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Big Barley Wine

Hi All,

I made a big extract barley wine similar to Lord Fatbottom with O.G. ~1.122 that I poured on top of APA Trub of WY1056. It has been in primary for about 3.5 weeks and it is pretty clear that fermentation is over. Gravity readings have been steady for about a week. I only got down to 1.041. From what I can see that equals roughly +11% abv. It already tastes like a nice sweet barley wine.

Do I need to worry about bottle bombs? I want to ensure good carbonation. Should I re-yeast after 3 weeks in secondary? Thanks for any advice. This is my first adventure on a beer this big.

Hey Waldo:

Are you asking if you should re-yeast in the secondary to see if you can lower your SG a little more or are you asking if you should re-yeast when you bottle?

If the former, I don’t know. I’d like to hear the opinions of the other forum goers on that one. Your FG is a high for this beer. I just racked an extract batch of Lord Fatbottom to the secondary yesterday and it was at 1.020 in less than a week after pitching a big starter of 1056. (And it is already glorious; not at all sweet.)

If the latter, yes, definitely re-yeast upon bottling. As a general rule of thumb, I re-yeast anything that was over 1.060 OG with 1/2 packet of Nottingham dry yeast added to the bottling bucket with the primer, and stirred well.

Thanks for the reply. I was asking both about my f.g. and reyesting. I will reyeast like you recommend in the bottling bucket.

What are reccomendtions for getting my gravity lower? Do I pitch some dry yeast to get it down further? Transfer to agitate? It has been sitting in +66ºF for 3 weeks now.

Your currently at 66.39% apparent attenuation. I don’t think it will get any lower, especially since you brewed with extract which has a tendency to finish a little higher. Reyeasting now will likely not help you get the FG any lower.

I would let it age a little and reyeast with WY1056 or US-05 prior to bottling to ensure good carbonation


I will let it sit in the secondary for a few weeks and see what happens. I was just worried about bottling at such a high gravity. Like I said, this is uncharted territory for me with a beer like this. I have been reading different posts, and there have been a lot of people claiming to get down to the 1.025 range with similar recipes. At 1.030 I wouldn’t even question but 1.040 seemes off to me. If I make it to the brew store, I may go ahead and try a U.S. 05 even if it is a waste of money. Heck, I already have a lot invested in this batch. I am going to do everything I need going forward to make this a success.

Did you pitch a yeast starter or just the smack pack?

A big starter is a necessity with high gravity brews. I started a starter with 1.5 cups
light DME in 1300 ml water, boiled of course, and on stir plate for 2 days prior to brew day. Cold crashed in frig the night before brewing and then poured off separated liquid. Pitch the slurry.

It fermented like crazy and was down to 1.022 from 1.102 in 5 days. It dropped a little more after that over the course of a another week.

[quote=“Tom_B”]Did you pitch a yeast starter or just the smack pack?[/quote]Look at his first post “I made a big extract barley wine similar to Lord Fatbottom with O.G. ~1.122 that I poured on top of APA Trub of WY1056.”

Ooops, forgot that Waldo mentioned pitching the trub from a previous beer. I was curious about that when I read the Lord Fatbottom recipe. It seemed like a great idea but now I wonder if the yeast weren’t as active as they could have been.

Are there any guidelines on how to use trub as a huge starter for high gravity beers?

I thought using the trub from my APA would give the barley wine the best chance to ferment well. I guess Aeration could have been a problem? I poured in short bursts, shaking the carboy in between. Anyway, it was bubbling away with in a couple of hours of pouring on top of the trub.

The beer tastes fine; my only worry is bottle bombs.

Like Tom asked, any further comments on using the trub and yeast cake of a previous batch would be appreciated.

I did a big barley wine in early July, using the “Old Monster” extract recipe from Jamil’s Brewing Classic Styles book. OG was 1122, and I pitched it directly onto a WY 1056 yeast cake from a medium (1.055) stout which I had racked off to secondary a few hours earlier that day. Jamil has a podcast on brewing big beers in which he talks a fair bit about this method of simply pouring your chilled wort directly onto the trub from a prior batch. Its worth listening to if you want to try this method. It appeals to me only because I am always pressed for time with the normal life stuff, kids, family etc. going on every weekend and sometimes its hard to plan enough in advance to do a huge starter.

I oxygenated when I pitched and at approx. 8 hour intervals 2 more times over the next day. I had substantial blow-off going 2 hours after pitching which continued for the next couple days, then slowed but was still a pretty vigorous fermentation. I kept the temp in the mid 60’s in a swamp cooler for the first week or so, then removed it and left in in my basement at approx. 65 ambient, but continued to wrap with wet towels to keep the temp below 70. After two weeks, it was at 1.032 and still showing strong fermentation. After about 8 weeks, I racked to secondary and measured the gravity at approx. 1.026. I put the carboy in a dark corner of the back of my basement and haven’t touched it since. I’m using a silicone stopper ( … ented.html). I will likely check the gravity and consider bottling sometime in early 2012.

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