Vanilla Beans & Vodka Sanitation

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Zak2428, Aug 25, 2020.

  1. Zak2428

    Zak2428 New Member

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    I've used Vanilla Beans a few times in the past, both adding to the secondary fermenter. For some reason I only used the guts and threw out the husks, but for my next recipe, I plan to add both, but I'm having troubles figuring out the best way to prepare it. This will be for a wheat beer, FYI.

    The plan I think I'll go with is cutting them horizontally and soaking them in vodka, BUT what vodka do you use for this? Can you use standard vodka like Tito's or does it have to be Everclear? Is it best to scrape out the guts so those and the husks are soaking individually or just keep them as is?

    I have tried using Tito's on another batch (IPA) where I soaked lemon zest in it for about an hour, then dumped the entire thing into the secondary and I wasn't crazy about the flavor - almost gave like a diluted cleaning agent flavor. In addition to what vodka to use, how long do you suggest soaking vanilla beans?

    Also, has anyone tried or heard of using StarSan in situations like these? Such as soaking vanilla beans in it for 5 min, remove, and then adding direct to the secondary (without the StarSan)?
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't. High percentage alcohol is a very good food-grade disinfectant plus it dissolves flavors from the beans. That's why we soak the beans in it.
     
  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Oh, forgot to mention, the cheapest rotgut vodka works fine.
     
  4. Zak2428

    Zak2428 New Member

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    Perfect, Tito's it is! Is there any benefit to leaving it soak for weeks/days rather than hours?
     
  5. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Not really. Beyond a certain point it doesn't do anything anymore. Overnight might be a nice balance of options.
     
  6. BrewPatgonia

    BrewPatgonia Well-Known Member

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    I use Titos, it is a very good vodka.
    I don't have an opinion if less than 24 hours gives enough vanilla flavor to the vodka, apparently many brewers do use it that way, with a short duration soak; however, I make my own vanilla extract by scraping the internals of the bean into a bottle, I do use the husks as well, seperated from the actual beans though, and I soak the vanilla in the vodka for months... 3 months minumum and 6 optimal. I will take the husks out of the vodka after 2 months, then just leave the microbeans soaking afterwards. I do see a good color change and additional flavor extraction the longer they soak... not much change after 6 months time though.
     
  7. Semper Sitientem

    Semper Sitientem Well-Known Member

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    Good question. I haven’t done vanilla, but I’m currently soaking some orange rind for an upcoming IPA. I noticed a difference in the color of the vodka between day 1 and day 3, but nothing really beyond that. I know this isn’t in anyway scientific and I’m using a different material, but IMO A few days soak at minimum is best.
     

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