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Old 03-17-2010, 03:26 AM   #1
I_B_Mongo
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Default Vanilla and oak question

I'm getting ready to make a bourbon barrel aged vanilla imperial porter. About a week ago I split and scrapped two vanilla beans, put them in a Mason jar, and covered them with bourbon.
My plan is to brew up the imperial porter and ferment it as usual. Then I planned on letting it age in a bourbon barrel for about 3-4 weeks (depending on how much/how fast it picks up flavors from the barrel), and then adding the soaked beans. I'm afraid that if I add the beans to either the fermenter or the barrel the vanilla taste I'm shooting for will be lost.

Does this sound like a good route, or should I add the beans to primary? barrel?

Thanks!

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Old 03-17-2010, 11:37 AM   #2
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I assume you are planning on adding the bourbon as well? After soaking for that long I would guess most of the vanilla flavor would be in the bourbon and not in the beans. Anytime after fermentation has finished should be fine, all the CO2 produced in primary can scrub subtle flavors out of the beer.

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Old 03-17-2010, 05:16 PM   #3
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I would add some extra extract at bottling time, otherwise the vanilla flavor will be over powered. I brought some some good stuff from mexico, make sure you find a quality brand. If you keep it the way it is, I think you will be hard pressed to detect the vanilla at all. It really depends on what you are going for.

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Old 03-17-2010, 05:40 PM   #4
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I agree with Oldsock, the majority of the vanilla flavor will be in the bourbon after you soak it so you should think about adding the bourbon as well. After all, vanilla extract is mostly ethanol since vanilla is so soluble in ethanol.

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Old 03-17-2010, 07:26 PM   #5
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Yes, I planned on throwing in the bourbon too. Figured it would all blend just fine, as this will be the second beer I've run through the barrel (so not as much bourbon flavors left).
Thanks to everybody for the help. I'll also be sure to taste before bottling/kegging to see if I need to add some vanilla extract. I want you to be able to tell that there's vanilla in it, but don't want it to overpower the beer.

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Old 03-25-2010, 08:41 PM   #6
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I brew a vanilla bourbon winter ale (recipe is on this site). I did exactly what you did except I soaked the vanilla bean and oak chips in bourbon during primary fermentation. I also added some good vanilla extract to it. I then moved to secondary and threw that concoction in. The vanilla is evident on the back of the tounge in the after taste. All in all one of my best beers - my wife loves it !! I will be doing an all grain version of it this fall.

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Old 04-07-2010, 10:36 PM   #7
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I agree with pint4pat. For my vanilla porter, I cut up and add four madagascar beans and submerge them in rum instead of bourbon during the primary. However, I only add the beans to the secondary, instead of adding the whole mixture - rum and all. The vanilla flavor is not overpowering at all and is a very nice compliment to beer.

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