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Old 02-10-2012, 11:49 PM   #1
MoonMaster
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Default Best way to utilize vanilla beans in beer?

So about 6 months ago I tried my hand at making a vanilla porter and the results were pretty underwhelming. I added 2 or 3 beans, scraped and chopped up, and added them to the secondary for at least a week, maybe 2 but I ended up with no noticeable vanilla flavor. I have another batch in the primary and I want to do it right this time but I need to figure out the best way to extract that vanilla flavor.

I've been reading a lot about vanilla bourbon porters, which seem interesting but the bourbon is always added on bottling day... wouldnt it make more sense to steep the beans in the bourbon first, then add it all to the secondary? I've had far better results extracting the vanilla flavor when adding the beans to liquor so to me this seems like it would work better.

Has anyone ever tried this method? How much bourbon/vanilla beans did you add? Or alternatively, does anyone have another method that worked for them to produce a noticeable vanilla flavor?

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Old 02-11-2012, 12:31 AM   #2
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Are you using quality beans? I ask because a single split and scraped bean added a LOT of vanilla to the vanilla bourbon porter I made last. If soaking in spirits works better for you, then there's no reason not to do it.

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Old 02-11-2012, 12:40 AM   #3
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Make a tincture with a high quality vodka, about 4 oz of vodka and a whole scraped vanilla bean, soaked for a few days. On bottling day, add a half oz at a time to the beer to get to the level of taste you want.

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Old 02-11-2012, 04:50 AM   #4
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Where do you even get vanilla beans?

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Old 02-11-2012, 11:29 AM   #5
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High end grocery stores.

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Old 02-11-2012, 12:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supurb View Post
Where do you even get vanilla beans?
Here: http://www.myspicesage.com/
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:05 PM   #7
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I haven't brewed with vanilla but any time I need vanilla for cooking I use this Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean paste. http://www.nielsenmassey.com/vanillainformation.htm

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Old 02-12-2012, 06:47 PM   #8
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Hi MoonMaster,

Vanilla extract is made by adding vanilla beans to 35% abv alcohol (typically vodka, but bourbon, rum, brandy, etc all work). 5 vanilla beans are used for 8 ounces of alcohol to make a single-fold vanilla extract. Think about how much vanilla flavor this would contain.

You can add the vanilla beans (cut in half lengthwise) directly to the secondary like you mentioned, but because the alcohol content is fairly low at that point it will not pull out nearly as much flavor as if you were to put the vanilla beans in the bourbon first. Water does not pull out nearly as much vanilla flavor as 35% alcohol solution does.

I hope this helps! Also, a great place to order premium quality vanilla beans is Beanilla Trading Co, www.beanilla.com. We offer vanilla beans for approximately $1 each.

Best regards,

Brent - vanilla specialist

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Old 02-12-2012, 09:02 PM   #9
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Not use them.

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Old 02-13-2012, 12:35 PM   #10
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I just cracked my first vanilla porter open yesterday I mad a few weeks ago. I used two whole beans from Penzeys Spices, cut them lengthwise, scrapped the insides out, then cut the husks in 1/2" pieces. I added this all to a small amount of vodka for 2 weeks, shaking every day to mix up good. Added them to the primary after high krausen.

How did it turn out? Very little vanilla aroma - but it is there. No strong vanilla taste, but a smooth very vanilla flavor hits you after you swallow. Adds to the porter, but does not overtake it. I think two was the right amount.

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