Bolivian Tarragon Braggot Barleywine No. I

Since moving here and trying to tone down my experimenting and focus a bit on style, I’ve been reading a lot more about the beer styles and trying to actually hit a set profile. I’ve also brewed a pyment and a couple odd wines, so I’ve diversified the drink as well. This one came out of a variety of influences, and I guess it’s ironic to start this with a discussion of trying to find a style, because it’s decidedly backward–I came up with the idea and then tried to find the style(s) to fit it. I started with Braggot because a co-worker recently gave me half a kilo of old early harvested honey that had been sitting around for a long time and I wanted to brew with it.

I actually have purchased honey from three places here. Once up in the valleys, when work took me up to a super-rural area to see some agricultural projects, including a beekeepers collective. Interesting stuff, and the honey was decent if a bit thin. (Later on that trip we ended up eating honey straight out of a wild hive for dessert. Amazing.) Then I found out that one of my coworkers harvests her own on her property and sells the really dark, thick, and flavorful honey at around US$5 per kilo, and used a bit of each for the pyment I mentioned before. (I should perhaps do a post on that; after around four months, it has really nice, rich, nutty flavor to it.) And then the other coworker gave me some of this early harvest honey. My Spanish isn’t overly technical in this area, so I wasn’t entirely sure what the problem was, but it had to do with the sugars not being completely formed, I think (maybe something about the honeycomb being uncapped? I’m not sure.). Indeed, this stuff was quite dark, but wonderfully acidic. I loved it.

Somehow I only tried tarragon for the first time since moving to Bolivia, and have loved cooking with it ever since. So I’d been wanting to incorporate it into a brew at some point, since I’ve found spicing to be a pleasant addition in tasteful quantities. Those were the various factors going around in my head as I put this together. The occasion of brewing a dubbel afforded me the chance to double the mash and using the runnings as a base for both.

Batch Size (L): 5
Total Grain (kg): 1.5
Anticipated OG: 1.103
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Anticipated IBU: 45.4

1.5 kg (67%) Pilsener Malt
400 g (18%) Honey
300 g (13%) Raw Sugar
30 g (1%) Dark Amber/Chocolate? Home Malt

8 g Palisade hops @ 60 mins
3 g Cluster hops @ 35 mins
2 g Willamette hops @ 30 mins
3 g Tarragon @ 5 mins
2 g Willamette hops @ 5 mins

-Two weeks in primary with Cooper’s Ale Yeast, second generation, from the dregs of a GWA Small Beer
-Racked for one week onto Safbrew T-58 trub from a dubbel

-Brewed on June 2, 2012. OG: 1.094
-Racked onto T-58 trub on June 17, 2012. SG at 1.022 (9.6% ABV).

I called this a Bolivian Tarragan Braggot Barleywine. I wouldn’t mind some input on the style descriptor. Braggots are a pretty open style, so I only add it to acknowledge the significant proportion of honey in it, but the (English) Barleywine designation hints at the high OG, as well as the English yeast I started it on. Perhaps Belgian Dark Strong Ale would be a better designation (as it went onto the T-58 trub of the dubbel after two weeks), but then it has to do with which yeast to emphasize. My thinking is that the English yeast ought to dominate the flavor because it spent two weeks in primary and did the bulk of fermentation at temperatures that generally suited it. It then went onto the T-58 and 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient after the primary fermentation to try and finish out as much as it can handle. And the temperatures have been in the 60s F here lately, so it should avoid going crazy with fruity flavors.


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