Sunday, March 9, 2008

Scotch Kissed Vanilla Bean Robust Porter

I’ve had my eyes on some different recipes for a Vanilla Bourbon Porter and I have one major issue with them all. I am not a huge Bourbon fan. I am a Scotch kind of guy. I don’t know why the Bourbon was attracting to me when I like the peaty flavors of the Speyside and the lighter fruitier flavors of the Highlands. So I put together a recipe for myself that include Scotch.

I wasn’t looking for a huge high gravity Porter, just to make something more sessionable. The hops I used may not be typical Porter hops, but I sure love the flavors of Chinook and Cascade.
Since I am a Scotch drinker, I had a couple bottles on hand. I chose a 12yr Glenmorangie Sherry Wood Barrel scotch. I believe this style is now discontinued, so I only went with 3oz of it. I didn’t want the scotch flavor to be overbearing or the center of focus, so just a kiss is what it needed.

The vanilla beans I bought at Whole Foods. I don’t know much about them, so I just opened the containers and took a deep sniff. I chose the one that smelled the best. The Papua New Guineas won out. They did not have Bourbon Vanilla Beans, so they were not an option. I hear those are the best, but I had to use what I can get. Whole Foods prides itself on the freshness of the products, so I feel these may be better than picking some up at the local homebrew store. I could be wrong, but the Whole Foods was right around the corner. Two beans came in a tube, so I just bought one tube. I didn’t want to make the porter too vanilla either, just a light hint of it. I just wanted to enhance the flavor, but still taste mostly like a porter.

Basically I just cut the beans down the middle and then cut in quarters. Then I soaked them in the scotch on the day I started brewing. Once the primary fermentation slowed (3-5 days), I just poured everything in the primary.

Below is the recipe I used. I’m still an extract brewer (hopefully not for long), so I don’t have an all-grain version of this. I’m sure it isn’t too hard to convert.

Steeping Grains
0.5 lbs - Simpson's Chocolate
0.5 lbs - Simpsons Dark Crystal

Malt Extract
6.0 lbs - Munich Malt Syrup
1.0 lbs - Dark Dry Malt Extract

1.0 oz - Chinook (60 min)
1.0 oz - Cascade (1 min)

Wyeast #1187 Ringwood Ale Yeast. (Fermented at 67 degrees).

Added Flavors
2 beans – Papua New Guinea Vanilla Beans
3oz (3 shots) – Shots of Glenmorangie 12 year old Sherry wood finished Scotch

I fermented at 67 degrees. This is my first batch using the temperature controller and I was able to keep the beer at the exact temperature for the duration of the fermentation. I also decided against secondary fermentation. After listening to Jamil Zainasheff, a world-class brewer, he states he usually never uses a secondary. I decided to try it. I will be bottling this week. I’ll post a comment on how it came out.

This beer scored a 28.5 at nationals in the spiced and herb beer category. The main issue was it wasn't vanilla and scotch enough. So I entered this into another competition as a Robust Porter. It received 39 points and the only comment was that it could have used a little more malt complexity.


Glenim said...

Sounds tasty, wouldn't mind having a shot at this recipe.

How is it drinking so far?

Cheers and beers,


scott said...

I've been inspired by this and some bourbon vanilla bean recipes, so I have one I made yesterday.

My changes were: 8lbs pale 2 row, 1lb 20L crystal, 11.2 chocolate malt, 8oz black malt, 1lb of turbinado sugar, 1/4 lb dry malt extract to bring it up to a 6 gallons, 1.057 OG start. I'm new to AG, but this time I got awesome extract efficiency... (I input 75% eff. in BeerSmith, and it called for another 3/4 lb dry malt extract, but I didn't need it to hit 1.057). I probably should have used 60L crystal instead of 20L... but I used what I had on hand.

1.75 oz glacier for the entire boil ( Advice I got was if you want the vanilla/scotch/malt to come forward, skip the flavor/aroma hop). I'm using 3 whole sticky beans in 4oz blend of of chevaz regal/johnny walker white

If it comes out good, I'll post a follow up here. Good post!

Julian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
scott said...

So a couple of years after I posted the above comment, I get an update notification from a spammer comment.. heh, it happens (good to see that it was removed).

Anyways, the "bourbon vanilla bean" I made in 2008 was great. If someone were to follow my recipe though, it would be on the "thin" side due to the high sugar content. If I had to do it again, I'd swap the black malt for Carafa 2 and cut the sugar back to just .75lb, or add in .5lb wheatso that there's a bit more body.

I had this beer at my wedding in September, and it was nice. I saved one for September 2009 anniversary, and the beer was less carbonated which unfortunately highlighted the lack of body. But you never know what you get when aging..