Start of the (patrtial) mash. Everything looks fine here, but the end result was a clogged spigot and our realizing that we needed to redesign our mash tun. We were glad that we had a large strainer standing by as Plan B!
The problems with the mash tun were forgotten, though, as we commenced the boil.
After the wort spent a week in primary fermentation and two weeks in secondary, we racked it to the bottling bucket and bottled the batch. The racking and bottling marked our first use of the main brewery space--Billy's basement.
Joseph, overseeing the proceedings, gave his smile of approval.
We think this will be the best beer we've ever brewed--that is, we like it better than the first one so far; we like the taste so much, in fact, that we deemed it worth drinking even in its not-yet-carbonated state. And it's a doozy...given the objective measure of hydrometer readings and the subjective measure of post-beer wobbliness, I'm pretty sure we hit our target ABV of 7.2%.
In one of my other avocations as a musician, I like to play solo shows (just me, guitar, and harmonica), and I also sometimes like to "hide in the back" as a drummer in a band. But my favorite gigs are the two-man partnerships that I occasionally have with my cousin David, in which we work as equals in singing and songwriting even as we bring different colors to the instrumental palatte--skilled guitar playing from him, percussion and harmonica playing from me. That partnership makes me try harder and open my mind to ideas I might not come up with by myself. I'm confident in David's playing, singing, and overall musical instincts, and I trust him enough to let go of the control over songs that I have written for his reshaping; I think the converse is the same for him.
Similarly, working in partnership with Billy has increased my enjoyment of the brewing process exponentially. His general handiness far exceeds mine, and I think that the two of us click in not only our love of beer but also our willingness to push ourselves to try styles and techniques that might initially be out of our comfort zone and experience. And, frankly, since much of brewing is sitting around waiting for water to boil or for grains to soak, I find it much more fun to do all of that sitting around with a good friend over beers than by myself.