Author Topic: Using whole vanilla beans  (Read 908 times)

Offline guido

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Using whole vanilla beans
« on: November 23, 2013, 07:47:28 AM »
I've never used whole vanilla beans before.  I know you need the alcohol to extract the vanilla.  I want to add some to a pumpkin beer that has a ( 5 gallons) Belgian dark strong as the base.  I want only a subtle vanilla flavor.  I was thinking about taking one whole bean, slicing it down the center, and leaving it in the secondary while conditioning.  Is this the right number, or should I add more.
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Offline thebigbaker

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 08:21:36 AM »
I've never used whole vanilla beans before.  I know you need the alcohol to extract the vanilla.  I want to add some to a pumpkin beer that has a ( 5 gallons) Belgian dark strong as the base.  I want only a subtle vanilla flavor.  I was thinking about taking one whole bean, slicing it down the center, and leaving it in the secondary while conditioning.  Is this the right number, or should I add more.

That sounds good.  I've only used vanilla twice, and each time I used it I used two in a 5 gallon batch.   I just split them, scraped out the insides, cut the beans into 2-inch pieces and threw everything into the beer.  I got this method from when I brewed Denny's "Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter" recipe that was in an issue of last yr's "Zymurgy."  Even if your vanilla flavor is more than you like, the vanilla will start to fade.  Hope this info helps, your pumpkin beer sounds delicious.
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Online Jeff M

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 08:24:55 AM »
I make a Vanilla stout that uses 2 Vanilla beans sliced like you do and it gives it a subtle vanilla note but you can identify it.  we usually put it in secondary with oak chips for a week.  Hope this helps:)
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 09:25:42 AM »
If it were me, I'd start with 2 beans. Even with a good quality, fresh pod I don't think one is going to give you enough in a 5-gallon batch. I'd put them in a hop bag and pull them out once the vanilla flavor gets a little past where you want it. Vanilla fades pretty quickly, so plan on overshooting a little bit. Once the beer has hit its prime the vanilla character should be close to the ballpark you were shooting for.
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Offline guido

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2013, 10:06:12 AM »
Thanks for the recommendations.  One interesting thing is that several have mentioned the vanilla flavor fades.  This is exactly the opposite of what I've encountered with my pumpkin beers using vanilla extract.  The other spices mellow, but the vanilla stays the same.  That's why I was wanting to 'err on the side of caution with the whole beans.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2013, 01:44:36 PM »
If just add that after a few days begin tasting. I like to pull the beer once the flavor has slightly exceeded what I like as my experience too has been that it does fade a bit as it conditions. Maybe fade is the wrong term...mellow perhaps:)

Soak the beans in some vodka for a bit to sanitize them before adding
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Offline denny

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2013, 10:32:41 AM »
Soak the beans in some vodka for a bit to sanitize them before adding

Unnecessary IMO.  I always add them without sanitation.  No problems.
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Online dbeechum

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2013, 11:52:28 AM »
And then you've got me and I prefer to make a potent extract directly in vodka and use that extract instead of soaking the beans in a weaker alcohol solution and making a less controlled extract.

But this is one of those places where Denny and I disagree.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2013, 12:30:43 PM »

Soak the beans in some vodka for a bit to sanitize them before adding

Unnecessary IMO.  I always add them without sanitation.  No problems.

Well, maybe next time I'll save myself a step
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Offline denny

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2013, 12:50:06 PM »
And then you've got me and I prefer to make a potent extract directly in vodka and use that extract instead of soaking the beans in a weaker alcohol solution and making a less controlled extract.

But this is one of those places where Denny and I disagree.

It's definitely easier to get the right dosage using the extract.  Just add to the finished beer til it tastes like you want it to.  But when I've tried that, I swear I can always detect the heat of the vodka in the beer.  I'm more than willing to admit that it may be strictly in my head (oh, so many comments to be made!), but I've found ways to avoid doing that.  Either technique works well, so do whatever you think is the right way for you.
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Offline anthony

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2013, 08:56:29 PM »
And then you've got me and I prefer to make a potent extract directly in vodka and use that extract instead of soaking the beans in a weaker alcohol solution and making a less controlled extract.

But this is one of those places where Denny and I disagree.

It's definitely easier to get the right dosage using the extract.  Just add to the finished beer til it tastes like you want it to.  But when I've tried that, I swear I can always detect the heat of the vodka in the beer.  I'm more than willing to admit that it may be strictly in my head (oh, so many comments to be made!), but I've found ways to avoid doing that.  Either technique works well, so do whatever you think is the right way for you.

The best way is a compromise of both methods. Put some vanilla beans or coffee or whatever else you want to extract into a coffee press, fill with the beer you are going to infuse, refrigerate the press for a few days, press the knob down, taste the extract, then dose the beer.

Online Jeff M

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 06:32:27 AM »
Using a coffee press is a good idea, my biggest issue with using vanilla beans in carboys is getting all them little vanilla seed black dots cleaned out of the inside of the carboy.  They stick like you cant believe!
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Offline dak0415

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Re: Using whole vanilla beans
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2013, 07:01:44 AM »
I found a handy little item in the aquarium section of pet stores.  It is a nylon bag about 2 inches wide (flat) and about 8 inches long.  They are designed for filter media (charcoal).  I use them to cover the end of my sparge tube on the kettle side to prevent bits from getting into the kettle.  They would be great for adding whole vanilla beans, cinnamon, etc.  They have a proper mesh size and could easily be withdrawn from a carboy neck.
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