"Tony Macklin and Frank Felice on home-brewing
Editors note: A robust coffee-hazelnut stout “Brown Eyed Girl,” brewed by award-winning homebrewers Frank Felice and Tony Macklin, prompted a conversation about their decade-long friendship. They originally connected as graduate students at Butler University’s Jordan College, Department of Music.
NUVO: What brought you to brew together?
Felice: I had wanted to brew ever since I lived in Portland, Ore., where I started to drink homebrews by a number of folks I knew out there. When I reconnected with Tony [in Indianapolis] he was brewing with another friend, and I asked to tag along for the bottling portion of the process. I loved it. Shortly afterwards my wife gave me a starting kit and off I went. After a couple of solo brewing experiences, and after Tony’s brewing partner moved, Tony and I started brewing together. He’s a great guy to hang out with and solve all of the world’s problems while brewing.
Macklin: I had also tried to homebrew on my own and it turned out awful.
NUVO: What’s your signature?
Felice: We’re trying lots of things. Recently we brewed an I.P.A., because we hadn’t done one. Also, when given a kit recipe that is pretty standard we’ll “kit bash” it, adding some supplementary ingredients such as honey, rum, spices, lemons to see how it will turn out.
Macklin: We’re becoming known for “adding booze to our beer,” a great experiment to see how flavors complement and change over time.
Felice: “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Dead Man’s Chest Ale” [2006 Brewer’s Cup silver medal at the Indiana State Fair] turned out better than expected. The lemon wheat beer, well, it finally mellowed into something oddly drinkable, but it was a great liquid to poach fish in. [Their Ex-Pat Amber, however, won a Blue Ribbon in 2006.]
NUVO: How do you work as a team?
Felice: Both of us know how to do the whole process so we take turns on each of the steps.
Macklin: Frank thankfully brings the thoughtful discipline to the creative process. I’m more apt to experiment and modify along the way without planning. We’ve had success with both approaches.
NUVO: What’s special about brewing?
Felice: If you want good beer, you really can’t do too poorly by what you’ve brewed yourself, especially if you live in a small town where a great selection is hard to come by. In a larger city you can obtain good microbrews — hooray for the folks at Brugge, Ram, [Broad Ripple] Brewpub. The other aspect is one of craft. I like making things. I like beer, why not make my own? I’ll learn to make wine someday, then perhaps whiskey.
Macklin: It is the safest way to combine interests in chemistry, drinking and playing with boiling hot liquids.
Home brewing suppliers:
Easley Winery, 205 N. College, 317-636-4516
Great Fermentations of Indiana, 5127 E. 65th St., 317-257-9463
Wine Art Indy, 5890 N. Keystone Ave., 317-546-9940