No, the name of this beer doesn’t refer to a psychedelic band from the 1960s, although that would be awesome. This beer was born out of an annual tradition on Basic Brewing Video. In December of 2007, I brewed a small batch barleywine for Steve Wilkes to use in making a fruitcake and a wassail – a traditional holiday beverage. The barleywine from the next year went into a bread pudding. All of the above were delicious.
In 2009, I decided to turn the tables. Instead of using barleywine as an ingredient in fruitcake, I decided to see what would happen if I used traditional fruitcake ingredients in the beer. (See recipe and video below.) The beer was based on one brewed with American two-row, 90L crystal, and a bit of aromatic malt with Fuggles for bittering.
In addition to the standard beer ingredients, into the brewpot went brown sugar, molasses, roasted pecans, candied pineapple, candied mango, and candied papaya. At the end of the boil, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg joined the holiday party.
The first time I brewed this beer, I was almost knocked over by the smell of the spices in the brewpot. I assumed I had ruined the beer by adding too much, and I was glad that I was making less than a gallon.
However, the finished beer was nicely balanced and delicious. It surprisingly hid its 12.7% alcohol by volume, and the spices played well with the base flavors from the malt and sugars. Even two and three years later, the beer held up very well and was a favorite of ours until it was gone.
Scarcity is one of the drawbacks of small batch brewing, so this year I decided to revisit the recipe and ramp it up in volume to two gallons (7.5 liters). In the original batch, a two-gallon beverage cooler served as my mash tun. This time, I employed Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB) techniques and my electric smoker to maintain a constant mash rest temperature. My five-gallon (19-L) kettle fits right into the smoker, which I set at the mash temp.
I couldn’t find candied papaya this year. I decided to increase the amount of the mango and pineapple by 50% to compensate. I also decided to forego the roasted pecans. It seemed the nuts did little but bob on top of the wort in the kettle, and I didn’t get any nutty character from the final beer in the first version. I replaced the Fuggles in the original recipe with a smaller dose of Magnum for bittering.
For the fermenter, I went with the plastic Mr. Beer keg fermenter. It’s great for two-gallon batches. I aerated using a hand blender with a sanitized whisk attachment.
Safale US 05 did well in the original beer. This time, I used a full pack and hydrated it before pitching. I figured it needed all the help it could get with the 1.101 original specific gravity.
At the time of this writing, the beer is happily fermenting – two days after brewing. The aroma coming from under the lid reminds me of the holidays and makes me impatient for the beer to be ready. Stay tuned . . .
2009 Fruitcake Barleywine
3-quart (2.8-liter) Batch
2 oz (56 g) Aromatic Malt
2 oz. (56 g) 90L Crystal
4. lbs. (1.8 kg) American 2-row
1/4 Cup (68 g) Brown Sugar (30 min.)
2 Tblsp. (37 g) Molasses (30 min.)
1/2 Cup (50 g) Roasted Chopped Pecans (15 min.)
2 oz. (56 g) Candied Pineapple (10 min.)
2 oz. (56 g) Candied Mango (10 min.)
2 oz. (56 g) Candied Papaya (10 min.)
1/2 tsp. Powdered Cinnamon (5 min.)
1/2 tsp. Powdered Ginger (5 min.)
1/2 tsp. Powdered Cloves (5 min.)
1/2 tsp. Powdered Nutmeg (5 min.)
0.7 oz. (20 g) Fuggles (60 min.)
4 g Safale US 05
OG: 1.121 FG: 1.026 ABV: 12.7%
2013 Fruitcake Barleywine
2-gallon (7.5-liter) Batch
8 lbs. (3.6 kg) American 2-row
4 oz. (113 g) 90L Crystal Malt
1/2 Cup (136 g) Brown Sugar (30 min.)
4 Tblsp. (75 g) Molasses (30 min.)
6 oz. (170 g) Candied Pineapple (10 min.)
6 oz. (170 g) Candied Mango (10 min.)
1 tsp. Powdered Cinnamon (5 min.)
1 tsp. Powdered Ginger (5 min.)
1 tsp. Powdered Cloves (5 min.)
1 tsp. Powdered Nutmeg (5 min.)
7 g Magnum pellets (60 min.)
1 packet Safale US 05 (hydrated)
Using the Brew in a Bag method, I mashed the grain with 14 quarts (13.2 liters) of water at a single infusion rest of 150˚F (65.5˚C) for an hour. Removing the bag (and squeezing it) gave me a pre-boil volume of three gallons (11.3 liters).
OG: 1.101 FG: TBD