Best In Show Brew: Innkeeper Barleywine @ Man Skirt Brewing

Back in October of 2016 my Inn Keeper English Barleywine took 2nd place in the Best In Show rounds at NJ’s Motown Mash competition. For winning I was presented with the opportunity to brew a scaled up version of my beer at Man Skirt Brewing in Hackettstown, New Jersey. So on December 18th 2016 after a few weeks of formulating the scaled up recipe with founder and brewer Joe Fisher, my brother and I headed to the brewery to a brew a 5 barrel batch of my barleywine.

With the recipe including 600 lbs of grain Joe involved us in every part of the brew day, from milling the grains to cleaning out the mash tun to adding the hops (including some locally grown Chinook hops) at their appropriate times. It was brew day full of hard work and beer sampling revelry. Though I wouldn’t be there to help manage fermentation like I would with my homebrews, our plan from the beginning was to keg two-thirds of the batch and age one-third in a Jack Daniels barrel…The above video represents a glimpse at brew day…enjoy!

Scaled Up Recipe coming soon…

Hombrew Recipe:


On Sunday February 5, 2017 My family and I drove to Man Skirt Brewing to taste the finished product with brewmaster Joe Fisher, the brewery’s staff, and any other beer lovers who came through the doors. From my first sip I was surprised by how close the beer tasted to my homebrewed version of this recipe and how balanced the beer tasted. Overall, all who tried it that day shared Joe and my excitement over how well the beer turned out. In the above video we share additional reflections on brew day along with some brief tasting notes on the finished beer. Cheers!

My tasting notes:

Because English barleywines are best when aged I’ll refrain my typing out these notes in BJCP score sheet format and stick to a narrative of my impressions of this younger version of the beer. Of note, I bottled a full case of the beer off the tap that it was being served from so that I can monitor how it ages over time and have opened 6 of the bottles with friends and fellow home-brewers since first tasting the finished product on 2/5/17…Innkeeper barleywine poured a beautiful deep red color with an off white head which dissipated after the first half  of the glass. It’s aroma was unlike other English barleywines in that it had a fair amount of hop character upfront which was comprised of notes of orange marmalade and some pine. Also in the aroma were notes of caramel and toffee which added sweetness and balance. The taste was similarly balanced with additional notes of fruit cake, short bread, and raisin adding complexity. Despite this beer’s high finishing gravity (1.025) it did not finish sweet, which meant that the 2 high alpha American hops that were used (Chinook and Centennial) did their job and balanced out the beer.  Next, for a young 9.6% ABV barleywine this scaled up version of Innkeeper barleywine was quite drinkable. However, I’m hoping that with age (and oxidation) more malt character and sweetness will enter the picture and create the richness that my aged homebrewed version has. Thankfully both Joe and I plan to age a fair amount of what remains of this 5 barrel (bbl) batch, part of which is in a Jack Daniels barrel and I hope to periodically report back with how it’s aging. Cheers!


About Barry W

Israel (formerly NJ) based sourdough baker and fermentation enthusiasts sharing his baking, fermenting, cooking, and brewing adventures on
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