Besides being my first barleywine, this brew session was my 1st time using my refractometer & my 5000 mL starter beaker. The refractometer is a tool that i have been meaning to use for some time, and I was happy to break it out this time around. As for the 5000 mL beaker, it was recommended that i purchase one by my homebrew club so as to be able to make larger starters for larger beers.
The brew session went pretty smoothly, but there were some hiccups. Below I have grouped a few of the positives and a few negatives/learning experiences from the brew session.
Positives = Due to the thick mash, keeping the mash temp around 153 F was not difficult. I found that the mash acted as an insulator, keeping a relatively steady temp of 153F throughout the mash period.
Negatives = As I mentioned above, today was the first time I used a refractometer. As a result, I was able to determine my starting gravity (SG), and (sadly) it was not as high as i had hoped. I was shooting for an SG value of approximately 1.110. Instead, I hit 1.06 - 1.065. While it was shocking at first, I have a few ideas for getting closer to my goal next time (for example: adding corn sugar).
Finally, the other thing that concerns me is my efficiency. I thought i had the correct equation for it, but after discussing it w/ a member of the homebrew club I think my method of calculating efficiency is incorrect.
Plans for improving the brew session next time
- Have corn sugar ready in case the SG is not hit
- Have a correct means & method of calculating efficiency
- Put the yeast starter into the fridge a 1/2 day earlier
I will provide tasting notes once the barleywine has been carbonated.