Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Huge Barley Wine The Begining

We've got a problem, some of the grain stock is getting a little up there in age due to a busy portion of last year.  That coupled with a recent order to spruce up the options has left quite a surplus that needs a use sooner than later.  The logical option? Create a huge barley wine.  I'm hoping to detail the process here as it's developed over the next month or two with periodic updates during the aging process that's expected to take nearly a year.

This first step (although completely out of sequence) was mainly to get the process kicked off and make me commit to the idea.  Yesterday I crafted 4 lbs of Belgian candy sugar to add in steps during the fermentation.  Belgian candy sugar is commonly used in dubbles and triples to help get that lighter body in a high gravity beer while adding some great unique flavors.  It's available at most home brew shops and usually costs a pretty penny.  You can however  make your own at home since it's simply invert sugar.

Step 1 - Gather Ingredients/Equipment

Table sugar - use how ever many pounds of candy sugar you want to produce
Creme of Tartar - 1/8 tsp per pound of sugar
Water - just enough to cover the sugar, I used 1/2 a cup per pound
Candy Thermometer (got mine at a grocery store for <$6)

Step 2 - Put it all in a pot over medium heat and stir

Step 3 - Get the temperature between 260°F and 270°F

This is where the sugar inverts and you'll need to hold it in that range pretty tight for a minimum of 20 minutes.  If it starts to creep up above the 270°F add a few tablespoons of cool water to bring it down, do not exceed 275° or drop below the 260°F.

After you keep it in the temperature range for 20 minutes you can keep it in that same range longer until you get the color you want, for darker candy sugar simply hold the temperature longer.  I was going for a nice amber color.  This is a good time to make sure your mold is ready to cast the sugar in when it's done.  I used a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Step 4 - Bring the temperature up above 300°F

Bring the temperature just above 300°F which is the hard crack temperature (listed on the package your candy thermometer came in) and immediately remove from heat and pour it into your mold.

Step 5 - Let it cool and harden

If you did everything right in about an hour that slab in the picture in step 4 will be hard as a rock.  At this point simply break it into conveniently sized chunks that will fit in a zip lock bag for storage.  It should keep for quite a long time until you're ready to brew. 

That's it, a very simple process but you have to pay attention to the temperatures very closely.  Not sure how long it will be until the next barley wine post as there are a lot of details to work out but as excited as I am I hope it won't be long.


  1. seems interesting, thanks for sharing

  2. AsCan't wait to see more. I've been a little hesitant to try something as big as a barleyy wine.

  3. I think ive had this before. However your one looks a lot better haha

  4. I'm really glad I found your blog. I've tried my hand at home brewing a few times with little success, now I have a guide!
    Awesome work, cheers!