Well, the temperature has definitely dropped here in Toronto, and winter has arrived after much delay. At this time of year, a look in my beer cellar has me seeking out the darker side of the spectrum. In particular, a nice dark stout. That would do the trick nicely to warm up my cold bones. Just so happens I have the Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout clone myself and fellow homebrewers David Thompson and Peter Caira brewed back in November.
Question is, is it any good?
As you will recall from the original post, we tried out WhiteLabs’ Platinum Series Yorkshire Square yeast which we had hoped would bring out a complex yeast character reminiscent of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. We also attempted to mimic the water from North Yorkshire (or at least our best estimate of it’s make up) with generous amount of chalk and gypsum.
This time around you won’t have to just rely on my opinion, Peter & David, both avid, award winning homebrewers in their own right, have given us their opinion on our collaboration brew.
Straight out of the gate it was evident that there was a massive yeast/chalky character. To me it was pretty overwhelming. My guess it’s from the water additions that we added to the boil and the unique character of the Yorkshire Square yeast. The original has a very subdued yeast presence compared to ours. There are so many factors affecting fermentation, that it would be incredibly difficult to get it exactly as Samuel Smith’s does; open fermentation in slate tubs, pitching rate, oxygenation rate, temperatures, etc. The reason I’m citing this is because yeast performance and the resulting flavour characteristics are dependent on these factors. Perhaps we aerated the wort too much, which brought out a greater amount of esters? Over pitched? Underpitched?
Another thing I noticed is that it’s not as full tasting as the original, and it lacks the rich, chocolatey flavour. There is a touch behind the chalky/yeast character, but it pales in comparison to Samuel Smith’s. I thought for sure with all those oats and minerals in the water that it would have a much bigger mouthfeel, but it doesn’t. Then again, we did mash low at 150F. Next time I’d like to mash higher and see how much it changes things. The head didn’t last as long as I’d hoped for either.
I have found that the estery quality has subdued a bit; gone is the initial slight banana notes, but has developed into a pleasant fruityness. It’s nice drinker for sure, but misses the rich chocolately notes of the real deal. Not sure how to quite account for that; use some brown malt or pale chocolate? Either way it’s fine beer.
Everyone who’s tried it says something like “this is mild for a stout / I could drink that all day” and in one case, a well-informed friend of mine asked if it was a schwarzbier! When I let a pint warm up a bit I get some faint notes of raisin or fig but very subdued. Roastiness is also in the background there but again, very subdued. Mouthfeel is nice – I like the level of carbonation and the oatmeal certainly smooths things out. Aroma is mostly roast/nut quality but again, subdued.
All in all I’d like to try this one again. I’d omit the water additions, bump up the mash temperature, and try a more standard yeast like White Labs 002 – English Ale. Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh on my assessment of this beer, as David & Peter enjoyed it. Although I thought we had made an honorable attempt at cloning Samuel Smith’s Original based on what we knew, I don’t think we succeeded this time around.
Posted in Breweries, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged all grain, English Brewing, homebrew, North Yorkshire, Old Tdcaster Brewery, Pale Ale Recipe, Samuel Smith's, single infusion, 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.
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. Continue reading
Posted in Breweries, Brewing, How To, Recipes
Tagged ale, all grain, English Brewing, how to, Michael Jackson, oatmeal stout, Samuel Smith, stout
As with all experiments, they don’t always work out the way you hoped they would.
Have no fear though, when things go wrong, it provides you with another opportunity to get it right.
In my first attempt of cloning a Guinness Dry Irish Stout, I started off by using Jamil Zainisheff’s Dry Irish Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles as a base. That beer turned out fantastic. I made no water adjustments to it, and the final result was quite delicious. For the second round I wanted to try and match the highly alkaline water of Dublin, as well as add some acidulated malt to try and emulate the Guinness ‘twang’.
Water chemistry in brewing is a very complex subject, one that I certainly haven’t mastered. Most home brewers would say don’t even bother messing with it, but I want to find out how to make the best beer possible. I don’t want to make ‘good’ beer, I want to make ‘great’ beer, so I will mess with everything I can until I find out how to, even if that means having some casualties along the way.
The mineral concentrations as listed in Bru’n Water for Dublin are: Continue reading
Posted in Brew Reviews, Brewing, Recipes
Tagged ale, all grain, beer, brewing water, Guinness, how to, recipes, residual alkalinity, step mash, stout, water adjustment
A last minute invite came to me from a good friend of mine to join her downtown in Toronto’s Historic Distillery District. The event was to take place at one of my favourite local breweries, Mill Street Brewery. It was to be a “Brew Masters Dinner”, featuring none other than the brew master himself, Joel Manning. Visiting the brewpub is enjoyable for many reasons. One is to take in the beautifully restored historic buildings of the old Gooderman and Worts Distillery District, the other is to enjoy the many different samplings of Mill Street’s beer. They have a wide array of beers available on tap that you don’t get to see in the LCBO or Beer Store, so it’s quite a treat. What was even more exciting, was that some of these not-so-available beers were going to be paired with some pretty incredible food.
We arrived a bit early, so we bellied up to the bar and I grabbed a Cobblestone Stout. I had only first tried it a week before at my friends pub, The Auld Spot, and loved it. The Auld Spot is a fantastic local pub along The Danforth that’s been open for about 15 years. Loved by the locals, filled with regulars, and always cheerful due in no small part from the owners friendly enthusiasm for craft beer and boutique style food. The beers on tap are specially picked by the owners, choosing beers that they would want to drink themselves. Among them are of course some of Mill Street’s offerings.
We met our rep Kim, who invited us to the dinner. She is the Toronto East sales rep for Mill Street, a very fun and lively person, full of conversation and laughs. After being seated, the dinner promptly started off with another one of my favourites, the Belgian Wit, accompanied by an appetizer of mussel fritter with a beer mustard aioli. The dinner continued with these delicious parings: Continue reading
Albeit, it’s not a Guinness, this is a damn fine stout if I do say so myself.
A super thick, creamy head due to the large amount of flaked barley, and a very smooth roast character that comes through the middle. I think Jamil’s tip from “Brewing Classic Styles” of crushing the roasted barley to a fine powder really did the trick. All this with a nice dry finish and enough East Kent Goldings to balance it out, makes me a very happy brewer.
The only thing that fell short on this beer, literally, was my final gravity. According to BeerSmith, my estimated F.G. was to be 1.008, but it instead finished at 1.015. I tried to rouse the yeast and let it sit a little longer in primary, but it didn’t attenuate any lower. I’ve been having some issues lately with my beers not reaching their expected final gravity, so I need to look into my process and see if I can figure out the cause. Regardless, I don’t taste any residual sweetness in the beer.
I honestly don’t have much else to say about this beer, it’s simply delicious, even with such a low gravity.
Having said that, if we are going for a “Guinness” clone, then there’s a couple of things I’d like to adjust. Continue reading