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.
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.
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.
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.
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
|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|
|Total Grains Used: 9 lbs 3.0 oz||Total Hops Used: 1.375 oz|
|Mash Style: 150F – Single Infusion|
|Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %|
|Sparging: Fly sparge with 2.26 gal water at 168.0 F to achieve 6.41 gal|
|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: 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|
|Other: Add brewing salts to the boil to achieve the water profile of North Yorkshire:
Calcium (Ca) = 105.0
For those who use Lake Ontario water, the amounts I added at the beginning of the boil were:
|www.hoptomology.com – A little about life, a lot about beer.|
I’ll post the results when it’s ready to sample.