Date: January 15, 2013
We learn something new everyday. Today I learned that my brand spanking new refractometer will not give an accurate gravity reading once fermentation has commenced. It's great for sampling wort, not beer.
I was getting worried that I had a stuck fermentation since the gravity reading using the refractometer hadn't budged in days. That's when I turned to the Internets! And found a very helpful discussion on homebrewtalk.com on just this very topic (hydrometer vs refractometer).
Use a hydrometer for measuring specific gravity post-fermentation. That, or try this helpful refractometer calculator, which estimates gravity based on your brix readings.
I racked the porter to my 3 gal carboy, where it will now sit on 4 oz of cacao nibs that have been soaking in 3 oz of Jack Daniels for two weeks. Hopefully after a week or two of conditioning, the beer will absorb some of the natural bitterness of the cacao to offset the sweetness of the chocolate malt, and maybe even take on some of the "warmth" from the whiskey.
With a little more than a half gallon of porter remaining, I decided to rack it to a small, one-gallon glass jug. This should offer a nice juxtaposition of how much the cacao/whiskey conditioning altered the flavor.
Color: Ruddy, mud-black brown, deep red color at edges
Smell: Chocolate, malt sweetness, some roastiness
Taste: Dark chocolate, burned brownies, hop backbone but not distracting, coffee bitterness aftertaste, moderate mouth feel