I had originally designed this beer thinking that it would be a christmas beer, coming out just in time for our holiday parties. As I'll explain later on, this beer just required more time and I didn't want to rush the process.
This was my first attempt to move off the recipes I've been using and add my own mixes and ideas. Having never made a porter and Winter being the time of stouts and porters, that was an easy decision. I wanted to give it some particular holiday flavor, so I decided to soak vanilla beans in bourbon that I could then use to add to the second ferment. I got these long vanilla beans, imported from Madagascar and soaked them in Eagle Rare bourbon for about 2 weeks.
Making the tea went much smoother than last time. I used much less water which allowed me to create it faster and then the wort went smooth from there.
During the fermenting the beer had a great kreusen foam at the top and had a wonderful rich smell that it emitted. I let it ferment for an extra week on the first go around since my last beer was a little weak. I added the vanilla beans when I switched over to the second fermenter. By this time the beans were really steeped with bourbon and had a really strong vanilla/bourbon mix.
And now, weeks later, I'm finally enjoying it. One thing I learned about the time in the bottle is the longer the better, so I made sure to give it a good two to three weeks this time. I also tried using a couple 22 ounce bottles. I have to say the beer is a little cleaner in the 22's than just the regular 12. I have also found that taking the beer out of the fridge for about 10 minutes and letting it warm a little brings out the flavor a bit more.
So far people have been really receptive to it. The front end has a little tinge from the strength of the bourbon. You can definitely taste a vanilla overtone throughout the body and as it finishes you catch the sweetness of the bourbon coupled with a slight chocolate flavor. The carbonation is about right for a porter, just supporting the flavor throughout the body. It has quite a bit of head as you can see too. However, the yeasty/sour aftertaste that ruined the taste on my IPA is also present in this beer. I'd like to try using better water and hops and see if this can work itself out.
It's a learning process, but it's always a lot of fun.