I forgot to mention that Pablo and I bottled last night, and that I was struck with the casual efficiency and speed with which we put away five gallons of nigh-on beer. The whole process seemed fluid and easy, something to be done without a great deal of thought. Cleaning and sterilizing is still painful, mostly for want of a) a bottle tree and b) a second faucet, and one of these can be remedied. Regardless, it seemed like a watershed moment.
Sunday's brew was my first mini-mash, which entails actively drawing sugars from the grain as opposed to relying solely on extract. I'm not sure that I managed to reach full starch conversion, but I can say conceptually, mashing doesn't seem that out of reach any longer. I also managed the process solo... which I chalk up to the short notice and the promise of Bill Murray flicks in place of the usual cheesy HKAT fare.