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Old 04-16-2014, 09:54 PM   #1
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Default Read "Vintage Beers", looking to make one.

The book was a great read and taught me a lot about beer formulation for long storage. I would go into more depth of my readings here, but I would have to re-write the book. I recommend it for any homebrewer- I learned a lot of the science of aging beer and the changes it goes under.

One style he recommends for long term cellaring is the English Barley Wine. According to the author, the higher beta acid to alpha acid ratio of many English hops help these barley wines to age more gracefully and help avoid that 'cardboard' flavor that aging isomerized alpha acids produce.

He also lists a few other traits these beers exhibit that age well:
1) more residual sugars (higher FG). An aged beer's body thins over time and this helps to balance the beer later in it's life.
2) fruity esters associated with English ale yeasts. These change over time and take on dried fruit characteristics.
3) Longer boils which result in Maillard reactions. This produces more compounds that age well and fend off oxidation.

According to Ray Daniel's book "Designing Great Beers", the start of any formulation of a barley wine begins with a good pale or IPA malt selection and is then increased for an appropriate original gravity. He also states that the use of DME is a good idea to help bolster the gravity and alleviate some of the hassle of mashing on a homebrew level.

This is what I propose:
1) German Hallertau hops have one of the highest beta-alpha ratios, so I will use them as my only hop choice.

2) Original gravity of 1.100

3) Use a hearty English Ale yeast that is a medium attenuator. A final gravity of at least 1.020 seems desirable.

4) Use Pale DME for 30% of my fermentable sugars. If used for a full 60 minute boil, it should provide a good source of Maillard reactions.

5) Use about a pound of 80 L (or higher) caramel malt

6) Use Vienna malt to make up the difference (for a different flare)

I would like to hit 50 IBUs, but I'm not sure if that will be a waste or not. The IBUs will deplete over time. I expect a beer designed to be aged to start out life a little awkward, but I would like the experience to be as pleasurable as possible at any stage.

Advise wanted! weigh in!
Thanks as always, HBT.

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Old 04-16-2014, 10:04 PM   #2
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I would up the IBU's as Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot is 90 and it ages very well. But that is just my 02 cents. I have a barley wine I made in January stashed away right now that I used a Scottish Ale yeast on and I don't plan on even trying it until atleast the 4th of July maybe Labor Day if I can hold out that long.

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Old 04-17-2014, 12:53 AM   #3
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Sierra's Bigfoot came to mind for me, as well. That "Vintage Beers" book had a few pages set aside for the ten year vertical tasting of Bigfoot and it's results. He graphically showed a gradual increase in that cardboard flavor, though I must admit he didn't say it detracted from the flavor profile until after a quite a number of years had passed (I can't remember exactly, maybe 7). He did say that was a beer greatly worth cellaring.

Scottish ale yeast? Interesting: I have to try to decide on a yeast tonight. Anything in particular make you gravitate to that choice?

Good luck holding out!

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Old 04-17-2014, 10:15 AM   #4
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For me it was its ability to do well up to 12% I also used it in one of Jasper's kits a double red zombie ale if I remember right. I really enjoyed the flavor profile it provided. However that beer didnt even start to get smooth tasting until about three months. It had to smooth out the almost 10% abv

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Old 04-17-2014, 04:38 PM   #5
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Anyone else have any advise? I'm interested to hear from others who have done something like this.

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Old 04-20-2014, 11:19 AM   #6
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Well Happy Easter, everyone! I'll fill you in where I've left off:

I have selected the WYeast London Ale 1028 strain, made a 1.032, .75 gal starter, then got nervous that wouldn't be enough and purchased another smack pack. I'm doing a 6 gallon, (hopefully) 1.100 gravity point beer.

I found the (on paper) ideal hop- French Strisselspalt 2.3% alpha, 8.8% beta!... Only problem is I need to use a pound of it to reach my 50 IBUs. Looks like I am going to have to account for a lot of losses in wort, yes?

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Old 04-21-2014, 01:46 AM   #7
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Low-alpha hops are a good choice, as their bitterness lasts longer than that of high-alpha. It's not an IBU thing, as hops have plenty of tannins. If you want to add a smaller amount of hops, you can use oak, which is also quite tannic and should absorb less beer. I made a barleywine (1.120OG, 1.025FG) that used 10oz of Crystal hops to target 50 IBUs. It was fantastic after a few months, but with age, it's leaning a little heavily towards the sweet side.

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Old 04-21-2014, 03:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingwood-kid View Post
Low-alpha hops are a good choice, as their bitterness lasts longer than that of high-alpha. It's not an IBU thing, as hops have plenty of tannins. If you want to add a smaller amount of hops, you can use oak, which is also quite tannic and should absorb less beer. I made a barleywine (1.120OG, 1.025FG) that used 10oz of Crystal hops to target 50 IBUs. It was fantastic after a few months, but with age, it's leaning a little heavily towards the sweet side.
Ah, more great input, thanks! That oak idea was a particularly good one: I do have some french oak hanging around. I will very much consider this. I do believe it can be quite tricky to hit that "right" amount of oak. I am waiting with baited breath to see if I over-oaked my first beer featuring oak. Even though supposedly oak subsides with a certain amount of aging, from what I've read claims that it stays relatively stable (as an flavor presence).

If I could recommend something, that heavy sweet side you are referring to was mentioned in this book as being a good sign of a good cellar candidate. Supposedly the body thins over years and that helps to off-set that process. Hang on to those puppies if you feel they could stand up to it!
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:44 PM   #9
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Well, it's in the fermenter... with a crap ton of hop debris. Like the bottom half of the fermenter is green. Like grass green. :/ Oh well. I'll roll with it. I used two ounces in hop back, so it's only 14 ounces in the kettle, but man that balloons up! I hit my gravity at 100 GUs, even including the 3/4 cups of yeast slurry/starter/new pack of 1028.

Time to find out if I under-pitched. The slurry part of the mixture wasn't as significant as I would have liked.

I also probably got too greedy and stuffed 5.6-5.75 gallons in a 6 gallon fermenter... sooo... yeah.

The good news is I brewed a gallon of gruit from the 3rd runnings. sitting at 44 gravity points, it's hopefully going to be decent!

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