June 7, 2009

Brewing On the Record

Today we revved up a new brew, and this one was by request: The New York Times' Maplewood blog, The Local, has a series about things people do in their basements. I'd met The Local's editor in a cafe downtown, and after linking to this blog, she passed the 2JB blog along to the basement profiler. In no time flat, we had a request to do a brew on the record. The weather was warming up, so it seemed like a perfect excuse to get a wheat beer going.

Once we'd set up a date with the Times blogger, we secured ingredients from The Gaslight (wheat beer has its own version of liquid malt, almost twice as much hops as most of our other brews, and a special yeast that came in a refrigerated foil packet).

We were ready...but it wasn't clear what we were ready for. There were only 2 other Show Me Your Basement blog posts, and they weren't quite like our operation. What would she be asking us? (No way to be sure.) Would we be at all interesting? (Well, homebrewing lends itself to self-blogging anyway, so it's a small leap to having an outside blogger join the fun.) Were we opening ourselves up to be mocked? (Probably, but that's half the fun.) We got the brew rolling, the reporter started with a few basic questions as she set up her camera and sound equipment, and we were ready for our closeups!

The interview process turned out to be good fun. We both needed minimal prodding to start babbling on & on about homebrewing, the various 2JB batches, and even the history of beer (Nahum really got on a roll!). It felt kind of like a low-rent version of MTV Cribs as we walked down to our 68-degree Maplewood basement, but it was also flattering to be asked to talk about what we're up to. And we cracked open bottles of Originale II during the shoot, so any worries we might have had dissolved into the Papazian mantra: "Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew."

As the wort was wrapping up, the reporter went home and we got re-focused on the business at hand. We'd put 1 lb. of crystal malt 70L into 2 gallons of water, brought it up to a boil and added 3 lbs. of dry malt extract along with 5 lbs. of Munton's wheat malt extract. After 30 minutes, in went 1 oz. of Willamettte hops, then 1 oz. of Bullion hops 20 minutes later, wrapping up with another 1 oz. of Willamette at the end of the boil (we'll be dry hopping one last oz. of Bullion in the secondary fermenter).

The last time we brewed on a warm day, we learned that it's harder to get the temperature down just by adding in room-temp water and filtering the wort. So we went back to the ice bath, which got the temperature down from 200 to 75 degrees in about 15 minutes. We strained out the solids on the way to the Ale Pail, and tried a bit. The taste was less bitter than previous worts, also a bit less sweet--lighter overall, I suppose. It bodes well for the light wheat beer we're aiming for, which will also get a little coriander & dried lemon peel in the secondary fermentation.

Finally, we pitched the Wyeast Belgian Abbey yeast--which came in a "Smak-Pak" that required smacking open an inner pouch of nutrients and letting the yeast get going for a couple of hours while we brewed.

The pail is now sealed up and doing its thing in the soon-to-be-famous 2JB basement. I'll be keeping an eye on The Grey Lady's blog and posting a link when the video is live!

No comments: