BIG SHOUTOUT to vanilla for consistently killing the adjunct game and pumping up the pastry jams. For those of you who are familiar with our stout program, you are also familiar with vanilla in its many forms. If you’re seeing vanilla in a beer description, it usually means we used around a pound of vanilla per barrel (with exceptions like last year’s MT: ULTRA Vanilla, which used a total of 24lbs), and we tend to harness the powers of multiple kinds in order to conduct a truly masterful symphony of vanilla flavors.
What we think of as the smell and taste of #vanilla comes from a complex compound called Vanillin, which can also be found in olive oil, fruits, butter, and oak, and even coffee, tortillas, and oatmeal. Depending on the type and origin, vanilla can yield a wide array of flavors and aromas, from delicately floral to rich and caramel-y. Tahitensis (A.K.A. Tahitian Vanilla) is extremely fragrant, yielding a lot of aroma; tons of floral and fruity notes. Planifolia is your traditional vanilla and our bread and butter. Madagascar is the most common vanilla and tends to play well with others, yielding delectable bourbon notes. Mexico (the birthplace of vanilla) tends to produce smooth, deeply rich vanillas that have complex notes of baking spices and bourbon.
Our special projects wizards painstakingly select the adjuncts of each beer to suit the desired flavor profile. For example, a chocolate mole-inspired beer would absolutely be receiving Mexican vanilla. A beer where vanilla isn't necessarily the star of the show--but highlights other ingredients in a supporting role--might receive Madagascar, and so forth. Within the department, everyone has their own favorite type of vanilla. Justin really loves Ugandan vanilla, which carries a huge marshmallow and creamy flavor; if we had a "house vanilla", it would be Ugandan. On the other hand, Kyle prefers Papua New Guinea vanilla, which is chocolate and caramel-butter forward.
We'd challenge you to taste the differences, and heartily encourage you to report back with your findings. As always, feel free to shoot any questions, comments, or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org, and sign up for our email newsletter and follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop.