December 30, 2008

Processing Power

Brewing Batch Gimmel in two parts has generated an unintended, though excellent, side-effect: a new perspective on how to use the equipment that came in our homebrew kit. See, we'd looked at all the stuff, read the instructions for all the steps necessary to create a batch of beer, and done just that. Step 1, step 2, step 3, etc...and when it was all finished, the result was a batch of beer.

But here's the thing: many of the steps use their own discrete piece of equipment from the overall kit. So our process had us waiting until the entire set of steps was complete before starting the next brew...which sounds perfectly reasonable until you consider that during any given step, several pieces of equipment were sitting unused.

In other words: we had the right equipment to brew a batch of beer, but we also had enough equipment to be brewing multiple batches at the same time. All we had to do was game it out a bit and make sure that the different batches were timed to hit different stages of the process (and therefore be occupying different containers). So if Beer One has been in the Ale Pail for a week or two, it can move to the glass carboy...which frees up the Pail for Beer Two to start fermenting. Then Beer One moves to bottles (and out of the carboy), Beer Two shifts to the carboy (and out of the Ale Pail) and your intrepid brewers can get rolling with Beer Three. Everything moves over one step, and the brew keeps flowing.

When we first read that the NJ Homebrew Permit allowed for a max of 200 gallons a year, that seemed preposterous. Who the hell had the time (and necessary equipment) to brew nearly once a week? turns out that we just might.

Which is why on a cold December Saturday, we took the lager and stout batches (which had been in the carboy and Ale Pail, respectively) and bottled 'em up...while at the same time getting Batch Dalet (aka, 5 gallons of Monty's coffee stout recipe) boiled up and ready for the Pail. It not only was a ton of fun, but it eliminated the standing around that can accompany the brewing process - with several things going on at once, we were continually bouncing around from attending to the brew or cleaning the bottles or racking to the bottling bucket or...well, let's just say there were no idle hands (which is partially why there are so few photos for this brew!).

By the end of the afternoon, here's what we'd accomplished: 15 bottles of lager, 16 bottles of stout and 9 bottles of pre-mixed black & tans were sealed, boxed and moved to the basement for carbonation. On top of that, we had 5 gallons of stout with a 1.055 original gravity ready to ferment (containing: 1/2 lb. crystal malt, 1/2 lb. chocolate malt, 1/2 lb. black patent, and 1/2 lb. roasted non-malted black barley; 6.6 lbs. Cooper's Dark Malt Extract; 1 oz. Northern Brewer's hops, 1/2 oz. Fuggles hops, 1/2 oz. Kent Goldings hops, and 1 tsp. Irish Moss; and a topper of American dry ale yeast) and 2 Jews worth of very tired, very satisfied homebrewers.

No comments: