So in my last beer, I added bourbon infused with vanilla bean. I started to wonder if this was "cheating" or frowned upon, as far as getting the bourbon flavor into the beer. Is there a better way to do it, or a correct way?
Whichever way you want to flavor a beer is fantastic! That’s part of the fun with brewing. Unless you are concerned about following the Reinheitsgebot, don’t worry about adjunct materials. I really like the way you decided to flavor your beer. If you’re looking for further suggestions, try finding wood chips soaking them in your favorite bourbon, than throw the wood chips in a nylon sock. Tie up the top and place it in your beer during the conditioning stage. The flavor comes through nicely in the final product. If you can find some wood from an old bourbon barrel this technique works well. Just make sure you sterilize all surfaces that will come in contact with your beer by washing it with an alkaline based cleaner or under water that is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 Celsius).
Like I have said before, its the taste that matters in the end to me. Not some sort of right or wring way to get there.
I make a winter ale with oak ships soaked in burbon. To which I add my cinnamon and nutmeg as well. Let it sit for a few days then put it all in secondary.
You method sounds great to me.
I don't think there's any wrong way to add bourbon flavor to your beer other than adding something that hasn't been sanitized properly ;)
Jack Daniels sells wood chips made from their old barrels for smoking on the grill but I don't see any reason why you couldn't use them to add some oak and bourbon* flavor to your brew, just be sure to sanitize them properly first.
*technically Jack Daniel's isn't bourbon since it is not made in Kentucky; but as far as ingredients and flavor are concerned, it is basically bourbon.
First, I don't think it's cheating. I think adding bourbon to beer sounds delicious!
I guess it would help to break down what you want in a "bourbon" flavor. For my Scotch Ale, I wanted something smokey and peaty and oaky. So I used smoked malt and peated malt, and oak chips.
Using a barrel that was used for bourbon would work pretty well too.. Though that's difficult at the 5 gal range.