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Old 08-29-2010, 03:48 PM   #1
Rubarbpie
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Default Vanilla bean tincture. Vodka a must?

I've read vodka and or bourbon are acceptable for letting the vanilla bean soak in as a sort of tincture prior to adding it all into secondary fermentation.

Is there a main reason it has to be vodka? Im sure the vodka flavor wont come out in the beer however Im just curious if I could use a 3-4 oz of whiskey?

I'm brewing a strong ale today and might use some vanilla bean/oaked chips tincture for secondary fermentation.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-29-2010, 03:58 PM   #2
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Don't have a straight answer for you but I figured I'd offer my experiences.

I made a vanilla porter last year and added 2 cut and scraped vanilla beans to 1.5 oz of 12 yr Jameson for a few days. I added the entire mix to the beer when I racked to secondary. For months it tasted like a whiskey barrel aged porter with the faintest hint of vanilla that you could barely pick up on. I couldn't believe how much the whiskey flavor stood out considering it was just 1.5 oz to 5 gallons of beer. Needless to say I was very disappointed with the result especially because it was a birthday present for my girlfriend - she hates whiskey.

I'd be interested in hearing others experiences as I plan on brewing this again this year for her birthday. This time I just won't mention it in case it doesn't come out good again.

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Old 08-29-2010, 04:13 PM   #3
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The key element is alcohol to extract the oils. Vodka is used because it doesn't mask the flavor.

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Old 08-29-2010, 04:14 PM   #4
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Yeah I was wondering if the flavor of whiskey would take over the flavor but I wouldn't have suspected 1.5 oz's would be so potent. That is interesting.

So Im guessing vodka plays more of a neutral role and lets the vanilla bean stand out more.

Thanks for your experience and reply and good luck with your next brew!

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Old 08-29-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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There were a couple reasons why I went with the whiskey. One was because it was a version of Denny Conn's bourbon vanilla imperial porter that I knocked down to 6% abv. Instead of adding the recommended 10mL/pint suggestion (I think I got that number off the Northern Brewer thread). I figured 1.5oz to 5 gallons wouldn't really noticeable and if it was it would just add a little complexity.

The second reason was because I read several testimonials that said using vodka would add too much "hotness" to the finished beer. But maybe next time I'll try the vodka since the whiskey didn't work out so well.

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Old 01-03-2012, 07:02 PM   #6
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One interesting point: the process for making vanilla extract is to soak vanilla beans in neutral spirits. Essentially you're making your own extract. Hints From Heloise: Making vanilla extract - The Washington Post

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