the more the merrier – part 2 (brew)

The Nocturnal brew session at Alvinne was not just about barbecue. As the name suggests it was also about brewing beer. Glenn, Davy and Marc (the Alvinne three) had been toying around with the idea of doing a night time brew-fest for quite a while, but they didn’t have a recipe. I suggested a big ass barleywine since they needed a big beer to test the alcohol tolerance of their new house yeast. Normally I prefer more sessionable brews but I thought that this could be a fun challenge. Davy asked if I wanted to come up with an idea for the recipe so I promptly got to work in Beer Alchemy. To my surprise the Alvinne boys agreed to brew it as is. Not only were they going to brew it, but they wanted to release it as a “collaboration” beer with Birdsong Brewery (that’s me). To make the beer complete, I was also asked to design the label. I am not a graphic designer but I do like to play one in the brewery. As you may have figured out from the image above, the beer is called Night Owl. That is not the actual label but rather the design direction that the Alvinne crew chose from some quick ideas I showed them.

We’re calling it a Belgian Barleywine. Now I am certainly no fan of “beer styles” and I don’t like to try to pigeon hole beers, however, beer styles can be useful when coming up with ideas for beers, or when describing beers. For Night Owl I basically started with the idea of an English barleywine and twisted it into a truly dark Belgian beast of a beer. It won’t be a Belgian Dark Strong, it won’t be a Quadrupel… it will be a Belgian Barleywine, whatever that is.

3.5 hectoliters of Night Owl were brewed but I adapted the recipe here for homebrew scale, 20 liters (5.3 gallons). You may need to adjust the recipe for your brewhouse efficiency:

Night Owl:
Wort Volume After Boil: 20.00 l
Expected OG: 1.134 SG (including sugar addition during fermentation)
edit: above SG was our target.. we actually were just a touch lower. About 1.130
Expected FG: 1.020 SG
Expected ABV: 15.6 %
Expected IBU (using Rager): 77
Expected Color: 112 EBC (43 SRM)
Boil Duration: 75 mins

  • 52% Belgian Pale – 5.7kg (12.6 lbs)
  • 21% Munich – 2.27kg (5 lbs)
  • 4% Biscuit – 450g (1 lbs)
  • 4% Special B – 450g (1 lbs)
  • 2% Dehusked chocolate (800EBC) – 225g (.5 lbs)
  • 17% Dark Candi Syrup (200 EBC) – 1.8kg (4 lbs) – added a few days after fermentation begins
  • 28g (1 oz)East Kent Goldings – first wort hopping
  • 28g (1 oz) Magnum (just a touch of Pioneer was added at Alvinne since we ran out of magnum) – 60 minutes from the end
  • 28g (1 oz) East Kent Goldings at flameout
  • we will most likely be dry hopping this beer with the equivalent of 56g (2 oz) East Kent Goldings

single infusion mash at 67-68C for 90 minutes

relatively hard West Flanders water


Use the newly introduced Morpheus yeast from Alvinne. Culture this from a bottle of Alvinne beer but make sure the bottle says “Morpheus yeast inside.” You can read about the yeast here, if you can read dutch. This yeast is pretty clean for a belgian yeast and highly attenuative. It can produce a slight apple note. Its not as clean as the California Ale yeast but that may actually be a good starting point. If I was really trying to mimic this yeast then I may try a mix of California Ale yeast and the Duvel strain.

This beer was brewed at night. By the time it was chilled and pumped to the fermentation tank it was around 2am. By 9am when we looked into the brewery we saw that the Morpheus yeast had certainly been busy. For more photos of the brewing of Night Owl (intertwined with photos of barbecue), click on the photo above.

Keep your fingers crossed and pray that this beer turns out fantastic or no brewer will ever trust me again.

4 thoughts on “the more the merrier – part 2 (brew)

      1. I like the way the flavors are developing with the Night Owl. I’ll try to remember to do a full review of it sometime soon (along with some other homebrews I didn’t report about)… maybe after the ACBF where it will be served again. It has a nice apple and raisin mix which should work very well in a barrel. Thats one thing we decided it needed after opening the first few bottles. A used red-wine or Port barrel would have been great! I also am happy with the hopping of this beer. It is hard to pick up the dry hopping though, but I think it adds a nice earthy herbalness that helps bring things together. You can also check out some of the ratings on ratebeer if you want.

        If you do brew this I would really be interested in hearing how it turns out.

        Things I would change or be careful of are: Let the beer ferment for at least 5 days (or more) before making any sugar additions. All of the Dark Candi syrup was added after fermentation began but I think maybe we should have let it go a little longer before adding the first addition. We added the sugar in two additions spaced a couple days apart. Perhaps do it in three additions. I would also advise to let it sit longer on the yeast cake before racking (maybe 14+ days), and let it age much longer in secondary. Also don’t brew it on one of the hottest days of the year like we did.


  1. Thanks for the reply. I just brewed a belgian ipa to get a healthy yeast cake going for this weekend’s brew session. thanks for the further detail too regarding sugar additions. i will most likely brew one batch w/ sugar additions and another w/out and look to do a blend. will report back!




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