I want to experiment a bit by adding spices - I'm thinking
vanilla - to my beer, but wonder at which step is considered the best time to add it. Personal experience is very welcome.
I assume adding it during mashing is out... I guess the obvious time would be during the boil (in "tea"-bags?) - but early or late? Or is it better to do it after the boil - during "mixing" - just to let the spices soak? (I guess it's a bad idea to leave spices in during (1st) fermentation...) Or is it best to wait until 2nd fermentation, using the step pretty much just to add the spices? Or should I perhaps make an extract or tea with warm/boiling water, or an infusion in alcohol (vodka)... if so, how - and when should I add this extract?
Will one extract more "taste" and the other more aroma (smell)? Will one be stronger and the other subtler? Will one be more "in your face" and the other more mellowed/aged?
I'm thinking about using cinnamon-bark and vanilla-"sticks" (dried fruits). I'll probably add some honey (during the boil(?)) too...
PS: Should I leave the vanilla-"stick" whole, or do what one often do in cooking - split it lengthwise and scrape out the seeds inside, before putting it all (seeds and split "stick") into what I want to set taste too? The seeds are tiny black "dots" - and it probably won't be that many of them in the whole batch - but still, it's perhaps nothing you want to see in your beer (looks just delicious in hot chocolate though ;-)...