I brewed an oatmeal stout last weekend. I’ve had a lot of trouble brewing stouts. In fact, I’d say I’ve never gotten it right. This was no different, but this time I may have pulled it off in an eleventh hour save…
but let’s recap:
Back in my extract days I brewed a Russian Imperial Stout. I split the recipe and put half of it on oak chips. It tasted great, but after I bottled it, one of them didn’t seem to ever want to carbonate. I added new yeast, put it in warmer conditions, shook it every few days. Nothing. I have a sneaking suspicion that I forgot to add the sugar. The upshot is, it still tastes pretty amazing. But imperfect, owing to the carbonation.
Then, another extract I attempted a straight oatmeal stout. It turned out tasting really bad, and certainly not as dark as a stout. Forget it.
Finally, last week I did my first all grain stout. It was also the first use of the gas ring I bought a while ago. Owing to mostly a miscalculation of the equipment (I used a different cooler and pot than I had entered into my brewing software). I ended up with 2 gallons rather than three, and a gravity that was off the charts. I diluted it with 1 Gallon of distilled water, after which it still had an original gravity (OG) well above the predicted. I fermented it with Irish Ale yeast, and it took off like wildfire.
I tried it a few days ago. The beer had fermented down to 1.010 (from 1.070) which is quite a drop. It apparently means 7.8% abv, which is strong. It didn’t taste strong. It was thin and rather flavourless.
Well, I thought, here I go again. Another messed up drainpour stout. However, I did a little reflecting. Pulled out all the tools of the desperate brewer. I added 4 oz of maltodextrin (which adds body without much sweetness, and is pretty much non-fermentable), 4 oz lactose (which adds some milky sweetness and body and is also not fermentable) into a quart of water with the priming sugar. Boiled that to dissolve and sterilize. Then I dumped in two cups of strong brewed coffee when it had cooled a bit.
When I pulled a sample to test the gravity, I had a grav of 1.016, exactly as I predicted, and when I tasted it, it had body, sweetness and some nice flavour. I’m not sure if the coffee came through so much as roasty tastiness. I tried a sample of the pre-addition stout, and this was tremendously better.
I’ve gone from another stouty despair to some cautious optimism.
I’ll try to remember to put an update in a few weeks when I try the carbonated finished product.