Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Woody: an oak-aged American barleywine

This is probably only interesting to me, and anyone else born between the dates of February 19th - March 20th, but here was my most recent horoscope from Free Will Astrology:

If a cow is given a name by her owner, she generates more milk than a cow that's treated as an anonymous member of the herd. That's the conclusion of a study done by researchers at Newcastle University in the UK. "Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name," said Dr. Catherine Douglas, "can significantly increase milk production." Building on that principle, Pisces, I suggest that you give everything in your world names, including (but not limited to) houseplants, insects, cars, appliances, and trees. Of course this is always a good idea, because it enhances your connection with all of creation. But it's an especially smart approach now, when getting more up-close and personal should be your specialty.

I thought I could relate this idea to my brews. Generally I only name beers if they are going away as Christmas presents, or if I think the recipe is in a fairly finalized form. I guess I have been naming them more on the blog here just so I have a way of distinguishing them. It's not like yeast give a damn if you name them or the beer, but I do think a name can give a recipe a central idea that can lead the recipe development as it progresses.

I had an idea to do a strong ale aged on American oak as a tribute to Woody Guthrie. Funny thing is, I probably know way more about the story of Woody Guthrie and the incredible musicians he influenced than I know of Woody's actual music. I'm a big fan of "old-timey" music and stuff like Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Mason Jennings, and generally anything you could listen to while sitting around a campfire or on the front porch of a log cabin. I like Woody's music too, I just need to copy some stuff from Ray so I can listen to more of it. He was a great American songwriter, and he deserves a great American beer. It should be something that wouldn't seem out of place on a cross country boxcar trip, warming up your bones on a chilly night.

I didn't have this blog up last time I did a barleywine, which was with Ray. It was a very similar recipe, but I used a lighter base malt this time and extra light DME. Last time we used some Marris Otter extract and the beer was almost too sweet. It was a little too heavy on the raisiny flavors, but it was balanced because it had a shitload of hop bitterness too. So this time I was going for a slightly better attenuation and lighter color, and a little less bitterness so it will still be balanced.

Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 6 gallons post-boil, 5 in the fermenter.
Grain with extract
O.G. 1.100 F.G. 1.025 ABV 10% IBU's 108

14.5 lb. Rahr 2-row pale malt
6 oz. Crystal 35
6 oz. Crystal 80
6 oz. Special B
3.5 lb. Extra-light DME

56 gr. Chinook whole hops 13% (Mash Hop)
28 gr. Horizon pellets 10.9% 80 min
28 gr. East Kent Goldings pellets 6% 20 min
28 gr. American Goldings whole 5% 10 min
28 gr. American Goldings whole 5% 0 min

2 oz. American oak cubes (medium plus toast) in the keg.

Mash: 4 gallons of water + 1 tsp gypsum. Mashed in to 147 degrees for 1 hour, with the mash hops (easy to forget!). After 1 hour, added 2 quarts of boiling water and heat. Raised mash temp to 170 over 30 minutes. Rested for 15 minutes at 170.

Sparge: 5 gallons at 170. Collect 7 gallons of wort at 1.064 = 80 % efficiency.

Boiled 80 minutes, adding some foam control at the beginning of the boil.
Added the DME 50 minutes from the end of the boil.
1 whirlfloc tab at 15 min.
no yeast nutrient - whoops, no big deal

Chilled to 62, whirlpooled and rested for 30 minutes.
Racked 5 gallons to a carboy, pitched an appropriate-sized starter of Wyeast 1056
Added 10 drops of foam control and aerated by hand for 8 minutes.
Ferment: 68 degrees for 1 week, 70 degrees for 16 days, then slowly crash cooled to 50 degrees.

Racked to keg on 3/30/09, and added the oak cubes, which had been steeped in 1 cup hot water to sanitize. Added the water too. Gravity was at 1.026ish. The flavor was very clean, with no alcohol aroma at all! It tasted a little worty, so I'll keep the keg at room temp & agitate frequently to encourage it to drop a few more points.

4/30/09 Chilled and force-carbonated. It tastes very nice, the oak is really coming through well. It's a little sweeter in flavor than I wanted. I think this is due to not getting as much IBU's from the mash hop addition as my recipe program calculated for. It tastes like an 80-85 IBU beer, and luckily the oak seems to fill in a little for the lack of hop bitterness.

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