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Old 08-03-2010, 01:05 AM   #1
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Default Vanilla Bean Experimentation Time!

Hey all, so I was at a wedding this past weekend, and the wedding favours the couple gave out was a packet of 3 Tahitian vanilla beans. My mind immediately went to using them in brewing (naturally), and at the end of the wedding I went around and picked up all the leftovers.

I ended up with 51 vanilla beans (give or take a few), which means I want to do some experimentation! So I'm looking for ideas on what to do... I want to extract the vanilla into alcohol before adding to beer, so let's start there. From the little research I have done so far I found that the FDA apparently regulates the commercial extraction of vanilla to using what works out to ~6 beans/cup of 35% alcohol. I figure 40% will fine for my purposes.

I have 16oz mason jars, some medium plus French oak spirals, and will go and buy whatever liquor I need.

As I get ideas, I'll add them to the list below. If you have an idea, back it up with a reason for doing it and how you envision the resulting product being used in brewing.

Vanilla Extraction Ideas

  • 6 beans in 1 cup vodka (might double)
  • 6 beans in 1 cup bourbon (might double)
  • 6 beans in 1 cup white/light rum
  • 2 beans in 1 cup Maker's Mark + Oak (might play with the ratios)
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:18 AM   #2
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I will also consider mead-based suggestions Haven't made any meads yet, but I have 12# of honey in the closet waiting as well...

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Old 08-03-2010, 02:32 AM   #3
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Stouts!

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Old 08-03-2010, 05:55 AM   #4
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OK, yes that is a type of beer I can add the vanilla to.... but I'm more looking for ways to extract it first

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Old 08-03-2010, 06:52 AM   #5
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I think just split and scrape them and drop them in the secondary. Alcohol will act as a solvent.

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Old 08-03-2010, 07:10 AM   #6
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I think just split and scrape them and drop them in the secondary. Alcohol will act as a solvent.
i made a vanilla stout recently and this is what i did,i "dry hopped" the beer with them, its still in the fermenter at the moment,has been for about 5 weeks, and it tastes really good, a pleasant mild vanilla flavour, i used 3 beans in 40 litres(11g i think)

after this experiment i wouldn't bother soaking in alcohol, they keep for quite a while in an airtight jar, having said that i suppose you could make your own vanilla flavoured spirits, dump a couple in a bottle of vodka or rum or whatevers your poison
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Old 08-03-2010, 08:04 PM   #7
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Part of the reason I want to extract the flavour is so that I can dose the beer until the level is just right. No guess work up front as to how many beans to soak and for how long. I feel it's just more controlled that way, and better for consistent results in the long run.

I'm not too worried about the beans going bad, the alcohol soak is only for extraction purposes.

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Old 08-03-2010, 09:33 PM   #8
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Default Bourbon Vanilla Oak Ale

Place 8oz Maker's Mark, 2 oz med toast oak chips and 2 cut-up vanilla beans in a pint sized mason jar. Let sit sit for 2 weeks. Add to kegged beer. Enjoy.

I don't care for Bourbon or oak at all but I have a coworker who love's it. I add this to Haus Pale Ale then bottle. He get's it all and then reimburses me generously for the ingredients.

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Old 08-04-2010, 01:06 AM   #9
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Thanks Shelly, is this something you've done a few times? Just wondering how the strength of the resulting flavours are.

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Old 08-04-2010, 01:47 AM   #10
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I've done it twice. The first time I had 3 vanilla beans and let it sit almost 2 months. The oak and the vanilla were too much. But it went into an Imperial Haus Pale Ale and turned out good. Second time around was 2 weeks and 2 vanilla beans and it went into a regular Haus Pale Ale and was much better. I'm surprised at how fast the bourbon extracts the oak and vanilla flavors. Whatever the bourbon-vanilla-oak tastes like before you add it to the beer is pretty much the same way it tastes after you add it to the beer, just toned down quite a bit.

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