Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Brew Year in Review

As 2014 comes to a close, it marks the culmination of my 5th year of participating in this wonderful hobby of homebrewing.  Though the actual brewing of beer took a back seat due to my deck project, there were noticeable accomplishments.  Back in April I found out the results of my BJCP tasting exam.  Since then I was able to judge a few competitions and acquire enough experience points to receive a Certified designation as a BJCP judge.  I need to judge another 4 competitions to receive enough experience points to qualify to take a different written exam.  If I pass this exam with an 80% or better, I can advance to a National designation.  I usually judge 2 or 3 local competitions a year, so unless I really set a goal to make this happen (travel more than an hour each way to judge) this will be a 2016 accomplishment.

So I did brew some during 2014 - seven batches to be exact.  Unfortunately, I only ended up thoroughly documenting two of them, ouch!  I promise to do better with this in 2015.  I also plan to brew more since I have the ingredients!

Batches Made in 2014

  1. Belgian Pale Ale - Probably the best beer I made all year.  Wonderfully balanced
  2. Session IPA - Extract batch, came out OK.  Briefly discussed the recipe here.  Nothing to write home about
  3. Wrong Coast 2 - Made my IPA for the deck party.  Discussed in this post along with the Witbier below
  4. Witty Welker - Made a slightly modified version of this witbier for the deck party
  5. Cider - Made a batch of cider.  Used WLP002 and added a half gallon of apple juice back to the keg to add sweetness
  6. Oatmeal Stout - actually documented this one!
  7. Belgian Golden Strong Ale - 5 year anniversary brew with Josh.  We brewed this on Dec 21st and I do plan on writing about it once it is ready for tasting in 2015.
And last but not least, I did write an article for and plan do to do more in the future.  Keep an eye out for me on HBT and I will occasionally link to the content over there, on here.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Brew Year!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Not Worthy - Oatmeal Stout

Back in October I set out to brew an Oatmeal stout.  With the weather turning colder I knew I would appreciate a dark and malty beer.  I had a Founders Breakfast Stout last year and remember it having an amazing aroma of warm oatmeal cookies.  I was hoping to replicate that aroma with toasted oats in this recipe.  I also wanted it to have a very strong chocolate presence without being too roasty.  I definitely accomplished this, but maybe have gone too far - see the tasting notes.

Per usual, my notes for brewday were lacking.  I do recall it going rather smoothly and it being one of my fastest brewdays to date at just around 5 hours.  I ended up fermenting 5 gallons in one of my better bottles and a little under a gallon in a one gallon jug.  When it came time to keg, I also bottled the 1 gallon jar and added pumpkin pie spice.  I have not yet tasted the spice version.

Oatmeal Stout

Brewed On: October 12, 2014
Kegged On: October 25, 2014
Style: 113C - Oatmeal Stout
Batch Size: 6 gallons (5 gal into fermenter)
Efficiency: 75%
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.018
IBU: 30 calculated (Rager) 
ABV: 5.0%
Toasted oats
Yeast: WLP002 64° to start and rised to 67°

Grist Mashed at 154 for an hour
70% - Maris Otter (Muntons) - 9 lbs
4%  - Crystal 120 - 8 oz
6%  - Chocolate (350L) - 12 oz
6%  - Pale Chocolate (200L) - 12 oz
6%  - Victory - 12 oz
8%  - Toasted Oats* - 1 lb

Close up of the toasted oats

* Oats were toasted at 300° for 1 hour were stirred every fifteen minutes

Hop Additions 
0.53 oz - Magnum 14.7% AAU - 60 minutes - 30 IBUs

Water Adjustments
Montgomery County, MD Water - 1/2 Campden Tablet for all brewing water
3 grams gypsum to mash water
3 grams CaCl to mash water

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Moderate roast aroma dominates and is made up of moderately strong chocolate and light coffee.  There are some toasted notes from the oatmeal, but not as pronounced as I had hoped.  No apparent fruitiness or yeast character, and no discernible hop aroma, fairly clean.  No diacetyl.  

Can kinda see those garnett highlights
Appearance: Very dark brown with garnett highlights when held up to the light. Nice dark tan and moussy head with good retention. Good clarity.

Flavor: Moderate malt backbone consisting of moderate chocolate and some light toasted oats.   Moderate hop bitterness and no apparent hop flavor.  The beer finishes ever so slightly dry.  The balance is towards the roasted chocolate malts.

Mouthfeel: Moderately low carbonation, medium body, no alcohol warmth, moderate creaminess, and no astringency

Overall Impression: Overall this is oatmeal stout has dulled in flavor since I first kegged, and tasted it a month ago. The toasted oat aroma was not as prominent as I had hoped for a few weeks ago and has subsided even more today. It is still a very sessionable beer since it is fairly balanced.  Honestly, I don't know if the 3/4 lbs each of chocolate and pale chocolate malts contributed a strong enough roast character for this beer.  Next time I will probably increase the oats and include some roasted barley.

I didnt take time to attribute BJCP points to this, but I would guess somewhere around 28.  It might have been in the low 30s three weeks ago, but it just doesn't make the mark now.  I always am my toughest critic, but I have deemed this beer "Not Worthy" since I don't feel it is worthy of a better name.  :)