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Old 09-17-2012, 03:13 AM   #11
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this advice seems unsound for a couple reasons. First, there's no reason to add the hulls since the flavor is inside, so you're just increasing your risk of infection. Second, by not scraping out the guts, you'll be getting poor utilization, which will require more beans and hence greater risk of infection.

Scraping out and adding just those scrapings, whether "sanitized" or not, seems wiser.
Sounds like you've never used real vanilla beans before. Every recipe I've seen, that uses an actual bean, has you split, scrape, then add the caviar AND pod to the recipe. There's a good amount of benefit from adding the split pod to the batch.

I've even seen where people take previously used split pods, save them, and use them in something else. Like making vanilla sugar. There you simply place a [dried if previously used] pod into a container of regular white sugar and let the flavors infuse it over time. I probably wouldn't do that for a pod used for a beer (when dropped in) but you can for other things.
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Old 09-17-2012, 03:41 AM   #12
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...There's a good amount of benefit from adding the split pod to the batch...
good to know, thanks. If there's that much flavor in the pods, then perhaps scraping the guts, cutting up the pods, then soaking everything in vodka makes a lot of sense. That'll be my plan next time. But I also wonder if heating up (like in 180f water) for a few minutes might even work better, since the heat would help get the oils out and sanitize too.
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Old 09-17-2012, 04:13 AM   #13
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good to know, thanks. If there's that much flavor in the pods, then perhaps scraping the guts, cutting up the pods, then soaking everything in vodka makes a lot of sense. That'll be my plan next time. But I also wonder if heating up (like in 180f water) for a few minutes might even work better, since the heat would help get the oils out and sanitize too.
I've had about 2oz of split, scraped, chopped vanilla pods (and caviar) soaking in a pint mason jar, filled with Skyy vodka. They've been in there for just over 6 months now, and is slated to go to small bottles soon (either this week, or after my move next week). Basically, I'm making my own vanilla extract. The benefits here include actually knowing what pods were used in the making of the extract.

I wouldn't heat them up before adding to a brew (especially water). IMO, IF you're going to soak them in anything, make it a tiny amount of very clean vodka. That way you won't get any other flavors in the brew. Unless you actually want other alcohol flavors added to the brew.

I'm seriously thinking about placing a few pods into a 14% mead I've had going since December (2011). The mead, when I last checked on it, was very light in flavor (from the honey). Adding a few pods could turn it into something much better.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:11 PM   #14
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Would you put a uncleaned stick in your beer Denny? How is a vanilla bean different? You are solid wrong here.

I don't understand the lack of care when it comes to these things. I'm not over-zealous, it's just common sense here.
All I can tell you is that I've done it a dozen or more times with vanilla beans alone and never had a problem. I put chanterelle mushrooms in a beer. I picked them from the woods behind my house and all I did was brush the dirt off and chopped them on an unsanitized cutting board. They were in the beer for 3 weeks and the beer itself was around fro 5 months. When I served it at NHC, Randy Mosher liked it do much he brought Mike McDole and Mitch Steele by to taste it. And that wasn't the first time I've done that. I understand your point and I used to think the same way. Then I tried it and over and over again it's worked for me. I can only give advice based on my own experience and that's my experience. So I guess the answer is that yes, I would put a stick into fermented beer!
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:20 PM   #15
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Update & a question.


First, I hit the vanilla beans with vodka despite the pending war over it (I crack me up). I also drank the vodka afterward (wow!).

Second, two weeks in the fermenter has given me a SG of 1.020 from 1.062. I'm not seeing any activity but the recipe I used called for another week in the primary and two more in a secondary. Does that make sense or will I hover around 1.020 forever? Will racking it into the secondary get it moving again? Do I hit it with more yeast? Should I sacrifice a small mammal to the brew gods? If so, what kind of mammal?

In other news, it tasted good. Here's the recipe below. I welcome any advice or criticism of it.

Thanks for all the help so far.


Mocha Porter (not mine, can't give me credit or blame... Shamefully, lost the creator's name)


9# Amber LME
12 oz. Flaked Oats
1# Chocolate Malt
8 oz. Black Patent Malt
12 oz Crystal 60

1.5 oz Bullion (60 min)
.5 oz Williamette (30 min)
.5 oz Williamette (5 min)

1.5 cup cocoa powder (10 min)
2 vanilla beans in primary

Or 1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale


OG: 1.062

Soaked vanilla beans in vodka to sanitize.

Muslin bag broke because I went too big. Use strainer twice with a fermenter bucket. After the final drop into the fermenter I strained again but lost some of the cocoa.

Initial plan is three weeks in primary. Look up racking to second. 4 weeks in bottle.

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Old 09-29-2012, 11:35 PM   #16
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when i used vanilla beans in my last brew I split and scraped as described above, then soaked in vodka, also mentioned.

I used a sanitized 4 oz mason jar and used just enough vodka to keep them wet. When it came time to add them I used a sanitized rubber spatula and scraped the entire contents of the jar into the fermentation vessel.

Just my 2 cents for next time: Pour the beans AND vodka into your vessel. Any vanilla you tasted when you drank the vodka could have been in the beer.

I had no residual vodka flavor from the <1oz of vodka I used to steep the beans.

Happy Brewing!

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Last edited by Skagdog; 09-29-2012 at 11:37 PM. Reason: silly me
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:44 PM   #17
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I should've dumped the vodka in?

Ugh. Well, at least that mistake tasted good.

Thanks for the tip. Next time I shall show restraint.

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Old 09-30-2012, 12:56 AM   #18
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I should've dumped the vodka in?

Ugh. Well, at least that mistake tasted good.

Thanks for the tip. Next time I shall show restraint.

i wouldn't say you made a mistake, I'm not trying to get into your bizzzness, I was just offering up something to try next time if you don't get the vanilla flavor you're after.

That's a lesson learned on my part because i've had the vanilla infused vodka before and later thought, "Dang, I wish my stout had as much flavor".

Happy Brewing!
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Old 09-30-2012, 01:00 AM   #19
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I wasn't complaining. I'm so new at this I'm just glad the first few worked out.

I appreciate any advice thrown this way.

So thanks.

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Old 09-30-2012, 01:02 AM   #20
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I'm still somewhat of a greenhorn, having only been doing this about a year. Enjoy your brew and, if you don't already, take good brew day notes so you can look back at what you did if you ever have issues...

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