As happens periodically in the home brewery, I find a lot of grain that needs to be turned into beer quickly before it gets stale. That usually results in some crazy high-gravity beer experiment, like today's American Barleywine batch.
I decided to really bump close to the limits of Lallemand CBC-1 (Cask and Bottle Conditioning) dry yeast for this batch, by aiming for a wort that would ferment out to something around 16% ABV. It's fairly common to make a beer like this using only base malt, but I wanted a little more complexity to mine, so I'm using a small amount of Special B and English Medium Crystal.
4 pounds Briess 2-row Brewer's Malt
12.75 pounds Maris Otter Malt
1 pound German Pilsner Malt
3 pounds Belgian Pale Ale Malt
8 ounces Special B Malt
8 ounces Medium Crystal Malt
16 ounces Demerara Sugar
1/2 tsp. Irish Moss
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash
1/2 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (20 min)
1 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1 ounce Bravo hops (60 min.)
1 ounce Centennial hops (10 min.)
1 ounce Mosaic hops (5 min.)
9 gallons of RO water, treated with minerals to a "balanced" profile
Brewfather's estimated measurements for this beer were:
- Batch Size: 4.0 gallons (in the fermenter, estimated), 3.5 actual
- Original Gravity: 1.123 SG estimated (1.131 SG actual)
- Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.073 SG estimated (1.057 SG actual)
- Pre-Boil Volume: 5 gallons estimated (6.4 gallons actual)
- Final Gravity: 1.018 SG estimated, 1.015 SG in the 1-gallon fermenter, 1.023 SG in the 3-gallon fermenter
- IBUs: 86 estimated
- ABV: 19% in the 1-gallon fermenter, 16.4% in the 3-gallon fermenter
- BU/GU ratio: 0.66
For those of you playing along at home, that's a whopping 21.75 pound malt bill. To try to squeeze as much efficiency out of it as I could, I decided to mash low and do an iterated mash. The goal was to end up with enough wort in the kettle after sparging one iteration to have the amount of water needed to mash the next iteration. That meant breaking the grain bill up as:
- Iteration 1 (all iterations mashed at 145F):
- 4 pounds of malt, to be mashed with 1.6 quarts per pound of water
- 6.5 quarts of water to mash. However, the dead space in the bottom of The Grainfather meant that this wasn't enough mash water to cover it. I ended up having to bump that to 9.5 quarts.
- 45 minute mash time
- 6.5 quarts of sparge water.
- At the end of this stage, I measured gravity at 1.015 SG with a Tilt Hydrometer
- Iteration 2:
- After Iteration 1, there should have been 11 quarts of wort in The Grainfather
- 6.75 pounds of malt, at 1.6 quarts per pound mash water, would need 10.8 quarts
- 11 quarts of sparge water
- 45 minute mash time
- At the end of this stage, I measured gravity at 1.037 SG with a Tilt Hydrometer
- Iteration 3:
- After the sparge, there should have been about 18.6 quarts in The Grainfather
- 10.5 pounds of malt, at 1.6 quarts per pound, would need 16.8 quarts of water (so we were 2 quarts over)
- 120 minute mash time
- After the mash, there should have been around 13 quarts left in The Grainfather
- 2.25 gallons (9 quarts) of sparge water were used
- This should have left me with approximately 22 quarts in The Grainfather. Somehow, which I've not taken the time to figure out yet, I wound up instead with about 26. Perhaps the additional 3 quarts added to Iteration 1 messed things up, but I don't think so.
- Having 6.4 gallons of wort in the kettle where I had been expecting 5 gallons represented a fairly big problem for completing this brew in any kind of reasonable timeframe. While I had been planning to boil the wort for 2 hours to get down to about a 4 gallon batch size, this extra 1.4 gallons meant I'd need to boil for 3 additional hours to hit the target volume and gravity...
- 300 minutes (thanks to overage): Add demerara sugar
- 60 minutes: Add Bravo hops
- 20 minutes: Add Brewtan B
- 15 minutes: Add yeast nutrient and Irish moss
- 10 minutes: Add Centennial hops
- 5 minutes: Add Mosaic hops
- 0 minutes: Chill to ~72F and pump into fermenter
- CBC-1's optimum temperature for primary fermentation is 72F. My basement this time of year tends to be around 65F, which is on the lower end of CBC-1's range, which is probably ideal since we're going to be pushing the yeast and I don't want to stress it by heating it too much.
- I'll be monitoring the Tilt to keep fermentation temps below 75F, which I should be able to do with just the ambient air, but will use other methods as needed.
- When the Tilt registers the expected Final Gravity for 7 days straight, or seems to stay at any other gravity for at least 7 days straight, I'll assume fermentation is finished and move on to bottling.