About to brew bourbon barrel porter

I am about to brew my first batch of bourbon barrel porter. I’ve read in the reviews that several brewers altered the amount of bourbon and also added some maple and vanilla extract. How much vanilla and maple to you use? Was the extra bourbon worth it? Did you use a yeast starter? I would appreciate any advice as this is only my 3rd batch of beer, but I am very excited to try this kit.

I can’t comment on an aged finished product as mine has only been in the secondary for a little over a week but here are my notes.

Oak cubes sitting covered in mason jar on dec. 26 with 600 ml old crow bourbon. Two vanilla beans sliced and added on dec. 31.
Directions followed to a t. for NB
Yeast starter for 2 days on dec. 31 with 1000 ml wort at 68 degrees

Pitched into primary bucket on jan. 2
OG of 1.065
Swirled twice and moved twice , first to 68 degrees for 2 days then for 3 days at 58 degrees.
Took a gravity reading on jan. 5 and reached 1.022.
Moved to 68 degrees on jan .6.
Removed oak cubes from jar on jan. 7 and placed bourbon and vanilla beans in sanitized 1 liter flask.

Took a hydrometer reading on jan. 10 and am now at 1.018, 6.17abv. Gave the bucket a swirl. Great taste at this point.

Took another gravity reading after transfer to secondary on jan. 13 and it is still 1.018 and stable. Very potent bourbon vanilla notes. This will take a while to mellow.

Definitely use a starter if you can.

Definitely add the bourbon - makers mark is what I have used in 5 batches. Generally I go with something in the neighborhood of 12-14 ounces.

I have never added vanilla or maple or anything like that.

Be prepared to let it sit for a while. In my experience, it is good at about a year, but, it is at its best between 2-3 years old. I try to brew a batch every year and let it sit. Since I brew it every year, I have the batches I brewed 2 -3 years ago to drink while I wait for the new one. Time and patience is your friend with this beer.

Also - I generally soak the oak cubes in the bourbon ( in a sanitized mason jar) for about a week towards the end of primary fermentation. Then I transfer the porter to secondary, add the jar of cubes/bourbon and let it secondary for 4 weeks before I bottle.

Thanks for the advice. I used a yeast starter and now it is in the primary. I brewed on 1/14, OG was 1066. Fermentation has slowed a lot by this morning, but I am going to leave it in there for 2 weeks before I move it to the secondary.

I’ll try and be patient and save some for a year, but I am sure I wont be able to wait that long to start drinking it.

I am on a similar schedule - mine is in primary right now(about day 10). Will move to secondary this weekend - which reminds me, I better get my cubes soaking tonight! Plus, gotta get 2 starters going for my next beers this sunday - ESB and a Ryebock.

I did change things up a little with this one - used heavy roast cubes instead of medium.

I did not do nearly as well saving my first batch as I did each year after. Probably had half of mine gone before it was 1 year old, and 3/4 gone by the time it hit 2. But each year I stockpile a little more and it gets easier to hold off on it.

I am thinking about ordering this kit and found this thread extremely helpful. One question I would add to the discussion is, how long to soak the cubes? I was thinking of just sanitizing my secondary on brew brew day and adding the cubes and bourbon to it then. The oak should absorb plenty of flavor in that time, but might have to replace the angel’s share of bourbon when transferring from primary.

Has anyone tried a flavored bourbon such as Jack Daniels honey? Don’t think I would do it on my first attempt, but something to think about.

I have used Makers Mark in all 5 batches I have done. Turned out well the first time and just never tried anything else. It is an interesting idea. Big thing would be how well would that flavor hold up - there are a lot of other strong flavors going on in the beer already.

I am going to move mine to the secondary this weekend and at the same time start soaking the cubes in makers mark. After 2 weeks I’ll throw the cubes and whisky in the secondary and let it sit at least another 2 weeks before I bottle. I really hope patience is rewarded with this beer.

Can’t wait to make this. Kit should arrive Wednesday. Makers Mark seems to be the most used (and recommended in the recipe) but I’m just not a fan. I was thinking Knob Creek instead. Other than that I’m going to follow the recipe exactly. I’m still way too green to be mixing things up drastically. It’s going to be murder trying to save it over a year. I’m 3 weeks into bottle conditioning my first brew and can’t believe I haven’t tried it yet. I’m thinking a few big bottles 22oz-Liters will help me save them long term. That and brewing more beer to keep me occupied. Hope to hear good things about everyone else’s brews.

This beer shouldn’t really be aged for more than a year. The alcohol content isn’t high enough to justify that kind of aging schedule. Over-oaking would be the one situation where it would need to age, but that is controllable.

Turned out great! I used a 1L yeast starter following NB’s directions the night before. I brewed on 1/14. OG=1.066. Transfered to secondary on 1/31. Gravity was 1.018. That same day I added 16oz makers mark to the oak cubes and let them soak until 2/15 when I dumped them in the secondary. Bottled on 3/3. Had my first one last night (3/16) and it was great. Bourbon and oak are strong, but pleasant and not overwhelming. Going to age some, but also going to serve some today for St. Patrick’s Day.