives it a nice, easy-drinking quality," Gordash said.
Gordash's newest beer is the Panic Attack, a 10 percent ABV Belgian-style ale.
It looks similar to the Special Golden Ale, and uses many of the same ingredients, but it's kind of ramped up. It also uses fennel and Canadian honey malt, which give it more sweetness.
The beer is spicy -- you can smell the spices once you pour the beer from the bottle into a glass. It could be overwhelming if you're not expecting it.
"It's a totally unique beer -- a definite hybrid between a Belgian tripel and a saison," said Gordash. "It has a little bit of a rough edge, but I like that, and people really seem to like that. I'm very pleased with that beer. Everyone who drinks it, loves it."
The spices in the beer hides the alcohol, masking the fact that it's more than twice the strength of an average mass-produced U.S. beer.
"You can drink a few of them, which is kind of dangerous," Gordash said.
The third beer, Mack in Black, used to be a year-round beer, but it has now been converted to a winter seasonal and won't return until next winter.
Gordash describes the beer as kind of a "double Guinness" stout brewed with pomegranate juice.
Gordash is now looking into a way to brew a low-alcohol beer that can fit in with his other beers.
"I'm going to have to do something lighter in alcohol so people can have more than one at one sitting," he said. "But to fit in my Holy Mackerel category, it has to have lots of flavors."
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail email@example.com or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.