Sunday, 4 January 2015

Tasting - 12/12/12 Barleywine

I took a little break from writing for the winter break while I decompress from the last semester at university, but I'm back to writing for the blog now!

This beer had its genesis over 2 years ago now. I brewed it on 12/12/2012 as my last chance at brewing a beer for the line up of years and dates. It ended up being 12% ABV, and I bottled it a month prior to 12/12/13 so that I could drink the first bottle 12 months after making it. I didn't go overboard and make it with 12 malts or 12 hops.. I'm not that crazy, that's just poor craftsmanship for the sake of novelty.

I absolutely adored this beer when I first tried it, and I entered it into competition, but received poor scores from the judges on it, likely because I entered it into the english barleywine category when the beer doesn't have marris otter or much toasty malt character. To be honest, it doesn't really fit in either american or english style barleywine. The beer isn't hoppy enough for an american, and not toasty and malty enough for an english barleywine. Even though it didn't do well, I still enjoy the beer, and the feedback said that it was well made and well fermented. One judge said that the beer had too much one dimensional crystal malt character, which is strange because it has a handful of crystal malts with most of the colour coming from home-caramelized blackened sugar syrup.

The amount of grain used for this beer actually permanently warped my rectangular mash tun making it necessary for me to wrap it in blankets to retain the heat of the mash. I've since replaced the rectangular cooler with a round 10-gallon cooler that doesn't have the same problems. I usually don't make very strong beers, but once every year or two I'll make a big RIS or Barleywine for aging. I'll probably make an Imperial stout this summer to be ready for next winter season. There's something about drinking a snifter full of viscous, bitter sweet, roasty, alcohol laden, black beer in the dead of Canadian winter.

12/12/12 Barleywine (Mayan Juice)
OG: 1.124 FG: 1.034

12% ABV, 42 IBU

18# 2-row
2# Rye malt
2# Munich
2# Homemade Candi sugar
0.5# Victory malt
0.25# Crystal-120

1.5 oz Galena - 60 mins
2 oz Cascade - 20 mins
0.5 oz Willamette FO

Mashed at 148*F for 90 minutes

Fermented with champagne yeast

Appearance: Dark red, slight chill haze, thick head (overcarbonated)
Aroma: Vinous, dark fruits and a hint of nuttiness. Smells "sweet"
Flavor: Dark fruits, cranberry like flavors, caramel and burnt sugar flavors coming through followed by a drying bitterness. There is definitely some strong alcohol flavor in this one! It is laden with the esters typical of a barleywine, with the fruitiness coming through. Slight sherry/pecan flavor from age.
Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation, thick mouthfeel despite the carbonation. Leaves bitter sweetness at back of mouth.
Overall: I still really like this beer. The recipe is a bit of a clusterfuck, and you can tell I made it when I was still quasi new to all-grain brewing. It could definitely use more malt complexity. Next  barleywine won't be so strong, will probably have a full pound of victory or a healthy measure of amber malt thrown in, and will use commercial candi syrup rather than my homemade concoction. I would keep the Rye malt, maybe even increase it for more malt complexity.

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