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Oatmeal Stout Brew

February 13, 2011

Brew Day (2/13/2011)


BeerSmith Recipe


Fermentation didn’t start off as quickly or explosively as the ESB that I got the yeast from, but it was still pretty healthy at a <13 hour start time and pretty active (though never threatening to blow off).  I’m thinking that I need to throw in yeast nutrient when I pitch.  I’ve only been putting it in the starter, but obviously that isn’t the scenario that yeast nutrient is marketed for, so it might be good to toss in the primary fermenter.  After all, the yeast still does a good bit of growing once it’s in there, too (in which case I should put it in even if I’m using a starter).

I started this one fermenting in the cooler with the aquarium heater and bumped up the temperature ~3 F once activity noticeably slowed.

Sample after ~6 days:  1.014.  Lower than target gravity, like the ESB but not by as much.  I’ll give it another day and see what the sample reads tomorrow before I decide if it’s done (and take the aquarium heater offline).

Sample after ~7 days:  1.013, so apparently it’s still got somewhere to get to.  It tastes pretty darn good, though so I’m willing to let it take as long as it would like.

Sample after ~9 days:  Still 1.013, so it looks like it’s safe to say it’s done.  I’ve unplugged the aquarium heater and I’m going to let it sit for the rest of the week.  This weekend I’ll go ahead and keg it up.  I just dropped the keezer temp down to 35 F (since my Munich Helles is also done now) so hopefully that will give it a good cold crash.  Unfortunately it will mean I have to serve it a good bit colder than I should, though.  We’ll just have to see how it works out.

First Impressions

After force carbonating to an acceptable – yet not ideal level:

Appearance:  Very black.  A flashlight from behind yields dark red, but black otherwise.  Decent head (though it is under-carbonated) with good lacing.

Aroma:  Roasty with a little chocolate.

Flavor:  Roasty, a little burnt, firm bitterness.

Mouthfeel:  Not so full, but OK.

Overall:  Not too bad.  I’ll be interested to see how it is when its properly carbonated, but it’s certainly drinkable now.  The bitterness is a bit strong, but I don’t think it’s unacceptable.  I was hoping for some more smoothness and less burnt, roasty flavors but I think it’s still appropriate to the style and tastes good – just not exactly what I was hoping for.

Second Impressions

Appearance:  Black.  Thick, foamy tan head with some large bubbles.

Aroma:  Chocolatey, hint of roast, no hop.

Flavor:  Light chocolate, little bit of roast, firm bitterness on the finish.


Overall:  Delicious!  I’ll be very interested to see how this gets evaluated in competition.

NHC Regional Evaluation

Final Assigned Score:  30

One judge rated it fairly well (32) while the other pretty poorly (23 before they obviously discussed and he brought it up to 27).  I believe the deal-breaker for the second judge was the carbonation.  Apparently it didn’t keep its carbonation well enough when transferred to the bottle.  I’ll have to make sure and perfect that (I think I was transferring at too high pressure).

Judge Summaries (scoresheets):

First Judge:  I think this guy liked it pretty well.  He noted the lack of carbonation, but was apparently able to see past it to notice the roastiness, dark fruit, and chocolate flavors.  Unlike the second judge he noticed the oatmeal (via “slickness on the palat” (sic)).

Second Judge:  I think he was really influenced by the lack of carbonation.  I tend to not take too many of his comments seriously because they’re often contrary to my and the other judge’s perceptions and I think it was just because he couldn’t get past the lack of carbonation.  In essence, he failed to notice “oatmeal characteristics,” thought it wasn’t smooth or sweet enough, and it was too roasty.  I’m not sure what to make of the “oatmeal characteristics” comment.  The other judge noticed slickness, which I attribute to oatmeal.  I hope he wasn’t expecting oatmeal flavor.  I – and I believe the other judge – disagree with his lack of smoothness belief.  As for the roast and sweetness, he may very well have a point there.  I myself thought it might be a little on the roasty side (which I imagine could influence the perception of sweetness).  I’m not sure if it’s out of style, however.


So apparently you get certificates if the beer meets a minimum score in the NHC regional competition.  This one got a silver.

Bomber (12/16/11)

I cracked open one of my 3 remaining bombers tonight and it was flat.  All of the bottles I’ve opened of this over the last several months have been flat.  I blame the bottling method, but it’s still pretty decent.  Dark fruit and roast dominate with solid bitterness from the roasted grains and hops.  I would still say it’s too roasty.


From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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