Help fine-tuning Oatmeal Stout recipe

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Tal Orbach, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Hello there, brewers.
    I want to make my first ever stout (mainly for a friend, because I'm not usually a huge fan of the style).
    I found this recipe: https://beerandbrewing.com/make-your-best-oatmeal-stout/
    It sounds quite nice and well balanced (I particularly liked the idea of not letting the roastiness and bitterness take over everything).
    However, I still want the beer to be mainly bitter, not bitter-sweet or anything (I want some malty-nutty-caramelly sweetness for balance, but bitterness should be the main taste in this beer). That said - I still agree with the idea of low IBU, for the same reasoning laid out in the link above. Also, I'm not sure that I like the idea of having berry flavors from the yeast.
    This makes me think maybe I should use another strain. Do you think I could use Nottingham or S-04 here (that would be great, also because I have those harvested from past batches), or anything else you'd recommend? (I don't want the beer to be completely dry, but mostly dry, for sure)

    I was also thinking of adding maybe another half pound or a pound of oats - I want the beer to be a smooth as it could be (considering nitro isn't an option). Any reason why I shouldn't do that?

    Finally, I want the beer to be as opaque as possible, so if you have any recommendations (other than not cold-crashing) - I'd be interested in those.
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,381
    Likes Received:
    6,611
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    There are logical reasons for everything Josh does in that oatmeal stout. "Berry" flavors from the yeast really means "flavors that might on a really good day be thought of as somehow related to a berry." Yeast does not produce berry flavors in beer. I'd stick with the recommended recipe with one slight modification: I'd toast the oats. I don't remember exactly my oat-toasting procedure but I know it involves a thin layer of oats on a cookie sheet in an oven, turned frequently. I can't remember the oven temperature but Google will find it for you.

    "Opaque" is not hazy, it's the color of the beer. Cold-crashing or fining don't affect this. The Midnight Wheat will bring the color up into the range you want.
     
    Tal Orbach likes this.
  3. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I'm sure there are, but does that mean that changing them will make the beer no-good (or less good)? Can't I make changes to a good recipe just to make it better for me?

    What will it do to the beer?
    And what about adding more oats for more creaminess? Not a good idea?

    Really? I thought it just meant the opposite of transparent.
     
  4. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    2,689
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Might be a reasonable approach when you know what makes it work in the first place. Not sure why you think your "first ever" stout recipe will be better in some way than one that's tried and true, especially since you say you're not a fan of the style. ;)
    There's a limit to how much adjunct grain you can add to any recipe. It looks like a pretty solid approach. Why don't you just try putting it together as is and see what you think it may be lacking for your taste.
     
  5. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    264
    Trophy Points:
    63
    You can definitely use Nottingham yeast or s 04. I don't think the yeast they used will really give much of a berry aroma, I think its more the mix of the esters mixing with the roast aroma seeming like berry, but Nottingham will be cleaner, especially if you ferment cooler.
    Don't go overboard with the oats, there's a limit to what works. You could add a little if you want, just don't go crazy.
     
    Tal Orbach likes this.
  6. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I don't think it will be *better*, but reading what the different elements of this recipe bring to the table, I think I can try to assume what works and what doesn't *for me*. Purely subjective, and of course I might be wrong. This is also why I'm asking for advice.

    This is also why I'd appreciate answers that are more topical than "this recipe is good as is". That is - if my idea to use another strain of yeast, for example, is a bad idea - I'd love to know why.
     
  7. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Which will be closer to the original recipe? (I'd assume S04, as the original doesn't finish totally dry nor is it totally clean, right?)
     
  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,381
    Likes Received:
    6,611
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    You certainly can; however, if you're not willing to listen to the advice, why did you solicit it? Just brew it and see. Oh, and I saw some good reasons in the article I overlooked not to toast the oats. The article you referenced is how to make a good, BJCP style guide conforming oatmeal stout. You are free to go out on your own and try whatever you'd like, it's one of the reasons we brew. But remember, you are posting in the beginner area so we assume you don't know what the ingredients will do, if varied. Hence our replies. And I'd agree with others above: If you don't have a working hypothesis of what a change will do, don't do it. Brew it "straight" the first time, then see if there's something you'd like to tweak.

    Okay, now to your comment about why: An oatmeal stout is balanced toward sweet. It sounds like what you want to make is more of an Irish stout - think Guiness - with oats added. By the way, that extra half-pound of oats - unless you do a glucan rest, your beer is going to get something like oily in mouthfeel. The oats provide body, the other grains provide the "oat" flavor. The yeast suggested is both a consistent performer and slightly balanced toward sweet. For what you're describing, I'd use an Irish ale yeast instead. And the discussion of "opaque": Shine a flashlight through an "opaque" beer - some light will get through. If you shine it at a 90° angle and you see a kind of hazy lightness, the beer is hazy. If you don't, it's clear.
     
    thunderwagn likes this.
  9. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    528
    Likes Received:
    264
    Trophy Points:
    63
    S04 is probably more like the one in the recipe. Less attenuation and more esters than Nottingham.
     
    Tal Orbach likes this.
  10. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Messages:
    3,737
    Likes Received:
    7,256
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Loveland, CO
    Only thing I'd add is, make sure you can control your fermentation temps if you use any of the above mentioned yeasts.
     
    Tal Orbach likes this.
  11. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Definitely willing to listen to advice. The answers you gave below are the kind of advice I was looking for.

    Cool.

    As per the BJCP guide: "The sweetness...can vary considerably" and "Medium-sweet to medium-dry finish". So let's say I'm looking for something that's as dry as the style would allow. Or maybe something between that and an Irish stout (I'm fine with not following the BJCP guidelines)

    I don't know what the ingredients will do if varied, but I do have hypotheses, which I wrote down. If I'm wrong in my guesses - I'm very open to hear that. I just want the explanation about what I got wrong.

    So, as I wrote above - maybe something between the two.

    So you're saying that English ale yeasts like S-04 or Nottingham would not produce a nice beer here?

    Thanks for the explanation.
     
  12. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    2,689
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    You're not always going to get advice that you like or that goes along with your per-conceived notions. ;)
    Brew it any way you want. Since you have to start somewhere in terms of "fine-tuning", I'm simply advocating that starting with a known quantity might be more instructive in the long run. If it's a beer that you intend to brew again, you have nothing to lose by starting with a proven recipe because you have a baseline to go from. If you never intend to brew it again because you're doing it for a friend and don't like the style, all the more reason to start with something that gives you a higher chance of brewing something that's very drinkable and nicely to style.
    Changing yeasts or switching to a dry substitute strain is very common in order to suit ones own brewing style and equipment, but I stand by my admonition to leave the ingredients pretty much as they are. :D
    Best of luck. ;)
     
    Hawkbox likes this.
  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,381
    Likes Received:
    6,611
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    ^^^^^ Dang it, there we go agreeing again! :)
     
    J A likes this.
  14. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    Messages:
    4,701
    Likes Received:
    6,899
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You guys...
     
  15. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Of course. That's the point of asking for advice.
    It's just that... if I want to learn - I need reasons. I need to understand how my guesses were off. I'm always open to learn about my mistakes, but "you're wrong" simply will not suffice.

    But... what if the answer is somewhere in the middle? I don't know if I'll ever brew it again. If it comes out too sweet, chances are I won't like it, and will probably not make it again. If it comes out more balanced, with a nice bitterness that doesn't overpower everything - there's a good chance that I will like it and make it again.
    So this is why I'm asking for advice on how to go about getting there. The recipe (and more importantly - the fact that it gave room for serious explanations of why it is the way it is) sounded pretty good to me. Still, it seems it would probably come out too sweet for me to enjoy. I'm asking you guys to help me make something that I am more likely to like, while giving a few (uneducated) ideas for possible ways of making it happen.

    OK.

    Thanks!
     
  16. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    2,689
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Nobody ever said "you're wrong" and I think maybe you're taking comments more personally than is the intent. I, and perhaps some others, are simply advocating a less ad-hoc approach. ;)
    When it comes specifically to adjunct grains like oats, sticking to established guidelines isn't just arbitrary. There are hard limits in terms of how the actual mashing process works. Same goes with roasted malts and Crystal malts, though the amounts are probably a little less critical.
    You seem to be worried about a beer that's too sweet but you have the notion that adding oats is going to make an improvement (in fact the extra creaminess in the mouthfeel and likelihood of unconverted starches will add to the impression of sweetness). As I mentioned in my first post, for what you're describing, the recipe laid out in the article will probably give you what you seem to be after. If a beer like this doesn't have lactose, it's not likely to register as particularly sweet. You might do something like knock the C-45 down by a half pound and if you really want to guarantee a less sweet finish, use Nottingham and get the attenuation down into the single digits.
    Seriously, I'm not bustin' yer chops. I'm just trying to make a valid suggestion. You're perfectly within your rights to ignore it. :)
     
    Tal Orbach and Craigerrr like this.
  17. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    It's really not about taking it personally. But, like it or not - the first comments here were more along the lines of: "why would you think you know anything or try to mess with an expert's design", whereas this last comment from you was VERY helpful. I was offended by the first ones, just a bit disappointed with how uninformative they were.
    Here's a good example - what you said now about the oats makes total sense. I realize that there are limits to the amounts of adjuncts one should add. I just assumed that recipe was somewhere in the middle as far as that goes, so I wanted to take it to the limit - to maximize creaminess. I realize now that it already at its limit, so I'll just stay there :)

    Regarding your other suggestions:
    The recipe only includes a half pound of C-45, so are you saying remove it entirely? (I think I do want some caramel in this, maybe replace for another caramel malt, or even leave it as it, which was my working assumption to begin with)
    Would S-04 leave me somewhere in the middle between Nottingham and Wyeast 1318 or is it something different altogether? (I don't want it bone-dry, just dry-ish)
     
  18. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    2,689
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I misread...The way it's written, the "I add 1/2 lbs" entered my brain as "1 and 1/2 lbs". My bad...Carry on. :oops:

    Regarding all the other stuff, you won't know anything until you know something. Nobody can tell you exactly how your brew will come out, no matter what ingredients or yeast you use. Your process and equipment will add a lot of variables.
    One of the issues with this conversation is that the article you cite isn't laid out in a form that's really a "recipe". As a final suggestion, I say take the information in the article and build a recipe in the calculator, complete with mash temps, yeast attenuation, etc and link it for all to see. That way you can get very specific feedback.
    Not for nothing...when you start the conversation with "I want to make my first ever stout (mainly for a friend, because I'm not usually a huge fan of the style)"...maybe you shouldn't be surprised that your intended "improvements" might be questioned. :D :D :D
     
  19. Tal Orbach

    Tal Orbach Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2018
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I still don't agree - I never said anything about improvements. I've emphasized time and again that I really don't think it's about making this beer "better", only about making it more to my liking.
    I felt like the attitude toward what I'd written was rather intolerant (which is a shame, though I don't take it personally), I seriously don't understand what the problem is with asking if some idea(s) that I had makes sense or doesn't, even if I'm not a fan of the style, and even if I am a total n00b. The responses that I got felt kinda like I said something more along the lines of "I love this style, I never made it, and I KNOW how to make it sooooo much better", which is, more or less, the exact opposite of what I said.
    Most importantly - I didn't get the thing with not telling me what I got wrong (just about focusing on the fact that I dared suggest that I might know better than the writer - which I never did).
    That's it.

    And I guess the question with the yeast will have to find its way to another forum. Oh, well...
     
  20. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,474
    Likes Received:
    2,689
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Okay...you win. I emphatically apologize for being "intolerant". I was wrong and should simply have kept all my comments to myself.
    Go brew your beer.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white