Vanilla: A Labor of Love

Vanilla: A Labor of Love

Ingredients

Did you know that vanilla is the most expensive ingredient we use in our beer? Current prices range around $300 per pound for organic vanilla, mostly due to a worldwide shortage. Over 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar, which has recently been hit with severe weather and therefore failed crop yields. 

Adding to the shortage is the fact that vanilla is one of the most labor-intensive foods to cultivate. While most vanilla comes from Madagascar (the vanilla we use comes from Tahiti), it’s actually native to Mexico. Because its native pollinators aren’t around in Madagascar or Tahiti, the vanilla orchids must be pollinated by hand. It can also take as long as five years for a flower to produce pods! 

Despite the challenges and obstacles in sourcing vanilla, we choose to use it in some of our beers such as our cream ales, murkshake series, and a variety of imperial and barrel-aged stouts because of the unique way it melds with other ingredients and creates interesting flavor profiles. The addition of vanilla creates the perception of sweetness, even when there is no added sugar. Take Sunset Crush for example, our cream ale with strawberries. The sugar in the strawberries naturally ferments, leaving no trace of strawberry sweetness behind. However, the addition of vanilla really brings the sweet, fruity character of the strawberries back to life in the beer. 

The next time you sip on a cream ale, murkshake, or one of our stouts with vanilla, you will appreciate the vanilla bean that much more!

 


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