I’m a big fan of all types of stout, especially around March and springtime. For March 2013, I brewed the Big Oatmeal Stout, an oatmeal stout taken to the limits (of the BJCP style guidelines, of course). At 6% ABV, it was quite a tasty beer, and held up with age. For March 2014, I wanted to do something different. Combining my session-style trend (IPA, Amber) with the seasonal March oatmeal stout theme, I brewed the Session Oatmeal Stout. At 2.9% ABV, the session-style oatmeal stout is half the strength of its big brother, but is quite flavorful and exceptionally quaffable. A review and recipe below! Cheers, and happy brewing!
Pouring into a snifter glass, the Session Oatmeal Stout has an inky-black appearance with creamy, tan head. The aroma is very stout-like, comprised of fresh-roasted coffee beans with complimentary graininess. In tasting, the beer has more of the same: fresh-brewed black coffee and deep roastiness with a hint of toast. The finish is quite bitter via the bittering hops enhancing the roasted malts. For being a low gravity beer, this stout has a medium body and a slight, but pleasant oiliness, likely from the flaked oatmeal addition. Also, fermentation was neutral, leaving this beer pretty clean on the palate, and combined with the dryness, easy to drink. Overall, the Session Oatmeal Stout turned out great and very flavorful for a 2.9% ABV beer. To compare it to a known style, this beer has a real dry stout buzz to it, but the mouthfeel keeps you reminded of its oatmeal origins. I’ll be making this recipe again soon.
Brewing at low gravities presents many brewing challenges that I’ll likely detail in a future blog post. In a nutshell, good brewing practices are necessity, since any flaw will easily show. Additionally, in the recipe design, use base-malts and speciality-grains that have intense flavors, since low alcohol beers have small grists. For a typical oatmeal stout, a basic pale malt, like 2-row, works well, since the majority of the flavor comes through the speciality-grains. However, for the Session Oatmeal Stout, I went with a more flavorful base malt: Vienna. Other than that, I used a basic oatmeal stout grist, only cutting the base-malt down to reduce the overal gravity. On the yeast side of things, I suggest using a strain that will improve the mouthfeel, even with the oatmeal addition. I used Wyeast 1450, which is a mouthfeel and caramel enhancing strain with a neutral ester profile. Most English strains are also good, but will usually produce some fruity esters, a must-have for any English-style session ales. For this oatmeal stout, I wanted to keep it clean.
Recipe: Session Oatmeal Stout
5 Gallon Batch, all-grain
Stats: OG 1.035 FG 1.013 ABV 2.9% IBU: ~25, 75% mash efficiency
5 lbs Vienna Malt
12 oz Roasted Barley
8 oz Flaked Oatmeal
8 oz Flaked Barley
8 oz Chocolate Malt
4 oz Crystal 75L
4 oz Crystal 40L
Single-infusion mash at 152 F 60 min, mashout at 170 F 10 min
Boil additions of Magnum to get you to 25 IBUs
1 packet of Wyeast 1450, pitched and fermented at 68 F
Added 1 tsp CaCl to nice clean soft water