Monday, February 11, 2013

Double Oatmeal Brown

We served two homebrews at our wedding: a west coast-style IPA and an oatmeal brown ale. To my surprise, the brown was the heavy favorite among our guests.

The second iteration of this recipe is brewed to my tastes: higher in gravity with a creamier, chewier mouthfeel. I felt the original had a lot to offer in terms of malt flavor, so the ratios of Victory, pale chocolate, and debittered black malts are similar. After the first tasting, the flavor seemed somewhat hollow, with not as much chocolate as I remember in the original. I added 4 oz of cocoa nibs in the keg to give the flavor a boost.

Though it may not fit into any style guideline (or be suitable for drinking throughout a wedding reception), I enjoy a well-made, beefed-up American brown ale for many reasons. Similar to its imperialized bretheren (Imperial Red, Double IPA, etc.), a Big Brown can add some pizzazz to the BJCP category, reeling in the beer geek and beginner alike. It is a brilliant understudy to imperial stout, bringing similar levels of complexity with greater quaffability and affinity for food. It strikes a chord with anything coming off a grill, without roast or intense bitterness clashing with char or spice. As an ingredient, it adds depth to chili, French onion soup, ice cream, etc., without the roast or bitterness twang.


Brewday: 01/19/12

Estimated OG = 1.069
Estimated FG = 1.014 - 1.016
Estimated efficiency = 56.3%
Batch size = 6 gal (into fermentor)
Boil time = 60 min

14 lbs Rahr Pale Malt (61.7%)
2.5 lbs Briess Victory (11%)
2 lbs Flaked Oats (8.8%)
2 lbs Pale Chocolate (make?) (8.8%)
1.25 lbs Muntons Crystal 60L (5.3%)
1 lbs Castle Debittered Black Malt (4.4%)

Water: 6.5 gallons distilled, 4 gal drinking water (Kroger)
Adjusted water to 69 ppm Chloride with CaCl2 (per Bru'n Water) in boil


Mashed in with 7 gal at 170F
T = 156
pH ~ 4.7
Added 2.0g Baking Soda, pH ~ 5.3, T = 153F

Sacc. Rest for 1 hour – stir 30 min through boil (T = 152F at 30 min)

Vorlauf then run-off with muslin bag

To help channeling (increase efficiency): started pump, dialed in flowrate stirred up, then started vorlauf. Spread vorlauf around instead of leaving hose in one place. Slower runoff then normal.

Sparged with 3.5 gal at 165F – let sit for 15 min before vorlauf (same procedure as first runnings)
Collected 7.2 gal at 1.061 (recipe = 7.7 gal at 1.059)


Added 0.7 oz (measured – 20.4g) Apollo (18.6%) at start of boil
30 min gravity = 1.069 (15% evap)
Whirlfloc tablet added at 15 min
1 oz (28.6g) of EKG added at 10 min
Added 0.5 gal water before KO

KO – chilled to 61F

OG = 1.074


Pitched at 62F (slurry from ~3.5L 1056 starter, packet of dehydrated S-05) – pure O2 for 45 sec
OG = 1.074
01/27/13 – FG = 1.015 (7.8% ABV) – transferred to keg at ~17psi

01/30/13. Carbonation good. Great beer, slight alcohol warmth, slight espresso-roast character, missing flavor in the middle of the swallow. Added 4oz cocoa nibs soaked in vodka.

02/10/13 – Increased kegorator temp to 45F. Flavors are much more rounded and bright at this temp, and the chocolate flavor is a nice addition without being overpowering. There is still some alcohol warmth, which is where I believe the plasticy tastes comes from. If it gets worse in the next day or so, I will pull the cocoa nibs to be safe.

Also thinking about adding some raspberry puree to (at least) a portion of this beer. No bugs - I think there is too much roast character to be complementary.

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