Brewing up a Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout…

As the cold sets in, many of us turn to enjoying beers on the darker side of the spectrum. Somehow they make us feel warmer and more nourished in preparation for the long winter ahead. The list of them is long, but one of my personal favourites is from Samuel Smith’s Old Tadcaster Brewery in North Yorkshire, England. Of their long list of stellar beers, their Oatmeal Stout has become a leading example of the style.

The History:

Oats have been used in brewing throughout history. It’s a widely available grain, and is often regarded for it’s health benefiting qualities. In the late 1800’s, Oatmeal Stout gained in popularity for this very reason, but by the 1950’s, the style had all but died out.

Then in 1977, renowned beer writer Michael Jackson released “The World Guide to Beer“. The book would re-ignite people’s interest in many forgotten, or at least, unfamiliar styles. Charles Finkel, founder of Merchant du Vin, took notice of the now defunct Eldrige Pope “Oat Malt Stout” and commissioned Samuel Smith to brew a version of the beer. It has since become the template for most modern versions of Oatmeal Stout.

The Beer:

Oatmeal Stout does not taste of oats in particular, it’s effect is more in the creamy, silky texture that it provides to the final beer. This comes from the high level of beta-glucans in oats. Just think of a bowl of porridge and it’s gooey consistency, those are beta-glucans in action.

The Beer Judge Certificaton Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines describe an Oatmeal Stout as:

Appearance: Medium brown to black in color.
Thick, creamy, persistent tan- to brown-colored head.
Can be opaque (if not, it should be clear).
Flavor: Medium sweet to medium dry palate, with the 
complexity of oats and dark roasted grains present. 
Oats can add a nutty,grainy or earthy flavor. 
Dark grains can combine with malt sweetness to give 
the impression of milk chocolate or coffee with cream. 
Medium hop bitterness with the balance toward malt.
Diacetyl medium-low to none. Hop flavor medium-low to none.
Mouthfeel: Medium-full to full body, smooth, silky,
sometimes an almost oily slickness from the oatmeal.
reamy. Medium to medium-high carbonation.


Samuel Smith employs a traditional open fermentation in “Yorkshire Squares“. Slabs of solid slate quarried from Wales were carved out to form the fermentation chambers. The Yorkshire yeast strain displays typical english qualities. It ferments like mad, is highly flocculent, and can produce some very fragrant esters. I was lucky enough to pick up a vial of White Labs’ #WLP037 – Yorkshire Square (Platinum Series) that I originally used in an English mild, but after smelling the resulting beer, all I could think about was Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout, which leads me to today’s brew.

I had been talking with two great homebrewers that I know, Peter Ciara and David Thompson, about getting together for a brew day. We thought this would be a great opportunity as we were all very interested in trying to replicate Samuel Smith’s celebrated brew. They came over recently on one of, what will probably be the last, warm days of the year, and we cranked out a 10 gallon batch.

The Recipe:

We had very little to go on with this beer. All I found was an information brochure in their ‘selection’ pack that I recently picked up which listed the original gravity at 1.050 and the hops as being a mix of Fuggles and East Kent Goldings. A clone recipe for this beer was posted on Brew 365 and we thought it would be a good place to start. I honestly don’t know how close this recipe will get us to the original, but it looks pretty good. We’ll assess it when it’s finished and see if/where we need to tweak things to get it right. I opted for using only Fuggles because I had a bunch that needed using and we of course used the aforementioned Yorkshire Square yeast instead of the Irish Ale that was listed in the Brew365 clone.

The Water:

Another important aspect of trying to clone this beer is the water profile. The water here in Toronto is moderately hard, but the well water used at The Old Tadcaster Brewery would almost certainly be higher in both minerals and carbonates. David found a thread discussing the water profile of North Yorkshire (scroll down a few comments, it’s not the first one listed) with the totals being:

Calcium (Ca) = 105.0
Magnesium (Mg) = 17.0
Sodium (Na) = 23.0
Sulfate (SO4) = 66.0
Chloride (Cl) = 30.0
BiCarbonate (HCO3) = 153.0
pH = 8.33

After much experimenting, I’ve decided that adding brewing salts is best done at the beginning of the boil, while using only the minimum required in the mash to reach the appropriate pH. I’ve found that by adding, or ‘seasoning’ the wort, if you will, avoids unnecessary struggle with mash pH, the insolubility of chalk and a whole other range of factors. Toronto’s water usually results in a desirable pH range for most styles without much fussing (although you can play with this a bit too if you want). Unless I’m brewing a very light beer, I only adjust it very slightly. I’ve also found that the effect on flavour is smoother and more pleasant when I add them to the boil as opposed to the mash, but this is just my experience.

Now let’s get to the recipe!!Carbonation and Storage

Hoptomology’s Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout Clone

Oatmeal Stout

Type: All Grain Brewer: Hoptomology
Equipment: 15.5 Gallon Stainless Steel Pot + 10 Gallon Coleman Cooler Mash Tun
Est Original Gravity: 1.051 SG Measured Original Gravity:
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity:
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.0 % Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 32.2 IBUs Bitterness Ratio: 0.636
Est Color: 28.4 SRM Calories: 0.0 kcal/12oz



Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 76.2 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.9 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 90L (90.0 SRM) Grain 3 5.4 %
8.0 oz Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.4 %
3.0 oz Roasted Barley (500.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.0 %
1.375 oz Fuggles [5.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 32.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg Yorkshire Square Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP037) [1.70 oz] Yeast 7
Total Grains Used: 9 lbs 3.0 oz Total Hops Used: 1.375 oz

Mash Profile

Mash Style: 150F – Single Infusion
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Mash Steps

Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash Step Add 3.50 gal of water at 163.0 F 150.0 F 75 min
Mash Out Add 3.00 gal of water at 193.5 F 168.0 F 10 min
Sparging: Fly sparge with 2.26 gal water at 168.0 F to achieve 6.41 gal

Boil Profile

Boil Size: 6.41 gal Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Volume: 5.46 gal Estimated pre-boil gravity: 1.042 SG
Batch Size (into fermenter): 5.00 gal Measured pre-boil Gravity:
Final Bottling Volume: 4.80 gal

Fermentation Profile

Fermentation: Ale, Single Stage
Pitch Temperature: 62.0 F then let rise to primary temperature
Primary Fermentation: 13.00 days at 67.0 F

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Keg Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 8.20 PSI Age Beer for: 3.00 days
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 36.0 F Storage Temperature: 36.5 F


Taste Rating: 0.0 / 50
Taste Notes:
Other: Add brewing salts to the boil to achieve the water profile of North Yorkshire:

Calcium (Ca) = 105.0
Magnesium (Mg) = 17.0
Sodium (Na) = 23.0
Sulfate (SO4) = 66.0
Chloride (Cl) = 30.0
BiCarbonate (HCO3) = 153.0

For those who use Lake Ontario water, the amounts I added at the beginning of the boil were:

2.15g Chalk
1.80g Gypsum
0.5g Calcium Chloride
1g Table Salt (for added malt flavour) – A little about life, a lot about beer.

I’ll post the results when it’s ready to sample.


9 Responses to Brewing up a Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout…

  1. Pingback: So how did our Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout Clone turn out? | Hoptomology

  2. Pingback: Getting Punk’d. Brewing up a Punk I.P.A…. | Hoptomology

  3. Hi,
    I’ll try to brew a oatmeal and I’m researching more about the style. First of all, I’d lie to congratulate you for the text and the information support!
    Second, is there any other tip that you realize when brewing that could help? Do you think that this salts where in a fine balance when you taste (aroma, flavor and mouthfeel where well balanced)?
    And finally, how was the final evaluation of the beer?
    Thanks for the information!
    I’ll be waiting to hear back.


    • Hi Bruno,
      Unfortunately the yeast I used on this batch had been compromised, so this particular batch didn’t turn out as good as it could. I have since brewed it and it has been excellent.
      What I’d really aim for would be first to hit a mash pH of about 5.5. If you can dial that in, then I would focus on the flavour contributions from the chalk,gypsum NaCl etc.
      Of course, you would need a pH meter to properly measure it. If you don’t have one, I would suggest first brewing the beer with the water you have, then after tasting it, make any adjustments you feel it needs. Brewing water chemistry is a big subject, so I’d suggest starting off with what you have, then moving on from there. But to answer your question, the added salts, did enhance the mouthfeel nicely.

    • Hi Bruno,
      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the article. I’ve since switched to using calcium hydroxide to raise alkalinity when needed, but the elevated mineral levels definitely made a contribution to the character of the beer as my water is much softer.Beer was delicious!

  4. Hoptomology – What yeast would you suggest if you can’t find Yorkshire Square Ale Yeast.

    I am excited to brew this recipe.

  5. Hi,

    I’m a British brewer and so have some experience of brewing this style of beer. I think your water treatment is where the main problems lie. The key is the sulphate chloride ratio. Over here we bias chloride, not sulphate, you have it the wrong way round 1:2 even 1:3 would give the malt a fuller palate. Don’t use table salt in an attempt to ape this as you are adding too much sodium. Despite what John Palmer or Gordon Strong might tell you British brewers target 150 ppm or more for calcium. It looks like you got the alkalinity levels right if your mash pH was 5.5 but for anyone else a starting alkalinity of circa 100 should keep the mash pH close to 5.5.

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