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Brewdays with Maury

My name is Seth and I am in search of some help with brewing. I have a few questions that I’d like answered regarding a beer I am about to brew. My intentions are to brew a beer similar to Bourbon County Stout as well as adding in a little something extra. First I am wondering when I should add my bourbon soaked oak cubes? They’ve been soaking for a month plus now in Woodford. Likewise, do I add the remaining bourbon? Do they get added at beginning of Secondary? Second, I want to add some cacao nibs and Vanilla beans but I would like opinions on how much of each and when to add as well. Total batch size is 5 gallons and it is the NB Russian Imp. Stout.
Thank you for any help as this is my 2nd attempt at home-brew and I’m pretty excited to tackle a big beer on my second go around.

Soak your nibs and nilla beans in the bourbon as well, to kill any nasties hanging out on them. Personally I would not add the remaining liquor to the beer, and Woodford is too amazing to dump, so enjoy it accordingly. Rack the beer to a secondary add the flavors and wait…maybe a month, bottle it and forget it till at least next fall. I have never liked the Bourbon County young, but put a little age on it, and it is one hell’uva fine beer!! Patience is going to be the key for this dude. And as to how much, I’d do something around 2-4oz. oak, around 4oz. nibs, and 1-2 beans(split), but that is my method, and you might not dig it. Look around here, and you’ll find a ton of input, lots of good experience on this forum.


And welcome to the forum, and the obsession!!

I think you need to add the bourbon now that you’ve soaked the cubes in it. The Woodford is basically acting as a solvent washing compounds (polyphenols/ligins) off of the wood, so to leave it out would not get any of those lovely compounds into your beer…but if you want it in your rocks glass, that works too). This is actually all bourbon is: if you’ve tasted unaged whiskey (aka shine) it sits in the barrels and pulls flavors and color compounds from the wood (ligins). I would add the whole thing to your secondary, and as Fhunt says, give it some time.

The magic amount of time for wood to release its flavors (and for them to turn to something pleasant and not taste like…wood) is typically 6 weeks. So, if your oak has been in the bourbon for about 4 weeks, I would just add the chopped vanilla bean and cacao nib to the bourbon/oak, let it soak for an additional 2 weeks or so, then add the whole tincture (liquid) to your beer. You don’t really need to add the oak at this point, since a lot of its flavors have been extracted and converted (for the real geek in you, retified) by the soak in bourbon. However, as a way to make sure you don’t DRINK the beer for awhile, I would add all of it (minus maybe the cacao/vanilla) to a secondary and age for a minimum of another 2 months.

Unfortunately for the impatient, a beer like this will really start tasting amazing after a year or so.

Our intentions are to age the beer in secondary according to the manufacturer of the recipe for 4 to 6 months. Is that too long for the cacao and vanilla to be in secondary? Many thanks guys I really appreciate the input and will use it accordingly.

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