Tuesday, May 31, 2011

English Barleywine Recipe - DCHB Anniversary Beer

My rarely used large rectangular cooler mash tun.DC Homebrewers (now in its third year) quickly established a great meeting format, but we are still lacking activities outside of our monthly get-togethers.  After the success of the Smoked Stout brew day we had at my house last winter for the anniversary of the club, we decided to try something similar again this year.  This time around though the club decided to brew something a bit bigger and paler, an English barleywine. 

Inspired by JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale and Fuller's Vintage Ale which are each brewed with a single malt, our plan was to have Maris Otter comprise 100% of the grist for this batch.  Those English strong ales are darker and maltier than you might expect from just pale malt, so to replicate these characteristics we decided to borrow a trick from Hair of the Dog's Adam: boiling the wort down past the target volume and then topping off with water after the end of the boil.  The extended high-gravity boil concentrates the sugars and proteins which raises the boiling point of the wort and in turn causes the formation of additional melanoidins (these Maillard reaction products darken the beer and provide complex malty flavors).  When using this method you need to account for the lower efficiency caused by undercutting the amount of sparge water (we collected just 6.5 gallons of 1.084 wort).  Regrettably I only had 15.5 lbs of Maris Otter on hand and no one showed up with more, so we were forced to augment it with a few pounds of American Pale and German Munich.

Balance was provided by 1.75 ounces of homegrown hops that Sam and I contributed, combined with 2 ounces of commercial Styrian Goldings, all added with 80 minutes left in the boil.  The major problem with homegrown hops is that you don't know the percent of alpha acids they contain (which prevents the calculation of the IBUs they contribute), but for this beer we were willing to live with a bit more or less bitterness than my educated guess suggested.  This beer is primarily intended for aging so we skipped late boil hop additions since their aromatic character would have faded before the beer was ready to drink.

You can see how little wort was left in the 10 gallon kettle after the long boil.One other advantage of the concentrated boil method was that it allowed us to chill the top-off water before adding it to the partially cooled wort which helped bring it down below 70 F.  With the wort topped off we pitched one pack each of US-05 and S-04, both rehydrated in warm water for 15 minutes.  Rehydrating dried yeast is always a good idea, but it is an especially important step when brewing a high gravity beer (the osmotic pressure exerted by the high density of sugar would kill many of the dehydrated cells otherwise).  Ideally I would have used only English ale yeast, but I was more concerned about underpitching a 1.100 beer.

In a nod to the solera method we added half a bottle of last year's stout to the wort as well. We'll see if this turns into a tradition with future batches, but it was a good excuse to open up a bottle of the stout (which was drinking beautifully, with a muted smoke character that enhanced the charcoal character of the roasted grains).

It was a successful day of brewing (as well as eating braised pork and drinking homebrew) with my fellow DCHB members.  I was even talked into turning the second runnings into a low gravity lager, but more on that in a post next week.

DCHB Anniversary English Barleywine

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 25.00
Anticipated OG: 1.100
Anticipated SRM: 13.2
Anticipated IBU: 53.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 57 %
Wort Boil Time: 195 Minutes

62.0% - 15.50 lbs. Maris Otter
20.0% - 5.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
18.0% - 4.50 lbs. American Pale "2-row"

2.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 4.50%AA) @ 80 min.
1.25 oz. Cascade (Whole, 4.50%AA) @ 80 min.
0.50 oz. Mt. Hood (Whole, 4.50%AA) @ 80 min.

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.

S-04 SafAle English Ale
US-05 Safale American Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Filtered Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest 75 min @ 154

Brewed 5/8/11 with Brian(s), Josh, Martin, Bob, Raine, Sam, Henry, and Claire

No water adjustments. Mash was a few degrees cooler than I intended.

Collected 6.5 gallons with a batch sparge. Boiled down to ~3 gallons (not including the hops). HoTD method to boost mealanoidin production.

Chilled to ~85 F then added 2 gallons of chilled spring water to cool it the rest of the way. Rehydrated and pitched 1 pack each of US-05 and S-04 once the water was added to cool it to 65 F. Left at 66 F ambient to start fermenting.

Added ~12 oz of the 1st Anniversary Stout to give it a taste of Solera.

5/29/11 Down to 1.028 (72% AA).  Racked three gallons to a three gallon carboy, and 3 L each into two 4 L jugs.  The jugs each got a pound of defrosted Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

5/31/11 Added .5 oz of bourbon soaked American oak cubes to the larger fermenter and .375 oz of Grand Marnier French oak cubes combined to grape portion.

10/1/11 Bottled with a few grams of rehydrated Premiere Cuvee, and 3.5 oz corn sugar.  We blended the plain and grape portions back together after some taste tests.

11/29/12 Tasting notes are up, and while the beer isn't off other than being a bit too oaky, it doesn't have the complexity and depth of character that I expected in a strong ale. Next time I'd add some caramel malt, and maybe a hint of a dark malt.


Haputanlas said...


Did you boil the top-off water before cooling it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

If we were using tap water I would have, but we used bottled spring water (which I tend to trust).

Chris' Brew Log said...

That 20% Munich should add a lot of maltiness too.

Anonymous said...

great blog.

Do you keep your woodchips soaking or do you soak them for each batch? Is there any danger of keeping them soaking for a time.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...


I try to keep a few varieties of oak cubes soaking in small mason jars so they are ready to go when I want them. Soaking longer will lower the amount of oak flavor, but with so little liquor in there I can't see it going too long (some brewers have used 15+ year old bourbon barrels with good result).

ryanb said...

Hey - thanks for all this great info! Where are you acquiring small amounts of wine grapes?? I would really like to try using some in my b.wines. Please let me know. Thanks!


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I bought a 5 gallon bucket a grapes from Midwest a couple months ago. I broke it down added them to 3 beers, sold some to friend, made jelly, still have 8 lbs in the freezer. In the fall you might be able to find smaller amounts at a farmer's market.

ryanb said...

thanks for getting back to me so quick! Just put in a order to Midwest (they should give you some commission!)

Mozzy said...

What color was the worst going into the fermenter? I've heard it gets a nice complexity when you boil it until it's nice and rich, deep red.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've never found that a long/concentrated boil produces a redder beer (although it does darken the wort). This one is more deep amber. I find that red comes from a combination of medium crystal malts and a touch of darker malt.