This evening, I racked the Vanilla Stout to a secondary fermenter and added two vanilla beans. They were bought from the grocery store (McCormick brand), and the label doesn’t say the source of the beans. After I readied them for beer (cut in half, lengthwise, and then sterilize by adding to 1/2 cup boiling water), they smelled like a mix between vanilla and tobacco.

The beer itself tasted good – like it would make a pleasant recipient of the vanilla. It was roasty with a slight level of residual sweetness and no hop flavor. It didn’t attenuate as well as I’d hoped, so I really won’t need to add much lactose when it’s done (likely only four ounces).

Earlier this week I kegged my Fiftieth Brew (so named because it is my 50th original recipe). Prior to dry-hopping, it had lots of chocolate flavors with some subtle hop flavor and bitterness. It also had a note of ethanol: not hot or solventy, but a not-so-subtle flavor of alcohol nonetheless. The ethanol flavor has slowly gotten less overt, but it it still there. The dry-hopping did wonders for the flavor: loads of beautiful citrus from the Centennial hops. This new nuance to the flavor helps distract the taste buds from the ethanol. And, now that it is kegged, the carbonation further reduces the alcohol flavors. But, alas, they are still present. They may remain forever, or perhaps will simply require six months (or more) of aging before going away. Luckily, as it is now, it is still pretty decent. The alcohol lends a dryness to the finish, and is much more subtle than it was a few weeks ago…

This Saturday I’ll be cooking up beer again. I haven’t decided yet what to make. I’m currently leaning towards something small – like an English bitter or an American Pale Ale. I have until Thursday to decide since that is the day I’ll be going to the homebrew store (that is the day I work from home and pick Will up from school, and his school is less than two miles from the homebrew shop).