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Old 03-28-2011, 08:38 PM   #1
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Default Question about big beer brewing

I'm wanting to make a nice big barleywine to bottle up and age then give away at Christmastime as presents.

I've done several AG brews and feel pretty comfortable with the process, but I want to make sure that there isn't any wierd things that happen when the grain bill starts getting that large.

Do I just treat it like I do all the others? Adjusting my mash / sparge water levels to get enough to handle a 90 or 120 minute boil?

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Old 03-28-2011, 08:50 PM   #2
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I haven't done a barleywine, but I've done some bigger beers, and the main things you'll need to do, is make sure you have room in your mash tun for a larger grain bill and the additional water to go along with it, and pitch a very healthy amount of yeast. You don't want your fermentation to fall short.

It might be too late to get a barleywine done in time for christmas, I believe they usually need about 1 year to condition. I've been hesitant to make a barleywine, just because I want to REALLY have my process nailed down, so I don't wait a year for a half-ass barleywine!!

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Old 03-28-2011, 09:25 PM   #3
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I've always heard that your efficiency drops once you start getting that much grain going on. You can beat that by either sparging with more water and boiling longer (like you suggested), or just have some dme around to make up any loss. If you normally expect 75%, maybe figure 65% and be happy with a little more if it turns out that way!
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Old 03-28-2011, 09:37 PM   #4
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I think it will really depend on the capacity, and maybe even shape, of your mash tun. If you can get a good conversion of the grain, then go for it... I wouldn't start a really BIG (~12%+ ABV) barley wine now (or within a few weeks) and expect it to be great by xmas... If could be, but it might need more time before it's really great. Aim for a more modest ~10% ABV brew and I think it will be ready in time.

Depending on the size of your mash tun, you could do a partygyle with the first wort going for the barley wine, and then make another brew, or two, out of what's left in the grain. Might not be a bad idea to have some extra light DME on hand, just in case you need to increase the OG (if you miss it by a significant amount)...

I plan on making a nice sized barley wine within a month, or so... Not sure when it will be ready for drinking, but I'm not planning on it being ready for at least 6-9 months. Planning on letting it sit on the yeast cake for ~2 months, before I start aging it. Of course, the plans won't be set until I have the OG of the brew... It's looking like mine will be in the 11.5%+ ABV range (maybe even over 12%)... Need to figure out which yeast I'll use and such before I go and make the wort. I also might scale it back a hair and get it closer to 10% ABV...

I did make an old ale that's about 8.5% ABV and it came out great... It's given me the confidence to go for the barley wine.
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