It seems appropriate to cover this beer right now. I’m in the middle of trying to make a drinkable beer approaching 20% ABV with 2014 PROOF, but Old 2012 Strong was my first attempt at a very strong ale. It was intended as a barley wine, but considering some of the fermentables, I’m not sure that name is accurate.
I added honey and corn sugar to boost the alcohol in this extract beer. Not a lot of honey, but a whole lot of corn sugar. The rest of the recipe was inspired by an Arrogant Bastard Ale clone recipe I found. I’m not sure what the thought was there, other than that I was making my first attempt at extreme brewing and Arrogant Bastard is somewhat the poster child for that movement. It’s not really a barley wine, though…
Beyond using similar specialty grains, I decided to age the beer on oak, similar to a version of Arrogant Bastard. I bought some oak chips at the homebrew store and soaked them in bourbon for a couple weeks before racking the barley wine on top of them and letting it sit for about four months. This definitely had a huge impact on the finished beer.
Which I guess I should get to. This beer is pretty sweet. By that, I mean it didn’t ferment fully. The yeast didn’t make it. As a result, most of the beer is also uncarbonated. Yes, this sounds like a total disaster and to an unbiased drinker, it probably is. I don’t completely hate this beer, though.
It was a good learning experience and it is an easy way to consume alcohol. The first part is more important, of course, but at 9.6% ABV, this can be a welcome elixir after a twelve hour weekend shift. It is also bountiful.
I was pretty disappointed by the outcome of this batch initially but have grown less bitter over time. As a result, I have well over a case of this stuff in the basement. I probably drink one every six weeks or so. I like to blend it with other beer. My favorite combination is to add whatever is left from a bottle of my over carbonated Evergreen DIPA (which I haven’t yet covered here) after the gusher to a bottle of this. That beer is super dry and hoppy (and fizzy) which complements this sweet, sticky (and flat) mess.
I originally planned for this to be an annual brew, as you can tell from the “2012” in the name. It took me a long time to build up the courage to try another barley wine, though and I changed direction quite a bit when I finally did. Old SMaSHy 2013 is one of my favorite beers that I’ve made and I’ll cover it here soon as I prepare to brew Old SMaSHy 2014.
This beer is, as I hinted at earlier, probably closer related to 2014 PROOF, than SMaSHy, though. I added the “Old” to it’s name late in the aging process when I realized that all barley wines ought to start with that descriptor. 2012 STRONG was on my mind when I named 2014 PROOF. The lack of carbonation in the former is my biggest fear for the latter. I hope that PROOF works out better, but more importantly, I hope I learn enough to make my next attempt improve as much as SMaSHy did.
My recipe for Old 2012 Strong is below and because I have so much of this stuff around, tasting notes are inevitable.
Old 2012 Strong
Style: 19C. American Barleywine
Brew Date: February 11, 2012
Serve Date: August 2012
IBUs: 50 IBUs
1 lb Biscuit Malt
1 lb Aromatic Malt
9 lb Light DME
4 lb Corn Sugar
2 lb Clover Honey (added during primary fermentation)
1 oz Warrior @90 min
1 oz Chinook @ 90 min
1 oz Chinook @ 60 min
1 oz Chinook @ 45 min
1 oz Chinook @30 min
1 oz Chinook @ 5 min
(This seems like a ridiculous amount of hops for 50 IBUs, but it’s been a long time since I did a partial batch size boil.)
US-05 American Ale Yeast