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Old 01-28-2012, 11:20 PM   #1
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Default Don't use vanilla bean skin?

Making a vanilla sweet stout and the guy at the LHBS said not to put the skin of the vanilla bean in when I'm soaking. He said it gives the beer a acidic flavor. But I've never heard that before and don't see any posting on it in the forum.

Anyone have experience with this? Would you suggest I put the skin in too or not? Was planning on splitting vanilla beans and putting guts and all in there.....but not sure now.

Any advice appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 01-28-2012, 11:28 PM   #2
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I also have never heard of it. I do know that the skin contains a lot of flavorful compounds. In fact if you look at a good vanilla bean you should see tiny crystals on the surface.

Now, what I have heard is that oil contained in vanilla beans can be detrimental to head retention. For this reason many brewers use vanilla extract.

I have yet to use vanilla beans, but I do have a porter fermenting right now that I plan to add 1 or 2 vanilla beans to in addition to Bourbon. When I do I plan to split the bean in half, scrap the inside, chop up the bean husk and throw the lot into the primary.

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Old 01-29-2012, 10:15 PM   #3
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I do not think the source of the acidic flavor is the whole vanilla bean. We grind the whole bean for use as an additive to ice cream, sugars and salts. Plus many people use the whole ground vanilla bean in drinks like coffee and smoothies.

There are many flavor compounds in the pod. All of the extractors that I know also use the whole bean when making extract.

Keep in mind that the best extraction of flavor of vanilla from the pod is by soaking in alcohol. Water is a less effective solvent. So extracting vanilla is best when alcohol is present.
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Old 01-29-2012, 11:39 PM   #4
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Your LHBS guy is either seriously under-informed or just plain full of you know what.
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Old 01-29-2012, 11:48 PM   #5
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First I've seen mention of anything like that. Hopefully that's not true because I just scraped and cut up a couple beans and put them to rest in a little bourbon. In a week or two I'll be racking on top of that in my secondary.
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Old 01-30-2012, 12:22 AM   #6
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I always slice the bean open and use the whole thing.
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Old 01-30-2012, 03:32 PM   #7
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As mentioned above, the pod is absolutely fine to use. It does contain many of the 200+ compounds responsible for the complex flavor of quality vanilla.

Let me know if there is anything else I can lend a hand with.


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Old 01-30-2012, 11:51 PM   #8
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I used 3 whole Vanilla beans at various stages of my Winter Ale. It didn't come out acidic, it was very tasty.

I would use the skin again without question.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:20 AM   #9
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Dude was wrong about the skins. I did two whole beans (chopped, scraped, with the skin) in an alcohol extraction for a pumpkin lager, and it was delicious. No sour/acidic character at all, and that would ju,p right out of a lager.

I suspect maybe he had a minor infection in a vanilla beer and wrongly blamed the vanilla bean skins.


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