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Need help with dark barleywine!

Hello all, I’ve been visiting the forums regularly for the past six months-when I began homebrewing-and have yet to post.

…So here I am! I’ve searched around the forums and elsewhere on the internet to no avail, I’d like to make a particularly dark American barleywine, something that will be hoppy and malty in the early stages of life, and that will pick up some roasted and darker flavors as it ages. Being a huge fan of the Dogfish Olde School I’ve also decided to add some fruit in the secondary. Of course, there is no “punch in your requirements and we’ll give you a recipe” button on the internet, so I’m taking my case to you guys, you know a lot more than I do, and I am certain can point me in the right direction.

Anyways, here is a recipe I’ve roughed out, any input or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

12# Light LME or amber LME, not certain which I will get yet, leaning towards amber since it is darker
1# Extra dark DME
Planning on adding half the LME at the beginning of my 60 minute boil, and the other half of the LME and the DME towards the end- 15 minutes left perhaps

1# Caramel 120, to help with the color and flavor
1/2#-1# of something dark, I’m not sure if I should go with pale chocolate or black malt or what, my first thought is pale chocolate but I don’t have a ton of experience with all the varieties of specialty malts

I intend on adding 1# dark candi syrup during high krausen

2oz chinook bittering
And these three mixed together and added at 30,15,5 minutes:
1oz centennial
1oz cascade
1oz chinook

In secondary I plan on adding 2-3oz of dates and 2-3oz of figs, cut up and ripe.

Lastly I’ll be using safale-05

Again, any help would be greatly appreciated, I plan on frequenting the forums much more now that I am brewing more.


Welcome to the forum, and homebrewing! Looks like you’ve got the same enthusiasm as I had when I started 13 years ago. And if you let your enthusiasm consume you, it will never die!

Looks like a great idea for a recipe. Malt and hop schedule look good. I do have several thoughts for you to consider…

  1. 2-3 ounces of dates and figs won’t do anything for you at all – that’s only like a couple figs and a handful of dates. If you want these flavors to carry through, you need to use more like 2-3 pounds of each, if not more. It takes an awful lot of fruit to carry over through all the malt and hop flavors. If you decide to go this route, it will taste great but you might want to add an extra gallon or two of water and maybe a little more hops because the fruits will soak up a lot of the beer and not let go. But you probably would not need to add any extra malt extract with the extra volume, because the fruits contain sugars to make up for the extra volume. You would also need a fermenter big enough to handle the extra volume of many gallons beer plus many pounds fruit. You could certainly split the batch into two fermenters if necessary. Or even split the batch and add fruit to half and no fruit to the other, then bottle them separately, as a sort of experiment to see which one tastes the best.

  2. Your recipe is actually closer to a Russian imperial stout than a barleywine. So, you have a decision to make – do you want a RIS that is super roasty, with lots of coffee and dark chocolate and licorice flavors? Or do you truly want an almost black barleywine but with just a very mild roasty flavor that does not get too carried away? My recommendations below will provide options either way.

  3. In either case, I would use light LME rather than amber, because you’ll have a beer plenty dark enough already from the specialty malts and other sugars you will be using. Doesn’t really matter all that much, you could use amber if you wanted, but light LME is good enough and will still result in a black beer. You really can’t get any blacker than black, so it doesn’t matter. It will be black no matter what you do, guaranteed.

  4. For specialty malts: For a dark barleywine, use 0.5 lb pale chocolate. This will take you to black color without getting too crazy on the roasty flavors. But if you do want more roasty flavors like a RIS, then you’ll want to use the same 0.5 lb pale chocolate, plus also 0.5 lb roasted barley, plus 0.25 lb black patent, and then you’d need to back off on the base malt from 12 lb to about 11 lb. So that’s the real difference between styles, in my humble opinion.

  5. I would use all distilled water for this, and for any extract beer in general. Malt extracts contain salts that just get doubled if you use tap water or spring water. So distilled water will make a more tasty beer, without any odd metallic or minerally flavors caused by too much salts.

  6. Make sure you pitch two or maybe even three packs of US-05. This is an ungodly huge beer and will need a ton of yeast to ferment properly. Also…

  7. Try to ferment in low to mid 60s temperature if possible. This will keep the alcohol and ester flavors down under control. Otherwise it might turn out like rocket fuel.

8.) Be patient. It might ferment very quickly in 7-10 days, or it might take a whole month. When you think it’s done, take a gravity reading, then wait 3-4 days, and then take a second reading. It’s only done fermenting if the gravity readings are identical after several days. If not, it needs more time. You don’t want to bottle this one too early and end up with bottle bombs! You’ll want to age this beer for a long time without the bottles turning into gushers, right?! So whatever you do… just be patient.

That’s about it. Those are really the key things that will ensure this beer isn’t just good, but EXCELLENT. :cheers:

Have a look at the recipe for Jack & Ken’s Ale here for some ideas on the grain bill

This was from SN’s 30th anniversary collection. It had a nice amount of roast but not huge amounts. (I wish I still had some, it was excellent! )
I took a stab at it before the BYO article came out and used black malt. The beer is 2 years old and the roast isn’t quite there.

@dmtaylo2 thank you for your input! I think what I will finally settle on is picking the light lme, specialty grains I will stick with 1#caramel120/150 (not sure my lhbs has both, but I will be going for darker I guess), and .5#pale chocolate. I may forsake the additional 1# of extra dark dme since this beer will already have a decent gravity (and a fair amount higher than the most potent brew I’ve made to date), but I will stick with the dark candy syrup for both color and extra fermentables (and for flavor, haven’t had much experience with candi syrup but from what I read it will add to the flavor profile I’m shooting for).

I think for the fruit I will go with a pound of each, and might freeze and puree the fruit to aid in digestion and to not waste too much beer, I would go with more but I’m just not certain how it will effect flavor and I would rather err on the conservative side, as I would like a hint of fruit, but not overpowering.

I was planning on 2 packs of Safale 05 but I may pitch 3. I intend on using Fermaid K and some DAP because I recently had some very successful meads that I used nutrients for and it seemed like they fermented very quickly (for 1.120 must)

Again, I really appreciate your input, I think it’s helped me concrete-up my plans. I think I will have to wait another month or so before I brew it to make sure my house is at an ideal temperature. Looks like I’ll have to brew a stout in the meantime to get some more experience with dark specialty grains and to have some beer to drink while my barleywine is aging!


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