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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > NOT to oak a barley wine?
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:34 PM   #1
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Default NOT to oak a barley wine?

questions about barley wine I just brewed for competition in December. figure that's enough time to let it get some character without being too green

this was my first batch with my converted cooler MLT, is my first barley wine and first parti-gyle (first Irish red ale).

I first brewed 20 years ago, but quit for 18 years due to not having room to store my equipment. started up again last year and have done 2 extract and 1 previous all-grain batch in a zapap MLT.

still pretty ignorant on some styles, especially the big beers. my home brew club is my only source of barley wines I have tasted and I'm trying to get more familiar with them, but nothing really turns me on about them. Not really a distilled spirits drinker, especially not bourbons. which is pretty much all I taste in the bigger beers (or maybe it's like port/sherry, which I don't recall ever drinking, so don't know the flavor); not at all what I'm used to with the beers I like. but, then again, I wasn't used to real beers with actual taste either after I discovered life outside the BMC universe. So, I'm willing to brew and learn.

let's start with the recipe:

Amt Name
13 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
1 lbs Munich Malt (5.0 SRM)
1 lbs Victory Malt (28.0 SRM)
1.50 oz Northern Brewer [8.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min
1.50 oz Fuggles [4.10 %] - Boil 20.0 min
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [6.70 %] - Aroma Steep
1.0 pkg British Ale (White Labs #WLP005)
1 lbs Lyle's Golden Syrup (0.0 SRM)

grain bill is almost exactly what I brewed in my AIPA, except I swapped out the American 2-row for some MO, wanting to give that a try. I liked the combo and figured I could work around what I like and am familiar with. I know it's missing crystal/caramel, but the color that BS2 is showing, 15.0, is along the part of the SRM spectrum that I just love; medium-deep copper red, like a shiny new penny. I didn't see the need for crystal/caramel.

now I can't find the recipe where I came up with the hops, but I did see it somewhere. all English, but maybe a bit too much for English BW, but I figured that would mellow out with age.

LHBS owner suggested the WLP005 and I wanted to try out the Lyle's.

mash-in at 150° for 75 minutes, mash-out 168° for 10 minutes.

went to collect first runnings into bottling bucket (has marked volumes) stepped away for a minute and when I came back, noticed the SPIGOT was open. not sure at the time how much was lost (running for the IRA was about a gallon short, figure that's how much I lost), collected 3½ gallons.

2 hour boil, hop additions started at the 60 minute mark. end of boil volume only 1½ gallons, topped off with 1 gallon into fermenter. OG was 1.090. pitched at 70° and right now it's sitting in the mid 60s and not at all worried about lack of airlock activity, shining light into bucket I can the shadow of something above the liquid line.

primary for at least 3 weeks before start checking gravity.

this is where I start to have questions.

being new to the big beers, wondering if oaking is an absolute necessity for a barley wine? and if I should oak, can I get away with NOT soaking in bourbon? I know nothing is really absolutely necessary in brewing, as far as ingredients go, so I'm wondering if I can go without any of that.

checking BJCP style guide and nothing suggests oak or bourbon, but for 19B, it does mention "Aged versions may have a sherry-like quality, possibly vinous or port-like aromatics."

so... to OAK or NOT to OAK?

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:38 PM   #2
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You dont have to oak barleywines, its just a style the lends itself to those flavors, and if you do oak, you don't have to do bourbon, again its just a flavor that tends to match.

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Old 01-28-2013, 03:51 PM   #3
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I've had many fine barley wines that had no oak in them at all. It certainly isn't a requirement, especially if it's a flavor you're not really interested in. It's your beer after all!

As for your hopping it isn't overhopped at all. With the long aging of barley wines a lot of people will go on the high range of hopping for the style because a lot of that character is going to die out and mellow over the extended aging. In fact when I do a barley wine I generally use it as a chance to get rid of some of my older hops that don't exactly smell bad, but don't smell so great anymore.

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Old 01-28-2013, 11:11 PM   #4
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No, in fact if you're brewing for competition you shouldn't oak it unless you want to enter it in the wood-aged category rather than the strong ale (barleywine) category. The "sherry-like quality, possibly vinous or port-like aromatics" will be from minor, slow oxidation from long aging. This is an acceptable trait but not a required or even necessarily desirable one.

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Old 01-29-2013, 01:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daksin View Post
No, in fact if you're brewing for competition you shouldn't oak it unless you want to enter it in the wood-aged category rather than the strong ale (barleywine) category. The "sherry-like quality, possibly vinous or port-like aromatics" will be from minor, slow oxidation from long aging. This is an acceptable trait but not a required or even necessarily desirable one.
category is 19

thanks for the advice, guys... knew I could count on yous
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drinking: Wojtkowiak Piwo, CLB's Barleywine, 8Hearted Pale Ale, O'Rob's Dry Irish Stout, DB8PT Session Ale, Wojtkowiak Grodziskie - bottle conditioning: Otto M. Gourd Pumpkin Barleywine, Jewel Thieves Apple Wine, CLB's Barleywine 1.2

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