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.


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 =
  • SRM –
  • IBU 56
  • ABV

*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.



Blockhead – Maibock

Last year (2016), I jammed in one last brew in December. That beer, Last Call Oatmeal Stout turned out really good, especially the 5 gallons that went into the Whiskey barrel. That Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout went on to win a gold medal in the Happy Holiday Homebrew Competition 2017 for the Wood/Smoked Beers category. My first Gold in an official competition.

This year I decided my last brew of 2017 will be something I have never brewed. With the temperatures holding cold enough for a lager, I went with a Maibock. I will lager this in the garage as long as possible and hopefully it will be a worthy Bock for a Spring celebration. The yeast from this brew will go to Tom for his Dopplebock that he is brewing at the farm on December 30. We might have to have a Maifest to serve these two beers at.

The name for this beer comes from the typo on the yeast package. The name printed on the package was Hella Block.

December 16, 2017

Maibock/Helles Bock – 12 gallon

The Maibock style of beer tends to be lighter in color than other Bock beers and often has a significant hop character with a noticeable alcohol around the same as a traditional Bock. Maibocks are customarily served in the spring and are oftentimes interrelated with spring festivals and celebrations more often in the month of May.


Brewers: Charles. Tom and Sam came by at the perfect time but had to leave. Then Duke showed up to help with transfer and yeast pitching.

Grain Bill

  • 23 lbs. Pilsner
  • 5 lbs. Munich
  • 2.5 oz. Dehusked Carafa II

Hop Bill

  • 2 oz. – Hallertau 4.5% – 60 mins
  • 2 oz. – Willamette 5.5% – 60 mins.
  • 1 oz. – Hallertau 4.5% – 30 mins.
  • NOTE: Alpha percentages are guestamates. These are hops from the ABinbev hop giveaway.


  • yeast 2487 PC (Private Collection) –  Hella Bock Lager
Direct from the Austrian Alps, this strain will produce rich, full-bodied and malty beers with a complex flavor profile and a great mouth feel. Attenuates well while still leaving plenty of malt character and body. Beers fermented with this strain will benefit from a temperature rise for a diacetyl rest at the end of primary fermentation.

Calculated Stats

  • OG – 1.070
  • FG – 1.021
  • IBU – 32
  • SRM – 8.5
  • ABV – 7%

Tun warm up – 1 gal. at 180˚ for about 5 minutes. NOTE: Next time remove the warm up water. Temp drops enough to hinder the mash in temp.

Mash in – 8.8 gal. at 170˚ – Step temp. 156˚ (actual 154˚) hold 80 mins.

Mash Out – 3.5 gal. at 204˚ – Step temp. 168˚ (actual 168˚) hold 10 mins.

Vorlauf – cleared nicely. Better than the previous beer (Dubbel).

Run Off and Sparge with 4 gallons at 170˚.

Collected 15 gallons.

Boil – Hops per Hop schedule in Hop screens.

Boil approx. 70 mins. Should have boiled longer. Gravity too low.

Irish Moss

Chiller. Pump on to sanitize pump and hoses.

Flame off

Whirlpool during chill. Got temp down to 56˚.

Remove hops and chiller. Continue whirlpool although there was not much left to collect in middle.

Transfer to fermenter set up in garage.

12 gallons in fermenter plus another half gallon from yeast starter.

OG – 1.063. Another miss on gravity. Should have boiled longer.

Sunday night – good steady bubble.

Temperature in garage held just above 50˚. Monday it did spike up to about 57˚ but settled back by Tuesday evening. Temperature range for this yeast is 48˚ to 56˚. I am very happy with the decision to ferment in garage.

December 23, 2017

Gravity = 1.024

Moved fermenter to kitchen for Diacetyl Rest.

Diacetyl Rest

Diacetyl reduction is slower at colder temperatures, so it is essential to incorporate the diacetyl rest. when making cold fermented lagers. The process is simply to raise the fermentation temperature from. lager temperatures (50-55F) to 65-68F for a two day period near the close of the fermentation.

December 27, 2017

Racked to secondary fermentation. Harvested yeast for Tom. Filled the yeast jug from the Burr Oak brewing competition.

Fermenter moved back to garage. Garage temp is holding at 40˚. No visible activity in airlock.

Gravity = 1.016

Might have to warm this up a bit to see if I can remaining yeast active for a little more time.

Sample tastes really good but there is an odd aroma. From the AB leaf hops? Yeast?


Time to brew a big lager beer. It’s gonna be a cold brew day at the farm with highs expected to be in the single digits, making for some new challenges.

20 gallon batch, double decoction

Grain Bill-

  • 20# Pilsner, DE
  • 20# Munich, DE
  • 10# Vienna, DE
  • 5# Wheat


  • 6 ounce of A-B hops.
  • Note- I’ll use the hops I got at A-B. It’s hard to judge how much to use. It looks like these hops are 10-20 years old. If they lose a percent every year, these would all be useless. I went through and smelled all the hops and found the least offensive. I believe these are labeled, ”96/001/024” At 6.59% I’ll need about 5 ounces for 20 gallons, but as old as these are, I will throw in an extra ounce or more. After further review, my plan is to count these hops at  5% which is typical of Hallertau, and I think these are a Hallertau strain.  I’ll use 6 ounce, which if my Alpha is correct, puts me right in the middle of where I want to be and still have a tolerance of +/-1% Alpha.

Yeast- Charles is brewing a Maibock the week before I brew this beer. I’ll use his healthy yeast cake of  Wyeast Private collection 2487- Hella Bock Lager.

Water- I have never used the tap water at the farm for brewing. The chlorine smell has always turned me off, but having done some research, I feel like it’s time to run an experiment. Campden tablets not only eliminate chlorine but chloramine as well. 1 tablet for 20 gallons should do it.

Calculated stats-

  • OG = 1.077
  • FG = 1.019
  • IBU = 21
  • SRM = 8
  • ABV 8%

Belgian Dubbel

Decided to brew something totally different for me, a Belgian Dubbel.

“A deep reddish, moderately strong, malty, complex Belgian ale. Originated at monasteries in the Middle Ages, and was revived in the mid-1800s after the Napoleonic era. Most commercial examples are in the 6.5 – 7% ABV range. Traditionally bottle-conditioned (“refermented in the bottle”).”

Well, this beer is going to be nothing like that.

Screwed it all up because I left some equipment and home and had to change my mash schedule. But that wasn’t the worse of it. My mill was set too fine and I stuck the mash. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Andy and Mike used my mill and they also had stuck mashes.

All indications are that this will be a much weaker and thinner beer than I was hoping for. But read all this post anyway.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Belgian Dubbel – 12 gallon

Brewers –  Charles, Tom, Rob, Sam – Andy and Mike also brewed beers this day.

Grain Bill

  • 20 lbs. – Pilsner
  • 2 lbs. – Aromatic Malt
  • 2 lbs. – Carapils
  • 2 lbs. – Munich
  • 8 oz. – Crystal 40
  • 1.9 oz. – Chocolate, dark
  • 1 lb. Amber Candi Sugar Syrup (Boil)
  • 1 lb. Light Brown Sugar (Boil)

Hop Bill

  • 2 oz. East Kent Goldings 5% – 60 mins.
  • 2 oz. East Kent Goldings 5 % – 20 mins.


  • Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abby Style Ale

“A widely used and alcohol tolerant Abbey yeast that is suitable for a variety of Belgian style ales. This strain produces a nice ester profile as well as slightly spicy alcohol notes. It can be slow to start; however, it attenuates well.”

Mash Schedule

This is sort of blurry because I mashed in then ran home to get what I forgot. Everything went downhill from there.

Mash in 8.3 gallons at 130˚ – Step temp 122˚ – 30 mins.

Add water to raise to 156˚ – 30 mins.

Add water to raise to 168˚ – 10 mins.

I should know better than to try a 2 step temperature infusion. Never hits temps. Original plan was to do a step mash in the kettle over a burner but I did not want to hassle the other guys with that while I was driving home and back.



Stuck Mash


Collected 14 gallons


Add hops per hop schedule

Add candy sugar syrup and brown sugar

60ish minute boil – more like 70 minute

Chilled fast with whirlpool

Pump into fermenter

Drive fermenter home


Pitch yeast

OG = 1.064 (was expecting closer to 1.070)

December 3, 2017

Racked to stainless fermenter – gravity = 1.008


That’s what it is reading. 1.008!

Right now that makes it 7.35% abv. Higher than BeerSmith predicted.

Taste? Not sure. Right now it just doest have the heavy Belgain beer flavor I expected. Can definitely taste the alcohol. Very odd. Hope it gets better.

Maybe I will dump 5 gallons in the old barrel and let it sit for a year.

Damn. It gave me the burps.

December 23, 2017

Transferred 5 galons to Whiskey barrel. Before this I had to soak barrel for days to rehydrate and close up gaps from letting it dry out. This should be interesting as a barrel aged beer. Calling this Dubbel Barrel.

December 26, 2017

Transferred remaining to 5 gallon keg.

Gravity 1.006 = 7.6% abv

Interesting… This started off with a lower than calculated gravity but is finishing with an also lower than calculated gravity. This is putting this beer at the very high end for abv for this style. This might be good after all. Looking forward to this and especially the barrel version. How long do I keep this in the barrel?

March 8, 2018 – Dubbel Barrel

Racked from barrel to keg.

Gravity 1.004 = 7.8% abv

Well, the beer sucked from the start.

I now have 1 keg of regular and 1 keg of barrel aged. I really wish this beer turned out. What a waste. Going to suck it up and serve both ate Ales for Tails this weekend.

Now what to do with this barrel. I used it three times (one of which won a gold medal), and I think it is time to retire it. Unless someone can convince me not to.





A-B Hop Give-Away

Charles and I went to Anheuser-Busch’s Hop-Give-Away on Saturday, December 2 and we both walked away with a pile of hops. They hops are not well labeled or packaged, so I’m posting this to help us track what we have.

Below is a pic of the list of hops they had available. It looks like most of these hops are some type of Hallertau strain, but they appear to be experimental varieties that A-B can’t utilize. For the most part I think these would be great for our German styles, and I plan to use some of these hops for this year’s Oktoberfest and a Dopplebock that I’m currently planning at the end of this month.

Gag Reflex

Chocolate Oatmeal Imperial Stout


Time to get a little crazy. Gonna attempt an Imperial Stout that hopefully will end up in a barrel for an extended amount of time.

Lots of mistakes as far as the recipe goes but whatever, gotta start somewhere.

And like Tom says, “It will be beer”.

October 22, 2017

Chocolate Oatmeal Imperial Stout – 6.5 gallons

Brewer: Charles. That’s it. Just Charles.

Calculated Stats:

  • Est. OG – 1.11
  • IBU – 71
  • SRM – 44
  • Est. ABV – 10%

Grain Bill

  • 15 lbs. Pale Malt
  • 5 lbs. Maris Otter
  • 5 lbs. Flaked Oats
  • 1.5 lbs. Chocolate Malt
  • 1 lb. Roasted

Hop Bill

  • 1 oz. Warrior pellet 16.2% – 60 mins
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings pellet 6.1% – 60 mins
  • 3 oz. Fuggle pellet 5% – 30 mins
  • 2 oz. East Kent Goldings pellet 6.1% – 30 mins
  • 1 oz. Willamette pellet 5.5% – flameout/whirlpool


  • Prepared 13 gallons treated with Camden the night before. Added another 2 gallons during the brew.


  • Wyeast 1728 – Scottish Ale

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.

2 smack packs started Thursday night. Malt added Friday night. Cold crashed Saturday night.


  • 7 oz. Trader Joe’s 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate – chopped finely


Mash Schedule

Mash in:

9:50 – Only Pale and Maris Otter malt and 2 lbs. of oats.

Strike temp. 170˚ – 8.5 gal. – Mash temp. 150˚

Bumped with 2 gallons 180˚-  Mash temp. 156˚

Add remaining 3 lbs. oats.

11:05 – add Chocolate and Roasted – mixed thoroughly.

Mash Out:

11:20 – 3 gal. – 210˚ – Mash temp. 165˚

11:30 – Vorlauf – cleared REALLY fast

11:40 – Runoff

12:15 – Stop runoff – collected 10 gal.

Refractometer reading 1.093


12:35 – Boil

12:45 – Hops in baskets

1:13 – Hops in baskets

1:40 – Irish Moss – Chiller

1:50 – Flame out – Hops in wort – pull hop baskets

Add chocolate – Chiller on

Refractometer reading dead on 1.11

Chilled to 76˚ – pull chiller

Whirlpool and settle for about 30 mins.

Transfer 7gal. to 13 gal. stainless fermenter.

Sample – WOW what a kick in the NUTS. VERY sweet (duh). Hard to get down. This yeast has its work cut out for it.

Hydrometer reading 1.092 ?????

3:00 – Pitch yeast (poured of much of the liquid)


Should have worked the recipe more.

Yes, I know this was not the kind of chocolate to use but whatever, bite me.

Should have bumped yeast another time. Not sure what I pitched will work.

Too much oats.

Too much chocolate malt.

Good call to add dark grains at end of mash.

Probably too much chocolate.

Gotta find a barrel. Maybe rum? That sounds kind of good.

Oct. 26, 2017

Panic time. Fermentation stopped dead on Tuesday (24th). No way the yeast has eaten all the sugars yet.

Been thinking about the grommet on this fermenter. Did not seem like it was in the best condition when racking on brew day but I decided to leave it.

Gravity reading .026 – Why so low if no gas getting through airlock.

Getting through the grommet instead? After thinking about it more YES.

However, decided to go ahead and pitch 1 more smack pack. No starter. Did not want to dilute the beer.

Also replaced the grommet.

Friday morning Airlock was filed with gas but no active bubbling. An improvement.

Oct. 29, 2017

While racking Redcoat v2 to kegs and prepping to bottle, I pulled another sample of  this beer. Gravity reading .024 bringing the ABV in at 8.8%. Not what was predicted yet but I figure this fermentation is going to need a few weeks more than normal. Will let it ride in primary for now. I do not expect this to get much past 9%.

How about the taste? I am stunned. Can not believe how good it is. Sweet with lots of chocolate. Starting to think I don’t want to ruin this by putting it in a barrel.

March 8, 2018

Somewhere along the line I racked this to a glass carboy to let age for an extended amount of time. I was hoping to find a Rum barrel to put it in but no luck.

A few times over the last month while working in the beer lab, tonight included, I have heard a bubble pass through the airlock on this carboy. Is there still some fermentation going on?

Having a hard time deciding what to do with this. Bottle all of it? Bottle some, keg some? Seriously considering kegging it all and serving on nitro at the crawfish boil.
















redcoat logov2


The last Bitter was a failure. Of sorts. With dry hopping, turned into a pretty good English IPA though. But it wasn’t what I intended. With the November event coming up, I really wanted to nail a true English Bitter. Something that might impress the Civil Life crowd that will be at the Southside Speakeasy. We also want a beer we can float Tom’s stout on top of for a true Black and Tan. I decided to go back to the beer that won a trophy. Redcoat ESB. This was the first English Bitter I brewed that I was truly proud of. Every one since has been a version of this beer but none stand out like this one. We also need beer for us all to drink since Oktoberfest drained our reserves.

This is identical to the original Redcoat with the exception of pumping up the malt a little to end with a final gravity high enough to float the dry stout on top. Would be really cool if this works out. We have been talking about this for a few years.

October 14, 2017

Redcoat ESB v2 (Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale) – 12 gallon

Brewers: Charles. Tom & Sam (morning crew). Rob (afternoon crew).

Redcoat_v2_ 2017-10-14




Grain Bill

  • 20 lbs. Maris Otter
  • 1 lb. 9 oz. Crystal 80
  • 1 lb. 8 oz. Special Roast
  • 1 lb. 3oz. Aromatic

Hop Bill

  • 4 oz East Kent Goldings 6.1% – 60 mins.
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings 6.1% – 30 mins.


  • Wyeast 1968 London ESB

Mash Schedule

  • 8:50 – Mash In: 8 gallons @ 168˚ – mash 154˚ – Bump with 1 gallon -holding 155˚
  • 10:00 – Mash Out: 3 gallons @ 200˚ – holding 166˚
  • 10:10 – Vorlauf – cleared really fast.
  • 10:20 – Runoff
  • 11:00 – Runoff end. Collected 15 gallon


  • 11:20 – Boil – add 4 ounces EKG split between 2 hop screens
  • 11:50 – add 1 ounce EKG split between 2 hop screens
  • 12:20 – chiller – FORGOT THE IRISH MOSS
  • 12:30 – heat off – start chilling and whirlpool
  • Chilled to 78˚. Best we could do.


  • Transfer via WortPort in kitchen floor
  • Very little sludge in kettle. The least I have EVER seen.
  • 13 gallons in fermenter
  • Wort temp. 74˚
  • Oxygenate and pitch yeast.

Original Gravity – 1.058 – Dead on!


A very smooth brew day (except for forgetting the Irish Moss). The extra hands were much appreciated.

The hop screens were a huge success. It is nice to not fight all the crap in the bottom of the kettle and to transfer almost all the wort.

Helps to mount the end of the transfer hose above the fermenter so that the wort splashes. Aids in cooling and oxygenating.


Oct. 21, 2017

Racked to secondary. Sample tastes really good.

Not at all happy with how cloudy this is (yes, I forgot the irish moss). Bought some Gelatin Finings, prepared it and added after rack to secondary.

Gravity = .016

Oct. 29, 2017

Racked to 2 kegs, about 4 gallons each and remains 4 gallons to bottling bucket.

Impressed with clarity. However, lots of stuff in the last bit of beer. That say to use gelatin on very cold beer. That would have helped but was not able to do that and I wanted to try to clear it up before putting in kegs.

Gravity = .016 – 5.5%