October 25, 2009

Quaker Stout

Two paths converged in the 2JB woods: summer was cooling off into autumn, and Nahum and I were running out of beer. Despite overloaded schedules, we mapped out a weekend moment to get to some brewin', and to some brewin' did we get.

Since last year we'd both loved our November stout so much, we decided to kick off this year's season with an oatmeal stout--all the stouty deliciousness, plus a little touch of Quaker-oats goodness!

Because of the addition of oats to an already heavy/hearty brew, this one was fairly grain heavy: 1 lb. ESB/Mild malt, 1 lb. roasted barley, 0.5 lb. Crystal 120L, 0.25 lb. chocolate malt, and 0.5 lb. flaked oats. I was kind of looking forward to checking out each of these ingredients one at a time, but our supplier at the Gaslight mixed it altogether into one giant, heavy-duty Ziploc bag. While it was disappointing to not get to spend a little time with the chocolate malt all on its own, I ended up finding the big bag of "brewer's trail mix" pretty cool, too.

Because this was a long recipe (the big bag o' grain got a 1-hour steep @ 155 degrees ahead of a 1-hour boil) and Nahum had some stuff to attend to at home, I found myself manning the brew pot for awhile as he dashed back and forth between our houses. (Good thing we live across the street from each other.) I kept myself company with a bottle of 2JB Bitter.

But once the main boil was going, Nahum was staying put, focused, and ready to brew. It's a good thing, too, as he immediately noticed some oddities in both the recipe and our stock of ingredients. First, the recipe called for 6 lb. of amber or Munich LME...which we asked for, but upon examination we found that we had 6 lb. of amber DME. Seeing as the liquid and dried malts are not exactly equivalent in terms of how much malt they deliver, I have a feeling we over-malted a bit (and we only noticed this after dumping all 6 lb. in, missing the chance to dial it back a little). Second, the hopping schedule seemed off: the recipe called for 1 oz. of Tettnang hops @ 45 minutes, and 1.5 oz. of Goldings @ 60 minutes. That put almost all of the hopping near the end of the boil; seeing as we'd already over-malted an already-sweet recipe (and since we'd gotten 2 oz. of Goldings from the Gaslight), we made the executive brewmaster's decision to drop 1/2 oz. of Goldings pellets at the boil, the powdery Tettnang hops at 45 minutes, and then the rest of the Goldings near the end.

How will all of this affect the Quaker Stout? Well...we don't really know. This was a new recipe, and we went with our experience/collective gut without knowing how it would turn out otherwise. Based on the rich, coffee-ish color, the heady roasted malt aroma, and the satisfyingly sweet flavor of our initial sample, I think we made the right call(s).

After straining the wort into 2 gallons of cool water (the strained material was seriously stouty dark), we topped it off to 5 gallons.

The temperature was a bit higher than we'd hoped for (around 95 degrees), so we made another executive decision and went to watch some Monty Python's Flying Circus while the wort cooled. One episode and several degrees later, we took an OG reading of 1.060, pitched in a "Smack-Pak" of Whitbread Activator yeast, and sealed it all up.

Since we'd gone a little off the followed-by path (and seeing as our last attempt at a stout yielded one serious explosion), I put the Ale Pail inside a metal bucket and hooded it in a plastic bag. You can never be too careful when you're this excited to drink a new batch of homebrew...


Chris said...

I suspect your recipe really wanted you to add your hops near the beginning, boiling them for 60 and 45 minutes; not to the last 15 minutes and flameout. Good that you added some early. You may have "Frosted Oatmeal Stout!" Consider hop-tea or hop extract if it's too sweet when you taste it. Good luck!

bsglaser said...

Yeah, the recipe was not at all clear...but based on our pre-bottling sample of the stuff, it's turning out pretty delicious!