I'm on my third brew. Midwest brewing irish red in bottles Midwest brewing brown nut ale in secondary

Just bought Brewers Best milk stout.

I pretty much wanted to be a little creative without going overboard and do an all grain recipe.

So I am looking for a little help. I want this to be a vanilla stout so I guess in this case it will be a vanilla milk stout.

Should I use vanilla beans or vanilla extract? How much? Should I use in the boil or in the secondary? Has anyone used vanilla paste instead of vanilla beans or vanilla extract?

If you could walk me through this a little bit again only my 3rd brew! I don't even know if my other ones turned out haha. I have tasted them along the way and they taste fine but I won't be satisfied until I drink a fully carbed beer and get a buzz!

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    I've had good luck ordering whole beans pretty cheap from this site: myspicesage.com/vanilla.html And per the answer from Denny, just slice them in half, scrap out the goo (smells soooo good), and throw it all into the fermentor.
    – GHP
    Nov 11, 2013 at 13:30

1 Answer 1


It may be too much information, but here's an excerpt from my upcoming book "Experimental Brewing"...

Vanilla can be used in several different forms. Start by obtaining the best vanilla you can find, whether it’s vanilla beans or extract. Beans should be moist, pliable, fat, and “juicy”. Extract should not have any fake aromas or flavors to it. Some extracts are made with wood byproducts. Although some of these may be good, a lot of them are not. Do some research and be prepared to audition different forms from different sources to make your choice. Be careful as some extracts of dubious quality use the tonka bean, which, in addition to vanilla, also provides coumarin, a powerful liver toxin. We recommend that you buy beans online because they are generally cheaper and higher quality than anything you’ll find in the grocery store. Another bonus, you can also usually find “Grade B” beans, which aren’t as pretty as “Grade A”, but work dandy. They’re also a lot cheaper, usually around 1/3rd the price! Bourbon Vanilla: When you think vanilla, this is the flavor that you think of. It’s a big potent blast of vanillin, the main active flavorant associated with vanilla. The bold character makes it perfect for anything that you want people to smell and taste and immediately say “VANILLA!” Historical note: The Bourbon name has nothing to do with Bourbon whiskey. Both Bourbon County, Kentucky and Bourbon Island (aka Réunion Island off the coast of Madgascar) get their name from the French Royal House of Bourbon. Mexican Vanilla: Made from the same Vanilla planifolia orchid as the Bourbon vanillas, the Mexican vanilla flavor is lightly smokey and not as buttery as the Bourbon variety. Tahitian Vanilla: From the V. tahitiensis orchid, Tahitian vanilla is a softer and more perfumey with a strong floral note that makes it preferred by pastry chefs for subtle applications. This is the one you reach for when you want your tasters to be puzzled and pleased Ugandan Vanilla: Also grown from a variety of V. planifolia, the Ugandan beans are consider the world’s most potent and provide an additional tone of chocolate from the dark leathery bean. Vanilla beans can be added straight to a fermenter after fermentation is complete. Split the beans lengthwise and use a knife to scrape out all the gooey goodness inside. That’s where most of the flavor comes from. Add that to the fermenter, than coarsely chop up the pod and add that, too. Start tasting after about 5 days to see if you have level of vanilla you want. The vanilla flavor and aroma fades sooner than a lot of other beer flavors, so you may want to let it get a little stronger than you think is needed so that in a few weeks the flavor will be right. The number of beans to use will depend on the size and quality of the beans, the amount of vanilla character you want, and the base beer. 2 beans per 5 gallons is a good place to start. Vanilla extract can be added directly at packaging using the titration process described above for coffee. Oh and the best vanilla extract you can use? Homemade with the tincture recipe using the best beans you can find. One thing Drew keeps on his shelf is a collection of 3 different types of vanilla – Bourbon, Mexican and Tahitian. Each of the bean types offers a different flavor profile that you can use to generate a different effect. Even better, you can blend them in different ratios to achieve a different effect. Imagine a Belgian Tripel spiced with a touch of Ugandan and a big splash of Tahitian. With a cool ferment you’d end up with a barely vanilla and chocolate cake topped with flowers. If that doesn’t say special occasion what does?

Here's the titration technique referred to...

Pour 4 2 oz. samples of the beer (before adding your priming if you’re bottling). Add a different, measured dose of the flavoring to each sample and taste critically. Maybe even have someone else taste, too, so you can find a consensus amount. Then scale the amount of flavoring in the sample you prefer up to the size of your entire batch

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.