Enjoy the beer that you deserve.
What it does :
Remember that, for many of the centuries people have been brewing beer, the exclusive use of hops to balance beer's malty base is relatively recent. Brewers have long added special flavorings like spices to make unique brews, and that tradition continues today. The craft brewing and homebrewing movements provide daily examples of this inventiveness. If you are reading this, you are likely looking to broaden your beer and brewing palate. You can make use of vanilla to express your own brewing creativity and make a beer that is uniquely yours. Vanilla bean oil, obtained from adding either extract or whole bean to your brew, adds a pleasant mouthfeel and a rich aroma and flavor to a spiced or holiday beer.
When designing a beer recipe that will include vanilla you must carefully consider the malt, hops, and yeast base that will best complement this specialty ingredient. When brewing with spices, many brewers choose a strong malt base, with bittering hops only. By avoiding the addition of aroma hops, this allows the added spices to complement, and not conflict with the beer's other ingredients.
What it is:
Vanilla is derived from beans. It is a common food flavoring and is available in natural form or as liquid extract.
If using vanilla extract, use 1 to 2 teaspoons per 5 gallons, and add during secondary fermentation. If using whole beans, use 1 to 2 ounces and add during the last 10 to 15 minutes of the boil. Similar to hop additions, the length of boil will adjust the flavor versus aroma contribution of the spice. By boiling the spice longer, the aromatics are driven off, and the flavor contribution is enhanced. Finding the right amount of vanilla to use will depend on your particular recipe and your vision for your beer. As always, keep good records of each beer that you make, be willing to experiment, and you will converge on the ingredient mix that yields the flavor and aroma result that you like best.
Vanilla extract requires no preparation. If using whole vanilla beans, they should be lightly crushed before use. Just as cooking with fresh spices makes your culinary dishes taste superior, so will using the same quality of ingredients to your beer. So, for that extra impact on your finished brew, reach for fresh vanilla. You should be able to obtain it in your local specialty grocery store or shop.
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