October 16, 2011

Roll Up for the Mystery Brew

OK, it's been awhile since the Two Jews got to brewing. Why? No matter - we're brewing now, and that's the thing.

Now, I'd be lying if I said that our 1st brew in some time went exactly according to plan. We pored over the possibilities and settled on an Oktoberfest recipe (even though it wouldn't be ready until November...a minor detail). Nahum was going to call the ingredient order in, and I was going to pick it up.

Which I did. Our regular guy was on vacation, so I dealt with the kid working behind the bar. He didn't have an order for "Nahum"...but there was one that looked about right for a "Naron." An easy mistake to make over the phone.

But when I got the stuff home and checked in with Nahum, he informed me that he had not, in fact, put in our order. Really? Well, it was now too late in the day to go back to the supply shop...and anyway, the ingredients were bought and paid for, and ready to deploy. When you can't brew with the ingredients you want, you brew with the ingredients you have. Sorry 'bout that, Naron.

And anyway, the bag of stuff we had looked like our kind of brew - likely a porter or nut-brown ale, both of which we've made an thoroughly dug. So we put the 1/2 lb. of crystal malt, 1/4 lb. black patent malt and 1/4 lb. of chocolate malt into the gran bag, and got to boiling in 2 gallons of water.

It was immediately clear that the Mystery Brew was not going to steer us wrong: nice dark color, good nutty aroma. At the boil, we added a 3.3 lb. can of Briess sparkling amber malt and 3 lbs. of light amber DME. Once it got back to boiling, we split out 2/3 of the oz. of Northern Brewer hops, and added the last third after a half-hour. Twenty minutes later, a 1/2 oz. of Willamette finishing hops, followed by a few more minutes of boiling.

As we strained the wort into some cold water, it looked and smelled just right. Oh, and it tasted good - a quick sample showed that (unsurprisingly), the brew is more malty than hoppy, but certainly good. (We're debating some dry hopping after it's had time to ferment.)

Nahum had to hit the road after we strained the hot wort, so we're letting it cool and will pitch some English dry ale yeast later in the day, then the Ale Pail goes down to the basement.

Some of the beer-brewing reflexes might have been a little rusty, but the result seems right on target. And we owe it all to Naron, the (accidental) Honorary Third Jew, who helped make it happen.

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