Key points for key pints
• Same yeast or different strains? For the sake of variety and further divergence of flavors, two different strains for the two different worts would be interesting. Even though the double red is a high-gravity wort, it’s also smaller volume, so we can skip a starter and direct-pitch a pack. Having said that, if you have an all-time favorite strain (or don’t want to buy multiple packs), just propagate one in a starter and split it.
• Two kettles, four hands? We’ll need two separate boilers for the two concurrent worts, but since the pre-boil volumes will be pretty modest (less than four gallons) we can get by without huge kettles. Given the shuffling of vessels and real-time management of two separate worts, it might not be a bad idea to round up a brew day copilot.
• Capping the mash. “Capping” is the process of adding some fresh malt (usually a caramel/crystal or roasted malt) to the lauter tun during the sparge of the smaller beer to boost color, flavor, and body. The Perla Negra is held back from the rest of the grain bill so it can be added after the first runnings are collected for the double red, in order to darken the final runnings for the single black.
To the homebrewery
Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.
1. If propagating from a single pack of yeast, make a yeast starter prior to brew day.
2. On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 165°F.
3. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop. (Remember to keep the Perla Negra separate from the rest of the grains.)
Mash & sparge
1. Add all grains except the Perla Negra to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 151–153°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes. While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.
2. When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.
3. Begin sparging and collect the first runnings in one boil kettle—this will become the double red. Collect approximately 3.25 gallons, then switch kettles. (Burner space permitting, you can start bringing the first wort to a boil now.)
4. Cap the mash by adding the Perla Negra to the top of the lauter tun and continue sparging (the wort will quickly turn dark thanks to this addition of roasted malt). Collect approximately 3.25 gallons of wort in a second boil kettle—this will become the single black.
Boil: Double Red
1. Bring the wort to a boil and boil for a total of 60 minutes
2. Add 0.5 ounces each of Chinook and CTZ 15 minutes before the end of the boil.
3. Add 0.5 ounces each of Chinook and CTZ at the end of the boil.
4. Cool it!
Boil: Single Black
1. Bring the wort to a boil; add 0.75 ounces Cascade and boil for 60 minutes.
2. Add 1.25 ounces Cascade 10 minutes before the end of the boil.
3. Cool it!
Fermentation and beyond
1. Transfer the two cooled worts to separate, sanitized fermenters, aerate well, and pitch yeast.
2. Depending on the yeast strain being used, aim for a fermentation temperature somewhere around 65°F. When fermentation activity begins to slow, allow the fermenter to warm up to approximately 70°F for a 2–3 day diacetyl rest (only if needed; listen to your beer, like the man used to say).
3. Dry hop the Double Red with 1 ounce Cascade, and allow beer to remain in contact with dry hops for approximately 3–7 days.
4. Package both beers when gravity is stable, appearance is clear, and flavor is to your liking; both will drink best while fresh. Enjoy the variety!
Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.
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