Gnarly Charley English Barley

Itching to brew something new to me, I am going to give English Barley Wine a try.

Despite its name, a Barleywine (or Barley Wine) is very much a beer, albeit a very strong and often intense beer! In fact, it’s one of the strongest of the beer styles. Lively and fruity, sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, but always alcoholic. A brew of this strength and complexity can be a challenge to the palate. Expect anything from an amber to dark brown colored beer, with aromas ranging from intense fruits to intense hops. Body is typically thick, alcohol will definitely be perceived, and flavors can range from dominant fruits to palate smacking, resiny hops.

English varieties are quite different from the American efforts, what sets them apart is usually the American versions are insanely hopped to make for a more bitter and hop flavored brew, typically using American high alpha oil hops. English version tend to be more rounded and balanced between malt and hops, with a slightly lower alcohol content, though this is not always the case.

Most Barleywines can be cellared for years and typically age like wine.

Plan is to give this plenty of time to ferment and then sock it away in a barrel until winter. Maybe target Happy Holiday Homebrew Competition.

March 18, 2017

Gnarly Charley English Barleywine – 5 gallon

Brewers – Charles

Grain Bill-

  • 19 lbs. Maris Otter
  • 1 lb. Crystal 60
  • .5 lb. Rye
  • 1oz. Peated
  • 20oz. Light DME (Boil)

Hop Bill-

  • 90 minute boil
  • 1 oz. UK Phoenix – 13.35% – 60 mins.
  • 2 oz. East Kent Goldings – 6.1% – 30 mins.
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings – 6.1% – 15 mins


Wyeast 1728 – Scottish Ale – I know, it’s not English. Bite me.

Our Scottish ale strain is ideally suited for the strong, malty ales of Scotland. This strain is very versatile, and is often used as a “House” strain as it ferments neutral and clean. Higher fermentation temperatures will result in an increased ester profile.


Friday night. Prepared 13 gallons tap water treated with 2 tablets Camden.

Mash Schedule-

  • Single Infusion
  • Mash In – 6.5 gallons at 170˚ – Step temp. 150˚ dropping to 147˚. Hold for 90 minutes.
  • No mash out.
  • Vorlauf
  • Sparge with 11ish gallons at 170˚
  • First 2 gallons in small pot to boil on stove.
  • Collect 5.5 gallons. Recombine 2 gallons from stove. Total 7.5 gallons.


Strong steady rolling boil. Total 90 minutes.

Hop schedule as above using both hop baskets clamped together to sit on bottom of kettle. Both together side by side very stable. Not enough wort to hang on side.

10 minutes left – 2 tablets Irish Moss and about 1 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient.

Transfered 5.5 gallons to fermenter.

Calculated Stats – via Brew Toad

  • Original Gravity = 1.115
  • Final Gravity =1.03*
  • SRM – 12
  • IBU 56
  • ABV 10.7%
  • Balance 49%


  • Original Gravity = 1.10
  • Final Gravity = 1.06
  • SRM –
  • IBU 56
  • ABV – 12.3%

*FG on calculated stats do not fall into style. Hopefully the yeast with a big starter will take cate of this.

Long brew day for 5 gallons. Took advice from various sources and hard boiled the first runnings to build caramel flavor and color. Also, had some DME on hand which as stated above, I ended up adding 4 cups in the boil to ensure hitting the OG. Just wish I had a darker DME on hand.

Sample was… you guessed it, very sweet. The yeast has its work cut out for it. Monday night as I write this it is chugging away.

Shoot for a relatively thick mash and a medium-low mash temperature. We recommend a temperature somewhere between 147 and 150 °F (64–66 °C). Mash temperatures much higher than this will give you more of the complex sugars (unfermentables) and less of the simple fermentable sugars. With the amount of malt you will be using, you will get plenty of unfermentables for sweetness, mouthfeel, and body. Fewer complex sugars may also help with a more efficient and timely runoff.

March 28, 2018

Racked to new barrel from Balcones (barrel emptied Feb. 21, 2018).

Gravity = 1.013 making this 11.4%. No activity in airlock. Fermentation is done.

May 6, 2016

40 days in barrel. Sample tastes AMAZING. Obviously going to be a “sipping” beer. Having a hard time deciding how long to keep in barrel. This beer will have an extended age time so keep in barrel a little longer than go to carboy for aging?? Or just get it in bottles for aging?

Sept. 3, 2018

159 days in the barrel. Labor Day seemed like a good day to bottle this beast.

Since there has been no activity at all in the airlock during barrel aging, I decided to use some Lallemand Brewing CBC-1 Cask & Bottle Conditioning Yeast. Using numbers from their website, I calculated that I would need only 1 gram of this dry yeast (I will just have to guess at this amount), and only 3 oz. of priming sugar. This beer should not be very carbonated.

Sample tastes powerful. Malty. Lots of whiskey barrel notes. This is a sipping beer.

OG = 1.1    FG = 1.06    ABV = 12.3%

Safe to say it is a kick in the nuts.

We will see what bottle aging does to this. Worried about carbonation. I re-hydrated yeast properly but when most of the beer was in the bottles and there was just a bit left in the bucket, I could tell there was a lot of yeast at the bottom. Will have to read up some more on these procedures for next time.

Ended up with 39 bottles. Will enter in Happy Homebrew. Maybe another competition.


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