As promised, we've got some more updates for you about our 50th anniversary barleywine, and some awesome plots of nifty beer statistics.

For our 50th batch of homebrew, we wanted to go all out. It would have to be a colossal beer, with bold flavors, and of course a bad beer-jargon pun for a name (as is tradition). Naturally, we settled on a barleywine so massive we needed to build new brewing gear to accommodate it. We would call it "Saccharomighty," and it would be a tribute to the many trillions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (common name brewer's yeast--see what we did there?) who lived and died to serve the noble purpose of making delicious intoxicating malt beverages.

Before Brew Day

In order to achieve the desired sugar content in the wort (later to transform into an ABV north of 12% in the finished beer), we needed to combine 24lbs of grain with 11 gallons of water--not possible in our usual one-step process in a 10 gallon kettle. Using a simple filter tube ($10 online), an Igloo cooler ($40), and a weldless valve ($20), we put together a simple but effective mash tun, from which we could fill the kettle.

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The huge grainbill alone nearly fills a 7.5 gallon kettle, and consists of pale ale malt, Vienna malt, Victory malt, and a touch of dark Munich malt. We'd mash at a low temperature (150 F) for longer than usual (75min instead of 60) to promote more thorough attenuation by the yeast (higher ABV, less residual sweetness--usually a good move on a beer this big). The huge malt character would be countered with some serious hops (83 IBU of citrus/pine/fruity American hop goodness), which would mellow over the planned 10 month aging period.

The Brew

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On brew day, our new mash tun performed beautifully (OK, it may have clogged a bit and taken a full hour to finish emptying, but still), and we ended up with a full 8 gallons into the kettle, which boiled down over 90 minutes with significant vigor (and splashing at times) to about 6 gallons.

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Of course, a momentous 50th brew day requires a truly special beverage--luckily we had picked up just the thing at Beer Run earlier. Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Barleywine--vintage 2011!

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Three years of aging had turned this big, hoppy bruiser into a sublimely smooth malty delight. And, as an added bonus, drinking the same style of beer you're brewing is especially pleasing to the beer gods.

After 3 weeks of fermentation and conditioning, we split the batch and sent half to a keg, the other half into long-term aging. We'll pour the kegged beer in a few weeks, and the other portion next winter, when it will have taken on some very different characteristics.

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Saccharomighty Recipe

(For 6 gallons post-boil)

OG: 1117, FG: 1023, ABV: 12.3%, IBU: 83

Grain

  • 16 lbs Pale Ale Malt
  • 5 lbs Vienna Malt
  • 2 lbs Victory Malt
  • 1 lb Dark Munich (20L)
  • 1 lb Honey

Hops

  • 2oz Chinook (60min)
  • 1oz each Cascade, Amarillo, Chinook (15min)
  • 1oz Centennial (10min)

Mash at 150 F for 75 minutes, boil 90 minutes.

Ferment with US-05 or equivalent (62 F ambient temperature for 1 week, 65-75 for 3 weeks, then age or serve.

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