Our fourth original recipe: The Making of Bonne Idée Barleywine

January 27, 2013 § 1 Comment

I recently spent some time hanging out with Jason, another veteran homebrewer and founder of future brewery The Steampunk Brewery. A year or two ago, he threw a party with his fiancée that featured several of his homebrews, including a banana bread beer and apricot beer. He had a fancy metal fermenter that he had designed and built himself, and he was showcasing the beginning of the dream to start his own craft brewery. He shared with me his experiences with all-grain brewing, the flexibility and cost benefits, as well as the ease of the “brew in a bag” method. It may be some time before I would consider switching from malt extract recipes to all grain brewing, particularly given the additional time and equipment requirements. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying all types of experimentation and gradually picking up on details of each aspect of beer creation; it’s only a matter of time before I also catch the bug and dream of starting my own craft brewery (oh wait, I think I already did). For now, though, I’m having a lot of fun and making some tasty beer!

Today was brew day at Bunny Hops Brewery: we brewed our first barley wine! This beer is named “Bonne Idée” and is our celebration ale: a carrot cake-inspired beer that hopefully will be ready in time for Easter!

Our prior three original recipes were malt extract-only beers (with possible eventual plans to make them partial mash or all-grain recipes), but this beer definitely need a bigger malt kick. The First Brewmatey often makes solid carrot cakes for the bigger rabbits on this ship, and this often includes nuts and raisins. Accordingly, we used Maris Otter malt to get some nuttiness and Belgian Special B to bring out some raisin flavor. The latter seriously smells like raisin bran in so many awesome ways. I obtained two reusable nylon brew bags for steeping grains, hops, and other ingredients (I hated the idea of having to buy muslin bags for steeping grains and then throwing them away after a single use). Here, you can see them secured to the edge of the pot with chopsticks:

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This beer, a barleywine, largely draws from the English ale tradition. Accordingly, I wanted to use a European hop and went with Styrian Goldings (supposedly not truly from the Goldings family, but still useable for British ales). It has nice earthy, woodsy aroma that definitely differs from the spicy, Noble hops that I have been using for the other beers.

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This beer is actually made with real carrots. We’ll see how that turns out (that is, if any of the carrot flavor arises). I used sliced/shredded carrots steeped in one of the nylon bags and boiled for the full boiling time. Most of the cake essence, however, will likely come from the array of spices.

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While I was boiling the wort, the First Brewmatey went nuts, took all of the spent grains, and made cheese and Belgian Special B barley scones. This ain’t no hard tack and swill like they serve down below in the galleys. This is seriously British first class right now.

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The brewing today took a little longer with the initial steeping, carrot slicing, and spice grinding, but overall it took about 3.5 hours and was a fun afternoon. We dipped some of the wort into the hydrometer flask, and it rings true in the “table wine” range at 1.084 for the specific gravity.

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Alright, good night, little yeasty cherubs. Dream sweet dreams of barley wine and carrot cake!

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Your Brew Captain,




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