Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Simcoe Dry Hopped Oatmeal Stout

I have no shame in saying that when I started homebrewing, I brewed quite a few clone recipes. Attempting to recreate commercial beers gave me targets before I was able to work out flavor combinations in my mind. Now, coming up on 10 years since I brewed my first batch I’m more likely to get inspiration for flavors than I am to mimic a beer completely. No matter how much I brew, there will always be a place for drinking interesting commercial beers!

The core flavors (firm roasted barley and Simcoe hops) for this half of my oatmeal stout were cribbed from Goose Island Night Stalker imperial stout. While the Bourbon County Brand Stout variants (Coffee, Vanilla, Rare, Backyard, Proprietor’s etc.) are delicious and rake in the hype, this non-barrel-aged, dry-hopped variant may have made the biggest impression on me. Coffee and chocolate with bright pine and tropical fruit was something I hadn't tasted before. I usually prefer my hoppy beers pale and dry, but fresh this huge hoppy stout really worked! What I wanted to brew though was a beer at less than half the original's ABV.

Simcoe Oatmeal Stout

Appearance – Black. As in, not a hint or an edge or a highlight of ruby/amber to be spotted. Impressive for a 5% ABV beer. Head is light tan and very sticky. Good tight retention.

Smell – Roast leads. Lots of coffee. Fresh crushed roasted barley. Then the Simcoe hops appear with their fresh pine and mango. As the beer warms in the glass a fresh toasted bread aroma joins in. The only disruption is a singed (almost plastic?) edge to the tail. Overall appealing and varied.

Taste – Nice rounded coffee-like bitterness. It comes across as more than 30 IBUs thanks to the dark grains and dry hops. The beer has enough sweetness to keep it from tasting thin or pallid (always a risk with “reasonable” gravity beers). Finish is pure fruity 80% dark chocolate. Hop flavor could always be more potent, but they meld nicely with the base beer. Very much a hoppy stout, and not a session black IPA.

Mouthfeel – For a stout, I couldn’t ask for anything more in terms of the mouthfeel. It has silky-smooth body thanks to the oats with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – Hops, malt, and tame alcohol content? I was sold before the first sip. While I was aiming for a more potent hop aroma, what is there is fresh/bright, and it is drinkable and balanced. The sort of stout that drinks like a bigger beer (which I find preferable to hiding alcohol). The resulting balance is probably closer to Rogue Shakespeare than Goose Island Night Stalker.

20 comments:

Majestic Locklear said...

Sounds delicious. Plan on posting the recipe?

Majestic Locklear said...

Oops, just saw the link in the post.

hrXXLight said...

how much simcoe did you use for this dry hopped stout

Unknown said...

Hi Mike. I know you suggested to avoid dark and roasted malts in sour beers but I continue to see some really interesting commercial beers pulling it off, like Wicked Weed Dark Arts, Bruery's Tart of Darkness and Funk Metal from JK. Any thoughts on changes you would make to a base stout recipe to test this in a homebrew context, and which basic bug blend would be a good starting point?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

3 oz of whole Simcoe for the dry hopping.

We soured a stout/porter in a bourbon barrel with great results (made mini-BOS at the second round of NHC a few years ago). I also recently brewed an extract sour stout with fruit. Just try to soften the roast (use some dehusked roasted malts and/or cold steep the grains). The alternative is to sour with microbes that aren't going to dry the beer out too far. I try to avoid the acrid flavors that come from roast, acid, and nothing to support those flavor.

mmt said...

Is that on nitrogen or CO2? Looks/sounds delicious.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Just CO2 for this one, poured from a new flow-control Perlick. I've got the coconut-vanilla half on a nitro-stout faucet. It's really pretty.

Malty said...

All I can say:
http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/15800000/homer-simpson-2-the-simpsons-15836214-279-320.jpg

I'm going to give this one a shot.

mmt said...

I concur with Malty. Can only dream about nitro stouts at home for now...

CRUSADER1612 said...

Hi Mike,
I'm actually brewing an american stout on the weekend, and after just reading through this, I'm wondering about ignoring the Flameout addition and Dry-hopping the crap out of it with Centennial and Nelson, my original plan had been to just run a flameout addition of 1.25oz cent and 0.5oz nelson, but now I feel like there are too many choices.
do I just dry hop, or flameout and dryhop or just flameout as originally intended?
OG will be 1.070 based loosely on the BCS American stout, but with an addition of Rye Malt in place of the Oats as per your recipe.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Depends on what your goal is. Usually I'd add some flame-out hops when I'll be dry hopping (for that "saturated" hop flavor), but with this split batch that wasn't an option. You could always do your intended addition, then dry hop right before backaging if the flavor calls for it.

brulosophy.com said...

At first I thought this seemed like a rather odd idea... and now I'm considering making a Mosaic (Simcoe-sis) dry-hopped Stout. Inspired by every post. Cheers!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds delcious, can't wait to read about how it goes!

KepowOb said...

In one of the comments you'd mentioned that you'd normally do a flame-out addition, but couldn't because of the split batch in this case. Do you think the flame-out would've helped give it that extra hop character you mentioned that it was missing, if it was an option?

Also, I was wondering why you used Palisade as your bittering hop. I don't have any experience with it at all.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

A hop stand with a couple more ounces of Simcoe certainly wouldn't have hurt, but keg hops probably would have provided even more aromatics. I find late-boil additions better for creating that saturated, oily, hop flavor.

I don't think bittering hop variety is all that important. Palisade is just what I happened to have in the freezer from the 2013 harvest.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure why a hop stand is not possible when doing a split batch.... If you have a plate or counterflow all you need to do is drain your first half without the hop stand, close the valve and soak your hops in the 2nd half that remains in the kettle...

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Certainly not impossible, but I whirpool and settle before running off. I could have done that, then added the hops, repeated, then run off the second half. Being only the second batch on the new system I didn't want to get too crazy with my process.

Jonathan Eseman said...

I was luckily making an oatmeal stout when you posted this and had some Simcoe in the freezer so I had to dry hop 1 gallon. Needless to say it turned out awesome! Thanks for the great idea! Might dry hop the whole recipe next time

Brian Murphy said...

Not sure if this is the right thread to post on but it is the latest one to mention Bourbon County Stout so... I was wondering if anyone has tried to culture the Lactobacillus acetotolerans from an infected bottle of this year's BCS? I have a couple from the bad bottling dates and I was hoping I could get some use out of them since they are not worth drinking.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Not I. If the beer isn't loaded with diacetyl (or any off flavors other than lactic acid), certainly could be a nice option for Cascade-style sour beers! If you do, let me know how it turns out!

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