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Old 12-13-2005, 05:08 PM   #1
bleppek
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Default Need help adding vanilla to a cream ale

I will be getting the cream ale kit from northernbrewer today, and had a question about maybe adding a little bit of vanilla to the taste. This will only be my 3rd batch so I'm still very new to the process (still waiting for my first batch to bottle condition ). I do use a 5 gallon secondary for all my beers, so I could add something then.
What would be the easiest way to get just a hint of vanilla taste to this batch? All suggestions are appreciated. Here is what the kit contains:

Specialty Grains
0.75 lbs. Gambrinus Honey Malt
0.25 lbs. Dingemans Biscuit

Fermentables
6 lbs. Alexander's Pale

Boil Additions
1 oz. Mt. Hood (60 min)
1 oz. Willamette (1 min)

Yeast
Wyeast #1338 European Ale Yeast. From Wissenschaftliche in Munich. Full-bodied complex strain finishing very malty. Produces a dense, rocky head during fermentation. Flocculation: high. Apparent attenuation: 67-71%. Optimum temperature: 62-72.

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Old 12-13-2005, 05:15 PM   #2
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I've done a couple of vanilla batches now--and honestly I won't use vanilla beans again. To my taste, it leaves a bitter astringency I don't like at all.

I'll use vanilla extract from now on. Unfortunately it is an experiment to what your tastes are. I'd start with a tablspoon or so in the secondary, so you can taste it along the way. If it needs more, add it and bottle thereafter.

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Old 12-13-2005, 05:18 PM   #3
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ORRELSE, were you adding those beans to the secondary or in another part of the process? I've added them to the secondary without noticing any astringency, but it may be a matter of personal taste or even the vanilla beans themselves. OTOH, I've only added them to dark beers with other flavors so that could have masked any astringency that may have shown up in a lighter style.

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Old 12-13-2005, 07:43 PM   #4
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One time I soaked the beans in vodka and added that to secondary. Another time I just added cut up (and sliced straight down the middle) to secondary. Both times I got that same unwanted twang. I can't describe it other than being "harsh".

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Old 12-13-2005, 08:09 PM   #5
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I hadn't noticed anything like that other than in my oak barrel stout which definitely had tannin type astringency I associate with the oak based on my limited wine drinking. My attempt at the chocolate jitters is in the secondary now with a bean (which I got from that ebay seller, the bourbon type) which I hope to keg between Christmas and NY, so I'll see then. I've been steaming the whole bean for 5-10 minutes, splitting it with a sanitized knife, and then prying it open slightly to expose the seeds.

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Old 12-14-2005, 03:06 AM   #6
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I'd start with one vanilla bean added to the secondary, split down the middle, but leave it in the secondary to mellow and mature (longer than 7-10 days). ORRELSE may be right about astringency though, having only used vanilla in porters or darker.

Come to think of it...I'm not necessarily sure a cream ale would have enough of it's own distinct body and flavor to support even vanilla suggestions. Thoughts anybody?

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:10 PM   #7
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I've read recommendations of scraping out the inside of the bean before adding it to secondary.

I'm actually about to brew the exact same thing, a vanilla cream ale. A local brewer here makes one that is really nice. I think they use extract, though. Probably due to the cost of adding enough vanilla beans at such a large scale.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:29 PM   #8
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I have had great results with vanilla extract. 3 oz to the bottling bucket for a 5 gal batch of vanilla cream ale. No sanitation concerns due to the alcohol content of the extract and no off flavors for me. I have done this recipe many times due to its popularity.

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Old 12-14-2005, 01:54 PM   #9
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That does seem a bit easier, and probably cheaper. I might just do that. Vanilla beans just seem so much more authentic

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Old 12-14-2005, 08:33 PM   #10
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would there be any benifit to adding the extract earlier?..say in the primary?...

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