Jul 28 2009

Splitting Homebrew Batches Part 1 – Bourbon Oak Barleywine

My latest homebrewing MO is to split and play around WITHIN batches as much as possible. 

The latest one is my American barleywine that just turned 7 months old.  It dropped from a 1.110 down to a 1.023 and finished at an 11.6 ABV.  I bottled ~4 gallons of that batch with oxygen absorbing caps, and then waxed the tops to let them age gracefully.

 Wax Top

The last gallon I racked onto a ½ ounce of American oak cubes that I steamed and then marinated in Blanton’s bourbon for almost 12 months.  (I can’t say that leaving them on the bourbon that long actually does anything extra special.  It just sounds cool.)  I’m going to age that for a few weeks and then bottle that last gallon.

bourbon barley

I imagine that it will taste nothing like it, but this is somewhat inspired by Lost Abbey’s Angel Share.  What I tasted of the flat barleywine that I bottled, it was slightly sweet with lots of dark fruit flavor and only a slight alcohol warming.  The hoppiness is fading quickly, and the bitterness is softening.  I’m curious to see what the oak and the residual bourbon does to this brew.

I still have some blue wax that can use to bottle the last gallon, as well, but I’ll have to drop a yellow crayon or something into the wax to make those look a little different.

At the end of the year, I can try one of each and compare and contrast. 

Looking to the future, I’m planning to brew my yearly saison this weekend, but I will split that one at least two ways.  The control part will be a standard dry and spicy saison.  Into the remaining beer I will pitch brettanomyces after primary fermentation.  For that I have a tube of White Labs WLP650 brettanomyces bruxellensis, but I might try to also culture up another strain of “wild” yeast from a commercial bottle for a third segment.

After that, I’ve got 10 pounds of cherries that might go into some big, Belgian ales.

Those will all be future posts.