This is a historical beer style so called because its a beer that approaches the alcohol levels traditionally found in wine. My early mentor John Wilmot was head brewer at Whitbreads when he retired and he would drink a bottle of Gold Label Barley Wine every day. The bottle was small and he was 85 so he didn’t care. This style is notoriously hard to brew as it pushes the limits of both the brewing equipment and the yeast. First there is the question of whether all of the grain you need to make a beer this strong will fit in the mashing vessel. The wort collection takes a very long time to make sure you extract all of the sugars, and you end up leaving behind enough goodness in the grain to brew another beer from it if you wanted to. Generally you add some sugar to the boiling wort to increase the strength even more. The efficiency of utilization of hops is another issue. Normally we recover close to 40% of the potential bittering from the hops we use in a boil, but for barley wine this drops to 18%. The yeast we ferment with is somewhat shocked to find itself immersed in wort so strong. It struggles to adjust and then starts to grow very fast. We have to carefully control the temperature or the beer will end up with a lot of boozy alcohol heat and very fruity flavors. At the end of the day the beer is harder to clarify. We used 1760 lbs of grain in Drop In’s version of this style. Thus we discovered exactly how much grain our mash vessel can safely hold. Its 1759 lbs. We added 100 lb of sugar to the kettle and achieved a starting S.G. of 1.101. We boiled with 33lbs of hops including Chinook, Cascade and Centennial. The target IBUs was 100 and the beer fermented all the way down to 1.010. That means an ABV of 12.0%. We dry hopped the beer with 18lbs of a mixture of Chinook, Centennial and Cascade. Tick, Tick, Tick Boom is a huge strong, explosion of flavor. Big bitterness and lovely hop flavor and aroma.
We’ll be packaging it in keg, selling it out of our tasting room in growlers and and 500ml flip top presentation bottles.