Author Topic: Bourbon barrel porter  (Read 3837 times)

Offline gymrat

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Bourbon barrel porter
« on: June 04, 2013, 11:08:26 AM »
I am wanting to do a bourbon barrel porter using oak chips rather than the barrel. I have a few questions.
1. How long should I soak the oak chips in bourbon?
2. Does it matter if I just use a cheap bourbon?
3. Do I need to sanitize the container I soak the chips in or will the alcohol take care of that?
4. Will a plastic mixing bowl work OK for this?
5. How long do the oak chips need to float around in the porter before bottling?
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2013, 11:45:52 AM »
1. Just a few days is enough to completely saturate the chips.  In fact that is probably a matter of hours.
2. Doesn't matter too much although you're going to have leftover bourbon so you want to be able to enjoy it too.
3. Alcohol is a great sanitizer.
4. Yes although a jar with a lid might be better.
5. Chips will give up all their flavor in a week tops.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2013, 11:56:04 AM »
1. I don't know about minimum, but I've got a couple of jars of chips and bourbon just sitting around waiting.  I also use all of the bourbon they soak in, not just the chips.
2. As long as you enjoy the flavor.  I wouldn't waste top shelf bourbon as that's simply better by itself.  I use a variety of cheaper good tasting bourbons.
3. No worries.
4. I use mason jars.  If the plastic bowl has a lid, that should be OK.  I'd be worried about picking up flavors from the plastic, though.  Perhaps unnecessarily so.
5. I don't think I've gone beyond seven days.  Maybe 10 or so.  I would taste it every couple of days to check. Pull the chips when you hit the flavor you like.

FWIW, I like the flavors of the darker oak chips.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2013, 01:02:49 PM »
I'm just gonna answer one of the questions cause that's how I roll.

5. There was an interesting article in Zymurgy a couple issues back about wood ageing and one of the big takeaways for me was that, while early on you get a lot of flavor extraction and it can get overwhelming to the beer quickly, longer contact also adds complexity assuming you then have time to age the beer to soften the harsher edges of the wood flavor.

just a thought.

Oh, and I like Joe Sr.'s idea of keeping a couple jars of wood chips soaking in booze around. You know, just in case you suddenly and without warning NEED to oak a stout.
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Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 01:12:00 PM »
My only experience was adding 2 oz chips to 5 gallons for 12 days. Aged better than I ever expected.

Also I added 100ml whiskey to the chips and some water and microwaved for a minute or so to kill critters. A few people noticed the whiskey but really I think they were just tasting the oak.

Medium toast french oak gave a nice vanilla character to the beer.

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 01:14:09 PM »
Oh, and I like Joe Sr.'s idea of keeping a couple jars of wood chips soaking in booze around. You know, just in case you suddenly and without warning NEED to oak a stout.

You know, I have the RIS that's ready to keg.  I could split the batch and oak it with different toast levels... just cuz I can.  And I might.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 01:22:18 PM »
Oh, and I like Joe Sr.'s idea of keeping a couple jars of wood chips soaking in booze around. You know, just in case you suddenly and without warning NEED to oak a stout.

You know, I have the RIS that's ready to keg.  I could split the batch and oak it with different toast levels... just cuz I can.  And I might.

The fiancé does the same thing. You know, for emergencies.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 01:55:59 PM »
Yep, I've got a stack of tupperware with soaking oak: red wine, white wine, mead, port, bourbon, and maybe rum? I'll have to look...
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 02:55:29 PM »
I definitely find that the oak chips spit out flavor very fast but it tends to be a harsh, woody flavor that can easily overwhelm the beer and require some aging. Not a problem for a bigger beer that you plan on aging anyway but for a beer you plan on drinking in the next few weeks you probably want to use a short period of contact. Boiling chips in water and going through a few changes of water can help get some of the harsh character out but I could never get them very smooth that way. I have found a very long soak in an alcoholic beverage tends to mellow it out so I also have chips in vodka, a couple different whiskeys and white wine. Does a better job of contributing both oak and liquor character.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2013, 03:11:01 PM »
Yep, I've got a stack of tupperware with soaking oak: red wine, white wine, mead, port, bourbon, and maybe rum? I'll have to look...
I've used bourbon and rum soaked chips in stouts and porters several times, but I think I'm gonna try using white wine soaked chips in my next saison. Is that what you used them for, Kyle?  Sounds great to me.
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Offline gymrat

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2013, 03:30:37 PM »
How many chips and how much bourbon should I use? Is one mason jar enough for a five gallon batch?
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Offline gymrat

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2013, 06:44:05 PM »
1. I don't know about minimum, but I've got a couple of jars of chips and bourbon just sitting around waiting.  I also use all of the bourbon they soak in, not just the chips.
2. As long as you enjoy the flavor.  I wouldn't waste top shelf bourbon as that's simply better by itself.  I use a variety of cheaper good tasting bourbons.
3. No worries.
4. I use mason jars.  If the plastic bowl has a lid, that should be OK.  I'd be worried about picking up flavors from the plastic, though.  Perhaps unnecessarily so.
5. I don't think I've gone beyond seven days.  Maybe 10 or so.  I would taste it every couple of days to check. Pull the chips when you hit the flavor you like.

FWIW, I like the flavors of the darker oak chips.

So you are saying the chips themselves never go into the beer? I just use them to flavor the bourbon then pour that in?
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2013, 08:19:00 PM »
1. I don't know about minimum, but I've got a couple of jars of chips and bourbon just sitting around waiting.  I also use all of the bourbon they soak in, not just the chips.
2. As long as you enjoy the flavor.  I wouldn't waste top shelf bourbon as that's simply better by itself.  I use a variety of cheaper good tasting bourbons.
3. No worries.
4. I use mason jars.  If the plastic bowl has a lid, that should be OK.  I'd be worried about picking up flavors from the plastic, though.  Perhaps unnecessarily so.
5. I don't think I've gone beyond seven days.  Maybe 10 or so.  I would taste it every couple of days to check. Pull the chips when you hit the flavor you like.

FWIW, I like the flavors of the darker oak chips.
So you are saying the chips themselves never go into the beer? I just use them to flavor the bourbon then pour that in?


nope use both. just make sure to use the bourbon too cause it's got lots o' goodness
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2013, 09:24:01 PM »
How many chips and how much bourbon should I use? Is one mason jar enough for a five gallon batch?

The amount you use depends on how much oak and bourbon character you want. I definitely wouldn't use a whole mason jar in five gallons. I would start out with 0.5-1oz of oak chips and just add enough bourbon that the chips are getting contact with the bourbon. You can add the bourbon along with the chips but I'm always conservative about adding liquor and wood to beer. You can age out some of the fresh wood character but you can't age out the bourbon. It's just there. I'd add the wood for a week, see how it is and if it needs more "barrel" character then start adding the bourbon. If it still isn't enough then repeat with more oak.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Bourbon barrel porter
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2013, 07:15:24 AM »
So you are saying the chips themselves never go into the beer? I just use them to flavor the bourbon then pour that in?


nope use both. just make sure to use the bourbon too cause it's got lots o' goodness

Mort is correct.  Use both.

How many chips and how much bourbon should I use? Is one mason jar enough for a five gallon batch?

I buy my chips in 4oz. bags, IIRC.  This amount will just about fill a pint size mason jar.  I don't think I've ever used the full amount.  I do have one jar that is smaller, maybe 10 oz?  I've used the full amount of chips that fit in that jar, but I think that was in a 2.5 gallon keg.

Regardless, your best bet is to start with a smaller amount and ramp up to the flavor you want.  If you soak a couple ounces of chips you can keep some in reserve to add later if you aren't getting the oak/bourbon character that you want.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton