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Bourbon Barrel Porter Aging recommendations

I am planning to order the Bourbon Barrel Porter to brew in two weeks when my primary becomes available again and had a question on aging. I am planning on this to be ready for Christmas 2014 so I am hoping to age this one for 10-11 months depending on when I can get it done (and if I can wait that long to try it :lol: ). The instructions say 2 weeks primary, 3-4 weeks secondary with another 2 weeks with the bourbon and oak chips. I’m planning to soak the oak chips for a full month before adding them. With all of this it should be ready to start aging by the beginning of April.

My question is if I am planning on age this one for such a long time, which type of vessel should I age it in? I can age it in a 5 gallon glass carboy, in a keg, or in bottles. I am planning to age this in my basement which holds very close to 65 year round. Which would be the best vessel and why? Also, if I age in a keg, can I just pressurize it to seal it or should I carbonate it before it sits? I’ve never aged a beer this long before so I thought I would ask before I tried it.

Several of the reviews talk about adding a vanilla bean or two in the secondary with nice results. If I wanted to try this, should the beans soak in anything or do you just add them to secondary? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

:cheers:
Rad

Rad, great choice on the BBP. Great beer! I’ve only brewed it once (extract), but it turned out awesome. Only thing I would change for my taste would be the oak chips. Little too much oak for me. I would probably use about 1/4 of the recommended amount–but that’s just my taste.

As for aging, mine aged in the bottle. Just drank the last one about a month ago and it was about (no notes on this one) 6 or 7 months in the bottle. They just kept getting better with age. I can’t really speak to other methods of aging since I haven’t used them.

I don’t see why vanilla would not be a great addition to this beer. Should play well. Only problem is vanilla flavor tends to lose its punch with age, and others more experienced than I am can probably speak better to this issue.

Just be careful and check your gravity before secondary and before bottling(if you bottle). Mine ended up really over carbonated–when I brewed it I didn’t yet have a hydrometer so I just followed the time parameters given in the instructions. I know I didn’t overprime, so I’m sure I must have racked to secondary too early and probably did not get full attenuation.

Good luck with it. I hope to brew this again soon.

Cheers,
Ron

I would age it in a keg. It doesn’t have to have constant pressure on it to age. One nice thing about this too is that you could “jump” it to another keg and leave a lot of the sediment in the old keg.

Vanilla would be a great addition. I would add it closer to serving time. As Frenchie pointed out, vanilla ages out quickly. Soak 2-3 beans in just enough bourbon to cover them and add the entire contents to the keg.

As far as the oak. I assume they give you oak chips with the kit. Due to having more surface area the chips provide oak character MUCH quicker. I would suggest tasting after a week and then daily thereafter. If it were me, I would also take some of the chips and toast them a little more with a propane torch. This will add a little more depth and complexity from the oak.

Having brewed this once already I will say for my taste the oak was just perfect. They come with a medium roast already and I wouldn’t suggest adding anymore. The flavors definitely meld better with age but I had one at 4 months and one at 6 months and I can’t say there was much of a change. As said above, vanilla would be nice in this recipe but adding it closer to serving time would be better and bulk aging this in keg or carboy would be best.

I soaked my oak chips in 16oz of bourbon for 2 weeks then added the whole thing to secondary and aged for 3 weeks. I’d suggest racking off the oak and bulk aging into your keg or another carboy to get it off the oak.

Not sure if you plan on bottle conditioning this or kegging but if you bottle condition don’t overdo the priming sugar as it is easy to overcarb this. Shoot for 2.3 vols according to NB’s calculator and you should be good.

I plan on brewing this again soon as it turned out really good and was a very big crowd pleaser.

[quote]I soaked my oak chips in 16oz of bourbon for 2 weeks then added the whole thing to secondary and aged for 3 weeks. I’d suggest racking off the oak and bulk aging into your keg or another carboy to get it off the oak.

Not sure if you plan on bottle conditioning this or kegging but if you bottle condition don’t overdo the priming sugar as it is easy to overcarb this. Shoot for 2.3 vols according to NB’s calculator and you should be good.
[/quote]

I just bottled this yesterday (1 gal. batch). It’s really odd comparing the instructions for the 1 gal. vs. the 5 gal. batches.

1 gal. = soak cubes and add to primary for one week after fermentation ends, then bottle.
5 gal. = after fermentation ends, transfer to secondary and condition for 2-3 weeks(!), add cubes and condition for 1-2 weeks before bottling.

They recommend 2/3 cup of priming sugar for the 5 gal. batch. IYO, would this overcarb it?

Ideally I will keg it but I wasn’t sure if the bulk aging would make it more beneficial to bottle this batch or not. My wife was kidding me about filling the other downstairs fridge with beer for 8 months at a time. :lol: On the vanilla bean, you mention adding closer to serving time would be beneficial. If I keg this and let it condition for 6 months or so, should I add the vanilla before I carb the keg or at the same time? I am planning on setting at serving pressure for about 2 weeks to carb it rather than force carbing. Thanks for the advice.

:cheers:
Rad

I assume you talking corn sugar? That sounds like a bit much. I measure mine by weight but if NB’s calculator is an accurate conversion of weight to volume that’s gonna put you at 2.5-2.6 vols which in my opinion would be a bit much. My notes for this beer were lost so I don’t have the exact amount but I believe I carbed with 4oz of corn sugar.

Now one thing to note is (within reason) its usually better to err on the side of overcarbing if you are bottling because it’s much easier to let carbonation settle down after pouring (or pour REALLY slow). If you undercarb you’re pretty much either repriming your bottles (which is a huge PITA) or drinking slightly flat beer. The huge warning I put on this is if you overprime too much you could end up with gushers or even worse, bottle bombs.

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