This beer is still bubbling at nearly three weeks. BWs are usually a low abv beer, but my gravity came in high and it should finish around 6. Still a long ferment, nonetheless, but everything looks good.
This beer is slowly perking along. I can’t resist taking the plug out for a whiff now and then and it certainly smells Brett-y, though it doesn’t have a pellicle. Expecting at least another 6 weeks before I take a gravity on this beer. All seems good.
Clint and Abe are good friends who recently moved into a new home near my wife’s work. Abe has a cute, senior tabby cat named Elvis, who is loving his new backyard. My original ideas for this cat were to do some theme along with his name, going with the usual banana/bacon/peanut butter tropes. However, I knew that Abe was a fan of hoppy beers and not so much sweet beers. I brought up the Elvis beer on New Year’s and a few ideas were thrown around. Barleywine was suggested, and I hung on to that one since I’d never made a barleywine before. I had harvested the yeast from both batches of twins, and ended up with a rather large vial of gently used US-05. Since this would be a big beer, it would be the ideal opportunity to use a giant bomb of yeast, so Elvis jumped up a few spots in the Le Meow agenda to utilize this yeast while it was still vital.
I’d also been wanting to DIY several projects for a while. Specifically: an immersion chiller, since my ice maker has been broken the whole time I’ve lived in this apartment and buying ice is a pain; and a hop spider, since my low volume makes compacting trub a priority and I’d been so delighted with the filtering on the twins.
I bought a few items at Home Depot and assembled a DIY hop spider which when flipped one direction will work well with my one gallon batches and when flipped the other can accommodate larger kettles. The hop spider is covered in a separate post here.
A beer this big will probably put off a huge krausen, and pretty quick. Since so far I’ve only fermented in carboys but have thought about getting a bucket (more headspace for primary krausen, larger vessel for dry hopping and other additions), now seemed like the time. I picked up a bucket and grommeted lid for about $8 at CO-Brew.
I put together a simple but heavy grain bill, planned for a 75 minute boil, and designed a generous hop schedule that would please Elvis’s dad’s palate but also mine, since it’s still my beer, after all. I also threw in an entire pound of corn sugar, in hopes this will turn out really high abv.
- 3lbs 3oz USA 2 row pale
- 2oz UK Amber
- .14oz Columbus at 75
- .14oz Columbus at 60
- .4oz Galaxy at 15
- 1lb corn sugar at 15
- .1oz Kent Goldings at 5
- .1oz Nelson Sauvin and .1oz Galaxy at flameout
- (I’ll probably dry hop this but I haven’t finished deciding if/how yet.)
- big fat vial of harvested US-05
Even with the harvested yeast, the huge amount of grain and hops make this the most expensive beer I’ve made so far.
I mashed in at 160, dropped to 146 somehow with stirring, flamed on to try to take it to 148, ended up around 151 where it stayed for most of the mash; oh well, not where I wanted but it’ll still be fine. Did a really sloppy sparge since I’m not used to accommodating this much grain, tried my best to recirculate. Sparge water wasn’t running clear, so I think I missed my efficiency on this one.
Started a boil, and mounted my new hop spider. Added hops according to schedule. The hop spider worked pretty great, gave the hops enough room to breathe while keeping sediment out of the wort. I tried to swirl and dunk it now and then in hopes of maximizing my utilization. Will report later on whether I think this method greatly reduced my hops getting in to the beer, or worked well.
When done, crash cooled and raised up the hop spider to let it drain. The OG on this beer came in at 1.115, which is double anything I’ve brewed before, but still puts my brewhouse efficiency at a measly 65%. The hops compacted into a tight little wad of hop material. Once the wort cooled to 65, I poured it into the bucket through a strainer to catch any leftover material and to aerate. I’d sanitized a whisk, and used this to vigorously aerate as well. I then pitched the full big vial of harvested US-05. I’m not sure how well my evap skirt would work on a bucket, so I put the bucket into a pot, and filled the small surrounding area with ice water. I’ll keep my ambient thermometer in this space and aim for 62 degrees, since this is the low end at which US-05 will ferment, and all the yeast activity will have the beer at around 65-68 inside the bucket.
Into the closet it went. I anticipate the beer finishing in 4 weeks.
After a little over a month, this beer finished at 1.010, for a total ABV of 12%, exactly as planned. The beer had a film on top of hop oils and debris, so I cold crashed it for two days to drop out and compact as much floaties as I could. I also used a paint strainer bag over my racking cane to try to filter out hops. I decided to bottle this one with honey, which should add additional complexity as the beer ages. I packaged it into a bomber for cellaring and a six pack of these cool half-liter bottles a kind Craigslist seller threw in for free when I was buying bombers. The last bit of beer in the bottling bucket was still pretty full of green hop material. Hopefully this doesn’t lend a grassy, plant flavor to the finished product or any gross aesthetic qualities. I sipped the last leftover bits and it was DELICIOUS, full of rich floral hop qualities. I have high hopes for this brew, but it will need to spend at least six weeks in bottle before I even consider tasting it, and ideally a few months before serving the rest.