When cold season is coming, beer lovers tend to drink much darker and complex beers. As yesterday we celebrated the International Stout day, this time we share a stout recipe. The Oatmeal Stout is a very dark, full-bodied, malty ale with smooth roasty and oatmeal flavour. The style was first created in England, somewhen in the 50’s, but in the next decades its popularity dropped. Luckily a few breweries resurrected the style, so today many craft breweries have it in their assortment.

BJCP 16B – Oatmeal Stout
Original Gravity 1.045–1.065
Final Gravity 1.010–1.018
ABV 4.2 – 5.9%
Color 22–40 SRM
IBU 25–40

Grain bill:
The base of your grist should be an Ale style malt (to which you can add some darker base malt too). Addition of oats could be in malted or in flaked form too, both bring you smooth creaminess. For the color and roasty taste you need a blend of specialty malts, dominated by black varieties. Mid-color crystal malts impart a nutty flavour and some sweetness, while the black ones contributes to the complex „dark” mouthfeel you want. A single step mash at the higher end (above 70 ⁰C / 178 ⁰F) should work well.

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Hops need to be primarily for bittering, but feel free to add some for aroma too. Use traditional English varieties without any fruity or citrusy aroma.

We recommend to use low attenuating English-style ale yeast and ferment at 20-22 °C / 68-72 °F.

Fermentis Safale S-04
Mangrove Jack M36 Liberty Bell Ale

WLP002 English Ale
Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale

Batch size: 21 l (5,5 gallon)
Efficiency: 75%
OG: 1,052
FG: 1,011
ABV: 5,4%
Bitterness: 31 IBU
Colour: 38 SRM
Carbonation: 2
pH: 5,1

Appearance: Deep brown colour, creamy foam
Taste: Sweet maltiness, notes of chocolate and oat
Food pairing: beef dishes & desserts

There are many reasons why brewers use various flaked grains. Some intensify a certain characteristic, add a unique aroma to the beer, while others affect the color and clarity or boost the volume of fermentable sugars. Depending on the beer style and purpose you can commonly choose among flaked maize, barley, oat and wheat. Their production method starts by steam-cooking, then they rolled flat between hot cylinders and finally dried. The heat and pressure pre-gelatinize the starch, so they can simply added directly to the mash. Depending on the grain the addition may occur at beginning of the mash, or you can perform a protein rest, if needed. Flaked grains are not malted at all, therefor do not include any enzymes to break down their starch, but luckily they can utilize the enzymes from the barley. Nevertheless brewers have to be careful of their ratio and how to compose the rest of the grain bill.

Flaked Maize
There are many different forms of corn you use in your grist bill. Flake is the simplest one of them. As it only has a little protein no such rest is required. It’s generally pregelatinized too, so you can directly add to your mash with all other grains and schedule your brewing as usual.

Result: milder taste; dry, crispy finish
Flavour: sweet, less malty
Uses: usually in lighter Pilsners

Flaked Barley
As whole grains require a long gelatinizing process brewers usually choose the flaked version. Increases the volume of fermentable sugars, without any additional body or taste. You can expect some extra haziness above 10%, consider this when brewing a low EBC beer.

Result: stronger head retention, smoother flavour
Flavour: slightly grainy
Beer styles: Stouts

Flaked Oat
They can be added up to 20% to the mash, but with 10% you can easily reach your aim. Excess in glucans results in extra body and texture, which could affect filtration too, therefore more rice hulls are needed. The form you can normally buy is pregelatinized, so no protein rest is necessary.

Result: additional body, foam retention and haziness
Flavour: silky mouthfeel
Beer styles: Oatmeal Stout, Porter, Witbier, New England IPA

Flaked Wheat
Flaked version of wheat imparts more “wheaty”, flavour than the malted one. They are high in protein, therefor increase haziness. Having a protein rest is recommended due to the excess in beta-glucans and also to help the starches be easier gelatinized.

Result: increased body and head retention
Flavour: spicy, bready
Beer styles: Witbier, Weizen, New England IPA

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At the end of the germination time the green malt has to be dried in order to keep it. It is generally accepted that malt should be kept below then 6% moisture. All base malts however will be kilned and cured between 4 and 4,5%. After transfer to storage and/or bagging, a maximum of 5% will not be exceeded.

Malt is very hygroscopic: it will take water up if it is exposed to free air. To understand this, one has to look to the kilning process of green malt (germinating barley). During drying greenmalt will at normal drying temperatures of 60° reach an equilibrium at 10-12% moisture. In order to drop below 5% , temperatures have to increase in order to make water migration possible from in the very inside of the kernel to the outside where it escapes from the kernel. Once the malt has been cooled down it has the tendency to go back to its earlier equilibrium at higher moisture: that is what we call hygroscopic.

There is one exception to the max 6% moisture rule and that are low coloured caramel malts. Caramel malts have a different process. The greenmalt will be saccharified between 60 and 80°C and then dried. During caramelisation water is produced and in order to produce the low colours extra heating is not possible. The water content will vary from 8% to 6% depending on colour (10 to 60EBC). However this water will have a chemical bounding with the caramel once it has cooled down and the kernels become very hard.

In order to prevent the natural tendency to pick up moisture malt has to be kept in closed “containers”. At the malthouse we use vertical high cylindric bins. Only the very small top layer of a couple of cm/inches is exposed to air. That is why flat storage is never used to keep malt.

Malt is packed in bags with a polyethylene inside layer which prevent water up take. However one should store bags always in a dry environment. Once the bag opened malt should be used.

In case one need only small quantities e.g. special malts like Chocolate or Black malt, it is better to keep the remainder of the malt from a bag in a plastic container which can be closed airtight. This has a second very important advantage: volatile aroma compounds from special malts (caramel and roasted) will not be lost in the surrounding air.

Malt can be kept healthy several years and will not lose its enzymatic power. One condition: keep water and air away!

Altbier is a top-fermented, amber, lagered beer, that is traditionally brewed in the historical region of Westphalia, mainly in Düsseldorf. “Alt” (old) in its name refers to the older style of brewing when ale yeast has been widely used. The appellation became necessary when bottom-fermenting yeasts spread about the brewing scene in the 1800’s. Nevertheless, this style is perfect mixture of ale and lager yeasts: uses ale yeast, but fermented and conditioned at colder temperatures, that results in a cleaner and crisper taste. It also has a nice hop-malt balance, but usually only moderate level of fruity esters, and more like some floral and spicy aromas.

Grain bill: It usually consist of German style base malts, mainly Pilsner and occasionally some Munich. You also need a small amount of crystal, chocolate or darker roasted malt. Some styles prefer crystal malt to achieve the required color, while the original Düsseldorf style adds some chocolate/black malt and less or no crystal. The below one is the mixture of them. Adding some wheat, or roasted wheat is also an option. Traditionally is is brewed by using a decoction mash. In case you don’t want to mess with it, feel free to perform a mash schedule of 53-62-71 °C (127-144-160 °F) for 10-30-30 minutes.

Hops: The hop aroma varies from moderate to low and can have a spicy, floral or herbal character. Traditionally it is brewed with Spalt, but feel free to replace with other Saaz-like hops. Schedule is straightforward – same addition at 60 and 30 minutes.

Yeast: You need clean ale yeast, preferably a higher attenuative one. This beer should be fermented at the cooler end of ale temperature (15-20 °C / 59-68 °F). Condition at lager temperatures (~10 °C / 50 °F) for a few weeks.

Batch size: 23 l (6 gallon)
Efficiency: 71%
OG: 1,049
FG: 1,010
ABV: 5,1%
Bitterness: 30 IBU
Colour: 16 SRM
Carbonation: 2,5
pH: 5,25
Taste: clean and rich malt character, crispy and spicy
Food pairing: sausage, grilled fish, roast pork

Today is the first Thursday of August, which means it’s the National IPA Day. In the past decades this beer style, beyond question, turned into the most exciting and popular one of all. So, let’s see some interesting facts, you may not have known yet.

We all know the story of British settlers, that couldn’t get any beer from England to India surviving the long journey. Many historians say however, that at that time Porter was much more popular among colonizers and thank to its higher ABV there was no such issue during the voyage.

They also say a stronger and hoppier Ale was brewed, that supposed to be diluted down to the ABV level of the general Bitters. Nevertheless, this new, heavier beer was tastier as well, so they left it as it was. The truth is however that hoppier beers have been already brewed in the British town of Burton Upon Trent. Most of their products were delivered to Russia, but in the early 1800’s the tsar banned imports from Britain. Luckily, they found another country to export – not surprisingly that was India.

The earliest printed mention of the expression “IPA” was in 1829 in an Australian advertisement and they called it East India Pale Ale. Unfortunately, the name of the related brewery was not referred, but that is another interesting fact against the “general story”.

How come that it became so popular? In the 70’s and 80’s some American homebrewers were looking for forgotten beer styles and they found and old English IPA recipe. They made a twist using more fruity local hops, creating something brand new. No one knew at this point that a global beer revolution has just been started.

As mentioned, IPA you drink nowadays completely differs from the English style known. The hop utilization in today’s American IPA was not even known at that time. In the past brewers had bittering and aroma hopping, while these days hop is added at any stage of beer production – boiling, cooling, during and after fermentation, even right before drinking. Anyway, that’s why these beer types are precisely distinguished in the BJCP as well. While the old (English) version is mainly about balancing between maltiness and bitterness, the new (American) one is much more hop-forwarded. It’s actually all about highlighting aromas of various citrusy, fruity hops, in many ways.

There are many viewpoints to classify IPA beers. An IPA has an ABV level between 5.5% and 7.5%. Stronger IPA’s are called Imperial or Double IPA, while the lighter ones are mentioned as Session IPA. Apparently trends of living healthier influences beer consumption too: many drinkers turn to lower-alcohol beers, that’s why the Session one is the fastest growing IPA category these days. FYI: if you drink 10 Session IPA’s a day, you won’t be healthier 😉

Checking the appearance, bitterness, hop aromas, maltiness – so in general, the taste – we have another 2 big groups. West Coast IPA is principally about malt & hop balance. It has a clean, mainly citrusy, piney taste, and the higher bitterness is balanced by a sweeter malt base and a not too dry end. East Coast IPA’s (e.g. New England IPA) are brewed however to knock you out with a big punch of hop flavours. The haziness, the application of other kind of yeast strains helps to create extremely fruity, tropical aromas, so that you feel like drinking a hop juice.

Should you feel like brewing an IPA, just check out our former recipes.

Have a hoppy day!

American Amber Ale
While the whole world is increasingly keen on APA’s and IPA’s we easily forget about this style that has been also developed in the American craft beer revolution as a variation from American Pale Ales. According to BJCP it is an amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavor. The balance of this style may vary in a wide range, some versions are quite malty, while others extremely hoppy (they often referred as Red IPA). The point is to have a nice amber color and a harmony in malt-hop profile.

Grain bill: Your aim is a dark, caramelly beer without any chocolate and roasted flavour. Malty sweetness and a moderate caramel taste is essential in this style. Therefor our grain bill consists mainly of Ale malt, while you get the amber color and deeper tastes by adding Munich and Crytal malts too. This will definetely result in such flavours, as caramel, bread and toffee, and you also need them to balance the hops. As you want to brew a full body beer, feel free to go only for alpha-amylaze rest at 69˚C (156F) and hold for 50-60 minutes.

Hops: Hoppiness should be moderate to high – you don’t need to increase IBU, but need perceptible hop flavor. Go for typical fruity new wave hop varieties (citrus, floral, pine, tropical, raisin). I had great experience with Cascade, but you can pick any such as per your own taste. Dry-hopping is not needed for this style.

Yeast: You need a clean fermenting American ale yeast strain. As you don’t need strong esters, try to keep fermentation temperature at the advised level of your strain.

Batch size: 19 l (5 gallon)
Efficiency: 75%
OG: 1,049
FG: 1,010
ABV: 5,1%
Bitterness: 33 IBU
Colour: 13 SRM
Carbonation: 2,3
pH: 5,2

Taste: medium body and hoppiness, rich in caramel and toffee aroma

Food pairing: street food meals