using vanilla bean

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jmcnamara, Sep 10, 2015.

  1. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    i'm thinking of incorporating some vanilla into a pumpkin stout, but not quite sure what the best way to that is.
    i've heard of making some vanilla sugar, basically putting some cut beans into a can of sugar for some time, then using that at bottling time. i think that'd be a bit hard to calculate exactly how much vanilla is getting through to the end beer.
    so, is the normal vodka tincture the best route? i also read somewhere that at least a month to let them soak. I've only made a tincture with mushrooms before and only for 2 weeks, but a month seems a little long to me. Same timeframe for soaking some oak chips in rum, but i guess that's more getting flavor into something rather than out of it.
    maybe the vanilla is a bit harder to extract?
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Tincture works but in my experience, the best and easiest method is to head to your local spice shop and buy a bottle of high-quality extract - not the McCormack stuff on the shelf at Walmart. Making your own tincture is essentially just reproducing what these guys have already done. But if you're wanting to make tincture, get a bottle of the cheapest vodka you can find, pour a couple ounces into a container you can cover, open and scrape the pulp from the vanilla beans, chop up the rest and throw everything into the vodka. Let it sit for a few days, then strain the mixture to taste into your bottling bucket or keg (before adding priming sugar).
     
  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    yeah, my desire to make everything from scratch as much as possible often battles with my laziness :D looks like i'll be taking another trip to penzey's!

    as far as using the beans, do i use the pulp after i scrape it? or throw that part away? everything i've read is rather ambiguous about that part
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    The pulp's the best part!
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Oh, forgot. As with every spice, different vanillas have different aromas. Be sure to sniff before you buy!
     
  6. GernBlanston

    GernBlanston New Member

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    I do similar to Nosy, except I time it to when the fermentation has died down, and the I add liquid AND pulp to the beer, and allow another week. This would be technically be called the secondary, however I don't transfer the beer to another vessel. After a week I keg, leaving the pulp in the trub.

    As for the quantity, I found that 5 beans were too strong, and 4 were not enough. Strange.
     
  7. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    In terms of the vanilla coming through, is there a reason you don't put it into an actual secondary? Or just personal preference, equipment limitation, etc.?
    For the quantity, I assume you're talking for 5 gallons?
    Thanks!
     
  8. GernBlanston

    GernBlanston New Member

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    Yes, five gallons.

    As for the secondary, I don't, and for some time haven't, done a secondary. A whole other thread, but suffice it to say, I find no need to transfer to another vessel. I just leave the beer in the primary until I package (keg usually). For this application, I wait until fermentation has died down, as to not drive off vanilla aromas with the expelled CO2 of fermentation, and add juice, pulp and all, then wait a week and transfer to the keg, leaving all solid material in the trub.
     
  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Best time to add vanilla is at packaging. That way you know what you're getting in the final beer. Take a measured sample, add measured quantities of your extract or tincture, then scale up to the full batch size once you have the flavor right.

    And like my friend Gern, I don't rack to "secondary" any more unless there's a real need - the beer's not clearing or I'm lagering for an extended period.
     
  10. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    i normally do a secondary for 5 gallon batches. i've read some of the posts, but personally, i think it really clears my beer. i also don't use any gelatin, irish moss, or anything like that, so that may be part of it.
    Since i'm doing a small 2-3 gallon batch, i've got to do it in two little buckets, which makes it a bit more laborious to do a secondary. truth be told, i just kind of pour the beer into the bottling bucket for these small batches anyway, don't even bother with the autosiphon.
    at least for this test, i'm thinking of doing the vanilla during bottling
     

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