Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.2

I’ve brewed my house oatmeal stout recipe twice previously, and both times it has been a winner. Looking towards my keg rotation, I thought it would be nice to roll this one out for 2016. I’ll note that this is the third time I’ve brewed this one in essentially the same form–probably a record for my home brewery.

The primary minor change to this batch versus the others has been to use “old fashioned oatmeal” out of the pantry instead of the flaked oats from the brewshop. Based on my reading, they are essentially the same thing. Many brewing forums tout using oats from the grocery store as cheaper–however, I think this is fairly overstated, particularly for the amounts of oats used in most recipes. In some cases, even, the brewshop oats are cheaper! And ever in the worst-case scenario, it’s a savings of a few cents at most. Thus, the “wisdom” of grocery store products being a massive savings over the homebrew shop products is not entirely correct here. I think the primary utility is as a quick alternative if you need to add oats flavor but forgot to buy them with the rest of your grains.
Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.2
  • 8.5 lbs. 2 row malt (Great Western)
  • 1.25 lbs. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 lb. 80° L crystal malt
  • 1 lb. Victory malt
  • 0.75 lb. chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lb. roasted barley (Simpsons)
  • 0.3 lb. rice hulls
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss, 10 minute boil
  • 1.1 oz. Northern Brewer hops pellets (9.9% alpha, 4.5% beta), 60 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. English Ale yeast (White Labs WLP002, 0.9 L starter)
Procedure
  • Three days before brewing, I began a 1.5L starter (191 g of extra light DME and ~.5 tsp of yeast nutrient in 1.75L of water, for a target gravity of 1.040). After 48 hours, I decanted 0.6L for future use and cold-crashed the rest of the starter.
  • I mashed in with 5 gallons of water at 170°, and hit 156.5° for my mash-in temperature. The mash had dropped to 155° after 30 minutes and was down to 153.4° after 50 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 0.5 gallons of 162° water, let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, which raised the mash bed to 162°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the wort.
  • All together, I collected 6.8 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.049, for a mash efficiency of 72%. I note that the relatively small quantity of rice hulls seemed to be just fine for this recipe.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, adding the hops and Irish moss as scheduled.
  • After 60 minutes of boiling, I turned off the heat and chilled the wort to 75°. The final yield was ~6 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.060. I decanted most of the spent wort from the starter, and pitched the yeast slurry before sealing up the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on Sunday, January 3, 2016 (first brew of the year!). It will be fermenting at 68°.

A Whole Mess of Kegging

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout, ready for kegging

It’s only five weeks until AHA (American Homebrewers’ Association) in San Diego, and in preparation I’ve been brewing up a storm the past few weekends. In order to give everything sufficient time for conditioning, carbonation, and such, tonight was the night to keg it all.

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.2

  • This beer had been in the primary fermenter for 3.5 weeks, for the first 10 days at 66°, and the rest of the time at ambient temperature.
  • I racked the beer onto 2 ounces of Citra hops (13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), weighted down in a bag at the bottom of the keg.
  • Final gravity was 1.010; down from 1.048, this works out to 5.0% abv. The beer was wonderfully clear, with a medium yellow color and clean flavor.
  • I’ll let this dry hop at room temperature for a week or two before carbonating.


Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.1

  • This beer had been in the primary fermenter for 2.5 weeks; I cold-crashed it for the final 24 hours down to 38°.
  • Final gravity was down to 1.021 from 1.061, which works out to 4.1% abv. The beer has really nice body to it, and should be delightful once carbonated.
  • I began carbonating this beer immediately.


Bonedigger Brown Ale 1.1

  • This beer had been in the primary fermenter for 11 days (cold crashed during the final 24 hours).
  • Final gravity was 1.013, down from 1.052. This works out to 5.1% abv. Both flavor and appearance are on the mark.
  • I began carbonating this beer immediately.
To move things along, I’m going to try a “quick carbonation” technique. For the oatmeal stout and brown ale, I began carbonation under 40 psi at 38°. In 24 hours, I’ll lower pressure to 20 psi, and after another 24 hours I’ll check out the carbonation.

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.1

In my second brew for the AHA club night, I’m revisiting my Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout. The beer recipe is pretty much unchanged, with just a touch more flaked oats to round out the body a bit.

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout

  • 8.5 lbs. 2 row malt (Great Western)
  • 1.25 lbs. flaked oats
  • 1 lb. 80° L crystal malt
  • 1 lb. Victory malt
  • 0.75 lb. chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lb. roasted barley
  • 0.5 lb. rice hulls
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops pellets (7.8% alpha, 4.5% beta)
  • 1 pkg. English Ale yeast (White Labs WLP002, 1L starter)
Procedure
  • 24 hours before brewing, I began a 1L starter (4 oz. of extra light DME in 1L water), and ran this on the stir plate. True to the yeast strain (WLP002), the culture was a snowstorm of flocculated yeast by the end.
  • I mashed in with 4.25 gallons of water at 169°, and hit 155-156° for my mash-in temperature. The mash had dropped to 155.4° after 10 minutes and was down to 152.4° after 50 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 0.5 gallons of 170° water, let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected 3 gallons of wort at ~1.070 gravity. Then, I added 3.25 gallons of water at 180°, which raised the mash bed to 168°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the wort.
  • All together, I collected 7.6 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.049. This works out to a mash efficiency of 81%! I suspect I collected only 3 gallons on the first round due to slow draining of the mash tun; the rice hulls were definitely a good addition to this recipe!
  • I brought the wort to a high, rolling boil. After 5 minutes, I added the hops.
  • After 50 minutes, I added the Irish moss.
  • After 60 minutes, the wort gravity was reading ~1.054 on my refractometer, a little bit lower than I wanted. So, I removed the hops (to avoid over-bittering), and boiled for another 15 minutes. This may have overboiled the Irish moss a bit, but I figured that was a small price to pay for hitting my target gravity.
  • After flame-out, I chilled the wort down to 70° using my wort chiller. In the end, I had 6.25 gallons of wort, ~5.75 gallons of which went into the fermenter. Final gravity was 1.061 at 60°. This was nearly exactly at my target of 1.062.
  • I put this in the fermentation chamber, which was set at 66°.

Beer Tasting: Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout

My Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout ended up as another fine brew–it’s been a great winter brewing season so far. I took a sample to my homebrew club meeting last week, and it actually placed highest in our informal beer tasting competition (out of eight entries, many of them quite good)! 

At any rate, I thought I would do my own, self-critical tasting while the beer is still in its prime. The results are below.

  • Basics
    • Starting gravity = 1.057; final gravity = 1.022; abv = 4.6%
  • Aroma
    • Slightly chocolatey / roasty; no hops detectable. Very nice.
  • Appearance
    • Head retention excellent (in fact, amazing! it keeps going until I finish the glass); light brown head with fine foam and nice lacing on the side of the glass; color of beer is black to dark brown (the latter only in the thinnest part of the glass). Clarity is quite good (at least as can be determined for the color)
  • Flavor
    • Malty and rich; balance between bitterness and maltiness is good; a tad thin on the finish; flavor is primarily coffee and just a light hint of cocoa
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate body, carbonation perfect for style; just a touch creamy/silky, but not overly so; no astringency or any off flavors.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! The recipe turned into a really nice beer! I might up the oatmeal on this just a tad next time to give it just a hint more mouthfeel, but otherwise it’s quite good.
  • Overall rating: 9/10

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout Update

Three and a half weeks after brew day, it was time to take care of the Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout. Over the holiday break, I worked on getting set up for kegging. I converted a 7 cubic foot deep freezer into a “keezer”; I’ll probably detail that in another post, but the short version is that it has a redwood collar made out of 2×4’s, with a three keg (and three faucet) capacity. This oatmeal stout is my first beer kegged in a 5 gallon keg (I’ve done some 5 L mini-kegs using the Philtap system), and was wonderfully easy to package!

The beer was brewed on Saturday, December 13, and was happily fermenting by the next morning. On the evening of December 14, I noticed that temperature of the fermenter had risen to 74°, a few degrees over what is ideal for this strain. Part of the problem was that I had my temperature sensor for the temperature controller hanging in the air, rather than taped to the fermenter. Lesson learned, and I was able to drop the fermenter down to the mid-60s by the next morning. Not ideal, but it seems like the extra conditioning time cleared out any negative flavors.

On January 1, 2015, I pulled the fermenter from the chamber and set it on the floor. This was in the midst of a cold snap, so the whole setup was soon down to the ambient temperature of 52°. The temperature increased a little bit over the next few days, to 60° or so, but didn’t exceed that.

In terms of overall character, the English Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP002) was fast-acting and extremely flocculant. In other words, true to the strain. This was coupled with relatively low attenuation (see below), as expected.

On January 7, 2015, I kegged the beer. Final gravity was 1.022, down from 1.057. This works out to 4.6% abv and 60% apparent attenuation. The beer was slightly sweet (as expected for the yeast strain), with a nice background bitterness and just a subtle fruity aroma. If I do this recipe again, it would be interesting to try another strain to see what a drier version of the beer is like. I transferred 5 gallons (virtually all of the beer in the fermenter) into a refurbished cornie keg.

After kegging, I put the keg in the keezer, which is set for 42°. Following suggestions for force carbonation from Midwest Brewing, I set the CO2 pressure to 40 psi. I’ll do this for 24 hours, lower to 20 psi for another 24 hours, lower to ~13.5 psi, and then sample. Thus, I should be ready for at least preliminary sampling by the weekend!