Author Topic: Vanilla beans in a barrel?  (Read 503 times)

Offline waterbull66

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Vanilla beans in a barrel?
« on: April 02, 2021, 10:53:51 pm »
   I have an Imperial Stout I'm going to age in a whiskey BBL with vanilla beans and would like to hear from others who may have experience doing this. I'm wondering if it's best to split the beans or leave them intact, I'm sure split would better impart the vanilla flavor but have some reservations about all the tiny seeds potentially becoming a problem once bottled. I considered a mesh bag but the BBL has a very small bung. O.G. was 1.123, F.G. 1.038, 5 gallon BBL probably for ~ 1 year, grade B Madagascar beans I just received today. Any suggestions on number of beans? I had planned on cacao nibs but it is already so chocolaty the nibs would be wasted.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Vanilla beans in a barrel?
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2021, 10:07:38 am »
I think a barrel may be a different animal, but for a 3 gallon batch I add 1 bean (split and scraped) at the end of fermentation. It generally only takes a few days to get the flavor conribution I'm looking for, then I move the beer to a keg. I'm not sure how this will translate to a bigger batch and longer aging, but at least it's a data point for you.

I have used vanilla both with and without bagging the beans. It doesn't make a huge difference at raking time at my small scale, but a larger batch may be a different animal.
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Offline smkranz

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Re: Vanilla beans in a barrel?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2021, 09:26:31 pm »
Guess I'm a little late to this discussion, but I strongly suggest you do one thing at a time...barrel first to get what you want, then rack out and add vanilla, then keg or bottle.  One bean split open is probably sufficient.  You can always add more, but you can't take it out if you over-do it.  As erockrph noted, it only takes a few days for vanilla to come through.  Too much for too long (like, in a barrel) and it's too late to fix.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2021, 09:45:22 pm by smkranz »
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Offline denny

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Re: Vanilla beans in a barrel?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2021, 09:56:24 pm »
Guess I'm a little late to this discussion, but I strongly suggest you do one thing at a time...barrel first to get what you want, then rack out and add vanilla, then keg or bottle.  One bean split open is probably sufficient.  You can always add more, but you can't take it out if you over-do it.  As erockrph noted, it only takes a few days for vanilla to come through.  Too much for too long (like, in a barrel) and it's too late to fix.

I pretty much agree with everything you said with one small exception....I find vanilla fades so I start off letting it get just a little bit stronger so it ends up where I want it.
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Offline joe_meadmaker

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Re: Vanilla beans in a barrel?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2021, 02:45:50 pm »
I've used vanilla bean in beer and mead.  I always cut the bean in half, split both halves, then put them in.

As smkranz mentioned, I've also always done barrel aging and vanilla separately.

Offline waterbull66

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Re: Vanilla beans in a barrel?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2021, 04:18:35 pm »
    I threw caution to the wind and barreled it 2 weeks ago with 4 whole intact beans, I figured it might be a bit much at first, but as Denny said I suspect the vanilla might fade fairly quickly, and it'll probably be in the barrel for ~ a year. I had planned on adding some cacao nibs but the stuff is already waaaay chocolaty.
   The 2 cases left over after filling the barrel are very tasty, but not as much so as I expected. Give 'em a year in the cellar though and they might get to where I want them.