Ahhh… The strong ale. Or barleywine. Or old ale. Whatever you want to call this brew, this category of beer has higher alcohol in common and a few subtleties between them. Historically, an old ale had a very malty and estery profile, and occasionally some funk, but a higher ABV profile than a mild or an ESB. It is interesting to note that an acceptable old ale may be brewed with Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces, a bacteria and yeast strain that contribute sourness and funkyness, respectively. Barleywines on the other hand, typically have a higher alcohol content and are very rich and malty, with notes of burnt sugar, molasses, and raisins. As expected, English barleywines utilize english hops to variable extent, while an American barleywine showcases American hops exclusively. Both beers have an ABV range of 9% and higher.
This next batch falls anywhere between an old ale and an American barleywine, and I will call it a Strong Ale for now. As a matter of fact, this beer is called “Mad Brewer’s Strong Ale” as it is similar to my very first batch of homebrew, a pale ale that did not go so well. Alan and Kevin decided to help me as assistant brewers so hopefully nothing goes wrong! I feel as if I have brewed many decent 5% ABV beers, so I want to start tackling higher octane beers.
3.5 gallon recipe:
- 10 lbs of Marris Otter
- 3 lbs of Munich malt
- 1 lb of Melanoiden malt
- 0.5lb of Crystal 40L
- 1 oz of Chinook at 60 minutes
- 1 oz of Cascade at 60 minutes
- 1 oz Cascade at 5 minutes
- 1 oz Cascade at 0 minutes
Mashed at 158ºF for a full body and tossed the cooled wort onto a yeast cake of Nottingham that was generated from a previous batch of an English IPA. This is a great way to get enough yeast to ferment a strong beer, the yeast have replicated and are already set to ferment beer. One rule of thumb however, always go up in ABV strengths and yeast cakes. My English IPA finished at 5% ABV and this beer will finish higher. Yeast cakes that have already fermented high ABV beers are stressed (alcohol, even at low amounts, can be sterilizing) and will produce many off-flavors in the finished product.
IBUs: 61.7 (beersmith)
The brew started to evolve CO2 within 2 hours of pitching onto the cake, a great start to fermentation. Temps have been held in check at 65ºF and is currently chugging along. Nottingham starts off really strong.
Fermentation was vigorous at 2 days but started to slow noticeably. Three days post-pitching and fermentation is really slowing down now. I have noticed that Nottingham takes off like a champ at the beginning, but takes a long time finish at the targeted final gravity.
Racked to secondary and dry-hopped with 1.5 ounces of Cascade and 2 oz. of medium toast French oak chips.