Vanilla Bourbon Porter

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by trginter, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. trginter

    trginter Dec 1, 2008 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I'm thinking of brewing a Vanilla Bourbon Porter. Unfortunately I don't have a spare bourbon barrels so I plan on adding about 7.5oz. of bourbon right before bottling. The beans I plan on soaking two broken apart fresh Madagascar Vanilla Beans, fully submerged in vodka for a few days, and throwing that in the secondary. Now I'm wondering will it be okay to toss the vodka and all in there after they soak? Maybe take the beans and throw them in a hop sack and toss them in there?
  2. koopa

    koopa Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Last time I did something along these lines I had the vanilla beans soaking in bourbon for about 3 weeks, then I just added the bourbon to secondary (no beans) and still got a vanilla flavor profile that held up well to my imperial porter. Since you have only been soaking for a few days, I recommend adding the beans for sure. Adding the beans will definitely get you more vanilla flavor (if you want it) for your money. I wouldn't think that vanilla bean pods would go through an auto siphon or racking cane with a filter tip. So I guess the only advantage of the bag would be hoping that it would help entrap the vanilla bean "caviar" keeping it out of your teeth when you drink your final product.
  3. Agold

    Agold Mar 13, 2010 Pennsylvania

    I would just soak the vanilla beans in the bourbon then add it all. I would do less bourbon than I planned on adding then add a bit more to taste at bottling. You can't un-bourbon a beer.
    bgjohnston likes this.
  4. MrGreengenes2

    MrGreengenes2 Aug 9, 2008 Indiana

    I soaked 3 beans in about 2 oz. of Knob Creek for a few days then added the whole thing to 2ndary. I was looking more for the vanilla flavors and certainly got them, but it was lacking bourbon flavors. I would still use 2 oz bourbon and then add to taste at bottling, and maybe also add some toasted oak chips which I have found give some bourbon type flavors even without the spirit. You can always add a little bourbon but like Agold said you cannot always remove bourbon flavor.
  5. kenatbeerswap

    kenatbeerswap Dec 9, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Agree with MrGreengenes2 toss beans in and add the bourbon when you bottle/keg.
  6. trginter

    trginter Dec 1, 2008 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    So you guys all soaked them in the bourbon. From what I read people were, using vodka and I figured that extracted the flavor the best.
  7. mnstorm99

    mnstorm99 May 11, 2007 Minnesota

    They all extract the flavor just fine, the vodka just doesn't mask the vanilla at all. the vanilla flavor will be the same either way, you will just have a bourbon flavor to go with it.
    bigolwilly likes this.
  8. trginter

    trginter Dec 1, 2008 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Right on, might as well use bourbon then since I'll be adding it before bottling.

    I haven't started to brew yet by the way. Still gathering information and doing research. Another question, roughly how much abv would the bourbon actually add to the beer? My goal is for roughly a 14-15% beer. I'm considering just calling this a Vanilla Bourbon Stout instead, originally I wanted a light body easy drinking sneak-up-on-you porter, but I think it'll most likely turn out to be a stout.

    My bottleneck right now might be my mash tun. Not sure if it'll hold 17lb+ of grain. I heard you could add extract to make up the difference, and increase the abv. Also adding a bit of corn sugar after fermentation dies down will also up the abv. Am I correct in thinking that?
  9. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    My method is to soak two cut up fresh vanilla beans in 1/2 cup of bourbon starting on brewday, When the beer is ready to go into the kegs so is the vanilla/bourbon(just the bourbon)
    I don't think you'll ever get to 14% with 17 pounds of grain, that won' even come close. 22 pounds of malt will get me to around 11%, and efficiency goes down fast after that. One method I've read about is to start with a reasonable gravity and then add fresh wort weekly to keep from stressing the yeast too much. But there's so much more to brewing a big monster like that than just adding more fermentables.
  10. dfess1

    dfess1 May 20, 2003 Pennsylvania

    you're not going to get a 14-15% beer out of that. 17lbs for what I'm assuming a 5 gal batch? My last black IPA, which came in around 9.5% had close to 25 lbs of grain (getting around 72% eff). You can add extract, but you're still going to have a problem of finding a yeast that will be tolerant of the alcohol. If anything you'd be better off with an eisbock. Either way, that'll be one boozy beer.
  11. trginter

    trginter Dec 1, 2008 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Is it possible to brew a beer with that high of an abv in a 5 gallon batch? Using standard equipment. My friend said the mash tun can hold max like 21 pounds of grain.
  12. koopa

    koopa Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Nah probably not. 21 pounds of grain plus say 1 pound of sugar gets me into the 9 - 10% range at best. In my opinion you would have to pitch some additional fermentables in secondary and still reduce your batch size from the start to reach the type of higher abv you are looking for. If you do add lots of dme, then consider pitching another high abv tolerant yeast strain in secondary like maybe dry champagne yeast.
  13. Agold

    Agold Mar 13, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Don't mean to be a dick, but some of the questions you are asking sort of indicate to me that you may not have enough experience to successfully brew a 14-15% beer. There is much much more to making a beer like that than just a high OG. You may be perfectly capable, but I sort of think you may be running into much bigger problems than adding your vanilla if you go for it. Just my 2 cents. If you do go for it, good luck.
  14. trginter

    trginter Dec 1, 2008 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, I have no idea how to up the abv of a beer up that high. I'm pretty comfortable brewing your standard IPA and Hefe. We've made some pretty great ones! Still trying to learn more about these high abv styles though.
  15. Steveofflorence

    Steveofflorence Mar 2, 2014

    I have a question along these lines: Did my first all grain (vanilla bourbon porter) and slightly messed up in soaking the vanilla beans in vodka (chocolate flavored vodka). It's been a week now since they've been soaking and the same amount of time for the beer in the primary. The screw up was forgetting I was going to put bourbon in the secondary. Having done that, yesterday I soaked 2 oz of American oak chips in 6 oz of makers mark. I was going to leave the beer in the primary for a second week (to allow the vanilla and oak chips to soak longer) and then toss all it in the secondary (bourbon & oak chips in a muslin bag along w vodka & vanilla berms in Muslim bag). Does anyone have any thoughts here? Just more worried about combining the vodka and the bourbon both. I have half a mind to scrap the vanilla berms that's soaking in vodka and use the 4 been a I have left and let them soak in the bourbon along with the oak chips. Also, any thoughts on whether putting all those concoctions in muslin bags is recommended over simply dumping them straight into the secondary? I was going to rack the beer on top of the bourbon, chips, vanilla beans & vodka. I really appreciate anyone's thoughts here. Thanks!
  16. koopa

    koopa Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I'd bag up the beans and the chips if it were my beer. No worries on combining the few oz of vodka with the few oz of bourbon IMHO. If you are that worried, then just don't add the vodka, but there is definitely no reason to scrap using the ingredients that have been soaking in the vodka.
  17. Steveofflorence

    Steveofflorence Mar 2, 2014

    Thanks for you the advice. That's exactly what I'll do. When you bag the chips/beens up, do you drop them in the bottom of secondary and rack on top? Do they float up? Do you stir at all? Thanks again!!!
  18. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    OP is on the way to finding out in the most valid way possible. I'd like to hear about the result.
  19. koopa

    koopa Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Yeah. I like to place the bag inside the neck of the carboy, add the ingredients into it, tie it up, then drop it in the carboy so it sits on the bottom. Then I flush the carboy with co2 (since I have a keggin system) and finally rack the beer into the carboy. The bag may or may not float at first, but will eventually settle once the ingredients become water logged. I don't bother stirring at all.
  20. kenatbeerswap

    kenatbeerswap Dec 9, 2010 Pennsylvania

    the reason for making the extract is to add it to the bottling bucket or when kegging. to simply add your extract to secondary and let sit is not really going to do anything for you unless you are going to age it and I think it would be better to age it in a keg or bottle so O2 does not get to it. Also the reason to add extract at bottling or kegging time is to control the amount of extract going in to taste. If you just dump it all in the secondary it might be unbalanced and one flavor overpowering another. It's better to add a little at a time cause once you dump it in you can't remove it.

    To answer the question on the 14 to 15 percent brew. You really need to know what your doing and need to know your yeast. I tried to make a big batch once rushed it and then tried several fixes and just ended up wasting time, money and beer. Two methods to get a high abv are much longer boil or freeze distill it.
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