Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fresh from my fermenter, an oatmeal stout

I've posted about homebrewing before. Here's a brew that I think turned out pretty good and should turn out even better after a few adjustments for my second batch. Introducing Old Kicker Oatmeal Stout, brewed with cocoa and coffee:

Old Kicker has a lively carbonation like Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, with a taste of cocoa in the middle and then the lingering bitterness of coffee.

I can't take full credit for it, though. The recipe isn't fully my own concoction. It began with an oatmeal stout recipe from the fine folks at Brewer's Apprentice. I then added two scoops of cocoa during the boil, one with about 30 minutes left in the boil and another in the last five minutes. For my second batch I'll be adjusting that upwards, adding one to two more scoops of cocoa so the taste is more pronounced. Both will come in the last five minutes; I'm afraid that early dose may have boiled away some desirable cocoa aroma.

My other addition was coffee. For those who don't homebrew, here's how it works: When you bottle your beer you add something called finishing sugar as you bottle it. The yeast wakes up and eats it, producing CO2. Since the beer is now in a bottle, the CO2 has nowhere to go, and this stays inside the bottle. That's how your beer carbonates. (And YES, if you add too much sugar the yeast will generate too much CO2 and your bottles will literally explode. It can be dangerous.) Generally you boil the finishing sugar with a small amount of water before adding it to the fermented beer.

But with Old Kicker, I used coffee instead of water. Amazingly, I only used about 3/4 a cup of coffee for a five-gallon batch, yet you can still clearly taste it in the beer. It's a touch on the astringently bitter side for my taste, so next time I'll be cold brewing the coffee to provide a smoother coffee flavor without the bitterness.

Finally, I'll be adding a small amount of lactose sugar. Lactose is a sugar that beer yeast can not ferment. Adding it will do one thing: add body, making the beer taste and feel "fuller" and heavier.

The results will be, I hope, a delicious chocolate oatmeal stout with coffee. The first batch was pretty tasty (and there is still plenty left). Hoping the second will be delicious.

For those interested in trying to brew Old Kicker, start with this stout recipe (PDF warning) and adjust as per this post. Experiment a bit to make it your own.

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