December 30, 2008

The Other Half

I seem to have gotten sidetracked from my 2JB business, but am back to make it all right again.

As indicated at the beginning of the black & tan project, the next step was to get a half-batch of stout going. An upside of coming back to the brewing process so soon after the last is that we were able to keep in a kind of rhythm (or, at the very least, not have to re-read the basics of what we were supposed to be doing here). So after we shifted the still-fermenting lager from the bucket to the carboy, the grain sack got 4 oz. of crushed black patent malt and 2 oz. roasted barley, which was submerged into 2 gallons of water that had 1 tsp. of gypsum mixed in.

And it was not hard to guess that we were making a dark, dark stout beer: the wort looked and smelled plenty dark before we'd even reached the boiling point. And once 3.3 lbs. of Cooper's Dark Malt Extract went in...hoo-boy! The liquid was pitch-dark, with an aroma that was just this side of burnt.

Since we didn't have the exact hops called for in the recipe we found online (unless one is willing to track down every last exact iteration of hops and malts and such, one is often at the mercy of what the supplier has access to), we went with 3/4 oz. of Northern Brewer and 1/8 oz. Cascade hops, some Irish Moss, plus another 1/8 oz. of Cascade for finishing.

By the time everything had been boiled and mixed and brewed up, we had a dark, dark brown, almost syrupy wort on our hands. As a long-time fan of dark, heavy beers (time spent living in Scotland will do that to a fella), I had two immediate and simultaneous thoughts: 1) Wow, this is going to be good, and 2) Why, exactly, did we only make a half batch of something so potentially yummy?

As we sampled the pre-ferment stout, it was clear Nahum was having the exact same thoughts. I's not really any more or less effort to brew 2.5 or 5 gallons (most of the water is added at the end to get the proportions balanced out right), and our experiences with Batches Alef and Bet suggested that 2JB homebrew does not have a long shelf life - it gets drunk up pretty quick. In fact, we were pretty much out of beer (save for the 4 bottles of pumpkin ale I'd set aside for my wife's family to try over the holidays). So as we measured out a 1.070 original gravity and sealed up the bucket, the Two Jews made a solemn vow: never again would we make puny half-batches, and we would make it our central mission to never be this low on ready-to-quaff bottles of 2JB product.

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