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Anchorage Brewing’s Gabe Fletcher has been turning heads with barleywine since he brewed his first one 24 years ago, but that longstanding respect hasn’t dulled his sense of exploration. Today, he’s pushing limits with barrel-aging by double- and triple-casking beers over long conditioning times. It takes a hardy beer to stand up to that much age, and Fletcher builds his barleywine to last.
In this episode—taken from an interview earlier this year for a story in Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®—Fletcher outlines the various problems in brewing high-ABV beers and shares the creative solutions he’s developed.
Along the way, he discusses:
- fermentation strategy via overpitching and aggressive step-up batching
- embracing simple but flavorful malt
- using decoction to build flavor in more basic malts
- building a high-gravity wort
- selecting hops for flavor and not just bitterness
- utilizing multi-stage barrel aging for more depth of character
- finishing and packaging barleywine for maximum effect
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