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Bourbon barrel porter - can’t taste bourbon?

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mcmeador

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I just brewed Northern Brewer’s 5-gallon all-grain bourbon barrel porter recently. A week ago I added 3 ounces of oak chips that had soaked in Maker’s Mark for a few weeks plus all 16 ounces of bourbon that they soaked in to the fermenter. I just tasted it today and have pulled several small samples. The oak I can taste for sure, but I’m struggling to find the bourbon in it, which is surprising considering most people I see talking about brewing this style add less bourbon or complain about it having an overwhelming bourbon flavor with the amount of bourbon I used.

Anyone know why this might be?
 
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Kickass

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I’m not familiar with that recipe but it seems like more than enough bourbon to be able to taste. Maybe the roasted flavors overshadow it a little?
 
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mcmeador

mcmeador

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brewdude88

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Is it carbonated yet? If not, carbonation may bring the aroma of bourbon out which can cause a new experience on the pallet.

On a side note, can you taste or smell anything at all in the beer? If not, you better get tested for COVID. It sounds weird, but a guy I know decided to go get tested when he drank an IPA that tasted and smelled like bud lite from his description. He was positive and never got any other symptoms.
 
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mcmeador

mcmeador

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Is it carbonated yet? If not, carbonation may bring the aroma of bourbon out which can cause a new experience on the pallet.

On a side note, can you taste or smell anything at all in the beer? If not, you better get tested for COVID. It sounds weird, but a guy I know decided to go get tested when he drank an IPA that tasted and smelled like bud lite from his description. He was positive and never got any other symptoms.
Haha, yes, I can still taste. I taste the porter and the oak, but the bourbon is questionable. Good point on the carbonation. I’m sure the flavor has to show up eventually. It’s just in the fermenter right now. I haven’t transferred to a keg and carbed yet. Started taste tests yesterday to see if it was ready.
 

Alphadawg

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Weird. I made that recipe and used only 1/2 of the bourbon and it was plenty for my tastes
 

porterpounder

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Sometimes it takes a couple weeks for the spirit flavor to come forward and in my experience carbonation makes bourbon pop pretty aggressively. The beauty of homebrewing is that you can just add bourbon right to the finished beer to taste. The spirit is bottled at its perfect drinking point, so no need to soak oak chips/cubes and all that. Just drop it in to taste and enjoy.
 

Oldskewl

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The beer may need to meld for a few weeks before the bourbon becomes more apparent. That is about double the amount of bourbon I usually use in 5 gallons btw. 3 oz of oak cubes is pretty heavy. The oak may be overpowering the bourbon as well. I used 3 oz of med oak cubes in a 13% barleywine recently and I still find the oak overpowering after 6 months.
 

TechFanMD

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I have made this recipe 4 times in the last two years. I definitely taste the bourbon and have used Maker's twice. For me, there is a quite strong bourbon flavor that mellows nicely over time....still bourbon-like but less harsh

I add some extra LME to bring the alcohol up even more as well. NOTE: because of the type of beer and how the flavors work out, I think doing this as an extract is every bit as good as all-grain if you want to save on time. Twice I did it as an extract after brewing something else all-grain while I had my equipment out and wet already.
 
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mcmeador

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Hmmm, I don’t know. My wife sampled it as well and didn’t think bourbon flavor was obvious. I’ll assume it will stand out more with carbonation as others have said. Maybe the flavor of Maker’s Mark blends so well with the flavor of the malts that it’s hard to pick out right now.
 

Calder

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I added all 16 ounces of bourbon that they soaked in to the fermenter. I just tasted it today and have pulled several small samples. The oak I can taste for sure, but I’m struggling to find the bourbon in it
I guess you just didn't add enough!

I usually find about 500 ml of liquor is about right for a 5 gallon batch (Bourbon, Rum, Whiskey, etc) to give you a nice subtle (not overpowering) flavor of the liquor in the beer, but it depends on the beer and your own taste, and how much of a presence you want the Bourbon to have in the beer. 16 ozs is roughly 500 ml. If you think it needs it, add more.
 
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mcmeador

mcmeador

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Hmmm... Let it sit in the fermenter with the oak and bourbon for right at 2 weeks, kegged it and let it carb over 9 days. Still the same experience really. The oak is definitely there in the flavor, but my wife and I are still struggling to taste the bourbon. It’s a great porter, though. Maybe with some more time sitting and some more time carbonating, the bourbon will come out more.

Edit: I just dumped some more straight into the bottom of the glass to let it foam up a bit more, and I do smell bourbon.
 

greywolf

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I made a stout with a half bottle of buffalo trace and it did nothing. Added the rest of the bottle, still very little character. Didn't use any oak, tho. I'd use a more oaky bourbon next time. It was a split batch with and without bourbon and you couldn't really tell the difference.
 
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mcmeador

mcmeador

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I made a stout with a half bottle of buffalo trace and it did nothing. Added the rest of the bottle, still very little character. Didn't use any oak, tho. I'd use a more oaky bourbon next time. It was a split batch with and without bourbon and you couldn't really tell the difference.
So this was a 5-gallon batch with a whole bottle of bourbon and you couldn’t taste it?!?

I can definitely taste the oak in my porter, but I’m only catching bourbon occasionally in the smell and the aftertaste. I’m perplexed since I’ve seen others talking about the same recipe and complaining about the bourbon being way too strong early on.

Oh well. I’m still going to enjoy it, and if I do the recipe again I will probably try more. I just don’t want to overdo it, which is why I didn’t add more when I kegged. I thought it may show up more with carbonation.
 

Oldskewl

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Did you use oak chips or oak cubes? Chips work very quickly. Usually about a week. Cubes can sit on the beer for several weeks. I wonder if the oak is just overwhelming the taste of the bourbon. 3 oz of oak chips is a lot in 5 gal. The bourbon may come around in a few weeks.
 
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mcmeador

mcmeador

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Did you use oak chips or oak cubes? Chips work very quickly. Usually about a week. Cubes can sit on the beer for several weeks. I wonder if the oak is just overwhelming the taste of the bourbon. 3 oz of oak chips is a lot in 5 gal. The bourbon may come around in a few weeks.
I used cubes and tasted until the oak was strong enough that I felt like it was time to cut it off. I was wondering if the bourbon could be lost behind the oak.

I had a couple of friends try it tonight. One agreed it was more so in the aroma and the aftertaste. Another couldn’t taste it until he started eating. Then he said the bourbon was popping.
 

Wagon_6

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I make a bourbon porter with 16 oz of bourbon a lot and have learned it needs a good 6 to 8 weeks of aging before all the flavors mesh together. I hang the oak spirals in the keg during this time. If you’re a regular bourbon drinker, I think your palate looks for those strong flavors. I’ve found 16 oz per 5 gallons is a real sweet spot. My mom and mother-in-law regularly have 2 glasses when the bourbon porter is on tap!
 
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