John's Red (English Barleywine)
Click here for extended tasting notes.
There's a bit of a story with this one, so bear with me for a moment...
...a few years back, we had a local micro that served a brew called Ed's Red. It was my father's favorite beer for a long time. Then quite unexpectedly, the place shut down, taking with it my father's supply.
When I started getting into brewing, one of the first things my father asked for was a clone of the Ed's Red. It took quite a while to develop the recipe and work it into the rotation, but I'm glad the time has finally arrived...
...taking what I know about my father's tastes, coupled with what he tells me about Ed's Red from memory, John's Red was born. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Boil Volume: 6.5 Gallons
Final Volume: 5.25 gallons (before trub/transfer loss)
~70% Mash Efficiency, adjust as required.
9 lb Maris Otter
4 lb Light DME
9 oz Crystal 40L
8 oz Golden Naked Oats
8 oz CaraPils
4 oz Flaked Oats
2 oz Chocolate
1 oz Roasted Barley
1 oz Nugget (12% whole/leaf) @ 60 min
Bitterness: As brewed, this one was somewhere in the area of 40 IBU. For this OG, one gets a balanced beer with perhaps a slight malt emphasis. 35 IBU will push that malt emphasis a bit more, and 30 will give you a decidedly malty brew.
Mash at 154*F for 60 minutes. Add DME with about 10 minutes left.
With ultra-OG brews, I've gotten into the habit of gently rousing the bottles once a week for the first three weeks, to ensure the yeast fulfill their yeasty duties. Your call on this one.
It is very cool that you are recreating this for your father. That is awesome.
I'm little nervous that 1 oz of Nugget is not going to be enough AAs for a 1.090 beer, though.
I look forward to your tasting notes.
My father has noted on many occasions that he flatly does not like highly hopped beers. When I was developing this one, I was looking all over the place for a style that fit the description he was giving me for Ed's Red, and also matched up with his tastes.
The English barleywine fit in there perfectly, in the sense that it's a heavy ABV brew that doesn't necessarily emphasize hops. Indeed, one of his favorite off the shelf brews is Chimay Blue, which is something like 25ish IBU and about 9% ABV.
With this one, the OG of the boil is going to be somewhere in the 40's or 50's, depending upon your mash efficiency (ie: not that high). With a high AA hop like Nugget, that will give you 35-40 IBU+ when the late extract additions are factored in.
35-40 IBU is flirting with the bottom of the range for the style, but I didn't want to push it any further than that considering my father's dislike for bitterness. As it stands, I don't think this amount of bitterness will be insufficient.
As an aside, I choose Nugget because it's reputed to have a "smooth" bitterness.
crazy O.G! i'm looking forward to the clincher of this Ed's Red ;P
Final Gravity is high, is this a sweet beer?
1.020 is actually on the low end for the style. There needs to be some degree of residual sweetness, both from unfermented sugar and caramel malt, to balance a heavy, high ABV brew such as this. A few extremely heavy barleywines even finish up in the 30s.
The BJCP lists FG as 1.018-1.030+ for the style, whereas the GABF lists it as 1.024-1.032.
Now that I'm looking at the style guide, it lists the following for hops:
BJCP = 35-70 IBU; GABF = 40-70
At 35-40 IBU, I'm again flirting with the bottom of the range, but all things considered I think it's going to turn out quite well.
This beer came out fantastic. The sample in question was in the secondary for 3 weeks, in bottles for 5 weeks, and in the fridge for just shy of a week -- so 6-9 weeks old at the time of sampling, depending upon when you start the clock.
Appearance -- Coppery/reddish, particularly when held to the light. Not quite as "in your face" red as I was hoping; I might tool around with the roasted-grain addition the next time I brew it, but this one came out so good, I dunno. Either way, one-two finger head (depending upon pour) with flawless retention, perfect lacing. Some haze present (as you can probably see from the photos), but not inappropriate for the style.
4 of 5 (deduction for color)
Smell -- Malty, with some dark fruit/caramel/honey. Mouth-watering.
4.5 of 5
Taste -- Complex and malty, but also well balanced. Probably came out somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 IBU. Very good. Alcohol is completely masked at normal serving temps, aside from the gentle warming. Some hints of fruity esters. Sweetness from the caramel additions. Also a slight spiciness, which I believe results from a combination of grain/hops/yeast/alcohol.
As it warms (temp-wise), the alcohol becomes more pronounced, but even at straight room temp (yes, I let a bit get that warm), it's never sharp or overpowering, or even as present as you'd think it should be. It just keeps getting more and more complex as it warms, with no apparent ceiling. Good at all temps, but probably best in the 50-60*F range.
4.5 of 5
Mouthfeel -- Perfect for the style. Some carbonation, some bitterness from the hops. A unique, spicy sensation (for lack of a better descriptor), perhaps due to a synergistic effect (grain/hops/yeast/alcohol).
5 of 5
Drinkability -- Flat out dangerous in this regard. One can easily put down two or three of these (or more), and get hit with an unexpected strong buzz. In terms of potency, this is like two beers in one, but you'll swear it's not above average ABV (until you're all mellowed out 15 minutes later).
5 of 5
Everyone who's tried this, loves it. Even non-beer drinkers like it. I've gotten "smooth," "awesome," "wow," and my favorite, "C'mon man, cut the BS, where did you buy this?". It's very Belgian-esq, but also distinctly Englishy (and 100% within the English Barleywine style). I'm very proud of this one, and will be saving a few bottles for the next competition that comes around.
23 of 25 -- 92%
I am really looking forward to giving this a try. I'll be getting started on all-grain pretty soon here, and would really like to have a barleywine to drink by the winter. This looks very well-suited for my tastes and, as far as barleywines go, seems very reasonable in terms of OG and aging period (about 12 weeks grain to glass?). Are there any crazy tricks that I should know about, or is this a feasible brew for someone relatively new to all-grain?
Would Notty dry packets work for this, probably 1 per 2.5 gallons?
This is a very straight forward brew, and is indeed technically a partial mash due to the use of DME, so it shouldn't be too hard. I think it might make a good stepping stone brew. Make sure you get a brewing refractometer, though, to gauge mash efficiency (so you know exactly what quantity of DME to add to hit your desired OG). Pretty much a required item, IMHO. $35 on eBay, worth every cent. (Bear in mind that once the brew has fermented, you'll have to use a traditional hydrometer to read FG, as the alcohol throws off a refracto.)
This isn't to say one needs to be obsessive about starting and finishing gravities, within reason. Indeed, I see a lot of new brewers make stupid mistakes because they want to hit an OG or SG perfectly spot on, and think they're doomed to failure if they're off a bit. Sometimes it happens, sometimes you're a point off, sometimes you're ten points off. Just roll with it. If the recipe is good enough to begin with, you'll always get good beer within a certain (and reasonable) OG/FG/IBU, etc, tolerance.
Now that said, about the beer itself: I've served it to quite a few people, and every single one has said they liked it. Even BMC drinkers. The flavors/aromas are not offensive to the average palate, but by the same token are good enough and present enough for a seasoned beer drinker to appreciate it. It starts off kind of spicy/Belgian-esq when young (due, perhaps, to esters/phenolics/etc), then smooths and rounds into a more traditionally English profile. In other words, it's good both young and old, for different reasons.
That said, and as you've noted, I've only gone 12 weeks with this batch, to this point, so it could (and probably will) change even more as it advances. I have a few bottles set down that I'm specifically saving up for advanced-age testing.
The short of it, will Notty work? Sure. Will the beer be as good, better, or worse compared to 007? That I can't say, as for as long as I've been brewing, I've never used Notty (or any dry for that matter...nothing against it, just haven't). From reading descriptions of the two, they sound quite close, but I know for sure they're not identical, or even close to identical strains. So there's that.
But will you get bad beer from using Notty? Nah...odds are excellent that the beer will be good. Just as with OG/FG, any good recipe will have some reasonable tolerance for variables. And if I were to recommend a strain to someone as a backup, Notty would probably be the one.
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