November 6, 2008

Twice as Nice?

Despite being knocked ever-so-slightly off balance by the addition of pumpkin and spices to our ale, the second batch actually seems to be going very well. The yeast activity is moving at a good pace, the aroma is fab (slightly mellower than the last batch) and the color is a nice, rich brown.

It's going smoothly enough that we've moved ahead with another effort to kick up our homebrew game a notch. Although ale doesn't really benefit much from a dual fermentation, we decided to try adding in the extra round for two reasons: 1) a second fermentation will help clarify the beer, and the addition of the pumpkin has introduced more solid matter than we dealt with last time; 2) we've got this kick-ass 5-gallon glass carboy and we really, really want to use it already.

So just one night after Obama's electoral-college victory (yes we can!), the Two Jews uncapped the Ale Pail, sanitized the carboy & siphon, took a specific gravity reading (1.014, which is about where we want to be for an eventual 4 or 5% alcohol content) and then transferred the almost-beer from plastic to glass.

The process was actually extremely satisfying. For one, it really did allow us to leave a lot of the sediment and sludge behind. (Of course, we stuck our heads into the sludge again; the smell was again very pleasant as long as you kept your eyes closed.) But it also added something more ephemeral: the glass container just looked somehow more...right. Like we were Real Beer Guys, using Real Beer Guy equipment.

Anyway, now it sits for a few more days, and then Batch Bet heads to the bottles. We were a little unsure about whether to put the cinnamon and nutmeg back into the liquid at this point; when we sampled some of the bucket leftovers, it was hard to say if we detected hints of pumpkin & spices because we knew we'd put the pumpkin & spices in the wort or because the flavors were really there. I suspect we'll end up adding them for just a day or two, but it's hard to know how to best strike the balance between adding enough extra flavor without turning it into "mulled beer" or something like that.

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