Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Meadowfoam Honey Oatmeal Stout

One of the more fascinating talks I attended during National Homebrewers Conference 2014 in Grand Rapids wasn’t even about beer. Ken Schramm (author of the excellent Compleat Meadmaker, and founder of Schramm's Mead) talked passionately about bees, amino acids, and agriculture during "Really Understanding Honey." While he talked he passed around ten varietal honeys for us to taste with single-use straws. The range from a mild honey like blackberry to some of the weirder ones (e.g., leatherwood) was interesting. Others demonstrated how different a single varietal (like orange blossom) can be depending on what part of the world the bees collect nectar (milder California versus the more  more acidic/juicy Florida).

The two that really stood out to me were meadowfoam (toasted marshmallows) and Mexican coffee blossom (hint of coffee-like roast). I knew I had to get my hands on one or both of these to add to a stout! Last month I finally got around to brewing with meadowfoam honey. The base beer was a relatively straight-forward oatmeal stout, with 10% home-toasted oats rather than a breadier base malt. If I really wanted to play-to s’mores, I could have added a bit of smoked malt, but I didn’t want the flavor of the honey to be lost.

As with other honey beers I've brewed, I added the concentrated nectar when primary fermentation was nearing completion (four days after pitching). This prevents destruction of the volatile aromatics by the heat of the boil, and scrubbing by the vigorous primary fermentation. For the first time I also saved a few ounces of honey to add directly to the keg for natural conditioning. I'm usually not an advocate for using priming sugar to add flavor, but the pressure should trap the volatiles, and I can a easily adjust the carbonation with CO2 once it goes on tap.

Using a pump to recirculate the wort during the mash.Meadowfoam Honey Oatmeal Stout

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 11.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 25.38
Anticipated OG: 1.056
Anticipated SRM: 42.2
Anticipated IBU: 34.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

59.2% - 15 lbs. Valley Malting Pale
8.9% - 2.25 lbs. Rahr Pale
10.3% - 2.63 lbs. Home-Toasted Oatmeal (25 min @ 340F)
9.9% - 2.50 lbs. Simpsons Roasted Barley
3.0% - 0.75 lbs. Briess Crystal 120L
3.0% - 0.75 lbs. Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal
5.9% - 1.50 lbs. Meadowfoam Honey

1.38 oz. Magnum (Whole, 12.00% AA) @ 70 min.
2.00 oz. Challenger (Whole, 6.10% AA) @ 10 min.

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

White Labs WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch - 60 min @ 154F

2/13/15 Made a 3.5 L starter with 1 vial of month old yeast. Crash chilled after 24 hours on the stir-plate.

2/16/15 Brewed with some guy

Oats toasted at 340F 25 min. until they smelled toasty (only minimal color pickup).

Measured 5.3 mash pH.

3 gallon cold sparge. Collected 13 gallons of 1.045 runnings. Adjusted hops down by 1% AA.

Chilled to 65F, shook to aerate, pitched 2 L of the starter. 24 hours at 65F ambient, then to 58F ambient.

2/19/15 Back to 65F ambient to finish.

2/20/15 12 oz of Winter Park meadowfoam honey and 1/2 gallon of water to my half.

3/8/15 Racked my half (FG 1.020) into a keg with about 3 oz of meadowfoam honey. Purged and sealed. Left in the mid-60s to condition. Extra beer went into a growler with a small amount of the honey.

7/15/15 Tasting notes. Happy with the overall character of the beer, but the flavor of the meadowfoam honey itself barely comes through. I'd up it next time or find a more characterful supplier.


JDailey said...

With the baked Oatmeal, have you considered or are you worried about not resting the oats for a few hours for out-gassing of any of the volatilized compounds?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Oatmeal cookies taste pretty good right out of the oven, so I'm not too worried. I believe resting is more of a concern for grains that are roasted at higher temperatures for longer.

Brian said...

Mike, how long do you typically condition/age your stouts before dropping in the keezer?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Depends on the recipe and strength (I bottle most strong stouts though). In this case I'm waiting for the beer on the nitro-tap to kick, so it may be a few weeks. When it's on tap it'll continue to mature, so there isn't a big disadvantage to putting a moderate gravity stout on as soon as a tap opens up.

Hive Mind Mead said...

Yeah, the pain with meadowfoam honey is getting it. The plants are only grown once every 5 years in a grass seed farm field to rotate soil nutrients.

Unknown said...

Mike, am I reading right that you held the ferm temp at 58°F for a couple days. I love that yeast for my Scottish ales but That looks like that's well under Whitelabs recommended range for WLL028. They list. 65-70°F and even show that it does not ferment well less than 62°F so I've never taken it that low. Two questions: 1. Do you run into any problems with all 028 that low? 2. What result are you fishing for in going so low? If it's less esters then why not just use a cleaner yeast.

Thanks in advance.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

When yeast labs suggest temperatures they are talking about the wort/beer temperature not the ambient temperature. During the peak of fermentation the yeast can generate 5-7F above the air temperature for a 5 gallon batch (the bigger the batch, the more heat because the surface-to-volume ratio drops). In this case I started the fermentation at the low end of the yeast's range, moved it to a cooler location once fermentation started in earnest, and then returned it to a warmer location as fermentation slowed (to prevent the temperature from falling below the suggested range). Just trying to stop the fermentation from peaking above 70F.

Unknown said...

Mike, would there be any noticable difference adding the honey at flameout vs directly to the primary? Will be doing a modified version of this in mid-August and have concerns regarding whether the honey will be dissolved enough if added post-boil to the ferm vessel; also have concerns regarding flavor retention by adding at flameout. Also, why the cold sparge? Thanks! JW

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

In this case, likely not much. The less heat and fermentation the honey sees the more of its aromatics make it into the glass. Never had a problem with it dissolving when added to the fermenting beer, the yeast aren't going to leave any that makes it to the bottom of the fermentor.

The cold sparge is now just my generic process (the temperature is just for ease of not having an HLT). No reason to change how you brew for this batch. Still need to write a full post on what I'm doing now.

Unknown said...

You say you added 12 oz of honey and 1/2 gallon of water to your half. Does that mean you added 12 oz of honey to the entire batch and 1/2 gallon of water to just your half or 12 oz of honey to your designated 6.75 gallons? I'm looking at gearing this recipe to a five gallon batch and wondering how much honey to use. How much would you use for a 5 gallon batch after tasting it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The honey and water were both for my half alone, my friend took his half on brew day. The amount will depend on your honey and your tastes. For five gallons I would probably up it to 1.5-2 pounds total between the fermentor and priming with the same honey for my tastes. With a more characterful harvest, one pound may be enough. Good luck!

Unknown said...

I'm looking for a place that sells Valley Malt grains but can't seem to find a national distributor or a home brew shop in the NoVA/DC area. Where were you able to get yours for this recipe?

Also, I'm looking at adapting this recipe and doing a pumpkin stout. Any suggestions on adjusting the grain ratios?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I picked some Valley malt up at a homebrew store in Western Massachusetts when I was on my way back to DC a couple years ago. This was the last of it!

No reason to change the grain ratios to turn it into a pumpkin stout unless you want to soften the roast. I just kegged a chocolate pumpkin porter that I'll be posting about in the next month or so.

Rab said...

Hi Mike,
I'm interested in getting a marshmallow flavour into a stout much like you have done here. I've read about using burnt/caramelised honey as used in bochet mead. The internet tells me this can develop a flavour much like toasted marshmallows... Have you ever used the bochet technique, particularly in a beer? Have you tried any other marshmallow flavourings/techniques? Can you provide any wisdom on this topic?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sadly this is my only attempt at obtaining a marshmallow flavor, and I haven't tried caramelizing honey. There is nothing about marshmallows that would be damaging to beer, so my instinct is to take the direct route and total a bag of them in the oven (or over a fire) and add them to the boil!

Rab said...

Thanks Mike. That sounds like an efficient way of getting it done. I'll be sure to post on the subject later if the outcome is worth shouting about!

Jewish_Monk said...

Looks like you used Winter Park's meadowfoam honey. If you ever try this again, I would recommend checking out the Flying Bee Ranch. They sell very good quality meadowfoam for a decent price. I may have to try this recipe myself, though maybe with an alternate honey.