So about a week and a half ago I brewed up a small batch (3 gal) of barleywine. Now I'm looking to for some advice to see if I can/should be freeing up the fermenter that it is currently occupying. I have a 5 gallon glass carboy that I was thinking of racking the barleywine into for a few months of bulk aging before I bottle it. But the barleywine itself will have only been fermenting for two weeks when I would rack it (this Saturday.)
Is this too soon to rack a barleywine? I know for most any ale two weeks is more than sufficient, though I'm not sure what a typical time period before racking for barleywine would be. If the time period is good to rack at for some bulk aging, my other concern is that I am planning to bulk age 3 gal of barleywine in a 5 gal carboy... would I be leaving too much headspace in the carboy at that volume and then be risking oxidation?
If the 5 gal is too big to bulk age in, what would you recommend for aging? I have no intentions of buying a 3 gallon carboy, though I could come up with 3 1 gallon jugs to minimize headspace, but that sounds like a pain in the butt and would like to avoid it unless it really is necessary. The only other option I can readily think if is give it another 1-2 weeks in the primary and go straight to the bottle from there and age it in the bottles with oxygen absorbing caps.
So I guess it boils down to a few basic questions:
1) What is a good time period to leave a barleywine in the primary for before racking to a secondary?
2) Is a 5 gallon carboy a reasonable vessel to secondary 3 gallons of barleywine in?
3) If not, which is a better option, 3-1 gallon jugs or bottle age
I know that was quite a whole lot of mouth-fulls there of indecision. I would appreciate any help and advice you good folks have to offer