Brew It! - Yooper's Oatmeal Stout

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Charles Caleb Colton once said "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".
As brewers, that is an exceptionally true statement. There's a reason that expressions like RDWHAHB have become a staple of brewing. It can be intimidating to develop a recipe, let alone one that's going to have brewers the world over thinking "I can brew that!"
In our newest series "Brew It!" we reach into our community to find the brewers and recipes on the the forefront of modern brewing. The recipes defining their styles, the brewers that brew them, how they came to brew that beer, and how they feel about the popularity of their recipe.
For our first entry into the Brew It! series we're sitting down with Lorena "Yooper" Evans to discuss one of her many popular recipes here on HomeBrewTalk: Yooper's Oatmeal Stout.

Top Oatmeal Stout Recipe By Lorena "Yooper" Evans
As of this writing, this recipe has been viewed 181,369 times since it was originally published on December 7th 2010 (at 12:27 Central if you really want to know). There are 172 brewers with over 705 posts discussing this beer. That's quite an achievement, and yet still not Yooper's most popular brew (It's 3rd behind her DFH 60 Minute Clone, and Joe's Ancient Orange Mead recipes, both of which have over 620,000 views and thousands of posts.

Taking Pride In Your Beer Can Be Very Rewarding
Why this one then? It's in the title. This is hers. We will be covering the other brews, but there is something gratifying about people winning awards for a namesake brew. For that reason we sit down to discuss Yooper's Oatmeal Stout with Mrs. Evans herself for our latest installment of Brew It!
The Recipe:
Recipe: Yooper's Oatmeal Stout
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Wyeast 1335 - British Ale II
Yeast Starter: Yes!
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.016
IBU: 32
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 33.5
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 21 at 64
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): none
Tasting Notes: Wow- smooth, rich, velvety, not too roasty, not too dry! GREAT beer.
Malts/Hops
7 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 63.64 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 9.09 %
12.0 oz Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 6.82 %
10.0 oz Chocolate malt (pale) (200.0 SRM) Grain 5.68 %
8.0 oz Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 4.55 %
8.0 oz Black Barley (Stout) (500.0 SRM) Grain 4.55 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 4.55 %
2.0 oz Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) Grain 1.14 %
2.00 oz Williamette [4.80 %] (60 min) Hops 31.6 IBU
Yeast
1 Pkgs British Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1335)
Water
Ca: 84
Mg: 26
Na 9
SO4 45
Cl 62
HCO3 228

You Just Gotta Love A Well Made Stout
Directions: Mashed at 156, with a thin mash (1.75 quarts per pound) to keep the pH in range.
So what does Yooper think of this?
Well for that we head over to her.
It's probably heresy, but I've never been a stout fan. I always found them "too"- that is, too roasty, too full, too thick, too dark, etc. Just "too" much. As my palate developed a bit, I realized that one of the things that is strange about my palate is that I hate chocolate. Hate the stuff, and always have. The weirdest thing is that I love beer and coffee, both of which are perceived to many as bitter, but I find chocolate unbearably bitter. So many of the stouts I tried apparently had chocolate/roasty notes to them and I found it unpleasant. The other thing about me that is unusual I think is that I have NO sweet tooth, and actually don't like sweet things at all, so I knew this beer had to be balanced and not harsh, but definitely not sweet.
I started judging competitions in 2009 or so, and found that I really liked the description of "Oatmeal Stout" in the BJCP guidelines, so I decided to make one with the coffee roastiness instead of a chocolate/acrid roastiness.
I looked at Jamil Zainasheff's book, Brewing Classic Styles, for inspiration. He talks a lot about pale chocolate malt and how it doesn't have those harsh roasted notes in it, and that sounded great to me. I also knew I wanted the beer to be smooth and silky, but not sweet or cloying, or too full or too rich.
Two of the key ingredients are the black barley (NOT black patent) from Briess, and the pale chocolate. The only reason that I used regular chocolate malt in the recipe (in the amount of 2 ounces) is because I didn't have quite enough pale chocolate and I had chocolate malt left over. I then left it that way, since it turned out so good! Another ingredient I think is crucial is the flaked barley- it gives a great mouthfeel, and doesn't make the beer sweet like too much crystal malt can.
The other ingredients, like the victory and crystal 80L, I chose in small amounts for the qualities they bring. The victory brings a bit of toasted flavor I love, and the crystal 80L has a bit of toffee flavor that meshes well with the roasted notes. The oats give that creamy mouthfeel, and are an important part of the recipe.
This beer is more like a coffee with cream type of roast than a heavy roasted barley flavor, if that makes sense. It works so well that it became a house favorite. I really feel that I nailed what I was looking for in the first iteration and haven't adjusted or tweaked the recipe at all.

Put Your Coffee Aside And Pour Yourself A Stout

The only major change I've made is to use a different yeast strain. My preference is to use Wyeast 1450, Denny's Favorite 50. That strain really enhances the malt without under attenuating or finishing sweet, and the best way I can describe it is that the mouthfeel is luscious and rich, but not sweet or thick or cloying. Other yeast strains work well if you don't have Denny's, but that strain with this recipe is really something special!
I generally make this beer in the early fall for fall and winter drinking. It's great after dinner. When some people might have a cup of coffee after a nice dinner, I would reach for a glass of this beer.
I haven't made any changes at all to it aside from yeast strains, but I know others have. One, Danny Speer (2beerSpeer), sent me a wonderful oaked version that I enjoyed immensely. It was my recipe, but he aged it in a whiskey barrel. He sent me a couple of bottles, and I have to admit it was better than anything I did with that beer!
I like to mash stouts at a pH of 5.5-5.6, which just so happens to be exactly what this recipe does with my tap water with a mash thickness of 1.75 quarts of water per pound of grain. The nice thing is that for most of us with "normal" water chemistry that we have a pretty wide range for a good mash pH with dark grains like this. If your water is very soft, RO quality, you may want to add some alkalinity in the form of baking soda but for the majority of us, that is not normally needed. That makes this beer pretty easy even for newer all-grain brewers, and it tends to be pretty mistake-proof as a result.
I don't think I ever entered this beer in competition, now that I think about it. I guess it's because I generally make it in the early fall, and most competitions tend to be in the summer. Sometime I should do so, if only to be able to call it "Yooper's Second Place Stout" or something like that.

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Comments

Funny timing on this post since I'm brewing this tomorrow.
I brewed it last year and it was great. It's on my "Always brew this in September" list.
 
Cool article Austin. I like the look of that stout on the top left. ;)
And of course. Thanks @Yooper for the recipe and explaining your creative process in such detail.
 
The break-down of why each ingredient was chosen and how much is a crucial discussion you don't see when recipes are posted.
I'd be curious to know how many revisions it took to get the recipe to where it is now.
 
Great article! It takes an unwieldy thread and summarizes everything we need to know to brew this beer. Yooper's discussion of building the recipe is very helpful. I like knowing why she picked each ingredient.
I've brewed this beer twice, and it's also a favorite of my wife, who normally doesn't like beer.
 
@Arrheinous She says in the interview, "I really feel that I nailed what I was looking for in the first iteration and haven't adjusted or tweaked the recipe at all." So there's your answer!
 
Are you stalking me?? I was in the brewshop buying the ingredients for a double batch of this while it's being posted!
Nice :) (haven't made it before. hoping mine turns out as awesome as all the reviews)
 
I am planning on brewing this in a couple weeks, I am really excited about the way she has described her desired tastes and her reasoning. I for one have a tendency to tweak recipes, especially when I can save money and buy in bulk. The grain bill includes a lot of tough to find specialty grains, and I have to make an hour and a half trip to another HBS to obtain these. Hopefully, I can buy-in bulk, the recipe can live up to the hype and I can drink it all winter :)
 
I am brewing this Sunday. I brew it every year as one of my Xmas Beers that I give away each year. My family absolutely loves it.
 
I've been planning a stout for my next beer and have seen this one before. Two things on this article confuse me. One, Yooper notes about the yeast "My preference is to use Wyeast 1450, Denny's Favorite 50." but lists Wyeast 1335. Which is the chosen one then? I assume the 1450. Then, why the picture, with numbers, of the two carboys fermenting. No mention in the article to go with the picture? Seems odd.
As others have noted - Thanks Yooper for sharing!! Looking forward to this brew!
 
Yooper says - I really feel that I nailed what I was looking for in the first iteration and haven’t adjusted or tweaked the recipe at all.
 
Hope to brew this soon, still working on electrifyin' my pots! Sounds great, and since my favorite beers are all dark, I'll brew it all year round along with her DFH60 clone! I wonder if she has a good porter recipe? :>)
 
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