Author Topic: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean  (Read 4075 times)

Offline zacbwb

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Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« on: May 11, 2011, 09:35:44 AM »
I was wondering if anyone has used vanilla extract to flavor a beer vs. a vanilla bean? I have a porter that I would like to turn into a bourbon/vanilla porter by adding some bourbon and vanilla.

It seems like it would be easier to control the amount of vanilla flavor with extract, but I dont know the taste benefits of a bean vs extract.

Any info/experiences would be helpful!

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2011, 10:05:27 AM »
Vanilla extract works well, if you get the real stuff. Avoid anything artificial.  I'm a big fan of Penzey's.  You can get both real beans (from a variety of sources) and extract (in varying concentrations).

My advice is to buy some of the Penzey's extract and try it on a small scale (in a glass) using an eyedropper or pipette.  See if you like the taste.  If it doesn't work for beer, make some macaroons or cookies or something.

I use both. I often start with beans and use the extract for precise control at the end.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline wiley

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2011, 10:15:50 AM »
Vanilla extract works well, if you get the real stuff. Avoid anything artificial.  I'm a big fan of Penzey's.  You can get both real beans (from a variety of sources) and extract (in varying concentrations).

My advice is to buy some of the Penzey's extract and try it on a small scale (in a glass) using an eyedropper or pipette.  See if you like the taste.  If it doesn't work for beer, make some macaroons or cookies or something.

I use both. I often start with beans and use the extract for precise control at the end.

Any results to speak of using a tincture for flavoring?

Offline zacbwb

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2011, 10:17:10 AM »
Thanks Gordon, I will give that a shot.

P.S - I am really enjoying your book

Offline nateo

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2011, 10:17:27 AM »
Depending on how "bourbony" and "vanilla-y" you want the beer to be, you could always just add American oak. That's where bourbon gets its flavor from. That's what I do if I just want subtle vanilla/bourbon flavors, not "Wow, someone put vanilla extract in this beer."
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Offline hamiltont

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2011, 10:24:20 AM »

Any results to speak of using a tincture for flavoring?

I use a tincture for vanilla/bourbon flavoring exclusively.  If you're kegging it's a snap. Just add some before pulling a pint. More or less depending on your taste, or none at all. That's the beauty of it. The beer isn't dedicated to a bourbon vanilla porter/stout/.....  

It works great for adding Jalapeño to a beer too.  Just soak 3/4 - 1 lb. of sliced Jalapeños in Vodka in a quart jar for a month or so, strain and you'll have about a pint of jalapeño tincture. The jalapeños can then be sautéd with an onion, garlic, S&P and in the blender with white vinegar for some excellent hot sauce. Waste not Want not...  Cheers!!!
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Offline denny

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2011, 11:05:48 AM »
Depending on how "bourbony" and "vanilla-y" you want the beer to be, you could always just add American oak. That's where bourbon gets its flavor from. That's what I do if I just want subtle vanilla/bourbon flavors, not "Wow, someone put vanilla extract in this beer."

When I devised the BVIP recipe, the idea was to get barrel flavors without the barrel.  Having tried both ways, I feel like you get a completely different flavor from the barrel than from bourbon and vanilla additions.

I've been using beans from hawaiianvanilla.com .  IMO, they're the best ones I've ever found.  I used to be opposed to using extract, until I tried the extract from t he same company.  VERY good stuff.

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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011, 11:26:39 AM »
Vanilla extract works well, if you get the real stuff. Avoid anything artificial.  I'm a big fan of Penzey's.  You can get both real beans (from a variety of sources) and extract (in varying concentrations).

My advice is to buy some of the Penzey's extract and try it on a small scale (in a glass) using an eyedropper or pipette.  See if you like the taste.  If it doesn't work for beer, make some macaroons or cookies or something.

I use both. I often start with beans and use the extract for precise control at the end.

Any results to speak of using a tincture for flavoring?

How is a tincture different than true vanilla extract?
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline hamiltont

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2011, 01:15:22 PM »
Vanilla extract works well, if you get the real stuff. Avoid anything artificial.  I'm a big fan of Penzey's.  You can get both real beans (from a variety of sources) and extract (in varying concentrations).

My advice is to buy some of the Penzey's extract and try it on a small scale (in a glass) using an eyedropper or pipette.  See if you like the taste.  If it doesn't work for beer, make some macaroons or cookies or something.

I use both. I often start with beans and use the extract for precise control at the end.

Any results to speak of using a tincture for flavoring?

How is a tincture different than true vanilla extract?
Sure you can use the terms interchangeably. What I personally like about a tincture is I have control over the alcohol (bourbon, vodka, rum) & the vanilla beans that go into the tincture, and I can adjust it according to my preference.  Cost is another benefit IMO.  My wife hasn't bought vanilla extract for years. A bottle of Rum & some Extract Grade Vanilla Beans is a lot less than a bottle of extract.  YMMV...  Cheers!!!
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2011, 02:32:25 PM »
Sure you can use the terms interchangeably. What I personally like about a tincture is I have control over the alcohol (bourbon, vodka, rum) & the vanilla beans that go into the tincture, and I can adjust it according to my preference.  Cost is another benefit IMO.  My wife hasn't bought vanilla extract for years. A bottle of Rum & some Extract Grade Vanilla Beans is a lot less than a bottle of extract.  YMMV...  Cheers!!!

Ah, the all-grain vs. extract argument.  Well, guess I can't argue with that...
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline hamiltont

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2011, 02:40:33 PM »
Sure you can use the terms interchangeably. What I personally like about a tincture is I have control over the alcohol (bourbon, vodka, rum) & the vanilla beans that go into the tincture, and I can adjust it according to my preference.  Cost is another benefit IMO.  My wife hasn't bought vanilla extract for years. A bottle of Rum & some Extract Grade Vanilla Beans is a lot less than a bottle of extract.  YMMV...  Cheers!!!

Ah, the all-grain vs. extract argument.  Well, guess I can't argue with that...
Never thought of it that way but that's a good analogy!  Cheers!!!
If Homebrew & BBQ aren't the answer, then you're askin' the wrong questions... Cheers!!!

Offline astrivian

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2011, 01:17:09 PM »
I think extract/tincture would be easier to control the final flavor, yes. I would advise making your own extract, however, as many commercial ones add "unnecessary" ingredients IMO (like corn syrup and salt). It is very easy to make. Just get some fresh vanilla beans, split them in half lengthwise, and add them to 100 proof alcohol (rum, vodka, 50% everclear and 50% water, or whatever). Let is soak in there for a month or so. If it is not dark enough, add more beans.

When i am working with a specific ingredient i usually brew 5 gallons minus the ingredient. Then i take 1 gallon and place it in a glass jug for the secondary and add the special ingredient to that. This way you have four more gallons to experiment with. Remember, as Emril says: "You can add but you can't take away."
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Vanilla Extract vs. Vanilla Bean
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2011, 01:35:18 PM »
Remember, as Emril says: "You can add but you can't take away."

And here I thought all he ever said was "BAM!!"
Joe