This recipe appears in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” Learn more at mashmakerbook.com.
Do you have a personal end-of-autumn ritual? One of my seasonal markers is a fall trip to fly fish for steelhead with some old friends. Solitude, no cell reception, deep woods, the loud sound of flowing water, wolves and eagles, aurora at night, nostrils full of the hoppy tang of balsam sap. After I return with a clear mind and a keg emptied of homebrew, my internal clock knows it’s time to put away the rods and fly boxes and run the gas out of the lawnmower.
This year, as I stowed gear and waited for waders to dry, I was idly flipping through my recipe log and found an old chestnut originally brewed with one Jake D. Keeler for a trip some number of fall runs ago. Much like favorite rivers and old friends, it’s good to renew acquaintance with old recipes.
And so, as we get ready to commemorate one more circle around the sun, it is once again stout time. I’m just kidding—it’s always stout time, but it is what we’re brewing this issue.
Going By the Numbers
Our particular species will be an oatmeal stout tipping the scales at the upper limits of its weight class (hence the “extra”). With an original gravity from a relatively modest 1.048 all the way up to bock-grade 1.065 (yes, please) for an alcohol-by-volume content of roughly 4–6% (but we can do a little better, I think), this is a substantial but not night-ending class of ale. Overall it leans to the sweet and grainy, requiring just balancing bitterness to the tune of 22–40 IBUs. And we’ll be shooting for the top end, since our OG will be there too. And being a stout it has to be dark in color, ranging from a deep mahogany 22 SRM to an opaque 40 SRM.
What Makes It Tick
Like the name implies, you can’t have an oatmeal stout if you don’t have oats. This style of stout derives its full body and viscous mouthfeel from a healthy addition of oats to the grist. The oats are usually in an unmalted, gelatinized-flake form, but malted oats are sometimes seen.
Repeating myself, this being a stout, it has to be dark. Oatmeal stouts have their origins in England, so black patent malt is the roast grain of choice. Black patent has a somewhat softer profile than unmalted roast barley—the roast grain of choice for the sharper, drier Irish stouts—which makes it a better match for the sweeter, more zaftig oatmeal stout style.
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Because stouts feature such strong flavors from the roast grains used to achieve such a dark wort, the role of yeast is often unfairly relegated to the backseat when planning a recipe. A good strain for a classic English-style oatmeal stout is able to tolerate the low pH of a roast-intensive wort, produce esters complementary to the roast-and-oat profile, and will attenuate just enough to leave a very drinkable but still luscious and velvety-textured beer. Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale fits those requirements, and it’s also what my tattered old recipe sheet says to use, so…
A Recipe to Try
Motorboat Oatmeal Extra Stout
Target OG: 1.065
Target IBU: 40
• 9 lbs English Maris Otter pale malt
• 1 lb flaked oats
• 14 oz Black Patent malt
• 14 oz Simpsons Dark Crystal malt
• 1.5 oz Styrian Aurora (or equivalent)
• Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale
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