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So I want to do a massive barleywine, roughly based on this recipe: http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/199/imperial-barleywine-63-d....

Looking at doing a 15L batch. What I thought I might try is entering my batch size in beersmith as 27L, brew those 27L to 1.080 and put 12L at 1.080 into my fermenter. I then plan to boil the remaining 15L down to 3L giving a gravity of ~1.400 and gradually at this 500ml at a time to the fermenter as the gravity drops to maintain it around 1.080. The result by my calculations would be 16.3%ABV with an FG of 1.023.

How this would work is I would cool the 1.080 wort, which would be more than 27L due to losses left in the pot, drain the 12L into the fermenter and then drain another 15L into another pot to bring back to the boil (leaving behind all the hops etc)

Has anyone tried a similar method?

What affect will boiling down that 15L have on unfermentables and bitterness? I imagine the bitterness won't be too much of a problem due to the maximum solubility of alpha acids in high gravity wort but will the extra boiling add much more unfermentable sugars from caramelization or will it be minimal?

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Hi Josh, I wouldn't recommend boiling the second part down, at 1.2 it becomes very sticky and I can't imagine how it would be at 1.4, you'd be very likely to burn it which will ruin the fermentability. There's a recipe online where someone put it in a jar in a water bath in their oven to dehydrate it which worked. I have brewed a 20.7% all malt beer where I boiled the entire wort down to 1.173 and am working on my second with an OG of 1.186, it works but you need to understand the oxygenation, nutrient requirements
Mash as low as possible as you'll end up with unfermented sugar no matter what you do

Cheers for the reply. I would get the same ABV if I boiled the whole thing down to 1.144. Is fermenting 1.144 wort doable without pure O2? I will be pitching lots of dry yeast and liquid yeast slurry. I was thinking of doing a staggered nutrient addition like mead/wine brewers do if that helps, I'm not exactly sure how much though, I use white labs yeast nutrient. How low do you mash, lower than 64C?

I don't use O2 just an aquarium pump and stone do a couple of yeast additions (I use 2 packets of Nottingham for the first part then another higher abv yeast for the final stint, when adding the second yeast add nutrients and Aerate. I mashed at 59ish for an hour then 62ish, I had no Specialty malts either

What high ABV yeast do you use? What kind of fg do you get with that mash schedule? 

White Labs WLP099 (rated to 25%) can't remember the FG right now, I'll check later. The yeast death is the main issue not the unfermentable sugar.

Great, thanks for answering my questions. The recipe I posted above just uses Nottingham and Wyeast1272, I wonder if I could get by with using those two without WLP099 or the likes for 16-17% abv. Do you make a big starter of 099 and pitch the slurry and add it when fermentation stops?

Yes on the starter and fermentation stopping (or at least slowing) but I think it's going to be a good idea to get it off the dead Nottingham as one comment on my Super Beer entry from the national homebrew comp was that it had lots of yeast autolysis. I don't know if the Wyeast 1272 would have enough tolerance to finish but obviously it doessin thethey've made it before.

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