Brew Log: Second Blessing Barleywine 3.0

Updated: 5/14/20

Recipe Inspiration: Second Blessing barleywine is the beer that I chose to brew in celebration of my son’s birth in April 2018 and then of each year of his life. Being that English barleywine is one of my favorite beer styles, it was an easy choice. At its core this beer’s recipe is a clone of Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Sucaba barleywine. The minor changes that I’ve made to the clone recipe (found in BYO magazine) since I brewed version 1.0 reflect both preferences that I developed from brewing previous English barleywines and what I want the beer to taste like when its still young.

Grains: (estimated brewhouse efficiency set at 65%) – Batch Size: 5.25 gallons

15 lbs Maris Otter pale malt (64.5%)

2 lbs Munich 10L (8.6%)

1 lb Caramel/Crystal 120 (4.3%)

4oz Briess Blackprinz (equal or similar to Carafa III) (1.1%)

3.25 lbs can of Maris Otter light LME (14%)

1.75 lbs Dextrose (7.5%)


1oz Magnum (12.1% AA) @ 90 minutes

0.5oz Chinook (13.4% AA) @30 minutes – used because did not have enough Magnum

1oz East Kent Goldings (6% AA) @ 25 Minutes

2oz Willamette (5.8%AA) @ 20 minutes


2 packs of Omega Yeast Labs 006 – British Ale I (dated 11/7/19 and 11/14/19)

2.5 liter starter (1.040 SG) made 2 days in advance (see notes)


Shoprite Bowl & Basket spring water treated in the mash with 1.5ml of lactic acid


  • Changes to the clone recipe that inspired the above recipe for this vintage were: 1) Instead of roasted barley I used Briess Blackprinz malt because I didn’t like the roasty character that I detected in young bottles of version (vintage) 1.0. 2) Because I decided use a full can of LME (liquid malt extract) in order to improve my potential mash efficiency, I took out the crystal 60 in order to account for the likelihood of there being a percentage of crystal malt in the extract. 3) I used more Caramel/Crystal 120L to achieve a richer malt character and complement the dark fruit esters. 4) Because I don’t own a bourbon barrel and can’t calculate how much of an ABV boost the bourbon that I’ll be adding will contribute to the beer, I aimed for an OG that could get me to the 12% ABV present in the original beer (FW Sucaba).
  • Mash: 15 lbs Maris Otter (milled twice) and some rice hulls w/ 5.5 gallons of water (treated with 1.5 ml of lactic acid) @ 150F for 90 minutes (pH 5.35) »» Remaining 3.25 lbs of grains steeped BIAB style in 2.7 gallons of mashout water @ 153F for 45 minutes. Runnings were then brought to a boil while I collected the main mash’s first runnings. »» Mash out / batch sparge @ 168F for 30 minutes and then collected my second runnings. I batched sparged for 30 minutes because I didn’t bring the mash out runnings to a boil in time and therefore the main mash cooled down and I had to boil a gallon of runnings to get the mash out temperature from 161F to 168F.  »» Fly sparged w/ about 1.5 gallons of 170F water while collecting the last 1.75 gallons of runnings. »» Preboil gravity (before adding the LME) was 1.073 (target 1.075) @ 6.75 gallons.
  • Boil: Originally planned to last 90 minutes, but due to my adding the bittering hops and dextrose late it lasted 110 minutes. »» I added the can of Maris Otter LME right after the wort came to a boil i.e. I shut off the burners (stove top brew) and stirred in the extract which had been softening in a bucket of warm water. I carefully used some of the really hot wort to get any stubborn extract out of the can. »» As a result of my boil off rate and the volume additions of the LME and dextrose I’m pretty sure I ended up with a bit more than my target post boil volume of 5.5 gallons. »» After taking a refractometer reading to check my OG I was puzzled to see that it showed 1.113 because my preboil gravity was only 2 points below my target and I had boiled for 20 extra minutes. Therefore, I took a hydrometer reading and it read 1.122 i.e. my target OG. To relieve my homebrewer’s anxiety I called Bitter & Esters (my go to LHBS) and spoke to my friend Jack. He told me to trust the hydrometer more because refractometers aren’t always accurate when measuring high gravity worts. Of note, having recently purchased a taller graduated cylinder, I let my hydrometer sample sit out for a while for the particulates to settle and the gravity reading remained the same.
  • Yeast Starter / Start of fermentation: As per my usual high gravity brewing practices I made 2.5L  of starter wort and pitched my 2 packets of yeast (this time 2 days in advance so that I could pitch. on brew day). »» However, no matter what I tried my stir plate wouldn’t work so I ended up stirring it by hand as often as possible over 33 hours. »» At 9am on brew day I put the starter in my keezer to cold crash for a minumim of 12 hours. »» I ended up having friends over for NYE beers so I didn’t decant and pitch the yeast until 8:30am New Years Day. »» Fermention temperature range: 19-20C (66.2-68F). »» Signs of fermentation were visible after 6.5 hours and by the 9 hour mark fermentation activity was quite vigorous. »» 1/2/20- Despite cleaning up an initial fermentation mess the night before and adding Fermcap (foam retardent), I woke up to probably the biggest mess (volume loss) I’ve ever encountered. In response I added more Fermcap and lowered the fermentation temperature to 18-19C (64.4-66.2F). After dropping my kids off at school I came home and checked on the beer again only to discover that my earlier efforts didn’t seem to have worked. So I cleaned the neck of the carboy and added even more Fermcap i.e. my last resort.
  • Post-Primary Fermention: This beer’s FG was 1.022 i.e. 13% abv according to the Brewer’s Friend online calculator and 13.7% according to BeerSmith…Prior to racking to secondary I purchased 2 new 5 gallon Better Bottle carboys in order to limit headspace. Due to trub and blow off loss I racked between 4 and 4.25 gallons of barleywine into secondary along with about 2/3 cup bourbon and 3.35oz of bourbon soaked medium toast oak cubes on 1/23/20. I plan on letting the beer age for at least 6 weeks, but I’ll give it as long as it needs to develop the oak/bourbon character that I’m aiming for.
  • Bottling: After almost 3 months of aging on oak I bottled this batch on 4/19/19 along with a little extra bourbon. I’ll likely taste it in the next week or so.

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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