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Bean to Barstool Podcast | All About Vanilla

Bean to Barstool Podcast

Vanilla is a very familiar flavor for most of us. It’s so ubiquitous, in fact, that the word is used as a pejorative for anything that is commonplace and mundane. But that’s not being fair to this fascinating tropical spice, which can display a wide range of expressive aromas and flavors, and can be used in unique ways throughout world cuisine. In North America and Europe, it’s mostly associated with desserts, pastries, and other sweet treats, to the point that vanilla is often taken to be sweet on its own. That assumption is turned upside down in many other global food traditions however, in which vanilla can be used in savory or spicy dishes. Its heady but gentle profile allows it to work in support of a variety of other flavors.

And it’s of interest to this podcast because vanilla is used so extensively in craft chocolate and, often, in craft beer as well.

In this episode we talk with Dr. Alan Chambers from the University of Florida Tropical Research and Education Center. He works with tropical fruit crops to better support growers in southern Florida, and he quickly gained interest and expertise in the science and cultivation of vanilla after taking the position in 2016. He is now a foremost expert in all things vanilla.

We also talk with Sean Buchan, the founder and head brewer at Denver’s Cerebral Brewing. Sean works with a variety of single origin vanillas in his beers to highlight their variety. Here we talk about beers like Vanilla Rye Here Be Monsters and others that serve as liquid tributes to the amazing vanilla orchid.

I hope this episode helps you appreciate how unique and varied vanilla really is. Far from being an avatar for homogeneity, vanilla is a fascinating and diverse spice with a wide range of expressions that reward attention.

Bean to Barstool is a podcast that looks at the intersections between craft beer and craft chocolate, using them as lenses for exploring the world of flavor. It is hosted by Advanced Cicerone® David Nilsen. Be sure to check out all the episodes here.


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