Denny Conn's Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter

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Denny

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Got a question for you all. I am at on my 11th day of primary fermentation in my conical. I did a 10 gal batch, came in right on the money at 1.086, and pitched a huge starter.

I had my fermentor controlled right at 65 degrees for the first 7 days, then ramped up to 68 since. I had very vigorous fermentation the first 3 days, and it since has really slowed down.

I went to do a trub dump about 5 days ago, and there was no settling of anything yet, I just got all liquid out of the dump valve.

Took a gravity reading at that point, and I was at 1.030. Today, I tried another trub dump, and the same thing... No solids, just all liquid. Took another gravity reading, 1.030.

I can't figure this thing out. wtf is going on? 11 days of primary, no trub yet and I am stuck at 1.030, and the beer is still insanely cloudy with lots of sediment floating around in it.

I wanted this to be done by Thanksgiving, and I was hoping to add my vanilla beans tonight. Im not sure what to do at this point, but seems like its taking much longer then I am used to. I am used to primary being done in 4-7 days with a huge trub dump at that point, then on to dry hopping. This is insane. Any ideas? I am tempted to just toss in my beans now, let it go as is for 2 weeks, then cold crash and transfer.
You are not stuck. That's just about where it should finish. It's part of the design of the recipe. And don't dry hop, please!
 

Denny

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Just kegged this badboy today. I let it go 19days in the primary and then threw it in the fridge the last few days to settle everything out. FG ended up being 1.016 in both carboys. I let 4 vanilla beans soak in 2 cups of bourbon via mason jar for 1 week, strained, then added 1 cup to each keg. The smell was awesome. Plan on putting them on the gas tonight for a 24 hour force carb, then giving it a try next weekend. Im kind of sad Im giving one keg to my brother, but he did mule me a bunch of beer back from MI recently.
Wow, that's a low FG! Should finish in the high 20s.
 

bolus14

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Takes me a total of 15 min. to vorlauf, drain the mash, stir in sparge water, vorlauf again and runoff. I have brewed 469 batches and never had a stuck runoff.
I agree that some don't take long to vorlauf and runoff and some have never had a stuck sparge.

Mainly just pointing out that BIAB is a viable option as many try to say bigger beers can't be done with the method. I only have 1.5 yes under my belt and about 20 brews. I'm willing to listen to others advise to learn and be better. At this point me sticking with BIAB is cost. I don't want to buy cheap just to have to buy again down the road so...
 

Denny

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I agree that some don't take long to vorlauf and runoff and some have never had a stuck sparge.

Mainly just pointing out that BIAB is a viable option as many try to say bigger beers can't be done with the method. I only have 1.5 yes under my belt and about 20 brews. I'm willing to listen to others advise to learn and be better. At this point me sticking with BIAB is cost. I don't want to buy cheap just to have to buy again down the road so...
But you don't have to buy again. I've used the same cooler and braid for nearly 17 years and all those 469 batches. even if I decided I wanted a fancier system, which I don't, that mash tun could still be part if it. I tried a 5.5 gal. batch of my Rye IPA recipe with BIAB, so I have some experience doing full sized batches with it. It wasn't pretty and made me decide that full size BIAB batches weren't for me. The cooler method was so much easier.
 

bolus14

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I have opened 3 bottles so far and this stuff is perfection. Wife loves it, it tastes delicious, little bit of vanilla, little bit of chocolate, little bit of the oak/sherry from the bourbon. The sherry comes from the Bourbon i used but damn this stuff is perfect.

Denny I can see this being at least a fall/winter yearly brew without a doubt. Thanks so much for the recipe!!!
 

JonGrafto

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Pulled a sample from the fermenter last night and after almost 3 weeks (and one week one the vanilla beans), this was down to 1.029/1.030.
Taste was pretty damn awesome. I think a few more days on the beans will be right where I need it to be, then time to add the bourbon and keg...

Thanks Denny for the recipe!!! I can't wait to taste it when it is chilled and carbed.
 

bolus14

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Opened my second to last bottle of this from what I made last year last night and even though I know Denny has said he likes this fresh, a year of aging has made this the best Porter I've had, not to pat myself on the back. The recipe is perfect, sure it can be played with, but it's as sound as any out there, the beer is excellent fresh and IMO even better with a year under its belt.

To me the chocolate flavors are more prominent now than when it was fresh, almost milk chocolate aroma and very similar taste. The bourbon is still there, although at this point it might be better if it wasn't. The carbonation was just a touch higher than I'd like, slightly prickly, a touch less and it would go down very, very easy. The Almost 8% ABV was more evident when it was young but very much hidden now.

Thanks again for the recipe Denny!!! Kind of wishing this made it to my brew list this year as I thought it would but I decided to go the Belgian route and do a Dubbel/Belgian Stout and a Quad instead.
 

Denny

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Opened my second to last bottle of this from what I made last year last night and even though I know Denny has said he likes this fresh, a year of aging has made this the best Porter I've had, not to pat myself on the back. The recipe is perfect, sure it can be played with, but it's as sound as any out there, the beer is excellent fresh and IMO even better with a year under its belt.

To me the chocolate flavors are more prominent now than when it was fresh, almost milk chocolate aroma and very similar taste. The bourbon is still there, although at this point it might be better if it wasn't. The carbonation was just a touch higher than I'd like, slightly prickly, a touch less and it would go down very, very easy. The Almost 8% ABV was more evident when it was young but very much hidden now.

Thanks again for the recipe Denny!!! Kind of wishing this made it to my brew list this year as I thought it would but I decided to go the Belgian route and do a Dubbel/Belgian Stout and a Quad instead.
Need a quad recipe? http://www.candisyrup.com/uploads/6/0/3/5/6035776/dennys_400th_-_variation_002x.pdf
 

bolus14

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Funny you mention that, it's what I almost went with. Instead I went with CSI's Rochefort 10 clone. Just brewed it this past weekend with a couple modifications, I posted my changes in this thread https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=443688

Mainly used WLP545 instead WLP540, since I had the dubbel/stout finishing up fermentation and didn't have to build a starter for the yeast and I replaced 1lb of the Candi Syrup with 1lb of Turbinado sugar.
 

TandemTails

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Opened my second to last bottle of this from what I made last year last night and even though I know Denny has said he likes this fresh, a year of aging has made this the best Porter I've had, not to pat myself on the back. The recipe is perfect, sure it can be played with, but it's as sound as any out there, the beer is excellent fresh and IMO even better with a year under its belt.

To me the chocolate flavors are more prominent now than when it was fresh, almost milk chocolate aroma and very similar taste. The bourbon is still there, although at this point it might be better if it wasn't. The carbonation was just a touch higher than I'd like, slightly prickly, a touch less and it would go down very, very easy. The Almost 8% ABV was more evident when it was young but very much hidden now.

Thanks again for the recipe Denny!!! Kind of wishing this made it to my brew list this year as I thought it would but I decided to go the Belgian route and do a Dubbel/Belgian Stout and a Quad instead.
Do you mind posting the actual recipe and schedule you used when you brewed this? I went back in this thread and it doesn't look like you actually posted it. I'd be curious to see what went into yours with the modifications you made.

Thanks!
 

bolus14

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Unfortunately I lost my notes for this one. I thought the folder on my laptop where I keep all my recipes and notes was syncing with Google Drive, but apparently it wasn't because my hard drive crashed and those files weren't in my GDrive when I got things rebuilt.

I know I didn't deviate from the original recipe except to account for my efficiency and BIAB setup. I also somewhat "rushed" getting it bottled because I brewed on 9/21 last year and wanted it carbed and cold before Thanksgiving. Looking back at my post #343 on page 35 it looks like it was in the primary for 4 weeks, vanilla beans for 5 days, then bottled with 250ml of bourbon. That gave them 3-4 weeks to carbonate and get put in the fridge for Thanksgiving.

If I were to make it again, which I'm sure I will, this is what I would run with.

Original recipe, no hop changes, no grain bill changes except to account for efficiency, USE WY1450
3 week "primary".
Soak vanilla beans in the bourbon being used to bottle the day you brew.
After the 3 week primary, boil the bourbon and beans for about 5 min, cool, and add. I've gotten the best vanilla extraction with the boil, without it I haven't been happy with the vanilla I have gotten, YMMV - do what works for you.
Let it age with the beans for 1 - 2 weeks, again this is a personal preference for the recipe
Bottle with the bourbon and let age for 3-4 weeks min and don't rush through them. Save some to age, like I said the 1 yr old bottle was freaking delicious
 

Denny

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Tarpon87

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Brewed this 2 weeks ago, OG was 1.080, beer is at 1.030 now, hoping it drops a few more points. When you guys added your vanilla to the fermenter, did you do anything to sanitize them before chucking them in?
 

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Denny

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Brewed this 2 weeks ago, OG was 1.080, beer is at 1.030 now, hoping it drops a few more points. When you guys added your vanilla to the fermenter, did you do anything to sanitize them before chucking them in?
I don't do anything with them. FG should be around 1.028ish. Don't sweat it.
 

ITV

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I did a variation on Denny's recipe, I ramped it up to fill a 15 gallon rye whisky barrel (secondary fermentation) in lieu of adding vanilla and bourbon. I've been told that it was my best beer to date.

Thanks for sharing Denny!
 

phoney

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I brewed this a week or so ago. Still in the fermenter it had the color of a brown ale! Not sure what went wrong, maybe my chocolate malt wasn't dark enough?

Anyway I steeped 100g (just under 4oz) of Carafa T2 in hot water for 10 mins, then boiled the jet black liquid for 15 mins and added it in. Hopefully that should do the trick.

Love this beer!
 

Denny

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I brewed this a week or so ago. Still in the fermenter it had the color of a brown ale! Not sure what went wrong, maybe my chocolate malt wasn't dark enough?

Anyway I steeped 100g (just under 4oz) of Carafa T2 in hot water for 10 mins, then boiled the jet black liquid for 15 mins and added it in. Hopefully that should do the trick.

Love this beer!
That's your problem. You didn't follow the recipe. No carafa, no steeping.
 

phoney

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That's your problem. You didn't follow the recipe
Sorry If you misunderstood. No I followed the recipe exactly.

62% Pale
14.1% Munich
8.5% Brown
7.0% Chocolate Malt
2.8% Light Crystal
5.6% Dark Crystal

It ended up looking amber/brown in the hydrometer tube.

I added steeped carafa in afterwards in an attempt to darken it- without altering flavor. Here's what it looks like now. Anyway I'm not too bothered, it's delicious.
 

bolus14

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I would say it looks lighter because there's still a bunch of yeast in suspension. Yeast, being white to off white, will make it look lighter during fermentation. Once it settles it should look darker.
I brewed this a week or so ago. Still in the fermenter it had the color of a brown ale! Not sure what went wrong, maybe my chocolate malt wasn't dark enough?

Anyway I steeped 100g (just under 4oz) of Carafa T2 in hot water for 10 mins, then boiled the jet black liquid for 15 mins and added it in. Hopefully that should do the trick.

Love this beer!
 

Denny

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Sorry If you misunderstood. No I followed the recipe exactly.

62% Pale
14.1% Munich
8.5% Brown
7.0% Chocolate Malt
2.8% Light Crystal
5.6% Dark Crystal

It ended up looking amber/brown in the hydrometer tube.

I added steeped carafa in afterwards in an attempt to darken it- without altering flavor. Here's what it looks like now. Anyway I'm not too bothered, it's delicious.
Got it. Do you whose brown malt you used? Some is much lighter than others.
 

tennesseean_87

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This was touched on earlier, but the master hasn't weighed in, I don't believe.

The original recipe calls for 2 vanilla beans. What size beans should they be? There was talk pages back of 3-4" beans and talk of much longer ones. Might the longer ones also be thicker, and have a lot more flavor to be extracted?

What is the canonical amount of vanilla? I have some Grade A Madagascar extract grade beans that are like 6" long.
 

madscientist451

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Might the longer ones also be thicker, and have a lot more flavor to be extracted?
Normally, longer and thicker are preferred, (sorry, :off:) but with vanilla, size isn't as important as the overall flavor. I'm a big fan of making a tincture using vanilla beans and vodka and then doing some bench trials to determine how much to add. Sure, its easier to just wing it and chuck 2 vanilla beans in secondary, but having control and dialing it in has its own rewards.
:mug:
 
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