American Barleywine: Polygyle

So I just finished up an American Wheat and I thought I’d use the yeast cake for something big. I was using Wyeast 1056, so it could be any style that does not require yeast derived flavors. Since I recently went through a loss of my cold storage ability and most of my ‘to be aged for years’ projects were ruined, I thought I’d start with an American Barleywine.

Since I’ve never made one of these before, I thought I’d start with a recipe from someone else. I ended up going with a slight variant of one that both won a medal in 2018 at HomebrewCon and shows up in Gordon Strong’s book, Modern Homebrew Recipes (also a medal winner by the way, though a mix of a 5 year and 1 year variant).

Besides changing the recipe for my equipment, I also substituted 455g of Lyles Golden Syrup instead of wildflower honey.

Lyle's Golden Syrup. Happy Birthday Your Majesty!!!! Lyle’s Golden Syrup to be added to the end of the biol.


Since my system can only handle 10 gallons, I can either boil for a long time or try to run the loss of efficiency routine by going for a long time. For the variant of this recipe that won the medal recently, they did a 12-hour (no that is not a typo) mash starting at 154 and ending at 133.

Another way to do it is to do a polygyle—a double mash. Never tried this before, so why not. I ground the grains into two group and mashed in the first, collected the liquor and then used that for strike water for the second mash. That seems to be a better and more efficient use of my 10-gallon mash tun.

My electric 3-vessel octopus system.

First Mash

The first mash consisted of 11# of basic American 2-Row, mashed with 10 gallons of RVA water (with salts) for a single rest at 154 for 60 minutes (172.4 strike water, X mineral additions). The pH was a little low as I overshot my lactic acid measurement. Mash out was 165 for 10 minutes with the full volume and then moved all the liquor over to hot liquor tank. The final result was 9.X gallons of 1.037 strike water with a pH of 5.31. Nice, light in color, and ready for the next mash.

First mash liquor with a gravity of 1.037. Heating up to use as strike water for second mash with the rest of the grain.

Second Mash

This is where I put in all the specialty grains. This part included: * 7# Marris Ottor
* 2# 2-Row
* 0.5# Crystal 40
* 0.5# Caravienne
* 0.25# Crystal 80
* 0.13# Crystal 120
* 0.13# Special B

I mashed in here at 156 and let fall to 154 over the next hour. The pH for this mash was spot on.

Perfect pH.

For this second mash, I used a full volume recirculation rather than just an infusion mash. I thought this may be beneficial to spread the sugars across all the liquor rather than just a few gallons of infusion liquor.

second mash Darker crystal, caravienne, and special B in this mash.

I ran this with a temperature control set for 154 for 90 minutes.

Only 4 gallons of fluid in the HLT, swings were a bit larger over here than I would have liked but the mash was consistent at 154-ish.

Here are the gravity measurements for the second mash (measured in the mash tun):

  • 2nd Mashin: 1.037
  • +15 minutes: 1.048
  • +60 minutes: 1.071
  • +90 minutes: 1.075

At the end of the two mashes, I got 7 gallons of wort at 1.075. Not too impressive as I’ve done 1.090 beers on a ‘monogyle’ before. I guess you live and learn.

Pre-Boil Adjustments

OK, so the experiment is over but I still want to make the big barleywine. So, I need to do a few things. According to Beersmith, their calculations suggested I should have received 7.4 gallons of 1.088 wort. I got 7 of 1.075. I’ve got some DME hanging around so I’ll use that. Most DME will produce a wort of 1.046 gravity points per pound. So overall, as it stands, I am:

(1.088 - 1.075) * 1000 = 14 gravity points short.

Now, I’m going to top it up to 7.75 gallons by adding some RO water, which pulled me down to a pre-boil gravity of 1.068, meaning I need 20 points of gravity. This means I need

> (1.088-1.068) * 1000 / 46 
[1] 0.4347826 pounds of DME per gallon

So, I weighed that out for my 7 gallons and added it to the pre-boil along with an ounce of Cascade for the FWH (n.b., I didn’t have 3# of Light DME, I had to add a 0.5# of light wheat DME). This put me at just shy of 8 gallons of wort at 1.089.

The Boil

The boil is a critical part of all beers. Not only does it change the various acids in the hops but it also, through the Maillard Reaction, literally creates flavor.

One of my favorite reactions

This beer has a 90 minute boil. FWH already in and the rest of the hops following the schedule above. Gravity readings throughout the boid were:

  • Start of boil: 1.089 * 60 minute addition: 1.096 * 15 minute addition (pre-syrup): 1.111 * OG in Fermenter: 1.123

The Tilt does not seem to be able to go as high in gravity readings as this beer is pushing. They say they go to 1.120 but mine is reading less than 1.100 right now on this beer (checked with both floating hydrometer and a refractometer). Maybe it will chill out overnight.


This is one of the most important parts. For this beer, on WY1056, I’m going to keep it at 63F until finished. I hooked up a 12” blowoff tube into a jar and pitched the yeast cake from my wheat beer. Here is my Tilt feed.

We shall see how it goes. It took almost all day (literally) to do this brew. Even though the experiment didn’t quite work out the way I thought, I’m thinking in the holiday season of 2020, it will be a nice sipping beer.