March 2, 2009

School's Out for Homebrew

And so it came to pass that the Two Jews beheld their first-ever original-recipe ale. The aroma was most pleasing, the color was bold, and the taste...well, it seems like the Originale is gonna be pretty damn good.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We arranged to bottle Batch Vav once again during Nahum's kid's time at Hebrew school. I take no small pleasure that this has come to be the (more or less) regular time for 2JB activity. When I was a kid, one of the things I didn't like about Hebrew school was an unconfirmable but certain feeling that these weekend hours I spent in Hebrew school were being used by other people for seriously fun stuff. And a mere quarter-century later, I have my proof. We're using this little slice of weekend time for serious, big-smile fun...and all because a kid is in Hebrew school and we're not.

But I digress.

Nahum and I got into our now-familiar bottling rhythm: he'd soaked the bottles in a large pot, so I took to sanitizing them while he prepped & sanitized the bottling equipment. He boiled the priming sugar (additional Originale experiment: 4 oz. of brown sugar dissolved into boiling water instead of the corn-starch sugar we've been using) while I sanitized and laid out the bottle caps. After a quick SG reading (1.014), we racked to the bottling bucket, and Nahum filled as I capped. This might be our single smoothest process thus far - efficient, nearly wordless and still producing the deep pleasure of seeing the bottles pile up in the box. Plus, we usually sample the pre-carbonated brew while we do it.

And as I said, the sampling made us very, very happy. As we'd hoped, the beer is floral and a little citrusy; to our surprise, it also has a subtle but sharp sweetness, making it feel crisp even though it's yet to get either bubbly or cold. And it had a noticeably pleasant aftertaste, something I don't think we'd achieved previously.

The extra hops (25% more than we've used for previous brews), the mix of light & dark malts and the double fermentation seem to have led to a beer that is likely to be very good right away, but will also benefit from a little bit of tinkering & adjusting. I can easily see us working with this brew for a few more batches, trying a little extra something here and a little less of something else there...until it's just right. Worthy of the 2JB label. (Note to self: we really need to make labels.)

But until then, we've got 43 bottles of Originale carbonating in the basement. We'll sample a bottle in a week (maybe during Hebrew school again? Hah!), then move them to the cold room to finish up for another week. Now that we've got a solid idea of how tasty our new concoction is likely to be, that could be a long 2 weeks to wait.

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