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How Anchorage’s Gabe Fletcher Packs Character into Barrel-Aged Barleywine

Aficionados view Gabe Fletcher of Alaska’s Anchorage Brewing as a master of modern barrel-aged barleywine, epitomized by the highly sought-after A Deal with the Devil. Here, he lays out his philosophy and methods developed over the years.

Gabe Fletcher Jun 13, 2022 - 15 min read

How Anchorage’s Gabe Fletcher Packs Character into Barrel-Aged Barleywine Primary Image

Photo: André Horton

I always had this way of trying to go big and figuring out how to make those beers work. Obviously, it didn’t always work out, but I think from the failures come successes. There have been plenty of failures over the years with barleywines. I’ve actually struggled with them a lot.

On Malt and … Decoction?

Malt-wise for us, it’s English Marris Otter or any of those floor-malted two-rows. Keeping it simple, not putting a ton of different grains in—that’s just the way I do it. One or two grains, and a lot of it! For the second malt, it’s some kind of crystal malt, just to add a little bit of depth. You could go anywhere—high or low crystal, or some kind of character malt. It’s pretty small—maybe like 3 to 5 percent specialty malt. It’s just nuance, not for color. You’re getting most of your color from the boil. Maris Otter on its own is dark enough, especially at that volume.

I don’t care what size brewhouse you have. If anybody asks me about a recipe, I just say, “Put as much grain as you can fit into your mash tun.” That’s your malt bill. If you have a 10-barrel system, build up the grain until it’s about to come out the door—that’s the measurement.

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