Friday, January 18, 2013

Barley Wine

I've been lining up ideas for my next "big" beer.  I've already tried my hand at something closer to Dogfish's 120 and even though I wouldn't call that a complete failure, it did end up finishing way too sweet.  So I thought I'd initially brew a classic barley wine and maybe use that recipe as a spring board for my next project.  I'm also looking to increase my brew house capacity to 10 gallon batch sizes and with that comes the added need to purchase grains in bulk and mill my own malt.  For my increase to 10 gal I've put together an extra 10 gal mash tun so as to mash double the amount of malt at the same time.  Even though this batch of barley wine was a 5 gal batch I feel that I should have split the malt and mashed in two separate mash-tuns to see if that might have helped my efficiency in this batch.  I used a clone recipe for Sierra Nevada's Big Foot barley wine as the base recipe.  I shot for a typical efficiency of 65% but with 22.5 lbs of malt I ended up around 58%.  I had to modify the recipe a little and added the 2 lbs of DME (all I had on hand) and 1 lb of dextrose to get to the OG I wanted.  I justified the addition of dextrose as a possible method to dry the finish out a little (which made me feel a little better about adding it).  
Enjoying a Barley Wine to start the brew day off
Overall, I've been noticing a decrease in efficiency (usually around 65%) and with most variables staying fairly consistent, I have been pointing the finger at the crush I get from the home-brew shop, but until recently I hadn't had an opportunity to test that theory.  The thought is why would the the home-brew shop give you a good crush? If you get bad efficiency, that just means you have to buy more grain from them and they don't typically charge any extra for milling the grains. 
New Barley Crusher
I recently brewed an IPA with a buddy where we used milled grain from a local brewery in Fayetteville.  Even though we got a stuck mash, the efficiency we got was around 78-80% on my equipment.  So now I know that my efficiency problems are due to the crush the home brew shop is giving me.  

New Quick Disconnects (saves lots of time)
I think I may have picked up a new brew-day tradition...  While I was talking to an assistant brewer at a brewery in Fayetteville, she taught me about a brew-day drink called a "hot-scotchie".  It's where you take a shot of scotch mixed with a little bit of the first runnings from the mash.  The next day, I had a brew-day with my buddy and we tried this so called hot-scotchie... Loved it!  For this brew-day however I didn't have any scotch.  So I made it with some crown (kinda losses something without the scotch though).
Hot-Toddy With the First Runnings
This recipe requires a 2 hour boil. A long boil like that will help caramelize the wort and impart a deeper red color to the beer.  Funny story with this boil though...  Both of my propane tanks were empty on brew day and the only place in town that fills them was closed.  So I was forced to go the exchange route.  Note:  When you exchange (even though you pay the same price as a full fill) you get a tank back that is only 75% filled. So about one hour into the boil the tank ran out and I had to stop the boil and go make another propane run.  Mental note:  I need to make a shield for the burner so as to not waste so much gas.
120 Min Boil
Ended up with OG of 1.108 which will probably turn out to be around 10% ABV.  I will be dry hopping in secondary with about 1.75 oz of hops (keeping on hops for 5 days).