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February 26, 2020, 02:50:54 am


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Partial Mash Vanilla Porter - Few Questions

Started by bighoppapump, February 13, 2020, 08:08:07 am

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I'm brewing the Robust Vanilla Porter from BCS and I'm doing it with a Partial Mash and Extract. I ended up getting a SG 4 points above what was expected. The beer has been in the fermenter 3 weeks now.
1. The FG has stabilised at 1.021 the past week and a half. I thought it was stuck so I upped the temperature and stirred the settled yeast to get it back in suspension but theres been no change. The target FG is 1.015. Can I bottle or am I setting myself up for bombs?
2. The recipe called for one vanilla pod during boil and extract when bottling. I added one at 5 mins during boil and then tasted it a week later. There was no vanilla flavour so split the second bean, scraped the seeds and through both into a pan of boiling water to sterilise for 5 mins before adding the whole thing to the fermenter. I still dont get a strong vanilla flavour. Did boiling it kill the flavour?
3. When adding vanilla extract does brand matter? I bought Tesco vanilla extract but am wondering whether I should splash out for the expensive Nielsen one.


1. Since your SG was 4 points over, your FG can be 4 points over and it will be the same ABV. I would not worry about those missing 2 points. As for bottle bombs, just don't over carb your bottles. Prime the batch with the correct amount of suger, as per the recipe. If in doubt, shoot a little lower than the recipe. In all the years I have been brewing, I have never had a bottle explode. A good rule of thumb is 3/4 cup of sugar for a 19L to 23L batch.

2. I have never used vanilla but I wouldn't have boiled it unless the recipe suggests so. You can add things to the FV that aren't completely sterile and the fermentation process will push out any little nasty's. I mean, give the thing a rinse under the tap first and maybe a spray of starsan before adding it though.

3. Extracts and essence can be a funny thing. I have had little success using them. The problem is that they are of varying strengths. I would be very wary of a recipe that simply said 'add x amount of generic vanilla extract'. If a recipe clearly states the brand of extract, you should try your best to source that brand. Failing that, try to find others that have used substitute brands for that particular recipe. One other thing you could do id buy a bottle of similar strength porter/stout and add drops of your extract to it until you are happy with the level of flavour. The calculate how much you need for the batch. I am not sure how accurate this will be though, as I imagine extract added to the batch will change the flavour gradually over time.


1. You're unlikely to get bottles exploding but I have seen an imperial stout gush after being in the bottle several months. If you have a carboy you could put the beer in it for a few months to make sure.

2. Only time I used vanilla I put it directly into secondary. Still couldn't really taste it! The alcohol in an imperial stout should be able to kill off most things living on it.

3. As previous poster said, you should do a test with a small amount of beer to work out the correct amount to add and then scale that up. This is something I'd normally do at bottling time in the bottling bucket.


I won the club cup last year with a beer with vanilla in. What a pain in the hole!

Boiling it makes no sense its too volatile to handle that

Now I was looking for a real wallop of a vanilla flavour. I tried a vodka tincture, I tried extract, I tried essense and I tried paste. The tincture was probably the best but it was still lacking a vanilla flavour. The only way I truly fixed it was dumping an entire split vanilla pod into the keg!

But for bottling I'd suggest an extract. Don't go for the cheapo ones. Go for a Nielson-Massey or equivalent
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i've had good flavour by splitting 2 x vanilla beans and scraping them into roughly 120ml of vodka. Let it sit for a few days and then add to the keg.

On the extract i would recommend the Nielsen Massey as well as i find that cheaper additives can ruin the brew!


Cheers for all the suggestions guys! I bottled this tonight by doing the following:

1. Poured 500ml of the beer into 5 glasses (100ml per glass) and then treated each differently.
2. I done a side by side blind taste test comparing the cheap tesco vanilla extract with the Nielsen Massey extract. I used the same amount in each. While the flavour wasn't massively different the nielsen massey had a superior aroma and I chose it multiple times.
3. For the other 3 samples I added different amounts of Nielsen Massey extract using a syringe. (0.2,0.4,0.6 ml). For me the sweet spot was about 0.4ml per 100ml. I couldn't really notice any incremental flavour when scaled up to 0.6ml per 100ml.
4. I added 60ml extract to the 15L of beer to be bottled and gently stirred for 5 mins along with enough sugar to give a carbonation level of 2.3 volumes of CO2.

I think in future I won't add it to the boil (although it was suggested in Jamil's recipe) I think the flavour didn't carry through. Also I am used to dry hopping directly into primary and done the same with my 2nd vanilla pod. I think the pod and scraped seeds ended up sinking right into the yeast cake and so didn't release the flavour as expected. The idea of a tincture appeals to me so I think I'll do that next time