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An American Barleywine Recipe

Going BIG with hops, malt, yeast and aging

American Barleywine is an old American ale that descended from strong "October" style beers brewed on country estates. The flavor has loads of complex malt backed up by an American mix of hops. The aroma gives you a huge hit of spicy American hops and rich fruity malt. The balance of this style can be malty or hoppy depending on the homebrewer's preference. American barleywine is brewed year round and is best in winter. They are great with very intense foods, but better with dessert. (Try it with a strong American Blue Cheese or Double Gloucester cheese with chives and green onions.)

American barleywines usually have a higher alcohol content than their traditional counterpart. Similar to an Imperial IPA, but the malt is more forward than hops adding to a rich body. It also contains a lot more hops than English barleywines. The normal gravity range for an American barleywine is 1.085 -1.120+ with an ABV range of 8-12%. The hop character is very evident on this beer, but does not have to be unbalanced and can range anywhere from 50-120 IBUs with color 10-20L and attenuation medium to full.

This is a beer I make in February and age until December or as long as I can resist the urge to tap the keg. I highly suggest you try this recipe if you are a fan of big hoppy beers. Happy Homebrewing!

American Barelywine Homebrew Label

American Barleywine Recipe

10 gallons
All Grain
1.098~OG → 1.017~FG → 10.7%ABV 88 IBU 18.2°L SRM
Yeasts
2 vials
WLP001 - California Ale
  White Labs (Ale)
1 vial
WLP090 - San Diego Super
  White Labs (Ale)
1 vial

Fermentables
35.5 pounds
Maris Otter
  38ppg, 4°L
20 pounds
56%
Munich (Light)
  34ppg, 10°L
8 pounds
23%
Vienna
  35ppg, 4°L
4 pounds
11%
Crystal 40L
  34ppg, 40°L
1 pound
3%
Crystal 70L
  34ppg, 75°L
1 pound
3%
Orange Blossom Honey
  39ppg, 1°L
1 pound
3%
Chocolate
  29ppg, 350°L
4 ounces
1%
Honey
  30ppg, 20°L
4 ounces
1%

Hops
9.00 ounces
Cascade
  9%, Leaf
2.5 ounces
28%
Mosaic
  13%, Pellet
2 ounces
22%
Simcoe
  14%, Leaf
2 ounces
22%
Citra
  16%, Leaf
1.5 ounces
17%
Warrior
  16%, Pellet
1 ounce
11%

Miscellaneous

Aging in oak barrels can add another level of complexity on this style. Also consider the addition of oak cubes, spirals or chips.

Make a large yeast starter and oxygenate the wort well before pitching.


Mash
1 hour, 16.27 gallons
Strike
  Target 152°F
12.94 gallons
163°F
1 hour
Sparge 3.33 gallons
170°F

Boil
75 minutes, 11.53 gallons
Citra hops
  16%, Leaf
1 ounce
60 minutes (+15)
Warrior hops
  16%, Pellet
1 ounce
60 minutes (+15)
Cascade hops
  9%, Leaf
0.5 ounces
45 minutes (+30)
Citra hops
  16%, Leaf
0.5 ounces
45 minutes (+30)
Cascade hops
  9%, Leaf
0.5 ounces
45 minutes (+30)
Mosaic hops
  13%, Pellet
0.5 ounces
45 minutes (+30)
Simcoe hops
  14%, Leaf
0.5 ounces
45 minutes (+30)
Cascade hops
  9%, Leaf
0.5 ounces
30 minutes (+45)
Simcoe hops
  14%, Leaf
0.5 ounces
30 minutes (+45)
Mosaic hops
  13%, Pellet
0.5 ounces
15 minutes (+60)

Ferment
7 days @ 68°F, 14 days @ 65°F
Cascade hops
  9%, Leaf
1 ounce
14 days (+7 days)
Mosaic hops
  13%, Pellet
1 ounce
14 days (+7 days)
Simcoe hops
  14%, Leaf
1 ounce
14 days (+7 days)
Rack to secondary (65°F) 14 days (+7 days)
Age Time 365 days

We as Americans may sometimes go overboard when it comes to things we are passionate about, but the American interpretation of the richest and strongest of the English ales will never be questioned. The results, although similar to its English counterpart, are nonetheless outstanding. With our American homebrew psyche we strive for bigger attenuations, bigger hop aromas, bigger hop flavors and this style does not disappoint. The American barleywine style delivers all that and then some with proper aging, so fire up your kettles and brew a batch.

Christian Lavender is a father, husband, computer geek, beer writer and homebrewer in Austin, TX. He brews on his homemade 10 gallon fire actuated recirculating tun system and enjoys styles ranging from hoppy barrel aged barley wine to funky sours.

Follow Christian's brewing on

Related Recipes:
Imperial IPA Recipe
Wild IPA Aged in Wood Barrels
DIPA Whiskey & Rye

Published: August 2, 2013

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