Mac & Jacks Brewing Company. Production only facility with a small tasting/retail was not sure what I was going to find. Why has no one made fresh brewed cologne sure baffles me? I say this as I just passed a huge vat of malted grains as they vent off steam and wonderful aroma. I was not the only one standing there wafting at the aroma. Once inside the small sampling room you where greeted by a young man asking what would you like to try. Hell I can’t hurt the kid’s feelings so I tried them all. Yes, I have lived here in the Pac NW for a few years so yes Mac & Jacks African amber is like a staple but when free you taste. They have lots of tee shirts growlers and posters to buy. You can get your growler filled or buy a new one when there.
What impresses me about Mac & Jack's isn't necessarily the beer, which is good btw, but the unbelievable efficiency this brewery runs at. I know most people probably don't appreciate what they're pulling off here, but it is beyond impressive.
Mac & Jack's is the highest producing all cask brewery in the world. They produce over 40,000+ bbls (1bbl=31 gallons) per year on a microbrewery system. Every single brewery that produces as much as they do has at least a 60bbl brewhouse. M&J's is doing what they do on a system 1/3 that size with a 20bbl brewhouse. And not only is their brewhouse small, so is their storage abilities. They sell kegs as fast as they can fill them. The overall efficiency here is amazing, and something to be admired by all brewers and beer lovers alike.
Now, we've all had the African Amber. I'd be really surprised if you haven't, because it's everywhere. More Mac & Jack's African Amber is sold in Seattle than any Budweiser, Miller, Coors, or any other macro-swill brewery. I applaud the people of Seattle for passing up the nationally popular near-beer for a quality local product. The African Amber is a fine beer, and a world class example of an American Amber Ale. My only complaint is the consistency of the product. I've had several pints that were among the best Amber Ales I've ever had. But I've had just as many that were barely drinkable, and on one occasion I had to send the beer back to get something else.
Their other examples range from fair to excellent. The one other beer I feel is worth mentioning is the Black Cat Porter. It is one of my favorite local porters, but can be incredibly scarce. If you can find it, do yourself a favor and order one. It has a very roasty, stout like quality.
The Brewery itself does not have a taproom, but you can go to their retail area to fill up growlers or to purchase merchandise. Sundays at 3pm is their weekly tour which I took for the first time yesterday. The group was large (50+ people) so getting samples took some time, but it was awesome to see and hear how this place operates. It's also a bonus that you get free samples and a pint glass.
Overall, awesome brewery for us to have. No matter what bar you go to around here, no matter how limited their beer selection is, you know you can always have M&J to get you through those tough times.
There are very few restaurants, pubs, inns, saloons or taverns in the evergreen state that don't carry Mac & Jack's beer.
It didn't start out that way.
Malcolm Rankin & Jack Schroop brewed in Jack's garage until 1997 when they took over a transmission shop in a Redmond, Washington industrial complex.
10 years later, that's where they still brew -- where people come to fill their growlers & buy Mac & Jack glasses and where they have become the #1 best-selling craft beer in the state, out-distancing the larger & better known Pyramid & Redhook (or, as we like to call it, Budhook) breweries.
The breakthrough came in 1994 when a pub near the Woodland Park Zoo asked the two to produce a house beer. They tinkered with their amber, re-named it African Amber and watched their sales & profits grow.
Now they have 4 beers to choose from, including the popular amber; Blackcat porter with coffee flavors & a smooth, toasty middle & finish that gives it more an espresso taste than coffee; Serengheti Wheat, a hefe with more wheat than honey (for a change!) that cries out for a hot summer day; an IPA that is not overly charged with hops making it delightfully drinkable. Wife Persimmon & I overheard one male customer declare "if all IPA's were like this, the world would be a better place."
So far, Mac & Jack have resisted the temptation to bottle and offer only draught but you can sample at the brewery, take a tour, buy a t-shirt and become, as most Washingtonians have, an un-abashed fan.