October 10, 2008

A Delicate Balance

When we first called Nahum's friend for homebrew advice, one of the (many) good tips he gave us was a book title: The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian. The title pretty much sums up what you get in its 400+ pages.

While the Papazian book goes into a lot of details as far as procedures, recipes and other homebrew ephemera, it's key point comes up again & again: "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew." Anytime a potential problem or tricky bit of craft come up, Papazian doles out that sage advice.

Nahum and I did our best to take this to heart, but it's not always easy for the first-time brewer. On Monday, I got the following e-mail from Nahum: "
I am violating the cardinal rule. I am worrying. In the new room I am concerned it is too cold. Shelf thermometer reads 65. Bucket temp reads 70 (I moved it this morning because it read 73). Now I am worried it is bubbling too slowly," adding, "I am sick and need help."

I wasn't sure how worried to be about this, so I decided to relax and not worry (and I drank a beer at home). Nahum soon followed suit by shifting his focus to something that was actually very productive, namely monitoring the specific gravity readings.

Now, I thought you just took a reading at the beginning and another at the end. And at first I worried that this was going to just be an added worry-maker, but it turned out to be yet another good sign. The 10.8.08 reading revealed that the brew was up to 2.9% alcohol by volume (which is well on the way to the target of three-point-something) and even better was his note that, "it is already really tasty!" Nahum's wife even joined in:

All good signs. We're going to take another reading tonight (and I'll get my first taste of the not-quite-yet-ale), followed by bottling this weekend.

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