In this post, we are sharing some of the best beers to use vanilla beans with. With most people tending to drink darker beers during the cooler months, this is exactly when you’ll find the widest choice of vanilla-infused wintery beers. Read on to see our top choices!
History of Vanilla and Beer
While many believe its origins to be found in Mexico, vanilla is now cultivated in many tropical regions worldwide. After Saffron, Vanilla is the second most expensive spice across the globe. When sold, it’s not uncommon to find vanilla available as an alcohol-based extract in liquid form. However, when vanilla is used in beer as a flavoring agent, it pairs so well with other spices, particularly those found in seasonal beers during wintertime. There are also many points you can add vanilla to the beer-making process.
In the next section, we’re going to list some popular vanilla ban beers, along with some less well-known but equally as delicious beers.
The Best Vanilla Bean Beers
1 – The Vanilla Porter
Described as a beer with a taste of roasted chocolatey malts, bitter hops, and sweet vanilla, the Vanilla Porter is pretty well known. If you’re an avid craft beer drinker or a devoted home brewer, then you’ll know the key to success with this vanilla beer is balance.
While many would consider a vanilla extract to be ideal for using in a vanilla beer, this is not the case here. If you enjoy a decent vanilla porter, then it’s highly likely this will have been made with vanilla beans.
2 – The Oatmeal Stout
A nice dark oatmeal stout wouldn’t be complete without its essence of vanilla bean. Again, it’s another winter favorite, and while there is a certain degree of experimentation once can do with the flavorings, the vanilla-based oatmeal stout is firmly favored by many.
A gallon stout requires just 1 or 2 whole vanilla beans traditionally. Other classic flavor combinations for this stout include coffee, ginger, cinnamon, chocolate, and mixed fruits.
3 – Bourbon County Vanilla
This type of vanilla beer is highly regarded throughout the homebrew community. It’s predominantly made by the Goose Island Beer Co. It was originally brewed for the festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer that took place in Chicago. After a surge in popularity, it was put into mainstream production around ten years ago in 2010. It’s also referred to as BCBS vanilla beer.
The 2014 version, also known as the Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout, was somewhat ‘upgraded.’ Aside from the stout being aged in Rye Whisky barrels, a blend of both Mexican and Madagascar vanilla beans were included.
4 – Victory at Sea Imperial Porter
This is another firm favorite within the vanilla beer community. It’s produced by the Ballast Point Brewing Company and marketed as a bold, smooth brew that has just the right amount of sweetness. It blends coffee beans and whole vanilla beans and has a slight caramel undertone.
5 – Southern Tier Crème Brulee Imperial Milk Stout
This is a dessert beer brewed with premium vanilla beans. For those who like something a little bit fancy, the Blackwater series by this brewery offers a NITRO version that utilizes integrated technology in their cans. The nitro immediately activated a thicker, smoother mouthfeel and gave it a creamier head for their best drinking experience. It’s a deep, very dark brown color and typically only available during the months of November and December.
6 – Homemade Root Beer
This foamy, creamy drink is much-loved by the nation, and the most popular version of the recipe includes premium Madagascar Vanilla Beans. Perhaps not a traditional vanilla beer, but it is certainly a type of beer you can make using vanilla beans pretty easily at home.
7 – Red Brick Smoked Vanilla Gorilla
This is a very dark, almost black colored brew with a smokey element that people seem to love. After the initial smokiness, the vanilla makes its way to center stage. It’s aged in oak whiskey barrels (rumored to be Jack Daniels) with whole vanilla beans. It formed part of Red Brick’s Brick Mason Series.
8 – 6 Years Beers
Made by Cycle Brewing, this is a barrel-aged imperial stout made with Mexican vanilla beans. It delivers a combination of aromas, including vanilla, milk chocolate, coffee, cocoa, and marshmallow. It’s slightly earthy touch made it a bold contender in the dessert stout market.
9 – Wolaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter
The final entry on the list of popular beers that use vanilla beans is yet another Porter. We decided to include this after seeing just how popular it was on the homebrew forums. Made by Otter Creek Brewing, it is made with organic vanilla beans, organic coffee; as an unpasteurized and unfiltered porter that is smooth and only available seasonally during the winter months.
In terms of which vanilla bean is best for beer, 90% of our brewers choose our Gourmet Grade A vanilla beans for brewing over Grade B beans, Vanilla Bean Paste, or Vanilla Extract. The Grade A beans are much easier to work with, provide a more intense flavour, and are only slightly more costly.
If you need to order vanilla beans for your brewery, or you are looking for premium vanilla beans for a distillery, our business is tailored to meet your needs. We also offer flexible ordering for smaller quantities and can set-up scheduled ordering and custom requests as required.