Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oatmeal Coffee Stout #3 - Bigger and Bolder

Boiling stout wort, one of the best smells there is.There is something special about stouts. I’m not sure if it’s the color, or the flavor. One of the defining moments during my early beer-drinking "career" was a trip to Ireland over my 21st birthday to visit my friend Sarah, who was studying abroad. We went to the old Guinness brewery (St. James Gate) and had some fantastically fresh Guinness on tap in their Storehouse tasting room. Up until that point I’d never really had many beers that I actually had much interest in.

Despite the fact that so many people think stout is a “meal in a glass” they are actually often lighter in alcohol and residual sugar than other styles (it is the nitrogen containing beer-gas Guinness is served with that adds fullness, while dampening the aroma). However, a glass of a really strong imperial stouts can be the caloric equivalent of a Big Mac. Jacob and I wanted this stout to have some of the heft of a strong stout, without being boozy. Previous iterations had been solid, but almost refreshing in an iced-coffee sort of way. Our goal for this third batch was to raise the starting (more malt) and final gravities (higher mash temperature) to create a fuller and creamier mouthfeel.

Stir-plate starter of WY1056, right after pitching the Wyeast smack-pack.For many beer recipes, ingredient freshness isn’t a major concern. Hops and barley keep well as long as they are stored properly. Flaked oats have a tendency to oxidize and go rancid relatively quickly as a result of their high surface area and unsaturated oil content. I always buy a fresh box/bag to open when I’m brewing an oatmeal stout.

The freshness of coffee beans is paramount to their aromatic punch as well. It isn’t when the green beans were harvested that is important, it’s how recently they were roasted. We’re backing down the amount slightly from previous batches (from 2 oz down to 1.75 oz) and upping the roasted barley and chocolate malt to achieve a better balance between the roasted flavors. When the recipe is dialed in, and we are able to brew a bigger batch on the brewery’s pilot system, we’ll split it to experiment with different origins, roasts, roasters, and amounts to determine the perfect match for the base beer. Until then I'll keep using the Mocha-Java blend from Whole Foods.

For this batch we are also changed from an English yeast (WY1968) to American (WY1056), to get it in line with most of the other core Modern Times beers (can designs were recently released). We also switched the base malt from Maris Otter to American pale. I doubt either change will result in a noticeable effect given the flavor contribution from the specialty malts and coffee.

A bowl of oatmeal made with second runnings of an oatmeal stout in place of the water.I find mash pH control/adjustments to be especially important when brewing black beers. The roasted grains/malts lower the pH, resulting in what I perceive as a sharp-acrid character when not balanced by enough (bi)carbonate in the water. This is the second beer (after the third batch of Amber IPA) that was brewed with water I based on San Diego’s municipal profile (with additional carbonate in the form of chalk). This means a higher level of sodium than I had used for previous batches, but not as high as I have used for some dark beers (Scandinavian Imperial Porter) with delicious results!

As a brew-morning breakfast-experiment I took a cup of ~1.040 second runnings and used them to make a bowl of oatmeal. The roasted bitterness carried through, but it was nicely balanced by a sprinkling of brown sugar. 

Black House #3

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.75
Total Grain (Lbs): 14.88
Anticipated OG: 1.066
Anticipated SRM: 45.2
Anticipated IBU: 41.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

63.9% - 9.50 lbs. American Pale Ale Malt
13.4% - 2.00 lbs. Quick Oats
8.4% - 1.25 lbs. Briess Roasted Barley (~300 L)
6.7% - 1.00 lbs. Briess Chocolate Malt
5.0% - 0.75 lbs. CaraMunich II
2.5% -  0.38 lbs. Crystal 90L

5 ml HopShot (Extract) @ 60 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1.75 oz Coffee Beans for 1 day

WYeast 1056 American Ale

Water Profile
Profile: San Diego, Dark

Calcium(Ca): 104.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 15.0 ppm
Sodium(Na): 64.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 102.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 76.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 280.0 ppm

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 158 F

Brewed 1/12/13

Very similar to Batch #2, but converted to be closer to what we can brew on a commercial scale.

Made a 1.2 L starter the night before brewing.

Whole Foods Quick Oats. Breiss Pale Ale Malt, Chocolate, and ~300 L roasted barley.

Water treated to mimic Average San Diego with .5 g per gallon of chalk. Initially, but the mash pH was around 5.0 (at room temperature), so I increased the amount of chalk and baking soda above my original planned amounts.

DC Water with (per gallon):
.3 g gypsum
.05 g Epsom
.2 g salt
.4 g baking soda
.2 g CaCl
.3 g Chalk

Collected 7 gallons of 1.053 runnings with a batch sparge. Sparge water was treated the same as the mash water.

Chilled the 5.5 gallons of wort to 64 F, gave 60 seconds of pure oxygen (with my newly cleaned stone) and then pitched the entire starter. Left at 64 F to start fermenting.

Moved to 59 F ambient after 8 hours (onset of CO2 production).

1/20/13 Moved next to the radiator, to heat it up and ensure complete fermentation.

1/22/13 Down to 1.025 (62% ), fermentation appears finished. Nose has an interesting warming aromatic. I called it hazelnut, Audrey though cinnamon.

1/27/13 Added the Allegro Mocha-Java blend coarsely-crushed coffee beans in a mesh/weighted bag at 11 PM.

2/21/13 Turned out fine. No issues from the water profile, but it lost some complexity in the switch of base malt and yeast.


Ryan said...

Im guessing the difference between MO and 2row might be more noticeable than you might think. Ive gone both ways, and can tell big difference, and definitely prefer the MO - probably easier to brush aside the extra cost in homebrew than a commercial batch though

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Even in a beer as characterful as this one? I certainly agree for a base-malt-heavy beer like a bitter, but in a complex stout like this I really don't miss it.

In addition to cost, the other big factor is effort. Brewing a 30 bbl batch of a beer like this with a base malt other than what we have a silo, would mean loading an extra 25 sacks by hand.

Adam Kielich said...

What was the motivation for using CaraMunich II over a more traditional English or American crystal malt?

jbakajust1 said...

Wondering how you clean your aeration stone? I boiled mine after a brewday and forgot about it. The water all evaporated and there was some color change on the stone.

Lee Morgan said...

How would you characterize the flavor difference between 300L and 500L roasted barley? Obviously the 500L will have more roast flavor (harsher?), but are there more subtle flavors that you get with the 300L?

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about playing around with adding the roasted grains late in the mash? Anything without any enzymatic conversion requirements don't need to be mashed. I want to experiment with this and see if makes my stouts a little smoother, less astringent, sharp/acrid tasting. It would also help/ease water chemistry additions. (Not my idea - I think Gordon Strong.)

MJ said...

Do you know if that chalk is actually doing anything? From my recent reading, it seems like its not that easy to add bicarbonate via chalk without carbonic acid (in the form of disolved CO2).

Here's a great read on it. http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Building_brewing_water_with_dissolved_chalk

I only mention this because you may be able to eliminate its use if you figure out that its not doing much for ya.

Apologies, if you already knew all this. Love your site.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Any medium crystal/caramel malt would work fine in this recipe, but I prefer the slightly dark-frutier flavor of CaraMunich compared to something more caramel-heavy like American crystal 60, or an English medium crystal. All personal flavor preference, looking for a character to go with the more straight-forward dark-caramel of the C90.

Lee, exactly. The 300 L is a much softer, more chocolate/coffee/toasty contribution than the burnt/charcoal I get from really dark roasted barley. I like both in the right place/amount, but in this case I wanted to leave room for the roasted character contributed by the coffee.

Good timing on the aeration stone cleaning question. I'd just been rinsing it with hot water after each use and then going into Star-San before each subsequent use. Clearly that wasn't adequate as I found that a ring of gunk had accumulated when I took it apart (before this batch). Acid sanitizer helps to remove beerstone, so it is a good choice, but I'm planning on boiling it after each use, as well as Star-San before from now on. That and taking it apart more often to make sure it is completely clean.

With these moderately roasted grains, I haven’t had any issues with astringency. I’ll also say that just because mash/conversion pH wouldn’t be an issue in that case, it doesn’t mean that you could ignore water treatment because you’d still be pushing boil/wort pH down to where the flavor may not be where you want it. I know Gordon Strong is a big proponent of roasted malts cold steeped or added during the sparge, but I haven’t found it necessary.

I’d seen a mention of the issues with chalk from Kai, but hadn’t read the entire explanation. Adding the chalk did raise the mash pH slightly, as Kai suggested it just isn’t completely ineffectual. In the link he says: “I have brewed many excellent beers by adding chalk directly to the mash or by not dissolving it in brewing water and only just recently started to dissolve the chalk for my brewing water.” The technique may be something we look into when we scale to production batches.

Anonymous said...

hang on, I think I missed where/how you added the coffee in the process? any more info?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sorry, I'd covered it on the previous iterations of this recipe. I add coffee by steeping the coarsely crushed beans directly in the beer for about 18 hours right before kegging. I find that it contributes a great fresh-coffee aroma without a harsh/acrid bite of "old" coffee. I also find the flavor is more persistent than adding cold brewed coffee.

Jeffrey Crane said...

I'm also curious if you have used any chocolate rye malt in the past? I cold-steeped a couple lbs for a Dark Saison. I tasted some before adding it to the boil and it tasted like the best coffee I've ever had (And I'm not much of a fan of coffee because of the bitter astringency). So this might work well with your profile and the rye aspect will help build that body.

Maybe you can make a tea of some and see if it works for you. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I have all the grain to make this recipe except that my Roasted Barley is English and it's 680L. How much would you recommend increasing the Roasted Barley / decreasing Chocolate Malt by in order to get a similar balance of roast/chocolate/coffee, etc?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I have, most recently I used .75 lbs of chocolate rye in the rye stout I had as the second beer aged in my Balcones Malt Whisky barrel. I like the grain, but it has a similar color/flavor to the dark grains in this one. I also add it in a lower amount in the Red/Rye IPA I've been developing.

There really isn't a way to replace the flavor of one grain with another that is so different. Cutting the amount in half would help and make a good beer, but it won't taste exactly the same. Do you have the 350L chocolate malt I used, or a more-standard ~450L variety?

Unknown said...

My chocolate's 330L I believe.

mark said...

I wanted to follow up on the attenuation. Is 62% acceptable in this case? I'm always looking to get to at least 70% but would prefer 75-80% in my ales. You mentioned a higher mash but were you expecting to have the amount of sugar left in solution? Thanks for the great posts and valuable information.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

There are some fantastic beers brewed with relatively low attenuation, but that residual sweetness need to be balanced by hops/roast etc. For example, Hill Farmstead Everett is 7.5% ABV and finished around 1.030. That means it starts around 1.087, and has 65.5% apparent attenuation

I try not to chase numbers. There is a big difference in the flavor of a beer that is mashed hot and stops at 1.025 and one that is mashed cool and doesn't attenuate well. The later having simpler sugars and tasting sweeter.

In this case I'll admit that I was surprised that it didn't go lower (although to be fair the last batch was only 70% AA, mashed at 154F). This batch may have also dropped another point or two given that it was still just a week old when I took the gravity reading. I gave the bucket a few twists to rouse the yeast, and placed it next to a radiator to make sure the yeast really is done.

I was happy with the flavor of the sample, and in the end that is what really matters!

damong said...

What wouls you recommend for hops if I don't have extract?

James Poulter said...

Hi Mike! I really like the look of this recipe and will give it a go in the next week or so. Am I right in thinking that there is no risk of contamination from just crushing the coffee beans and putting them in the sanitised bag? I bought some beans for the brew and the guy that sold them just fished them out of the sack with his hand - am I being too paranoid about infecting the beer?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

There is some risk, but I've never had a problem. Coffee beans don't seem like an attractive place for microbes to hang out, but doesn't mean there aren't a few. Luckily the pH and alcohol of a fermented beer aren't an easy place for microbes to get established. You could certainly put them in the oven for a few minutes, but I don't think its necessary.

At Modern Times we'll be roasting our own beans, which will further reduce the risks as we can control it after roasting.

cobalt60 said...

Have you used "Oat Malt" previously for this type of beer? How do you think subing the flaked oats for oat malt would effect the end product? I've heard that oat malt provides less mouthfeel and isnt quite as creamy though.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

My only experiences w9th beers made with oat malt have been disappointing. I've tasted a couple beers brewed with it as a base malt, and wouldn't have realized they were made with oats unless I'd been told. As you said, it didn't add the mouthfeel that unmalted oats do.

Anonymous said...

Did you rack to secondary for any iterations of Black House? It doesn't look like it from the notes on each batch. So I'm assuming you are adding the coffee approximately 2 weeks into fermentation directly to the primary fermentation vessel. Is that right?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I don't see a reason to rack many ales to secondary. Yep, just bag up the beans (knee highs work well for grounds) with a few marbles to weigh them down. Usually only takes about 24 hours to get enough coffee character for my tastes.

Anonymous said...

thanks for that, one more question. I can't get the mocha java blend from Whole foods because I don't have one here. I was thinking of using espresso beans from Starbucks or another blend from Starbucks. One of the folks there said their yukon blend works well with oats.
What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Also what are your thoughts of cold press coffee added to either boil or secondary instead of grounds? I'm guessing there is a reason you're adding the coffee like you are, but had to ask.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Use whatever coffee you like to drink. I tend to prefer light/medium roasts, so that's what I brew with. I don't go to Starbucks very often, but try whatever blend first as a cup of coffee.

The character imparted by cold brewed coffee tends to fade quicker in my experience. The later you add the coffee the more its aromatic will carry through. Try as many ways as you want and decide for yourself!

Unknown said...

I love these 3 stout recipes you've got here. I've been thinking of brewing a coffee stout recipe I have and now you've got me thinking about adding some oats. I'm thinking some steel cut Oats might add a nice mouth feel. I'm assuming the oats also add some fermentable sugars and maybe some starch.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Steel-cut oats haven't been gelatinized like flaked oats are during processing. To make the starches in steel-cut oats available for conversion and extraction, it need to be boiled with plenty of water before they go into the mash. I've used them in that way, but didn't find their contributions to flavor or body distinguishable from flaked oats.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info Mike; I have noticed that most recipes say to use flaked oats. I'll stick with that. Thanks again,

Aaron said...

I brewed a imperial brown ale with 30% toasted flaked oats. I did a single infusion mash at 156º. The OG was 1.071 and in the past month it has only gotten down to 1.023. I used WLP007 and fermented at 68º for 3 days then boosted the fermentation to 70º for a few weeks. Would the large percentage of oats and no protein rest be what caused such a low attenuation? I am a bit worried about bottling.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

You're at 68% apparent attenuation, which isn't crazy for a big beer. I'd worry more about how it tastes than the hydrometer reading.

A large amount of starchy adjunct could lower conversion if you didn't use a highly enzymatic base malt (e.g., American pale/brewer's). Lots of Munich or Maris Otter, which have enough amylase to convert their own starches and not much more could lead to a wort high in dextrins. Protein rest shouldn't have much of a role in fermentability.

Aaron said...

I used 2-row and Munich for my base. The taste is actually fantastic. Guess I will bottle and cross my fingers. Thanks!