Born from a much stronger version of English bitters and pale ales, the first documented commercial “barley wine” was from Bass brewing company in 1903, although the style was made as far back as 1868. The term “barley wine” may have been a marketing gimmick of the day since the beer could be as strong as wine but made from grain instead of grapes. Similar to an old ale, barleywines were the strongest beers to come out of a brewery and were meant to be aged for years, developing vinous-like qualities from the hefty doses of malt.
While being extremely malty, barleywines also have enough bitterness to balance the beer with some even being dry-hopped. The English barleywine denotes a brew made with British hops, while American barleywines naturally promotes citrusy and resiny hops. According to the BJCP guidelines, an English barleywine is a strongly malty brew with notes of caramel, toffee, and biscuit. Esters can promote a fruity character to the beer and the alcohol should be preceived as warming, never hot or solventy.
My own goal for brewing an english barleywine was to have a strong malty beer that could be aged for years. The recipe below is fairly complex. I usually brew simpler recipes with fewer malts, but wanted the complexity that comes from malt layering. As for the name, I got it from a book I was reading to my daughter, Alice in Wonderland. Hopefully this beer will stand the test of time for her to try one day. The recipe:
Mad Hatter English Barleywine (5.5 gallons):
- 10 lbs Crisp Marris Otter
- 5 lbs Munich malt (9L)
- 4 lbs Vienna malt
- 1 lb Crisp Amber malt (27.5L)
- 1 lb Biscuit malt (23L)
- 0.5 lb Crystal 120L
- 0.5 lb Special Roast (50L)
- 0.25 lb Special B (180L)
- 2 lbs of Turbinado sugar (10 SRM) – added at 5 min.
Mashed in at 155ºF and almost maxed out my Blichmann Boilermaker. I still may be able to fit 2-3 more pounds. First runnings came in at an amazing 1.091. Batch sparged and second runnings were 1.052. Collected 7.75 gallons of 1.073 wort. Boiled for 3-4 hours before adding bittering addition:
- 2 ozs Northern Brewer (48 IBUs)
- Whirlfloc tablet
- 1/2 tsp of Wyeast nutrient
Collected 5.2 gallons of 1.120 wort and cooled to 70ºF and oxygenated for two minutes. Pitched a blend of yeast – 350 billion cells of Wyeast 1056 (Chico strain) and 100 billion cells (one smack pack) of WYeast 1098 British Ale yeast. I pitched 1056 for attenuation and 1098 for some British character.
I brewed the beer back in October of last year and I’m just getting around to writing about it. The picture above is straight from the primary and it tastes like liquid caramel! Right now, the beer is kegged and carbonating. I will bottle soon and sample the beer when its relatively young.
IBU: ~ 48
ABV: 11.4%!! This is the most alcoholic beer I have made so far.