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Old 11-23-2012, 05:21 PM   #1
AndMan3030
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Default High Gravity Brewing

I am planning on brewing a Barleywine in a couple of weeks, and was wondering if anyone could lend some advice on the topic. I have a single tier setup with 3 converted kegs. I could use advice on mashing/brewing techniqes, as well as some recipe ideas. Holler back!


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Old 11-24-2012, 04:10 AM   #2
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Well, since no-one else has chipped in, I throw my two bits in the pot.

Plan your OG and FG well. Pay attention to your yeast's attenuation and what that means for your FG. If you have a yeast that only attenuates 68% and your OG is 1.095, your going to likely end up with a really sweet beer that might end up cloyingly sweet (FG around 1.030, which is pretty sickly sweet). Ive done two barleywines and both ended between 1.020 and 1.025 and both were great.

Remember that as you increase your grain bill you may end up having to thicken your mash depending on the size of your equipment. The hypothetical 1.095 OG beer making a 15gal batch would need about 50 lbs of malt (using avg ppg of 37 and 75% total system efficiency), which takes up about 10 gal all by itself plus almost 17gal of strike water to get a 1.3qt/lb ratio in the mash. Even a 1 bbl keggle mash tun is going to be near brimming with 27 gal of mash in it. Before you dump $60+ worth of grain in your tun, do a test to make sure that volume of liquid and grain wont be a problem.

In general, it seems to be better to scale down how much beer you expect at the end rather than thickening your mash and taking an efficiency hit. Once you start thickening your mash (and reducing your efficiency!), each lb of grain you add increases your OG less and less. The other option is to use some extract to boost your OG at the start of the boil after mashing.

Fermentation will start slower and take a little longer as the yeast have their work cut out for them. It will also take longer for the beer to carb up if bottle conditioning as that is the last sugar the yeast gets to ferment and it will be tuckered out by then. Definitely use yeast nutrient and aerate the crap out of the wort before pitching. The yeast will be under a lot of stress with the higher alcohol content and will need the boost.

While mashing, consider doing a multi-step rest mash with a lower temp hold (140-145) to increase the fermentability of your wort. The reason this works is that beta-amylase and limit dextrinase both work in that temp range but are denatured at normal mash temps (154-158). These help break down longer sugars and the branch points in the starch chain that the alpha-amylase (which works in that higher temp range) cant. Ive found that I can get 3-5% more attenuation than normal if I do a 30 min hold in that 140-145 range before finishing my mash (nother 30-45 min) at 155-156. This can help if you really want to use a type of yeast that normally has a lower attenuation, but still want a strong beer. The trade off here is that you loose some body in the beer. You can account for this by being a little richer in body-building grains (i.e. cara/crystal malts, munich, aromatic, etc), adding extract after the mash, or even adding a bit of lactose (which the yeast cant break down).

Final though, use the most important tool in the brewer's tool box, patience! Big beers take a long time to condition properly. My last barleywine was brewed in August. It took a full month to carb, but wasnt really conditioned until 2 months in. Now, 3 months later its really getting good. If I stretch out the last case for another 2 months, I get the feeling I will be declaring "best beer yet" when I pop one open.

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Old 11-24-2012, 04:20 AM   #3
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Can you post up your recipe you plan to brew?? I have a BIG barley wine (one worth of the name) in fermenting vessel now. I'm planing on giving it about a year before it goes to serving keg and gets carbonated. I might even give it longer than that. Depending on how it finishes fermenting (planned/projected to be 15.3% ABV) I might put it on oak for a time (or two). I'm fermenting it cooler than the yeast strain lists, but I communicated with White Labs about this and other than having a longer ferment time, I should get a much better brew (using WLP099). It's at no more than 60F for fermenting temps (the beer is at those temps). I'm perfectly happy with a longer time to ferment, if it will give me a better brew in glass.

My only 'concern' is that the brew is on the lighter end of the scale. At about 8.2 SRM, it's damned close to the low end (8.0). I have enough invested in it, though, that I'm going to let it go until it's ready for glass before making any judgements on it. Who knows, it could be beyond epic by then.

Just remember, a true barley wine will spend a long time in process. Many months, if not a few years. Be patient (as already posted) and you'll be blessed with something great..

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Old 11-28-2012, 08:27 PM   #4
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It depends on your setup and batch size, but when I do a higher gravity brew while sticking to my usual 6 gallon boil (5 gal. batches), I have to cut my sparge volume to keep a 1.25 qt/lb strike water ratio. Because of this, I usually plan for a ~5-8% drop in efficiency. Other than that, business as usual. Best of luck with your brew.

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Old 11-28-2012, 10:26 PM   #5
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I am using 3 converted kegs. I plan on doing a 6 gallon batch due to the capacity of my mash tun. I can fit about 30 lbs of grain at 1.25 qt/lb. I was thinking of using 1056 until I get down to about 1.030, then pitching a starter of another yeast variety, perhaps whitbread ale yeast. Any thoughts on this idea?

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Old 11-28-2012, 10:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndMan3030 View Post
I am using 3 converted kegs. I plan on doing a 6 gallon batch due to the capacity of my mash tun. I can fit about 30 lbs of grain at 1.25 qt/lb. I was thinking of using 1056 until I get down to about 1.030, then pitching a starter of another yeast variety, perhaps whitbread ale yeast. Any thoughts on this idea?
What ABV are you aiming for?? 1056 goes to 11%, where whitbread goes only to 10%, so that's a bit F'd up. If you're looking for around 12-14%, go with 1728, make a good size starter, oxygenate with pure O2 before pitching, then again at 12-18 hours in and ferment it around the middle of it's range (that would be 65F).
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Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
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Old 11-30-2012, 11:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
...aerate the crap out of the wort before pitching. The yeast will be under a lot of stress with the higher alcohol content and will need the boost.
In addition, for high gravity fermentation aerate the crap out of it again 12-18 hours after pitching. There should be noticeable activity by this time. I know that you normally wouldn't add O2 at this point, but there will be more than enough yeast activity to consume it all. (See "Yeast" by White and Zainesheff, Pg 83ff.)

Also, make an adequate (BIG) starter. www.mrmalty.com will help with this.

Enjoy! Barley Wine is one of my favorite styles
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Tap 2 - American Wheat
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:22 PM   #8
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I'd go with yeastcalc.com for figuring out the starter size/steps... It makes getting the right amount of cells viable for many of us.

My English BarleyWine is still chugging away in the basement, over a month after pitching the yeast. Be interesting to see how it comes out once done, and then once ready to go to glass. Not planning on pouring any to glass for at least a year.

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
On Deck: Caramel Ale
Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
I'd go with yeastcalc.com for figuring out the starter size/steps... It makes getting the right amount of cells viable for many of us.
Thanks for the link to yeastcalc. I'd not discovered this before. Very clear and helpful.
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Primary -
Long Winter's Nap Barleywine

Conditioning -
6 Jolly Fellows Porter
Cream of Three Crops Cream Ale
Flanders Red
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere clone - sort of
Cyser

Tap 1 - Tripel
Tap 2 - American Wheat
Tap 3 - House Mild
Tap 4 - Black IPA - from Lucid Brewery wort
Bottles - Long Winters Nap Barley Wine - 2012 & 2013, & some odds and ends

In the bullpen:
Helles
Weizendopplebock
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by scook13339 View Post
Thanks for the link to yeastcalc. I'd not discovered this before. Very clear and helpful.
I've used two, and three, steps from yeastcalc (in either a 2L or 3L flask) to get the same cell count that would have taken more than 20L as a single step. Of course, I do have a stirplate to use, which helps since you can make even smaller starters.
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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
K3: TripSix
On Deck: Caramel Ale
Aging:mead
Mead [bottled]:Oaked Wildflower Traditional, Mocha Madness, Blackberry Melomel, maple wine
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