Happy holidays! Santa was good to my hobby this year. I gained a chest freezer that I turned into a four tap keggerator and a custom built brew tower. More to come on both of those as well as the 20 gallon Old Ale brew day, but for this post I wanted to share a review of CNYBrew Friend Jeremy’s Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter. Jeremy recently made the change to all-grain brewing and has a few batches under his belt. The recipe was by Danny Conn and is available here, Jeremy was looking for a brew to give out to friends for holiday gifts. Here are Jeremy’s comments on the brew he made;
I scaled my recipe down to 2.5 gallons to fit into the 12 1 Liter bottles I had. I also didn’t use the oak chips as I had never used them before but had read that it is very easy to go overboard and I didn’t want the oak to dominate the flavor.
7.5 lb Pale US 2-Row
1.25 lb Munich 10L
.75 lb Special Roast
.50 lb Caramel 120L
.50 lb Caramel 45L
.12 lb Chocolate 350L
.50 oz Columbus – 60 Mins
.30 oz Goldings – 10 Mins
Mash was the same as above. 60 min boil. I used Wyeast 1056 (with starter) instead and my fermentation temp was a bit higher at 70 degrees. It was in the primary for 2 weeks and then I racked into a secondary on top of a Madagascar Vanilla Bean that I had cut down the middle, scraped out the inside, and then chopped into quarters. I soaked the pieces in a bit of bourbon for a day beforehand. I left it in the secondary for another 2 weeks and added half a cup of Jim Beam Bourbon at bottling.
Now I had this while my wife and I were over for dinner, but Jeremy was nice enough to give me a bottle to try on my own. I enjoyed it over some football, here are my notes:
Aroma: I noticed a lot of fruity smells in the nose, there were some light vanilla tones, but very subtle. Vanilla is a forgiving additive for a beer, it plays nice. The fruity aroma was pretty intense and probably a result of the warm fermentation.
Head: A pretty thin head until I poured it more aggressively, this happens in beers with higher alcohol content, he may want to increase the dex on the next time around. The color of the head was cream/off white and reminded me of a cream ale head.
Color: Deep rose red to a mahogany color, a nice color for a porter. The clarity was fantastic on this brew, there was no chill haze or sediment in the brew.
Taste: There were hints of fruity esters on the front end with the creamy vanilla flavors following on the back end. Clean finish with all the flavors being subtle and nothing really overwhelming the beer.
Mouth feel: Early on there was some carbonation burn on the tongue, but nothing too bad and it really tapered off as I drank. The body was clean, crisp and easy to drink with no alcohol burn.
Over all: This is rich, but not overbearing. The vanilla and caramel notes really set this beer off, but it finishes clean on your pallet. This makes the beer very palatable that I might even go so far as to call it a session beer (perhaps it’s a drinking mans session beer, but it’s something I could have a few of and not get sick of). There are only two things I would change; fermentation temp to keep the esters in check and maybe tweak the recipe to give it a little more complexity, but it should be done in extreme moderation as it’s a very drinkable beer and that should remain.
Thanks to Jeremy for sharing his beer, it’s a great beer and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did.