Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal stout is a style I rather enjoy but commercially you don't see a lot. On My last visit to Kansas City I brought back some of the EXCELLENT Free State Brewing Oatmeal Stout, which happens to be my favorite pro version. Inspired, I started pouring through my brewing tomes, favorite beer blogs and brewery sites for recipe ideas. Come to find out that nailing this style is not as simple as adding flaked oats to your favorite stout recipe. It is a balance of mouthfeel you expect from the style, with subtle sweetness and roast. To much attenuation and it becomes more of a dry stout, too little and you end up with a sweet stout. I hope that learning from others will get me a drinkable recipe that I can further tweak to perfection.

Oatmeal Stout - Brewed 09/04/11

OG 1.056
FG 1.015
ABV 5.5%
IBU 31
SRM 28

6 lb Marris Otter
2 lb Flaked Oats
2 lb Munich 10L
1 lb Flaked Barley
10 oz Roasted Barley
8 oz Chocolate Malt
8 oz Caramel 40L

2 oz Fuggle 60 Min

Chicago water with 1 gram baking soda per gallon to drive up bicarbonate

Dough in and raised to 122F for 15, raised to 156F for 60, raised to 165F for 15. Recirculate until cleared and fly sparged to pre boil volume.

Fermented on the cooler range with Fermentus US-04

I plan on taking a keg of this to Wisconsin on a disc golf outing. Will post tasting notes and tweaks next month.


It's been said before.. I have been ignoring this blog. I keep my life busy between, family, work, hobbies, travel and sleep. The kettles have not been ignored, they have been very busy with brews for both myself and Bridges. There is a que of recipes that I need to post up and will try to get them all here this weekend.

I really enjoy hearing about other people's experiences, especially when they are passionate. Be it a unknown restaurant's atmosphere, a unique travel destination or a walk through of a particularly tasty beer. I especially love hearing about people's brewing escapades. Sit me next to a fellow brewer and we will go on for hours. We recently transitioned from being renters to owners, I was happy to find out that another owner was also an experienced homebrewer. Over many drinking sessions we discovered what processes we had in common and what we could take and make our own. We finally decided to brew together.

We decided to do a beer in the mode of Three Floyd's "Blackheart". This was the first time I brewed with someone where I wasn't the more experienced brewer. It was tough to let go of many processes that I automatically "just do", and also communicate when/why. Frankly, it was a difficult for me to share my ball. We missed our mash temp and has a misread on pre boil gravity, resulting in frustration. There was a lot less planning involved with this than I normally do. The beer turned out fine.. Lesson learned? I wasted a good experience fretting over little things and not sharing enough of the responsibility. Sometimes you need to let it go and just have fun making beer with a friend.

When building networks we often unintentionally wall ourselves in. Many of the homebrewers I know are people I have met over social networks. A lot of them are around my level of experience, few of them are novice or beginner. I can send out a tweet or post to g+ and get an answer in seconds. I can't recall how often I really give back to the community that shares my passion. I am not in any homebrew club where I can be mentored or act as a mentor to others. A recent opportunity working in a local home brew shop has allowed me to interact with individuals new to the hobby. It was refreshing to see their eagerness for brewing. They have yet to build the walls of style parameters and hard process rules. Style and Process are important and have it's place, but when was the last time you just got real loose and free-styled a beer?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recipe: American Wheat - A Summer Time Brew

Growing up in Kansas I have a reverence for Boulevard Wheat that no one but people from the region seem to understand. Kansas summers are damn hot and the wheat ale is the perfect thirst quencher. You can drink it all afternoon and not be in a stuper. It is also a excellent gateway beer for your pals who have yet to discover the broad world of beer beyond macro lager.

I have never attempted to clone it. This recipe is the best I could come up with after reading many forums on the subject. Taking the most plausible recipes and cross referencing them to Boulevards sight. Then realizing many of the hops would need to be swapped with readily available hops. Finally getting to my LHBS and finding two commonly available hops not in stock. It was just not my day to make this beer, but being stubborn I pressed on and came out with this.

Batch size: 5.5 gal
OG: 1.046
PG: 1.036
FG: 1.011
ABV: 4.6%
IBU: 17
SRM: 3.4
EFF: 75%

5 lb 2-Row
2 lb 12 oz Wheat
2 lb Flaked Wheat

7 gr Magnum 14% AA 60 min
7 gr each Centennial and Citra 5 min (OG recipe had Summit and Simcoe)
21 gr each Centennial and Citra -1 minute or flameout (OG recipe had Summit and Simcoe)

Protein rest at 125F for 15 min, 149F for 60 min, 165F mash out for 15 min.

Chicago water adjusted accordingly.

Fermented with 1 pack US-05 dry yeast.

2011: The year I nail down an IPA Recipe?

I brew a lot of hoppy beers and refuse to apologize for it. Beer nerds/afficonados are well past this trend but I love a dank IPA in my glass. The pale ale or IPA is the standard I hold most brewpubs too and am quick to dismiss a brand if they have a subpar version. I have done many single hop IPA, traditional cascade pale ales, overdone DIPAs, massively hoppy barley wines and experimental hop beers. Most good, a few great, some down right terrible. So it's about time I practice what I preach and make a truly awesome IPA. This is going to happen in one brew, these things take time.

In January I brewed a sessionable IPA with 2 row, Munich, Caramel Malt, Columbus, Cascade and Citra. I purposely mashed a the low end of things, thinking it would add to the drinkability. It did but the bittering hops charged through and flattened the malt profile. It was not too bitter for my tastes but the average drinker would not appreciate it.

At the beginning of March I took the same recipe but mashed at the higher end of the scale. After hearing a Brewing Network podcast with Lagunitas, the brewer talked about mashing at 160F for the Maximus IPA. Even the brewcasters thought it was a wild concept but he said the body it delivers was right for the beer. I ended up mashing at 158F. Fermentation struggled a bit with the long chain sugars, ending at 1.018 (calculated 1.013). Out of the FV it was tasting great, there was more of a balance with the Columbus bittering charge. I just dry hopped it with 2 oz of Citra and will be kegged in 5 days.

The concept is to keep brewing this recipe, changing one variable until I feel it is locked in. If the change doesn't improve the beer we go back to the last good version and change another variable. Once solidified, I will enter it into a few competitions and see how it fairs against the judges.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Citra Session - Pale Ale featuring Citra / The English Beat ESB

It's winter here in Chicago. Brewing has been sparse since I only brew outdoors. I did manage to brave the cold for a few sessions this month. Putting together a beer for a competition and one for my enjoyment. You may recall this Summer I went on a huge session beer kick. I love the challenge of getting maximum flavor and without impacting the beers drinkability. Keeping brew like this in my kegerator free's up my beer budget substantially, another positive. I must say this urge hasn't left, as you can tell from the recipe's below. Enjoy and as always, constructive feedback is appreciated.

The Citra Session Pale Ale

OG 1.054
PG 1.046
FG 1.013
ABV 5.4%
SRM 15
IBU 100 (estimated from recipe calculator, nowhere near this amount)
EFF 75%
Boil 60 min
Yeast US-05 (1 package)
1 tsp Gypsum split between mash and sparge (based on Chicago water)


8 lb 2 Row
2 lb Munich 10l
1 lb Caramel 80L
12 oz Caramel 40 L
4 oz Caramel 120L


1 oz Columbus 60 min 15.5%
1 oz Cascade 30 min 5 %
1 oz Cascade 15 min 5 %
1 oz Citra 10 min 12%
1 oz Citra 1 min 12%
2 oz Citra Dry Hop in secondary for 5 days

The English Beat ESB

OG 1.052
PG 1.045
FG 1.014
ABV 5.1%
SRM 12
IBU 41
EFF 70% (efficiency suffered last time due to the cold.)
BOIL 60 min
Yeast S-04 Safale (yeast flocs hard, beer will be crystal clear in the glass)
Water 1/2 tsp calcium chloride split between mash and sparge


11 lb Marris Otter
8 oz Caramel 10
4 oz Caramel 20
4 oz Carmael 120
2 oz Dehusked Carafa (for color)


2 oz Goldings 60 min 4.5%
1 oz Fuggles 01 min 4.5%

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bridges Brewery 2010


This year's site is up. This project, like the beer, keeps getting better every year. Thanks to the Bridges crew for the opportunity to be apart of this for the third year now. Check out the site for a awesome video of the beers from start to finish.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Milk Stout - Left Hand Milk Stout Clone

Lately I have been doing clone recipes of some of my favorite beers. It helps gain a deeper appreciation of what makes that particular beer unique and it's always fun to see how close you can get to the commercial example. I have never nailed it perfectly but it almost always adds something to my process or overall understanding. It's well into September and I have ZERO seasonal ale in the fermentor. Time to brew some Stout's, Porter's and Scotch Ales.

Milk Stout or Sweet Stout if you speak BJCP (13b), is a medium to full bodied stout which uses lactose sugar to increase mouthfeel and sweetness. Often perceived as a creamy espresso due to high percentages of roasted barley and chocolate malt. Hop bitterness is moderate and should be balanced.

Left Hand Milk Stout Clone
5.5 gal Final Volume
1.059 OG
1.013 FG
6% ABV
25 IBU
80% Efficiency
60 min Boil
White Labs 001, Wyeast 1056 or US 05 Dry
Ferment at 65F

7.5 lb Marris Otter
1 lb Caramel 60
1 lb Dark Munich
1 lb Roasted Barley
12 oz Chocolate Malt
8 oz Flaked Barley
8 oz Flaked Oats
18 oz Lactose Sugar (15 Min.)

15 g Magnum (60 min.)
28 g US Goldings (10 min.)

Mash at 152F for 60 min, raise to 165F for 15 min. Flaked Barley and Oats will aid with head retention and give a silky mouthfeel.

To learn more about Left Hand Brewing check out the Left Hand Blog