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Old 12-07-2012, 04:19 PM   #1
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Default Vanilla Bean tincture

So i'm new here, but have been reading threads for awhile. I've only made 4 batches of beer so far, so i'm still a beginner. I am going to make a 5 gallon batch of smoked vanilla porter. I have been reading different threads on this forum about adding vanilla beans to beer. I've read you can split the bean in half and dump it into the primary fermentation, or split the bean in half, scrape out the insides, soak it in vodka and put it into the secondary fermentation...I think i'd rather go with the tincture method, unless somebody thinks different...
My questions are, Does it matter what type of vodka is used?
How much vodka do i soak the beans in? And how long?
Do i add it to the primary or secondary? (i came across a thread where you guys were debating whether secondary fermentations are even necessary). Any help is appreciated!

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Old 12-07-2012, 04:31 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Toasty27 View Post
So i'm new here, but have been reading threads for awhile. I've only made 4 batches of beer so far, so i'm still a beginner. I am going to make a 5 gallon batch of smoked vanilla porter. I have been reading different threads on this forum about adding vanilla beans to beer. I've read you can split the bean in half and dump it into the primary fermentation, or split the bean in half, scrape out the insides, soak it in vodka and put it into the secondary fermentation...I think i'd rather go with the tincture method, unless somebody thinks different...
My questions are, Does it matter what type of vodka is used?
Yes, you want the cleanest, most flavor absent vodka you can find. I use Skyy vodka to make my extract, and it adds NOTHING to it. Which is exactly what I want.

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How much vodka do i soak the beans in? And how long?
Enough to cover. How long can vary. It should be fine at anything from a day to a few weeks. After that, you're really starting to make vanilla extract.

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Do i add it to the primary or secondary? (i came across a thread where you guys were debating whether secondary fermentations are even necessary). Any help is appreciated!
You can add it to primary. No harm will befall your brew if you do.

You can also simply make vanilla extract and add the results of that to the batch. I made some at the start of the year, and bottled it about two months ago. Came out great. I have another batch going (with almost all of the beans I had left) which is going to go until about February-May before I bottle that up. About 2oz of beans/pods split and scraped per pint mason jar, which is then filled with vodka is good. Use high quality beans though. I picked premium Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla beans to use. On Amazon, they're NOT expensive. You'd probably need to sell a child if you purchased them from the grocery store.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:43 AM   #3
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Any clean vodka is fine. The higher the gravity, the more it will extract the vanilla flavor.

Vodka will extract more flavor than the beer due to the higher alcohol.

Add to secondary, or the primary after the main ferment is over. Add vodka and beans. Or just add the tincture to the bottling bucket.

I have 5 beans chopped, scraped currently sitting in a couple of ounces of vodka waiting for a beer. Might sit there for a few months.

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Old 12-08-2012, 04:52 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help!

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Old 12-09-2012, 05:33 AM   #5
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Would there be any problem with using, say 190 proof alchohol?

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Old 12-09-2012, 05:37 AM   #6
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Would there be any problem with using, say 190 proof alchohol?
Besides where you got it you mean?? I wouldn't go above about 90 proof for this. Since the alcohol is also going into the brew, it's a good idea to not use something THAT strong (95% ABV).
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:41 AM   #7
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Lol, not about where I got it, I can get it at the liquor store, just wondered if the higher proof would extract more flavor or impart the alchohol in the beer.

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Old 12-09-2012, 05:46 AM   #8
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Lol, not about where I got it, I can get it at the liquor store, just wondered if the higher proof would extract more flavor or impart the alchohol in the beer.
Pretty sure that you'll see zero difference from 80 proof and anything above that. IMO, you're just using something far too hot to be good.

I know things are different in FL, but I've never seen anything 190 proof on shelves. There's a reason why it's not there, that sh*t's DANGEROUS to drink.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:14 AM   #9
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Thats the answer I was looking for, thanks. I read a few post up that the higher the gravity was the more vanilla would be extracted, I just didn't know what the max was.

And yes, 95% abv alchohol is not meant for straight consumption, but it is sold in liquor stores around here. It's called Everclear. They have two percentages available 75 1/2% and 95%

Edit: it has a big red warning label on it lol

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Old 12-09-2012, 06:25 AM   #10
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I use Everclear to do tinctures, and it works well. Be aware however, that a seemingly small quantity of Everclear can add a significant percentage of alcohol to a brew. 20 liters of 5% ABV beer has 1 liter of pure alcohol in it, so if you add 250 ml of tincture you are kicking the alcohol up to 6.1% (if my highschool math serves me correctly)

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