Sunday, April 29, 2012

Homebrew: Bourbon Dubbel - 02

Have to maintain the temperature for an hour, keeping it between 144-152°. I went over a little bit but I left the lid off and cut the heat, so I hope it doesn't damage anything.

I'm going to say that a lot! I just get very insecure during this process. I want everything to go right, and beer can be pretty forgiving at some stages (like boiling the wort) and not at others (everything else). I'm not very skilled and I'm confronted with that all the time: while I was tediously adding and deducting hundredths of pounds on digital scales, cautiously searching all the bins for the various malts I needed, some old guy came in with a mixed expression of determination and tired intolerance. I was dinking around with fractions and he just strode right up, got a large plastic bin, threw pounds and pounds of various malts into a few bags, and strode out again. He's an expert, he's been doing this often enough that he knows what he needs, what can be overlooked, and where his margins of error are. Not so with me: I've got to study and stare and scrutinize to make sure every last tidbit is followed, and somewhere along the way I can hope to intuit the process, to internalize the formulas so that I have a relationship with the chemical process rather than following it blindly and methodically like an aspirant to a dead religion.

See, even now, I should be boiling the wort back up to 170° with a companion gallon of water as well, but I forgot about the galon and it's heating up now while I've cut the heat on the steeping malts. I'm so terrible. I believe in drinking my failures, sure, but it's not as good as drinking a success, and I'll leave the astute reader to guess at which I'm aiming.

Anyway, another step down and another step screwed up! I was supposed to sparge the grains over a large pot, which I found after ten minutes of searching, and then dump a boiling gallon of water through the malt grains. Instead, I got rid of the grains and had to salvage them (or as many as practical/hygenic) to dump the water through them. Do I have enough malted water left over? Good lord, am I making my own malt? That would make sense! Wow, this is the missing step in homebrewing that I was dreading: when the grid goes down, sure, I could grow my own hops and maybe find malt and barley, but how would I make the malt syrup? Apparently I'm doing it right now! That just now occurred to me!

Time for more bourbon.

Anyway, the malted liquid is boiling nicely and it's time to add some of the hops (this 1/5-reduced recipe is increasingly annoying: I have to waste many ingredients because I have more than is called for, in a one-gallon batch, but that's how we learn). And in the above left photo, please note my curious little kitty, Toki. He likes the smell of malt, apparently, though he won't actually eat a sample of the boiled grains.

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