Monthly Archives: November 2017

Batch 42: Oxford Ale + Woodstock

It’s been a good while since I brewed a barleywine, and I’d like to make this an annual tradition. To get further mileage out of the brew day, half was fermented clean as a barleywine while the other half received a mixed brett culture as well and aged as an old ale. Depending on how things go, the old ale may become a solera or packaged in full.

Brew Date: Dec 28th 2017

OG: 1.091 (Target 1.100)
FG: 1.021 (Target 1.025)
IBU: 55
ABV: 10.0%

90% Floor-malted Maris Otter (16.20 lbs)
7.5% Mecca Grade Opal 44 (1.35 lbs)
2.5% Crystal 120 (0.45 lbs)

Hop Extract to 50 IBU @ 90 min (9 g)
1 oz Centennial at 15 min

Oxford Ale (2.3 gals): Fermented with WYeast 1728 (~160B cells)
Woodstock (2.0 gals): Fermented with WYeast 1728 (~100B cells) + Imperial ‘Suburban Brett’ (~160B cells)

Above: Woodstock drank July 11, 2019 after approximately 6 months in bottle. Carbonation took a long time, but reached the right level.

Brewday Notes:

Started at 4:00pm, later than I’d like to start on a long-boil brew. Originally I was intended to boil for 2.5 hours, but due to poor efficiency I decided to keep boiling until the gravity got high enough. DME would have been a simpler solution. In the end boiled 4 hours on the nose, got OG up to 1.091, still shy of the 1.100 target. I need to stop expecting near-70% efficiency on big grain bills.

Thanks to a big, 3-stage starter split between the two carboys and a good hit of pure O2 after transfer, activity was underway within 8-10 hours. Fermentors were kept in the beer cellar (air temp 58F).

[Jan 15, 2018] – Gravity check on the Oxford carboy, SG is 1.025 currently for 8.8% ABV. Nose is largely toffee and taste follows (other than the yeast character from being so young).  Not a lot of alcohol coming through, seems good so far though a smaller beer than intended.

[Feb 4, 2018] – Bottling day, SG down to 1.021.

[Dec 26, 2018] – Bottled the old ale portion (Woodstock) at an FG of 1.014, with 16g of table sugar. Managed 29 x 375mL bottles.

Tasting Notes (Oxford Ale):

After a few months, Oxford ale was a bit of a fruity malt bomb, which wasn’t really the intent, though it was fine to drink. After around 8 or 10 months though it started to become more caramel-forward and more in line with the desired flavour profile. It’s sneaky for around 9% ABV, and the sweetness and level of carbonation are spot-on for the style.

[March 2019] Oxford Ale received 2nd place at Cowtown Yeast Wrangler’s competition, with scores of 37/50 and 39/50.

Batch 45: Saison Lune

The maltier of my two ‘base’ saisons that I am developing, this beer uses Vienna as the base malt rather than Pilsner. To ensure it still finishes nice and dry, ~10% of the fermentables (by weight) will be clover/alfalfa honey. To start off simple (and because simple, rustic recipes tend to outperform complicated recipes when it comes to saison), that’s all the fermentables being used. Future iterations are likely to include small amounts of wheat and Munich.

Brew date: May 21, 2018
Packaging date: July 23, 2018

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.004
IBU: 30
ABV: 6.0%

Batch size: 5.5 gal
Mash: 145F for 45 mins, 152F for 45 mins
Mash out: 170F for 10 mins
Boil: 90 minutes


90.5% Vienna malt (3.80 kg)
9.5% Honey (0.40 kg)


1.75 oz Willamette @ 60 min [27 AAU]
1.00 oz Hallertau Blanc @ 10 min [3 AAU]
1.00 oz Hallertau Blanc dry hop


WYeast 3724 – Pkg date May 9th
1L starter of 1.035 wort for 48h
Cell count approx. 175B cells
Fermented at 77F during active fermentation
‘Hollowed’ air lock with cheesecloth on top for 24-48h range.

Pitched at 70F, let free rise to 77F


Unfortunately, this batch didn’t turn out. I am honestly not sure what the issue was, other than it did exhibit the “Dupont stall” and took 6 weeks to attenuate. Possibly an infection, possibly just poor fermentation. The carbonation was spot on, though!

Batch 41: Old Lanes traditional saison

Brew Date: Nov 13, 2017 Bottle Date: Dec 10, 2017

Yet another saison.  I’ve been wanting to do a saison style beer in a more historically-accurate manner for a while:  lower gravity, very simple malt bill, and a higher hopping rate using lower-AA hops.  I would like to take it a step further next time with a proper mixed-culture fermentation but for now I’d like to brew it on my clean equipment, so I’m using the Fantome strain WY3725, as I have a jar of it in the fridge.

In the future I’d like to push this further into historical accuracy with a turbid step mash process and mixed culture fermentation, but wanted a clean version as a baseline. Strength is based on what I want for this beer, which may be a little higher than many historical examples.

The details are as follows:

Batch size: 5.50 gals
Mash: 145F for 45 minutes, 155F for 45 minutes
Boil time: 150 minutes

OG: 1.042
FG: 1.001
IBU: 30
ABV: 5.4%

7.50 lbs Floor-malted Bohemian pilsner (100%)

3.5 oz Saaz (2.3% AA) at 60 minutes
1.0 oz Saaz (2.3% AA) at 10 minutes
1.0 oz Saaz (2.3% AA) dry hop 5 days

Fermented at 70F ambient for 28 days

Brew day Notes:

Pretty smooth brew day, but a few glitches: I forgot salt additions in the mash and sparge water, so just added 1 tsp of CaCl to the boil for yeast health. Meant to make a starter to wake up the old jar of yeast (though there was 175-200B cells, at least), but did not so I just let it warm up to room temp and pitched. Also realized I’m out of O2, so aerated by shaking instead. Underestimated the coldness of our tap water right now and cooled all the way to 58F. Let rise for a couple hours, then pitched and put beside the heater. Only raised to 64F after 24 hours, activity started sometime between that and 36 hours.  Next to a heater, it got up to 72F before major airlock activity and remained at that temp throughout fermentation.

Bottled Dec 10 – 4.5 gallons of finished beer collected, primed with 5.7 oz of dextrose (3.2 vols).