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(infused) oatmeal brown ale

October 15, 2012

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I’ve been on a roll brewing lately.  Not just brewing lots of beers, but brewing lots of beers that I’m excited about drinking and sharing, and beers that have been turning out wonderfully.

Yesterday, I stopped by my local supplier, Niagara Tradition, and picked up some goodies – the bulk of which was a 55# bag of Canada Malting 2-row malt.  I also picked up a variety of dark and roasted malts, some crystal malts and english yeasts.  This brew is the first of a handful that will use a combination of the aforementioned – the next being a Russian Imperial Stout and possibly an Oatmeal Stout.

Recipe after the jump

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Today is all about Brown Ale.  Specifically Oatmeal Brown Ale, with a couple of twists.  I personally don’t drink a lot of commercial brown ales, and I think that’s because there aren’t many good, exciting examples out there (at least, not in this region).  That said, I am lucky enough to have access to a good local option – CBW’s the Whale, which in my opinion is closer to a Porter, but it is delicious.  That just happens to be my top criteria when deciding if I like a beer or not.  Go figure.  The dudes at CBW are also pretty damn cool.

I suppose my beer is inspired by Surly Coffee Bender.  I’ve had it on a few occasions, and it is outstanding, but it isn’t available in my area and it’s probably been 18 months since I’ve had one.  I’m absolutely going from memory and purposefully staying away from clone recipes, as is my way.

I envision this beer to be silky smooth (from the oatmeal), chocolatey (from ample chocolate malt) with a touch of malt roast and a subtle, balanced bitterness.  Once that’s been achieved, I’m going to add some cold brewed coffee, vanilla bean and cacao nib.  In proper proportions, the vanilla and cacao should accentuate the smoothness and malt flavors, while the coffee will add its distinct roastiness.  I haven’t determined the exact amounts to be added yet, but it will be done in moderation so as not to go overboard.

The recipe represents a bit of a departure from the usual for me – my grain bills are typically quite simple, usually because I’m looking to highlight the hops.  It’s been a while since I made a beer like this that’s something of a “malt soup”.

I was joined on brewday by my friend and local beer activist Alex.  We always enjoy some top-notch beers when together, but he was kind enough to bring a bottle of Three Floyds Gorch Fock (Munich Helles).  On the occasion of brewing the first dark(er) beer of the season, I felt compelled to bust out my Hill Farmstead Everett.  Neither of these beers are available even close to locally, and both were absolutely delicious.  Certainly worthy of note here.

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Anyways.  Onto the real stuff.. recipe:

Oatmeal Brown Ale (w Coffee, Vanilla, Cacao)
10-C American Brown Ale
Brewed: 10/13/12

Size: 5.5 gal
Efficiency: 81.91% (measured)
Attenuation: 75.0% (estimated)
Original Gravity: 1.052 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (estimated)

Color: 21.63
Alcohol: 5.11%
IBU: 32.9

Ingredients:

  • 7.0 lb Canada Malting 2-Row Malt
  • 1.0 lb Biscuit Malt
  • 1.0 lb Flaked Oats
  • 0.5 lb Caramel 40°L
  • 0.5 lb Chocolate Malt
  • 0.25 lb British Caramel 80°L
  • 0.125 lb Roasted Malt
  • 0.125 lb Special B Malt
  • 1.0 oz Willamette (5.0% AA) – First Wort Hop
  • 0.15 oz Columbus (16.1% AA) – boiled 60 minutes
  • 1.0 oz Willamette (5.0% AA) – boiled 20 minutes
  • 1.0 ea Safale S-04 yeast
  • Cold-brewed Coffee (type, amount TBD) – added to secondary
  • Vanilla Bean (amount TBD) – added to secondary
  • Cacao nib (amount TBD) – added to secondary

Schedule:

  • Mash-in: 3.25 gal; Strike: 166.36 °F; Target: 152.0 °F.  60 minutes
  • Batch Sparge: 4.0 gal sparge @ 180.0 °F, 0.0 m; Total Runoff: 6.5 gal

Listening:

  • Wilco – Wilco
  • Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

Notes:

  • Brewed on a Saturday evening with Alex.  Pretty crappy weather, but the rain subsided during the boil, which was swell.  Beers sampled were excellent.
  • Collected 5.5 gal of 1.052 wort, chilled to 75F.  My intent was to collect 5.25 gallons of 1.055 wort, but this is pretty darn close.  Certainly good enough.
  • Went ahead and pitched yeast and left at an ambient of 63F.
  • By morning, fermentation had slowly begun, temp down to 65F.  So far, so good.
  • 24 hours after pitch, fermentation off and running.  Strong smell of chocolate.  Very nice.
  • Tasting notes: A little disappointed with this one.  Too much chocolate, not bitter enough, coffee didn’t really come through (muted by the chocolate, I think).  Not a bad beer by any means, but I’ll be rethinking this one before I brew something similar again.
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