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Does vanilla bean quality vary?

Just bottled my attempt at Denny’s BVIP last weekend. I found the beer incredibly rich in flavor and mouthfeel. Kind of like the death by chocolate cake of beers! The bourbon added a smoothness to it that I do like. However, I was underwhelmed by the vanilla contribution. NB doesn’t sell vanilla beans, but I did find them on AIH. I bought two of these and put them in the freezer in the original plastic bag until ready to use. I thought this might help to retain the flavor. After primary fermentation was over, as per the instructions, I split, scraped the gunk, chopped up the pods and threw it all into the fermenter where they sat in the beer for over 3 weeks. Does anybody do anything differently here? Are there sources of vanilla beans that may be better? Anyone try vanilla bean paste? Anyone try throwing the vanilla beans in the bourbon to soak and just throw the mix into the bottling bucket?

All spices will vary in intensity. Best bet is to always give a sniff or test a bit of tincture made from ethanol. The longer they sit the more essence will deteriorate. Every time I’ve used them I have split the pod and threw them in the boil. I read it helps enhance a chocolate flavor and that’s the extent of my usage.

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Here is a link to another post regarding vanilla beans. In that topic I explain my SOP for adding vanilla and where I got mine. I also added a picture of my vanilla tincture.


Thanks for the responses. I wonder in this case, could I have just added the cut and scraped up beans right in the Bourbon and make a tincture with that instead of making a tincture with Vodka?

Absolutely, bourbon works great with vanilla.


I don’t know anything about useing vanilla is beer although after this thread I am going to try. However to answer your question there is a hug difference in spices. Your mouth and pocket book will know right away. There are a couple of stores that I have been at in the Minneapolis area that sell fresh spices. I just can’t think of the name off hand. They are in a few locations all over the US and do have a magazine catalog they send out. I will ask mamily member and get you the name. I know there are some expert Brewers on here that reside in the Metro area that may beat me to the punch.

Penzeys is the name of the spice store their products are fresh loaded with lots of flavors.


Best place to get fresh vanilla beans for brewing or making your own vanilla extract. There is a Penzeys somewhat local to me, my mom has used them for spices for years and I get a lot of stuff from them, but for vanilla beans, Beanilla is where we both get them.

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Thanks for the replies. To update, it’s been 2 weeks since bottling. Carbonation is slow on this beast, but it is coming along. I’m finding that the carbonation is balancing the bourbon and vanilla more now. I still think I’ll get my vanilla beans from another source next time and soak them in the bourbon, but it’s truly amazing what bottle conditioning and time does to the flavors of a beer!

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