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Old 11-02-2010, 09:55 PM   #1
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Default 13% ABV and not Barley Wine, How?

My French beer thread didn't get any comments on this so I'm just askin' the question. =)

I tried Belzebuth and it's 13% ABV and isn't in any way a barley wine, how?

It's rather sweet and malty, but is some of that coming from added sugar to push up the ABV without making a barley wine?

I like barely wines, and most every 10%+ beer I've tried are start getting close to the character of "officially labeled" barley wines.

I don't like the idea of adding sugar just for the sake of pushing up ABV. So it's not on my experiment list, but it's the only thing that makes sense to get a beer like that.

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Old 11-02-2010, 10:25 PM   #2
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Barelywine is a term used to denote any strong ale. Technically its not a wine because its not made from fruit but its called a wine to signify its higher than normal EtOH content similar to some wines.

Also, ABV is not the only distinction that makes a BW. Also, IBU's and yeast play significant roles in BW's flavor. I guess they can call their beer whatever they want but generally speaking, a BW is more malty than bitter. So even though they dont call it a BW they can call it a "strong ale" or an "ale" and still be telling the truth.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:36 PM   #3
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When I think (American) barleywine, I think of an IPA that had more hops and a ton more malt thrown in. Sweeter than a double IPA, darker and more hoppy than a standard IPA. Lighter in color, though, than an imperial stout, which share a barleywine's hoppiness and ABV.

This is an American barleywine, of course. British barleywines I think of as less hoppy and therefore more malty than their American counterparts, and they also have more diacetyl due to the British ale yeast. Also generally lower ABV. Oh, and I like some raisin flavor in British barleywines.

Again, all my opinions, because styles are so blurred anymore it's useless to try to classify most beers.

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Old 11-03-2010, 01:09 AM   #4
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hmm. I think I may have goofed my explanation. Thanks for the info but I realize what "barley wines" are, and assorted levels of hops and roasted malts aside.

What I'm looking for are any additional insights in achieving that level of alcohol, while avoiding the very strong overall character shared by all high ABV beers. That flavor where it's not just sweet but you get the distinct hints of the grain itself. Where it's strong but it's not the hops. I really wish I could explain it better.

This beer tastes very much of a good standard ale, but the presence of the alcohol is very apparent. It warms your nose when you smell it, and it doesn't smell like "barely wines" or various imperial beers.

Which is why I'm wondering if it's the addition of sugar rather than additional malt to increase the ABV which avoids those traits shared by high ABV beers. And gives the distinct presence of the the alcohol.

Like I said I don't like the idea of adding sugar for ABV, for me I like to enhance the beer not the alcohol. I know some do it to push up their content, but it's a practice and a final product I'm not familiar with.

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Old 11-03-2010, 01:36 AM   #5
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I made a Wheatwine that is close to 13% and certainly plays up the wheat characteristics. It is still aging in the bottles, so I'll have to wait and see where the final taste lands but early samples show lots and lots of wheat, a little bit of sweetness, and a little alcohol warmth, particularly as it warms.

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanzerBanana View Post
Like I said I don't like the idea of adding sugar for ABV, for me I like to enhance the beer not the alcohol. I know some do it to push up their content, but it's a practice and a final product I'm not familiar with.
Adding sugar isn't all about boosting ABV. When brewing big beers adding sugar helps to lighten the body and to dry out the beer making it more drinkable. If you've tried many Belgian beers (many of which are 10%+) then you've had beers that use a lot (up to 20%) of sugar.
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:12 AM   #7
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Adding sugar isn't only for increasing the ABV. Many brewers will add sugar to higher gravity beers to help dry it out more because its easier for the yeast to consume simple table sugar. I have done this with many of my higher gravity beers. The presence of alcohol isn't caused by the sugar but by the fusel alcohol created during fermentation. One way to control this is to control your fermentation temp. I've even tried small ABV beers where the fusel alcohol was very noticeable.


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Old 11-03-2010, 11:27 PM   #8
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So you're looking to brew a beer that's north of 12% but doesn't have that "hot" alcohol bite to it?

Adding sugar will dry a beer out, and make the alcohol come out a little more, so you're probably right, you shouldn't add sugar.

You could mash at a higher temperature (if you're doing all-grain, like 156*ish) to extract more unfermentable sweetness and "grainy" character, but again, you'll have problems getting your beer to 12%+ without a good mash. A multiple-step mash might be the solution, although I only ever do single-infusion mashes, so I'm not the one to ask.

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Old 11-03-2010, 11:32 PM   #9
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I had good luck with extracting enough by doing a partigyle. I collected the first runnings and had an OG 1.1. My attenuation was much better than anticipated bringing me down to 1.012 resulting in about 11.5%. I could have easily added a bit of DME/LME to boost the OG to get 13%.

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Old 11-04-2010, 02:53 PM   #10
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As SkinnyShamrock mentions, sugar often added to dry out the beer. This is done to avoid the sweet, malty, heavy-bodied characteristics of a barleywine. Belgians use candi for exactly that. Getting an ABV over 10% without high residual malt is difficult otherwise. Drier high-ABV beers will have more of an alcohol presence.

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