Last weekend, I was hit with a craving for a big, malty stout, but had none on hand, nor had any ageing in the homebrew archives (gasp!). So, to remedy this problem, I decided to brew up what was on my mind, and came up with a recipe for a big (or big-ish, 1.060+) Oatmeal stout. I like Oatmeal stouts because they tend to be maltier, more substantial than a dry Irish stout, but less sweet than a milk stout (although I am still a big fan of both of those styles). Since Oatmeal Stout tends to be widely varied in commercial examples, my idea for this recipe was to make something close to the Samuel Smith interpretation of Oatmeal stout, just a bit bigger.
Malts To make this stout, I used a variety of base malts and specialty grains with the goal (or hope!) of creating an Oatmeal stout with perfect balance between maltiness and roastiness, bitterness and sweetness, body and session-ability (if that is even a word). In the maltiness department, I used a blend of American two-row, Maris Otter with small additions of Munich and Crystal 60 L malts to add malt complexity and some residual (unfermentable) sugar (from the 60 L). In the roastiness department, I used the standard black roasted barley for that stout-like roast character with a little chocolate malt to round out the dark malt profiles a bit. To make this stout an Oatmeal Stout, I used some flaked oats pre-gelatinized, so they can be thrown into the mash without any crazy mash steps like a protein rest or cereal mash. Also, I didn’t bother to toast them like many people do in a Oatmeal Stout, since I wasn’t looking for that toasted oatmeal flavor in this beer; just the body and mouthfeel contributions the oats provide. Additionally I only used about 10% oats, since use of more can lend a oily-ness in the mouthfeel that I tend not to like. Lastly, a bit of sugar was added to the boil to keep the body of the beer becoming too big and sweet since Wyeast 1968 under-attenuates (~69%). Between the sugar and the low mash (~148 F), the body should come out where its full, but not chewy (around 1.017 instead of 1.020+).
Hops Not many hops are needed for this one (sorry hop heads, your time will come soon). For bitterness, I used some Cascade hops I had hanging in my freezer, some at 60 minutes, some at 15 minutes (just for a little hop character, for the hop heads). I’m looking for something in the 30 IBU range to help balance the residual sugars and body, without being too bitter, since the astringency of the dark malts will enhance the overall bitterness of this beer.
Yeast As I mentioned before, I used Wyeast 1968 (the Fuller’s strain), partly because I wanted the English-style maltiness it brings to ales, but also because that’s what I had on hand from a previous batch.
Water Water is somewhat important for this recipe due to the large portion of dark grains, which could possibly lower mash pH too much. To avoid this issue, I employ the “Gordon Strong” method of mashing dark speciality grains (Crystal 60 L, Black Roasted Barley, and Chocolate Malt for this recipe), which is to only mash grains which need mashing (Two-Row, Maris otter, Munich, Flaked Oats), then at the end of the mash, throw in the speciality grains since they don’t need mashing. Not only does this not mess up your mash pH, it also tend to lend a smooth flavor as a result of the shorter steeping time. Believe it or not, but I use this method almost exclusively for any recipes using dark malts. To learn more about this mashing method, you can read his book, linked here, or listen to it on Basic Brewing Radio (the November 15th, 2012 podcast) linked here. Now for the summary!
Recipe: Big Oatmeal Stout
Batch size: 2.5 Gallons
Brew date: 02/16/2013
———- Grist ———-
34% American Two-Row Pale malt (~ 2-2.5 lbs)
34% English Maris Otter (~ 2-2.5 lbs)
10% Flaked Oats (~ 0.5 lbs)
8% Black Roasted Barley (~ 0.5 lbs)
4% Crystal 60 L (~ 0.25 lbs)
4% Munich malt (~ 0.25 lbs)
4% Table sugar (added at beginning of boil) (~ 0.25 lbs)
2% Chocolate Malt (~ 2 0z)
Total Grist: ~6-7 lbs
———- Hops ———-
0.5 oz Cascade Hops (~6 AA) @ 60 min left in boil
0.5 oz Cascade Hops (~6 AA) @ 15 min left in boil
———- Yeast ———-
Wyeast 1968 (pitched 100 ml of thick slurry from a previous batch)
Anticipated O.G. : 1.065
Anticipated F.G. : 1.017
Anticipated ABV: ~6%
IBU (Rager): 30 -ish
SRM: 37 (black as night)
———- Water ———-
Good clean water. My water is the city of Austin, which is pretty good for this recipe. Using the “Gordon Strong” method, I added a bit of Calcium Chloride to the mash to dial in the mash pH.
———- Mash Schedule ———-
Mash low (less than 150 F, I did it @ 148 F) since Wyeast 1968 has low attenuation. I’m looking for a total attenuation of ~74%, which is pushing this yeast which tends to get below 70%.
Anticipated Mash efficiency: 80+% (Up the base malt percentage if your mash efficiency is lower)
Stay tuned for brewers notes and tasting!