Tag Archives: barleywie

How Do YOU Decide What To Brew?

This post’s inspiration comes from HopWild. It’s audience participation time and the question of the day is this; Where do you find the inspiration for the recipes you brew?

Most frequently I make beers “to style”. That is, I pick or design recipes based on historic beer styles. My focus is generally on brews rarely available in my area. The last such beer was a Belgian Triple and the next one will be Düsseldorf Altbier. Researching styles and their individual brewing techniques adds to my enjoyment of the hobby. I page through back issues of BYO and Zummurgy, and read the Classic Style book if it is available.

Less often I devise an experimental, outside guidelines batch. My inspiration in these cases comes from an ingredient that I want to spotlight or become more familiar with. The nettle beer is a recent example. Some of these recipes even make it into the brewing rotation. I would like for the nettle beer to become a regular recipe, but after tasting it today it will need much work.

Finally, I enjoy making traditional seasonal beers. The only current example of this is a barleywine that has been conditioning since May. I will tap that one on my birthday in late October.

Your Turn

I’d like to hear your ideas. Share them in comments (or a blog of your own).

Vigorous Fermentation

I was glad the barleywine did not become infected because it blew the airlock off the first night of fermentation. I was fairly confident it was safe since it was just expelling trub and krausen. I don’t normally ferment in carboys any more so didn’t have a blow-off tube. This is what remains after racking. The interior of the duck-in cooler is a giant mess. That’s one reason it’s brewery cleaning week(s).

Barleywine, Bitter, Beer judging

Last Friday, minutes before leaving for a beer-judging weekend trip to Oakland, CA, I kegged this year’s Gnarly Barleywine. Even though it has been four years since the first and last time I made this barleywine, I call it “this year’s” barleywine because it is a good enough recipe that I would like to make it yearly. Brewed on May 6th, this beer’s beginnings reach back another two weeks to a 10-gallon batch of Bitter I made as a yeast starter for the barleywine.

As I write this article, I sip the Starter Bitter. It’s an ordinary bitter on the very low end of the SG range and the very high end of the IBU bracket. That combination of attributes makes for a bad beer. The bitterness is sharp and harsh and the body is thin. Adding calcium sulfate to RO water is about the only way to “fix” my tap water, but I think I overdid it this time. Sulfur compounds accentuate harsh bitterness. It is carbonic and metallic and a healthy dose of malt flavor would really bring this beer from the brink of disaster. The bouquet has some malt sweetness, but lacks hop aroma. Pardon me while I take another draught. Next time, five more pounds of Maris Ottr. The recipe:

10 gallons of Ordinary Bitter
Fermentables

  • 12 lbs Maris Ottr Pale
  • 2 lbs Crystal 60

90 minute rest at 149° F

Hops

  • 2 oz 7.6% AA pellet Brewer’s Gold 60 minutes
  • 2 oz 5.25% AA whole EK Goldings 15 minutes

WYeast 1098 British Ale yeast. Ferment around 62° F.

A better mash program will probably help the malt profile. 149° F is at the top end of beta-amylase’s temperature range, but below alpha-amylase. Beta makes fermentable sugars and alpha makes unfermentables. As John Palmer writes: “A lower mash temperature, less than or equal to 150°F, yields a thinner bodied, drier beer.” That is exactly what I have; more malt please.

I should also note that higher fermentation temperatures will produce more of the British ester compounds that are missing from this beer.

The low starting gravity sure makes for a low-alcohol session beer. Pardon me while I pour another pint.

Moving along, the starter bitter fermented out and I transferred it to kegs. Onto the yeast cake I dumped 5 gallons of New Gnarly Barleywine:

Fermentables

  • 13.25 lbs Maris Ottr Pale
  • 2.25 lbs Honey Malt
  • 1.5 lbs Munich
  • 1 lbs Carapils Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Brown Malt

Mashed at 145° F for 60 minutes. Raised mash up to 160° F for another 30 minutes.

Hops (90 minute boil)

  • 1.5 oz 14.4% AA pellet Magnum first-wort
  • 1 oz 5.2% AA pellet Mt Hood 15 mins
  • 1 oz 5.2% AA pellet Mt Hood 5 mins
  • 2 oz 4.8% AA pellet EK Goldings 2 weeks dry hop

WYeast 1098 British Ale yeast. Ferment around 62° F.
OG: 1.092
FG: 1.018
IBU: 71 (est)

I was in a rush to get to the airport for this weekend’s Longshot competition, therefore I did not get a proper taste on the way to the keg, nor did I add the dry-hops. Adding them will give me an opportunity to have a proper taste test.

Longshot was great, as usual. This marks my third year judging at the competition and reinforced my appreciation for the Boston Beer Company. My report from 2007 will give you an idea of what it’s like. Incidentally, the best in show in our region went to a barleywine.

22 beers waiting to be judged best in show. The dude on the right is Pete Solsberg of Wicked Ale and gourmet chocolate fame. Real approachable guy – as are most brewers.