Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coffee "Oats in the Boil" Stout Tasting

If someone tells you that they never brew a bad batch of beer, odds are that they don’t try many interesting techniques either. The coffee oatmeal stout I brewed a few weeks ago with a half-pound of oats added to the boil, would have been better if I just added them to the mash instead. The beer is still very good, but the oats didn’t add that rich silky body that I was hoping for.

Coffee "Oats In the Boil" Stout
Coffee Oatmeal Stout, hard to screw up appearance on a dark beer.
Appearance – Almost black, but not quite. The oats in the boil didn’t have a negative impact of the appearance of such a dark beer, but looking at the edges it is certainly hazy (although not murky). The tan head is sticky, but not especially long-lasting.

Smell – A few people who have tried this beer have described the aroma as pre-packaged coffee/mocha drink (e.g., Frappuccino), and that isn’t a bad description. It has a sweetness, and light chocolate/coffee character that screams comfort more than complexity. It is amazing how nicely just two ounces of coffee beans steeped for less than 36 hours comes through. Some fresh-grainy notes from the oats come through as it warms.

Taste – The flavor is similar to the aroma, mostly smooth coffee and chocolate roast. There is a good balance of sweetness from the caramel malts and bitterness from the hops. The oats are there only as a tertiary flavor, so I am planning to up the amount and substitute in toasted oats in the second iteration for more complexity.

Mouthfeel – The mouthfeel is strange. It starts with a nice round/fullness, but it finishes thin. Whether it was the oats, or the roasted malt, something has contributed a lingering tannic quality to the mouthfeel; after swallowing each sip my tongue is left with a dry/rough texture.

Drinkability & Notes – The flavor and aroma of this beer is not far from where I want them, but I don’t think the oats added to the boil is an experiment that I’ll repeat. To channel Thomas Edison: I did not fail, I found a way to not brew an oatmeal stout.


The Idoit said...

Trial & error my friend, it's not such a bad game to play. I'm about to cold steep 2 oz of homeroasted coffee in my porter for 24 hours. I'm worried about the grinds getting into the beer though, what did you use to hold the grinds?

jbakajust1 said...

Interested to see how my Wit turns out now. I used the Oats in the boil method there last weekend and will see what comes of it. I did 0.8# for 10 minutes. Hope mine is silky and smooth.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yep, you'll never know if you don't try it.

For the coffee I did a coarse grind (put the beans in a baggie and hit it with a rolling pin) and then placed it in a new nylon stocking with a dozen glass marbles to weigh it down. Worked well, no grounds in the beer.

Good luck to both of you!

nate iverson said...

I just bottled the dry irish stout where I added 4 oz of flaked barley to the boil. I did notice the elevated dry finish when I sampled it 2 weeks ago, your observation is confirmation. The sample tasted really smooth though. Maybe flake in the boil is only good for dry styles?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear it turned out well, I'll put this technique until I brew something along those lines.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on changes needed for the competition. I think that the number of home brewers entering and attending the conference has grown so much that it warrants some changes. I really thing there are enough brewers now to hold 2 conferences, one for the east and 1 for the west. Each of these can have their own competitions with the winners battling for BOS. Just my humble opinion.

andrewtheshaw said...

I brewed a coffee stout a couple months ago and I cold brewed the coffee (medium ground coffee in a growler in the fridge for about 24 hours) and it was really good. It's a good way to get more flavor from the coffee while not adding the acidity from hot water. I added the coffee to secondary and let it sit a week before bottling/kegging. Here's the recipe if you're interested in checking it out.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've had good luck with cold steeped coffee as long as the beer is consumed relatively quickly. Steeping the beans directly in the fermented beer allows for alcohol extraction, which seems to produce a more stable coffee flavor.

On the commercial scale we'll probably be doing a hybrid method, doing a cold extraction with a small portion of the beer, then blending it back to obtain the desired level of coffee aromatics.