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Old 12-07-2013, 08:14 PM   #1
burningbaal
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Default Barley Wine recipe and aging question

I have my first barley wine fermenting right now, I'll describe the recipe/process so far, then ask my questions:

Fermentables:
16 lbs pale LME
1 lb pale DME
Hops:
2 oz columbus (~15% aa)
2 oz bravo (~10% aa)
2 oz willamette (5.6% aa)
Yeast (all liquid vials):
White Labs WLP007 (High Gravity English Ale),
White Labs WLP099 (Super High Gravity Ale),
White Labs WLP 013 (London Ale),
White Labs champagne yeast

total boil time: 60minutes

-> Add 5gal of water to your pot and heat fast to a boil
-> As it nears the boiling point, add 8lbs of the LME while stirring to prevent burning (yes, this brings the volume over 5 gallons, so have a big pot, but note that you will lose volume as it boils, I ended up with a final volume of about 5.5 gallons)
-> Once at a full boil, add 1 oz each of Columbus and Bravo, add in huge bag to allow loose exposure
-> at 30 minutes, add another ounce of Columbus and Bravo
-> at 15 minutes, add the remaining LME and the DME while stirring to prevent burning, return to boil as fast as possible
-> at 5 minutes, add 1 oz of Willamette
-> chill immediately at flameout, aerate as much as possible (I use one of these)
-> I had to run out before I could get the yeast pitched and everything situated, so this sat in the carboy with the stopper and 3-piece airlock (but no liquid in the airlock) for a few hours.
-> I then pitched the first three yeasts (excluding the Champagne Yeast) and fit a blowoff tube instead of the airlock
It started bubbling like crazy, then had mostly slowed down by the end of day 7 (Saturday-Friday), that is when I pitched the champagne yeast. It literally started bubbling again right away, with a more than a bubble every second as soon as I got the stopper back on.

I plan to leave it for about 15 days in the primary with the blowoff tube, then rack to secondary.

After another 2-3 weeks, when the fermentation as stopped, I want to move it to a colder room and leave it to age in secondary for about 10-11 months. The last ounce of hops (Willamette) will be added at this time.

Here's the questions:
1. I am thinking that I will put a plug of some sort (wax?) over the stopper at this point, hoping to leave it ignored for the whole time. i could leave it with an airlock, but don't want to worry about the water evaporating as I will almost certainly forget to check on this thing over the 11 months of aging. I'm also considering trying to put a Co2 blanket over the beer when I rack it, but not sure if it will matter in a 5gal carboy. Note that I don't have any kegging/CO2 gear, so I'm not sure how I'd go about this.

2. Finally, I'm planning to bottle this in October or November next year, probably a variety of sizes like 11-12oz, 500mL, 22oz, etc so it's drinkable in December, then probably celler some of these for the future.
I plan to pitch another yeast the day of bottling, along with priming sugar. I'm thinking another vial of WLP champagne. Should I use a little extra fermentable for priming since it's such high gravity? I'm thinking about using 1/2cup of maple syrup or molasses to add a little complexity and a little more fermentable than the usual 1/2cup of corn sugar.

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Old 12-08-2013, 10:31 AM   #2
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I think you should spend a bit more time reading about making barleywines. I suspect that would tell you that your brew needs a lot more time in the primary than 15 days. You should also research mixing yeast varieties, what champagne yeast might do in your barleywine. Also, it's a bit late for it now but you probably should have used pure oxygen to aerate the wort for this big of a beer because you need lots of yeast propagation to ferment out all the sugars under adverse conditions.

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Old 12-08-2013, 05:05 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input on the 15 day-primary. I guess I'll make sure it's down to essentially no bubbling before racking it? It's slowed down pretty far now, even with the champagne yeast having just gone in 36 hours ago (probably a bubble through the blowoff tube every 2-3 seconds). I had hoped to use Wyeast 3347 (Eau de Vie), but couldn't get it at the brew store, so I went with champagne yeast just because I needed something to get the ABV up.

Also, while I understand what you're saying about using oxygen to aerate the wort, that's not really an option for 98% of us homebrewers...where would we get an oxygen tank, and why would we invest in it for a single beer category? not to mention that a bottle of oxygen is fairly dangerous for an inexperienced user of compressed gases (spoken by a guy works in a lab with several compressed gasses). I think you'd be surprised how well that little aerator I use does. I have made three beers since it, a stout-red, a pumpkin (brown) and a regular brown. they have ALL needed blowoff tubes and the stout-red was only a 3.5 gal batch in a 6.5 gal carboy.

I have tried to do a lot of reading on barley wines but have found pretty limited discussion on the category (on this site and with Google searches), which is part of why I started this thread to document my process and (in the future) results.

Do you have any advice on the aging process or on the priming sugar?

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Old 12-08-2013, 06:43 PM   #4
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Here are a few more tidbits I've found on this site by doing lots of reading.

Oxygen is available from Home Depot or places like that in small canisters. You would also need a regulator to reduce the pressure and an airstone. An airstone affixed to a metal wand works best because you can push the airstone to the bottom of the fermenter. It will be expensive to get set up for just making one big beer but you don't have to limit the use to just big beers. You didn't plan to die anytime soon, did you? You can make lots of beers with one cylinder.

Yeast need plenty of oxygen to propagate, especially for a high gravity beer. It is nearly impossible to get enough oxygen into the wort by any method but pure oxygen for very high gravity beers. The better the propagation, the better the flavor of the big beer.

The reason I suggested that you go longer than 15 days is that you shouldn't rack any beer and especially not a big beer to secondary before you reach final gravity. Doing so takes the beer away from the large yeast cake and may stall out a fermentation. Your yeast will have enough trouble fermenting out all the sugars of that big beer without you hampering them by taking away part of the workers. Don't rely on the amount of bubbles to tell you when you can rack your beer. Bubbles lie. Here's more info about the life cycle of yeast. I find that my yeast take more time than this article talks about though and yours probably will too. http://www.brewgeeks.com/the-life-cycle-of-yeast.html

By the time your barleywine is fermented out your yeast will be stressed pretty badly by the high amount of alcohol in your beer. Add to that the time that the beer spends in aging with yeast settling out and becoming dormant and you don't have much healthy yeast to do the priming of the bottles. Carbonation may take several weeks.

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Old 12-08-2013, 10:07 PM   #5
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thanks for the info, I'm going to take some time to look through that yeast cycle page.

I was thinking I'd spike some new yeast with the priming sugar next year, figuring that after all that time aging and the high ABV, I wouldn't have much carbonation from the original yeast.

Do you think I could get away with sealing the seconary carboy for the aging time?

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Old 12-08-2013, 10:15 PM   #6
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I just did a pumpkin barleywine with a single vial of WLP007 (2 starters; original pitch + 2nd pitch on day 6) with only aeration (paint mixer on a power drill) and it went from 1.113 to 1.004 before it went into secondary (where it still sits for another week)

added maple syrup and yeast nutrient on day 4, 11 oz Lyle's Golden syrup and additional yeast on day 6 and 1 lb sugar on day 8

tasted awesome when I racked to secondary

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drinking: Maibock, DB8Point IPA Clone, Belgian Wit, Rain Delay IPA, Wojtkowiak Piwo, CLB's Barleywine, 8Hearted Pale Ale, O'Rob's Dry Irish Stout - bottle conditioning: DB8PT Session Ale, Otto M. Gourd Pumpkin Barleywine, Jewel Thieves Apple Wine, Wojtkowiak Grodziskie - bulk conditioning: barleywine

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Old 12-13-2013, 12:45 AM   #7
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The champagne yeast is what I have most concern with. Many champagne yeasts are killers. That is, they stop normal beer yeasts from working. Champagne yeast doesn't ferment many of the complex sugars, so you could potentially end up with a high FG. The WLP099 would have done a great job in finishing off the beer.

Bottle a few months in advance of drinking. It could take that long.

Do not use wax. If the beer should continue to slowly ferment, you could over-pressurize the carboy. Use an S-shaped airlock instead of a 3-piece; they tend to stay full longer, and are easier to monitor.

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