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Oatmeal Stout Spring ’14

March 22, 2014

I would like to gainfully employ my saved yeast from the latest Brown Ale brew, so will step up to a stout for their likely last pitch.  Not changing much from the previous brew of this other than my explicit yeast nutrient and whirlfloc additions and hop modifications to use hops that I have left over from my latest ESB and Brown.  My notes indicate Jamil emphasizing use of low alpha acid English varieties as they contribute a more subtle character, so I will use the remaining 0.75 oz. of Goldings and enough of the Millenium I have to bring the GU:BU ratio to the right spot (~0.65).

Recipe

BeerSmith Recipe /Brewsheet

Brew Day (3/23/14)

I decided to split this brew day over two days.  I did the mash one evening and picked up with the boil the next morning.  I had first heard of this in Gordon Strong’s Brewing Better Beer so I gave it a try.  I guess the section was actually written by Joe Formanek and simply involves performing the mash as usual the night prior, leaving it in an oven or other container to help retain heat, relying on the high temperatures to stave off bacterial growth.  I decided to run off my wort to my kitchen brew kettles (20 qt, ~2 gal., and 2 qt.), filling them all up.  I then proceeded to empty the grist from the MLT, rinse it out and transfer the wort back.  Being a re-purposed 10-gallon Igloo cooler, the MLT seemed like a reasonable choice.  While I wasn’t able to check the temperature the next morning (my thermometer somehow died overnight), it seemed pretty warm and didn’t seem to take too much longer to get to a boil than from a regular mash.

Also, despite remembering to use clothes pins for the pump inlet and outlet hoses, I still ended up having the outlet pop loose again during the last five minutes of the boil (when I run the pump to sanitize it) and shooting hot wort out into the dining room this time.  I was able to shut the outlet valve and kill the pump before it spread too far out of the kitchen, but it made for a hell of a clean up again.  This definitely underscores the need to find a more permanent solution.  I knew the clothes pins weren’t a good option but didn’t think of anything else and hadn’t made it a priority to find something better.  I think I can re-use some parts from an old copper chiller (whose death is detailed here) to create fixed inlet and outlet tubes attached to my chiller.  I’ll have to look at what others have done, but I seem to recall this being a typical solution.

Fermentation

Scooped out about 1/2 cup of thick slurry recovered from my Brown Ale and shook the fermenter well for a minute or two to break up the clumps.  Oxygenated for ~1:20 and put in Rubbermaid set to ~71.  Krausen formed and steady bubbling in less than 6 hours, consistent with yeast that’s in its third pitch.

Sample after 1 week: 1.016

Crash after 1 week, 4 days to fill hole left by finish of Brown Ale.  FG:  1.016 => ~6% ABV

Impressions

Pretty disappointing.  No real malt aroma (roasty, chocolatey) like I’d expect from an Oatmeal Stout.  What’s there is very subdued.  Gives a headache the next morning if a pint or more is drank the evening prior.  I was surprised at first because I didn’t notice any hot alcohol, but now that I’m looking for it, I notice it mostly in the aroma.  The flavor is more difficult to detect and is most pronounced near the end of the pint, likely because it has warmed.  I’m serving at ~48 F since my keezer is set to that temp for a Maibock fermentation, so it’s not too cold, but really the beer deteriorates significantly from beginning to end of a pint.  I have been pleasantly surprised by my first sips, only to be reminded of the flaws near the end.  So, it would seem that cold is masking the major flaws.  Also, it tastes “sharp,” almost like a carbonic bite, but I think the carbonation is about right.  I carbonated it at ~10 psi at 48 F and don’t notice excessive foam or large head when it pours.  If anything, the head is a bit disappointing as well, not having a lot of staying power.

My disappointment with this beer and my Munich Helles, coming on the heals of several drinkable but not competition-worthy beers has me questioning my ability.  After drinking a really nice Hofbrau Maibock on tap recently, I’m excited but worried about my Maibock.  My previous Maibock came out very similar to the commercial example and I’d really like to have 5 gallons of it, but recent outcomes have me worried if I can reasonably hope for it.  There is consolation that this recent string of mediocre to bad beers were a return to kitchen brewing and my Maibock was made back in the garage with the full system (now with a pump and proper whirlpool).

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From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews

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