Thank you again to all who responded to my questions regarding vanilla beans and the use of vodka, vanilla vodka, etc. My wife if a huge vanilla porter fan and when her face lit up at the first sip of my brew, it made by home brew pants fly all over the room. I will say that while we scored it a 4/5, the vanilla flavored vodka did give it a very mild, but noticeable confusion of flavor on the back end. Sorry but my untrained palate and lack of experience doesn’t know how to discern it more precisely.
I just kegged (2 days ago) a Caramel-vanilla Cream Ale and this time I soaked 5 beans in 2 oz of “Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve” for 8 days. It’s my favorite sipping whiskey, not only b/c of it’s silky smooth mouth feel but also b/c of the way it perfectly releases vanilla notes on the back side. This made a big difference for me, at least with this new brew. I can’t appreciate any of the whiskey and get a very mellow aftertaste of vanilla. From now on, FCDBR will be my “soaking agent” of choice for vanilla beans. It’s a little expensive to use for this purpose, but well worth having around while the beer matures. And if you elect to use it, I would advise the Double Barrel Reserve version, not the regular.
The tasting notes on the Forty Creek: “Forty Creek Double Barrel has a wonderful golden roasted aroma filled with deep vanilla notes and highlighted with toasted spice, pecan and walnuts. There is a caramelized creaminess to the flavor with a rich spice that lifts it off the tongue. The finish is very smooth, mellow and extra long.”
Also, a bit of advise to other newbies who might read this; make sure and splice the beans length-wise after cutting them into small (~ 0.5") segments. It’s a bit of a hassle but makes a huge difference if you’re wanting to pull as much vanilla as possible out of your beans.
Cheers and thanks again.