How can I recover this barleywine batch?

Can we help our fellow geek solve his homebrew problem?

I'm making a barley wine. My boil gravity should be 1.106. Hydrometer reads 1.042, and at 140°F (60°C) the adjusted SG comes out to more like 1.06. Iodine test says I have all the sugars out.

I mashed 22 pounds (10kg) at 148°F (64.4°C) for 90 minutes, just like the book said. I have collected just about 6 gallons.

Did I sparge too fast? Do I put the wort back into the mash tun and keep it there for X minutes or something? Am I going to have to put LME or DME into the boil?

I will be very unhappy if I [expletive] this up beyond salvaging. Any help you can give me would be much appreciated.

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Your boil gravity or your into the fermnter gravity should be 1.106? –  Denny Conn Jan 18 '13 at 1:46
Did you take your hydrometer reading at 140 F.? If so, it needs to be corrected since the density of a solution decreases with temperature. There a lot of online calculators to help. –  Tobias Patton Jan 18 '13 at 17:29
@TobiasPatton doesn't it say right in the post he adjusted for the temp? –  brewchez Jan 19 '13 at 17:40
Down voted as I am not partial to using one forum to determine an answer from a different website, third hand at that? Maybe if said OP was copying his own question over here. –  brewchez Jan 19 '13 at 17:41

2 Answers

1.060 will make a perfectly acceptable beer (albeit not a barley wine), BUT your bitterness to gravity ratio will be way off. The perceived bitterness of a beer is dependent on the starting and finishing gravities. A high gravity beer finishes sweeter than a low gravity beer, and that sweetness reduces the perceived bitterness. If you hopped the beer with the intention of getting a finishing gravity around 1.025 and your beer actually finishes at 1.014, it will be more bitter than you intended.

That's a long winded way of saying that, in order to create a balanced beer, I'd use DME to bring the gravity up closer to your target.

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You can't (shouldn't) go back to the mash tun after the boil.

My guess is that you would get some tannins instead of more sugar.

As for why you got a lower OG, perhaps it was something on your mash? - Grains crushed too coarsely? - Mash temperature? - Mash style (batch vs fly?)

Since by now you are probably already on the fermentor, there are only 2 things you can do:

1 - Leave it as it is and enjoy a good honest to god beer (probably over 6%)

2 - Add more fermentables to it, either LME, DME or sugars to reach your planned OG, at the risk of the flavor.

I would go with 1 and leave the barley wine for the next batch.

By the way, which book are you following?

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you mean the option 1? –  Paolo Jan 18 '13 at 13:31
Meant option 1, corrected. –  Cleber Goncalves Jan 18 '13 at 18:52