Review of Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter

Posted on March 18, 2010 by

The day finally came where I could try the Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter I homebrewed, what seems like, a long time ago! This homebrew has been about a 12 week process to get to the point where I really enjoy it as a treat! I brewed up the extract version of this beer which has attributed to it being a little bit darker than a porter would be according to the style. However, the flavors are right on! I thought the kit was relatively easy to follow and yielded a pretty good result.

Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter

Review of Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter


The brew pours a pretty deep black. This is a bit off from the style, mainly because its an extract with a ton of “dark” malt. It has a nice brown head. The head didn’t stay around a long time for me, but that could be in my process.


Sweet. There is a hit of vanilla and bourbon, but it is an overall sweetness that I can’t attribute to one specific component. It could be the chocolate, vanilla, caramel or a combination of them all. The hop aroma is pretty non existent. I do get a tinge of alcohol, but completely bearable.


Pretty good. Its sweeter than expected. I believe this would make a good night cap or breakfast beer as it stands now. I compare it to a cold coffee as I get some coffee under tones, but it is balanced nicely with all of the chocolate and vanilla.


A bit thicker, but I’m ok with that. It has a real smooth mouthfeel that attributes to a smooth after taste.


It is good, and I could probably do 2 or 3, but it definitely isn’t a session beer. The sweetness would eventually get to me after a bit of time. I did mention I think this would be perfect with some bacon and eggs though in the early am and could  be a real good hangover beer.


Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter Extract Kit is completely worth giving a try. It is a little bit more expensive to brew coming in at around $32 for the kit with an addition of half a bottle of booze to it, puts the kit at around $55. However for 54 beers of this quality, its about $1 a bottle, which you’ll never get in a store. However, it wasn’t overly complicated and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve had so far.


Next time I brew this, and I will, I’ll probably add more oak and more bourbon. I tend to like a more distinct alcohol flavor in a beer like this. I feel that would balance well with an added wood and vanilla flavor from the oak. It was definitely lighter in that department than I thought it would be.

Remember, if you want to get into homebrewing I’ve got a great article on getting started brewing my own beer that you should check out!

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  • UDGS

    This one sounds great! One thing I remember from my BTing days is that as far as pouring a beer and getting the best head and aroma, whether from a tap or other container, it was recommended by the beer distributors to: 1. Have a clean glass and 2. start the pour on the side of the glass until there is about 1/2 inch of beer on the bottom and then tilt the glass back upright and pour the rest right down the middle.

  • mikebiewer

    I have found with some homebrewing recipes I have to be a bit more aggressive on my pour otherwise I get no head. It could be the recipe. I'm not sure yet. I have debated on getting a package of dextrose to add to my recipe. More alcohol and a better head retention. However, I'd like to look to other options before that.

  • davemartinson

    Still waiting for my bottle. Next weekend the Traveling Wortburys are at Lori's.

  • mikebiewer

    I'll bring your bottle next weekend for sure! It should be quite tasty by the time you dig into it.

  • davemartinson

    I will bring my last bottle of Hazelnut Brown ale to the party. I'm bottling another batch today. That will be ready for the lakes when we open up down there. Then we'll have our batches that we start next weekend. It will be a summer full of home brew.

  • mikebiewer

    I've got 3 to share next weekend. I'll have the porter, an American Honey Wheat and an EPA. Looking forward to it!

  • Mark Anderson

    Very smooth. I love it. Chocolate flavor and coffee flavor.

  • mikebiewer

    For sure! I'm glad you liked it and it was a blast being able to share with you and the family.

    I think next time there will be a little more vanilla and bourbon in it. I may put this on top of my list of beers to perfect. It seemed all the “non dark beer” drinkers really enjoyed it. That is honestly what it is about. Every one likes more than one kind of beer, its just finding them!

    Thanks again!

  • Jez

    How much priming sugar are you adding before bottling? Because I used to put in 3/4 of a cup and found that wasn't nearly enough. After about 8 weeks in the bottle, it would finally get around to having a decent head, but that's a helluva long time to wait. I google “priming sugar calculator” and follow the instructions there. I still go easy, though I'm surprised at how much more corn sugar I'm using and I get big, fluffy heads.

  • Homebrewing: The Third Experiment |

    [...] Video Review of Northern Brewer Bourbon Barrel Porter Share and Enjoy: [...]

  • Johnathan01

    How about adding the LME at 20 or 30 minutes? Maybe this would yield that porter color?

  • Anonymous

    Possibly…I did a late extract addition once and I didn’t really dig it. Here is why. When your boiling your hops, let’s say, for 60 minutes, you need the wort to be boiling for 60 minutes to get all of the bitterness your recipe is telling you that your going to get from that first addition. If you put in 3 pounds of LME half way though, you bring you wort temperature down considerably. It takes another 10 to 15 minutes to get it back up to boiling, and you will need to do another hot break to address the new proteins you have added. So, in my opinion, unless you are making beer to go into a competition, its not worth the time or effort.


  • Gregmakesbeer

    Ok, thanks for the feedback. We just bottled it, and gave it one last taste before the caps went on, and noticed the bourbon taste and no hops or oak flavors, as you mentioned. We made it with makers, what bourbon did you use? because I certainly wouldn’t want any more alcohol taste…and, after the priming..should we anticipate a different flavor?
    Greg and Alex

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