Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter

So I’m ponderous, after reading a few posts it seems people suggest using dry yeast and not the liquid pack (I, possibly, foolishly did not read the forums before brewing.) But the liquid yeast I did use. The batch has been in the first carboy (6.5 gal for a 5 gal batch) for 4 days and the krausen has fallen, O.G was 1.065 which was spot on to the recipe, haven’t taken another reading as doing so just increases the risk of contamination (pets in the house make me nervous about controlling that given airborne dander etc etc.) Should I add more yeast when I move it to the secondary? And should I wait to do so? If the fermentation is done then leaving it in the 1st seems like a waste of time. Also: I began soaking my oak cubes in Maker’s Mark after capping the carboy (oh yes, also I used a fermentation lock and not a blowoff tube as the instructions didn’t specify, it did bubble quite furiously at 40-50 a minute for a day and a half but never blew off.) Would putting the oak cubes directly into the secondary make it too oaky if soaked for ~4 weeks? then following that line if so would putting the then very oaky bourbon without the cubes be a good choice or would the flavor not permeate?

Able to provide more info if needed, thanks for any and all help in advance!

You do not want to move your beer to secondary (actually a bright vessel as you aren’t adding fermentables) too soon. The yeast continues to work reabsorbing byproducts of fermentation well after “active signs” of fermentation subsides. If you remove the beer from the yeast cake too soon it can’t do this. In addition, it may very well still be eating sugars and if you rack you will cause a stuck fermentation. You should ideally rack once you reach terminal gravity. I think your fears are a little unfounded as long as you pay attention to sanitation. Don’t want to risk it? Wait a couple weeks then move to secondary. DO NOT ADD MORE YEAST.
I’ve never made this kit but I have dabbled a little bit with oak/bourbon. I don’t think 4 weeks would be too long. A lot of this depends on the type of oak product. Chips have more surface area and produce results quicker, cubes don’t and take longer. You can add the bourbon if you want a more pronounced flavor (and I would suggest that you add some). Best way to do this is to pour 4 - 2oz samples and add a known amount to each at bottling/ kegging and see which one suites you the best.

Hope I answered all your questions.

Edited: when you pour your samples you will want to then scale it up for 5 gals.

I just bottled the 3 gal biab version of this recipe a week ago. Did not use a secondary, just let the primary go for three weeks undisturbed, then added the bourbon and oak to primary and let sit for two weeks before bottling. (soaked the chips for two weeks)

My OG was 1.065 and after active fermentation stopped (about 6 days later), the SG was 1.024. After two more weeks added the bourbon and chips(only 1/2 the recommended chips as my first batch of this recipe was a bit too “oaky” for me) and two weeks after that the FG ended at 1.016. So a good bit of activity with no visible signs of fermentation in the last 4 weeks that it was in the primary vessel.(probably happened during week 2, but I didn’t take any more gravity readings till the end)

The taste at bottling was perfect. I can’t wait to try one.

+1 to Josh’s recommendation about adding the oak and bourbon. On my first batch of this, I just followed the recipe and it was over the top on oak for me. Taste testing and stepping up or down to taste is a good way to personally dial this recipe in for your own tastes.

In my opinion, a secondary is not really necessary for this beer unless you just need the primary vessel for another beer. This is not a beer where clarity will be an issue, so for me the extra time and effort of racking to a secondary is not worth it.

There is a thread from a couple of months ago that addresses some of your questions. Search “brewdays with maury”. Pietro has some good thoughts on soaking oak chips and timing. Sorry I don’t know how to post the direct link (technologically challenged). :oops:

Good luck with this beer. It is awesome.



I just brewed the bourbon barrel porter 1 gallon kit and my OG was extremely high - 1.092. I’m pretty new to brewing and did a little research trying to determine why this happened. 1 reason may be that I mis-measured the wheat extract. A 1lb bag was mailed, but it called for .5lb. My second guess is that I did need to add about .25 gallons of cold water to the fermenter to get it to 1 gallon. I used a dilution calculator and it seems that this may have fixed the OG. Am I on the right track? Is there anything else that could have caused this?


Likely what your seeing here is wort stratification from topping off with water. It is extremely difficult to get the wort and the water to mix and when you took an OG it was mostly wort, thus the very high OG.

I brewed 3 gallons of the 1 gallon kit back in january…soaked the oak cubes in bourbon for a week…dumped both the cubes and bourbon in for the last two weeks of primary…bottled on 1/30…easter weekend it was still very oak “forward.” Will probably try one this coming weekend and see how it has melded together yet.