add just enough vodka to cover completely.
~1/2 to 3/4 an ounce in 5+ gallons hasn't added heat to my big, dark beers.
I don't deny that it might be something in my method. There are so many people who swaer by tinctures that it seems it must be me. OTOH, I haven't found a need for them, either, so I don't really have any incentive to try again.
Absolutely, if a less complicated method produces good results, there's no sense complicating things.
What I find appealing about the tinctures is that I feel I get better extraction by "pulverizing" the beans a bit and soaking in the alcohol. Second, there is the debatable peace of mind that comes from the sanitizing properties of the alcohol. Third, when the tincture is added to the fermenter it is not in any way bound in a bag, so at least in theory I more readily achieve a uniform dissipation of the flavors with no surface area constriction. When I add vanilla, its dark beer, and I like to be intense initially so that I still get character as the beer ages. The last beer I made using this technique just netted scores of 43 and 45 so while I may be tool for bringing that up, I'm feeling pretty good about my process. YMMV.