Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

Estery fruit flavors in my vanilla bourbon imperial porter

I’m still pretty new to home brewing, so I’m sure I made about a hundred mistakes with this beer. I brewed a 1.079 OG imperial porter, and used Safale 05 (only one pack, unfortunately). First of all, I think I under-pitched the yeast, and then I only kept it in primary for seven days. I tasted it during racking, and there were definitely some pretty distinct fruity flavors there that I did not expect or want. The gravity read 1.032, so I assumed I did not have enough yeast for that big of a beer, and the yeast got really stressed out, hence the fruit. I added 1.70 cups of bourbon, an ounce of oak chips, and three cut-up vanilla beans at secondary, as per the recipe that I found. Since the gravity was still so high, I repitched into secondary with a new pack of 05, hoping that would kick-start more fermentation and get the gravity down to 1.017 where it’s supposed to be. After four days, there is barely any activity in the airlock, so I don’t think it’s fermenting. Is there any hope for this beer turning out, or for those fruity flavors to disappear? I’m also concerned about leaving it in secondary with the oak chips and vanilla beans for too long. Could someone please point me in the right direction?

may not be the answer you want, but use liquid yeast and make a starter next time.

you under pitched a little. i dont think using liquid yeast and a starter would have changed it all that much, although proper pitching rate would have been better. dry yeast doesnt need a starter, the proper pitching rate for S05 for 1.079 would have been 15 grams, and you used 11.5. next time i would pitch 2 packets for a beer that big; one packet for a beer below 1.060. but this is rather common and A LOT of people underpitch

1.032 is pretty high, you could have been tasting a lot of sweetness. i would have left it in the primary for AT LEAST 2 weeks. personally i would let it sit in primary for 3-4 weeks. it’s good practice to give all your beers 2+ weeks in the primary

sometimes the beer taste unusual when racking, let it age for a while and i think it will improve. i wouldnt worry too much about letting bourbon and vanilla soak in there too long. give it some aging time and take another reading in a week or two.

was this denny’s recipe? if not, what was the recipe? was it all grain or extract? depending on the recipe/procedure it could be finished fermenting. if it was all grain what was your mash temp? for big porters and stouts a higher FG can be common (especially with extract)

edited additions and for grammatical errors

It was Denny’s recipe! Good call. The mash temp was 153-154 degrees, and I fermented at about 168-170 degrees. I rehydrated the S 05 before pitching. So, you think more time is pretty much the answer?

If i remember correctly denny likes his to finish out around 1.025, so you aren’t that far off. 68-70 degrees is a little warm which could have contributed to some fruity flavors. A lower than optimum pitch rate could also cause this. at 154 mash temp, it could be finished. But still I would give it more time, give it a few weeks and check the gravity again. if the gravity is the same 5 days apart, then i’d expect that it is safe to bottle. although its hard to say for sure… next time give it more time in the primary

sometimes the flavor at transfer taste a lot different than the finished product. time is the key IMO.

hopefully denny will chime in on the topic. he frequents this forum

You mean 68-70 right? I would definitely attribute the esters and high final gravity to under pitching and fermenting too warm. I like this yeast at 60-62 wort temp for a nice clean profile. My BVIP finished at 1.025 and it’s the perfect mouthfeel and sweetness for me. 1.032 is going to be very sweet. Next time leave the beer on the yeast for at least 3 weeks with a beer this big. If it stalls, get a big pitch of fresh yeast from a local brewery or make another beer and use the yeast cake.

Yes, it definitely fermented at 68-70 degrees, not 170. Feeling pretty stupid right now, but thanks everyone for your thoughts.

One more question: Since I took gravity readings for OG and at racking without the bourbon, vanilla beans, and oak chips, if I take a gravity reading now, will it even be accurate?

Not too far off, because you haven’t added much liquid, but it wont give you an accurate value for alcohol since you added more. There is a formula somewhere for figuring it out.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com