At the request of a related thread on wax sealing technique
, here is my recipe for a Pecan-infused Barleywine. The inspiration was to create an American Barleywine with a uniquely southern character, meant for contemplative enjoyment between Thanksgiving and New Years. I incorporated two staple ingredients for classic southern pecan pie - roasted pecans and Light Karo Syrup as my alcohol boosting sugar source. Note: do NOT use Dark Karo as it contains fermentation halting preservatives.
8.0 oz CBW® Golden Light Powder (for 2 Liter Yeast Starter)*
8.0 lb Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt
1.0 lb Victory® Malt
0.5 lb Red Wheat Malt
0.5 lb Caramel Malt 60L
3.0 oz Chocolate Malt
12.0 oz Pecans, Chopped and Roasted** - Mash
1.0 oz Northern Brewer (10%) - boiled 60.0 min
1.0 oz Northern Brewer (10%) - boiled 30.0 min
6 oz Pecans, Chopped and Roasted** - boiled 5.0 min
0.5 lb Light Karo Syrup - end of boil
Mash for 1 hour at 154F, Sparge at 165F
*For really big beers (~1.085+) I usually boil a half pound of DME in 2 liters of water, add straight to the sanitized fermenter the night before, seal it up and give it a good shake; by the time I'm done cooling the wort the next day there is a good rolling fermentation and a ton of yeast already going strong. I've found this really helps guarantee complete fermentation strong and limits the production of off-flavors from stressed yeast. With this beer I was already pitching double (since it's a 2.5 gallon batch) and with the huge starter it was completely done fermenting in about 4 days. I was sure it had just stuck fermentation or something, but the steady hydrometer and lack of bubbles said otherwise. It ended up a little high (FG 1.030) but is surprisingly smooth and not cloying for that gravity. I think the long dextrine sugars from the caramelized pecans may perhaps account for that higher gravity.
**Pecan instructions: crush pecans to roughly 1/8 their starting size in a bag (rolling pin works fine) then spread out over a cookie tray covered in aluminum foil with layers of paper towels on it - this will absorb some of the nut oil content of the pecans as they are roasted to keep it out of your beer. Put tray in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes, remove and let cool for 10 minutes, replace oily paper towels with fresh ones. Repeat until the pecans have the achieved desired level of roastiness and the paper towels come out dry, then mix in with the first pound of grain at the bottom of the mash tun (they float, and will eventually make their way to the top). The crushing and roasting will create surface area (for increased flavor absorption) and caramelize the nut sugars and flavors to prevent them being fermented off. Apparently this general mash technique is how Lazy Magnolia does their Southern Pecan nut brown ale (relevant thread
). I chose to split my additions between the mash and kettle as well (2 to 1, respectively) to try and get a broader spectrum of flavor - it really came through at the perfect amount for me. This will be affected by your crushing and roasting technique, so it may take a batch or two to get right.
The balance hit exactly what I was going for - a little on the sweet side, definitely with a focus on malt character over hops (a bit out of style for an American BW but dead on for a pecan-pie-inspired winter sipping brew). If you really want more of a classic ABW, I would bump up the bittering additions a tad and add some late flavor additions as well - perhaps something nice and resiny/herbal to complement the existing flavor, like columbus, chinook or just more northern brewer, with an ounce or two in the last 5 minutes. Additionally, BW's can get a little cloying due to the sheer gravity (again, not a bad thing in my desert/pie interpretation of the style) so if you want it drier, you could drop the mash temp to ~150F or so. This sweetness increases with age, so if you plan to let it condition for 3-6 months (which you should) then I'd err on the side of hoppy.
You could also play with oak or vanilla bean aging; I think they'd be phenomenal in this beer. If i could change one thing looking back it would be some time spent on vanilla pods in the secondary. I dropped a scoop of vanilla ice cream in half a pint of this a few nights ago, and it was simply phenomenal.
Also, regardless of your opinion on the actual effect of wax sealing on storage capacity, it certainly does create a festive presentation value. Here's the technique
I used, here is the result: