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Bourbon Barrel Porter Questions

Hello everyone, I have read and learned a bunch from this forum, but this is my first time posting. I have a few questions about brewing the extract version of the Bourbon Barrel Porter.

  1. When I was steeping the grains for the Bourbon Barrel Porter this past Sunday, I lost track of the temp of the water and when I noticed the temp it was almost 195. I immediately took the pot off the burner and then temp lowered to about 150 F before the 20 mins were over. Did this ruin the batch or did I just leach extra tannins out of the grains…if I did just leach extra tannins from the grains, does that just make the beer more bitter or what is the result?

  2. I brewed the beer this past Sunday and I didn’t have time to make a starter so I bought 2 packages of Wyeast 1728 - Scottish Ale to pitch. Both packets were swollen when I pitched them and the temp of the wort was approx 77 F. However, I have seen very few signs of fermentation occurring. There haven’t been any air bubbles from the airlock and while there was a small cap of krausen visible in the bucket on Tuesday night, it has completely fallen back into the wort with no head visible at all now. I assumed that since I hit OG (well almost, 1.064 vs expected 1.065) there should be a vigorous fermentation. I haven’t opened up the bucket to take a FG sample, but should do that before I go buy a packet of Nottingham and try to repitch, or just repitch and relax. If I do take another sample, from reading the forums I think it normally finishes near 1.015+/- but sometimes finishes a little higher near 1.02. Should I repitch if it is anything above 1.025 or where it that breaking point?

  3. I was trying to make this to give out to my brothers as there Xmas gift and now I only have about 3 months till Christmas. Any recommendations for how long to primary, secondary, and then bottle condition? I was planning on doing a 3 week primary, 3 week secondary, and then bottle conditioning until Xmas, but now with the fermentation not going well, I’m not sure what my new schedule should be.

Thanks in advance for any and all help. Have a great day!

Also, I have the bucket in a room where the temp is about 70 during the day and maybe 65 at night, so there is some variation, but not too much and it is all within range. Thanks again.

I think you’ll be fine with the steeping grains. Did you taste the sample after reading the OG?
You’re likely done fermenting if you pitched at 77 and left it in a 70* closet. You probably fermented around 75F which could lead to some fusels and esters. Those will need time to clear out. If it were me, I’d leave the beer in the primary for 3 weeks, secondary until about 3 weeks from Xmas then bottle. You’ll have more consistency if you bulk age the beer. Also, if you leave it in the closet at 70F after fermentation is over, those possible off-flavors will mellow faster.


1.) You might have some tannins, but unless you are entering this in a comp or your bro is a Grand Master BJCP, I doubt he will notice. Porters have a lot of malt character and it could help to ‘mask’ any tannins. If you extract too many tannins, it can have a puckering/grape skin taste, but this is more of a concern in more delicate styles.

2.) I wouldn’t repitch just yet. Did you aerate prior to pitching? Yeast need oxygen, and a lot of it. I would give it another week and take a gravity reading. Next time aerate the hell out of the wort if you didn’t this time.

Regarding your question on the ‘breaking point’ of gravity readings, when you check it (in a week or so), figure out your apparent attenuation and compare it to what the manufacturer’s website says, and do some additional research on the internet for WY 1728. Example:

OG 1.064; gravity in a week of 1.020 – (.064-.020) / .064 = 68.75% apparent attenuation. If this is typical for the yeast, its not going to get much lower.

Your pitching/ambient temp is a little high, but its just going to give it an estery profile. Not the end of the world, and esters can taste good! I doubt you will have a lot of fusel alcohol given your pitching rate.

3.) Three months should be fine, but why are you doing a secondary? NB really needs to redo their instructions if that is reason.

I think any risk you have of leaving it on the yeast for 4-5 weeks is far less than the risk you have of oxidation or incomplete/premature fermentation by racking. Most experts have abandoned the notion that a secondary is necessary or even beneficial unless you are adding bacteria or doing an actual second fermentation with brett or fruit.

If there’s any way that the esters/phenols/fusels will ‘clean up’, it is by leaving the beer on the yeast.

If you want it clear, just add finings and/or cold crash in your primary.

If it were me, I’d leave this in primary until Nov 1 then bottle it and let it condition.

He needs to secondary to add the bourbon and oak for a week or so. I think after it is on oak for a week or so you should take the oak out and bulk age it in secondary for a month or more. I’ve made the BBP many times. If it hasn’t shown any signs of fermentation after 4 -5 days I would get a pack of us-05 to pitch.

Thanks for the advice, I am guessing that from everyone’s comments that I probably didn’t aerate the wort enough before I pitched the yeast. Can I shake the fermenter or at least swirl it around to get some more air into the beer or is it to late now and I should just relax and let it sit on the yeast in primary and clean up any esters that we’re produced. I was thinking of letting it sit on the yeast for another 4 weeks (5 weeks total) and then moving to secondary for 2 weeks with the bourbon and oak cubes, and then have it bottle condition for 3 or 4 weeks till Xmas. Does that sound like a good plan?

Also, I did taste the og sample and it wasn’t overly bitter at all, it was actually really malty but good.

If it has fermented do not shake it. Did it start fermenting?

Good news, I took a FG sample yesterday and even though I never really saw any signs of fermentation it was at 1.020, which from reading other posts is about right. Gussymo, you said not to shake the fermenter, but that is exactly what I did just before taking the FG sample. Why is that bad for the beer? I am planning on leaving it in primary for 4 weeks total, 4 weeks in secondary, and then 4 weeks to bottle condition. Hopefully it carbs up nicely for XMas. Thanks to everyone for the advice.

Your bucket is probably leaking co2 thats why you’re not seeing bubbles

You cannot really go wrong with Bourbon Barrels. Whenever I get them from places like CraftBeerKings and CraftBeers, they’ve always been a winner for me. I don’t think I can ever brew bourbons though

This puts oxygen back into the beer. It’s one of the last things you want in fermented beer. Oxygen is driven out during the boil, which is why you aerate (add oxygen back) prior to fermentation because yeast need the oxygen to ferment.

Fermentation creates co2 which drives away all the oxygen.

Shaking the beer after fermentation is done puts oxygen back into it. This makes your beer “oxidized,” which has a back of the throat twang to it…some people say it tastes like wet cardboard or band aids. To me…it’s just and off flavor that I can’t describe, but it dominates the flavor and really ruins the beer ultimately.

That said…depending on how vigorously you shook the beer and if the airlock was still on,you might be okay, Co2 is heavier than air, so you might have only just jostled it around with its own co2.

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