Oatmeal and the mythical smooth, viscous and silky mouthfeel

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artichoke

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I've been fighting with an Oatmeal stout recipe for a long time, gradually increasing the percentage of oats from under 10% to over a whopping 20% in the last version in an effort to achieve that fabled viscous, silky mouthfeel that oats are supposed to provide and that the BJCP judges expect. I posted the full recipe and process details for my last Oatmeal stout on my blog back in March.

With the last iteration of my Oatmeal stout recipe, with over 20% oats in the grist the only thing remarkable I've noticed is poor head retention and basically no impact on mouthfeel.

Has anyone actually noticed the silky, oily thick and viscous contribution that oats are supposed to bring to a beer? If so, can you please describe what percentage and what form of oats you are using (rolled, quick etc) and how you mash or otherwise process them to achieve this effect?

Thanks.

- Artichoke.
 

14thstreet

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I've brewed a couple of oatmeal stouts and always thought any contribution from oats was imagined based on expectation. That said, I have brewed with torrified wheat (without oats) and thought that added to body/mouthfeel in a creamy sort of way (nice head too). You might want to try increasing the levels of protein in your beer through incorporating adjuncts like unmalted wheat in place of oats for this effect. Increasing crystal malt or dropping the level/composition of roast using lighter colored chocolate, midnight wheat or huskless carafa may also help. Changing to a lower attenuating yeast strain and either boosting original gravity or lowering carbonation are all avenues to try and reach what you're looking for. In historical oatmeal stouts, oatmeal was often if not nearly universally under 1% of the grist!
 

Iseneye

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I have had several home brews with 10 to 20 percent oats and couldn't even tell there was oats in them. I assume the silky smooth mouthfeel is achieved some other way.
 
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artichoke

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Thanks for the replies so far, this is very interesting!
 

Coffeeturnal

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I used 1.5lb of quick oats and 1.5lb of GNO in an imperial oatmeal stout and it was think as motor oil. Maybe you need to use even more?

I have to wonder if oats contribution to mouthfeel is better quantified in how much oats are used, rather than as a percentage? As far as I understand it, the common explanation is beta glucans in the oats contribution to the mouthfeel. Given that there is a finite amount of these in the oats it seems reasonable to me that the mouthfeel contribution, when expressed as a percentage, would be highly variable with OG.

Those 3lb discussed earlier we're only 20% in my recipe (OG 1.090) (also, I do small batches, that's 3lb in a 3.5 gallon batch). I think percentages are best used when thinking of flavor balances. I question whether it's the best metric here.

I dunno, just my 2 cents. I still consider myself new ish to this hobby, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.
 
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rhys333

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I brewed an oatmeal stout before Christmas and it has what I'd call a smooth and silky mouthfeel. Not thick though, just a nice medium body. Only 8% rolled oats.
 

dmtaylor

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Has anyone actually noticed the silky, oily thick and viscous contribution that oats are supposed to bring to a beer? If so, can you please describe what percentage and what form of oats you are using (rolled, quick etc) and how you mash or otherwise process them to achieve this effect?
Jeez I thought I was the only one! I have tasted a couple of 100% oat malt beers and they did NOT have thick silky mouthfeel or huge creamy head or anything like that. These beers were pretty bland overall IMO.

Try rye instead... now THAT makes a big difference!
 

McKnuckle

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Here is the grain bill from my most recent stout, which I call an Irish dry oatmeal stout. This one was brewed to OG 1.047, 4.8% ABV. It has plenty of smoothness, especially if allowed to warm to a more traditional serving temperature.

UK pale 70%
Flaked barley 9%
Flaked oats 7%
Roasted barley 7.3%
Carafa II 2.7%
Crystal 80L 4%
 
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artichoke

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It's fascinating to me that folks have reported mixed results using oats in a stout. Personally I have had noticeably better success in creating a creamy mouthfeel and foamstand with flaked barley vs oats and am wondering if there's other factors at play here.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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I did a really big oatmeal RIS stout (1.128 OG) that has a great creamy thick mouthfeel.

I attributed it primarily to the high mash temp, 3 hour boil, and relatively high FG (1.035).
 
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artichoke

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I did a really big oatmeal RIS stout (1.128 OG) that has a great creamy thick mouthfeel.

I attributed it primarily to the high mash temp, 3 hour boil, and relatively high FG (1.035).
Thanks to all for the feedback so far. For a high OG/FG stout to me it makes sense you'd get a full mouthfeel, whether oats are used in the grist or not. I'm wondering about the myth as it relates to BJCP 16B, where the OG/FG parameters are within the ranges 1.045/65 to 1.010/1.018 where I just can't seem to get oats to work.

- Artichoke
 

thehaze

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Oat malt can add a bit of " malt smoothness ", but not much of the silky mouthfeel. A full mouthfeel or whatever you wanna call it, is probably best achieved using a combination of the right grain bill, water ( probably the most important thing here ) and something like lactose. A higher FG, by mashing high and using a low attenuating yeast will also help the beer feel fuller, somewhat sweeter. Flaked Barley is yet another adjunct you can use.

You've got a few replies to your thread and almost all of them are different. There is no general agreement on what and how much to use. Flavourwise, oats can possibly add something, that can be recognised as oaty by some. I've used it in both pale and dark beers, at a rate of 25%+ in the grainbill. However, I do prefer oat malt instead of flaked oats.
 

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I use about 20% oats in my oatmeal buckwheat porter and get a great silky mouthfeel. Who knows, maybe the mouthfeel is due more to the relatively high FG (1.020-1.024) and low carbonation.
 

Miraculix

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I think this oats thing is a perfect example of confirmation bias. And congratulations for not falling for it!

Everybody thinks of thick porridge when thinking about oats, so the beer must become silky and somehow thicker, right?

Had it up to 30 percent without any difference to the same batch without oats, except for some haze.

Please read the following, that explains into detail what oats are for and what they are not for:
http://scottjanish.com/case-brewing-oats/
 

Miraculix

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I use about 20% oats in my oatmeal buckwheat porter and get a great silky mouthfeel. Who knows, maybe the mouthfeel is due more to the relatively high FG (1.020-1.024) and low carbonation.
This! And maybe also the buckwheat.
 
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artichoke

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Thanks all. I'm familiar with the Scott Janish article which is why I cranked up the oats to > 20% in my last Oatmeal stout. But that mouthfeel that some rave about is just not there and all they seemed to do was kill the head.

When I re-brew it I'll probably switch in flaked barley, and keep the oats to maybe 1% just so I can call it an Oatmeal Stout :-0

- Artichoke.
 

Smellyglove

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Interesting thread, but also a tad annoying. Because the posters which say they have a great mouthfeel, does not tell about water, or boil lengths and vigour, and OG-FG is also important. As is the yeast.

However. If you want thick (which can also be confused with "silky") boil longer. If you wan't thinner but silky, is imo a very hard thing to achieve. I haven't cracked the code, maybe it's impossible to separate those two?

Last year I had a RIS in for my local Nationals, "smooth as silk" came from one of the judges, it was boiled for five hours.

So for me, "silk" is more about boil time than anything else, at the moment. I've done some experiments with the same grist and different boil lengths, and longer boil lenghts does indeed give a more "silky" feel, but also a thicker mouthfeel, which I guess is the reason it feels more "silky". I have not been able to separate thick body from pure "silk".
 
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Miraculix

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Thanks all. I'm familiar with the Scott Janish article which is why I cranked up the oats to > 20% in my last Oatmeal stout. But that mouthfeel that some rave about is just not there and all they seemed to do was kill the head.

When I re-brew it I'll probably switch in flaked barley, and keep the oats to maybe 1% just so I can call it an Oatmeal Stout :-0

- Artichoke.
During my trials, I found out that 10% oats can speed up fermentation without imparting anything else but blank gravity points. I really like oats, just not for any flavour or moutfeel aspect. The yeast loves oats!
 

rhys333

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If nothing else, I think oats add a visual component: the foam has an almost oily look to it.

But really, oats aren't going to make a beer thick any more than rye is going to make a beer spicy. There's a hint of these characteristics that contribute to a beer in subtle ways. The brewer can enhance these characteristics by careful selection of ingredients and manipulation of the brewing process.
 

Miraculix

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Speaking of rye, this makes her thick and silky. But it also contributes the typical rye flavour which not everybody likes.
 

kevin58

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On a related note, but not relevant to the question, is the origins of "Oatmeal" Stout. Oat Malt Stout was invented and patented by Maclay's In Scotland in the late 1800's. It became very popular and to get around Maclay's patent, other brewers simply began calling theirs "Oatmeal" Stout. Numerous court fights ensued throughout the years over the nomenclature and exactly how much oats should be included to earn the right to be labeled "Oat" or "Oatmeal" Stout.

That is paraphrased from Ron Pattinson's book, Scotland II which also contains a Maclay's Oat Malt Stout recipe from 1909 which contains some unusual ingredients...

53.10% Pale Malt
21.24% Malted Oats (Maclay's always used malted oats whereas other brewers typically used flaked oats)
10.62% Black Malt
08.85% Invert Sugar
03.54% Amber Malt
02.65% Caramel
00.50% Linseed
00.25% Liquorice

Anyway, I was just reading that chapter last night and remembered this thread. Thought it a good chance to pass along a bit of trivia.
 

Comfort_Zone

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Speaking of rye, this makes her thick and silky. But it also contributes the typical rye flavour which not everybody likes.
Rye is another one of those things where I think there's a little confirmation bias. I've made beers with plenty of rye (all the way to 100%) and had people taste them. Aside from the insane viscosity of a 100% rye beer no one has ever been able to tell that it was rye, only that there was something different about it. I've used any number of different types of rye (including American and German as there are those that swear up and down that German rye has that signature character) and so far no one has been able to peg it including several BJCP judges.

That being said, I use it in my big stouts and man does it up the mouthfeel once you start approaching 15-20%. I'd recommend rye over oats any day.

Also, just as a disclaimer, I'm not saying that rye doesn't have its own flavor, it most certainly does. I've just found that it doesn't have the flavor that people expect.
 

Miraculix

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Rye is another one of those things where I think there's a little confirmation bias. I've made beers with plenty of rye (all the way to 100%) and had people taste them. Aside from the insane viscosity of a 100% rye beer no one has ever been able to tell that it was rye, only that there was something different about it. I've used any number of different types of rye (including American and German as there are those that swear up and down that German rye has that signature character) and so far no one has been able to peg it including several BJCP judges.

That being said, I use it in my big stouts and man does it up the mouthfeel once you start approaching 15-20%. I'd recommend rye over oats any day.

Also, just as a disclaimer, I'm not saying that rye doesn't have its own flavor, it most certainly does. I've just found that it doesn't have the flavor that people expect.
I have seen so much confirmation bias in brewing (including myself obviously) that I have no problem believing what you say is true.

I like those type of experiments, I really would love to taste a 100% rye beer just to know how it tastes.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I recently tried a "rye" ale to see what all the hype is about, and to me it just tasted like a decent beer. If it had been served to me without any mention of the rye, I would never have noticed or suspected anything out of the ordinary, as it tasted rather ordinary (meaning this in a good way). I was however quite disappointed that I could not taste the rye in it at all.

I recently bottled a ~6.5 gallon to the fermenter Kolsch for which I tossed a pound of flaked oats into the grist just to see what it would do, and I can't say that it did anything sans to make the run-off seem a bit sluggish and give it a noticeable and disappointing chill haze (which may also be from the WLP029 yeast). No noticeable mouthfeel or flavor enhancement, but it was admittedly only 7.7% of the grist.
 
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dmtaylor

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Rye is another one of those things where I think there's a little confirmation bias. I've made beers with plenty of rye (all the way to 100%) and had people taste them. Aside from the insane viscosity of a 100% rye beer no one has ever been able to tell that it was rye, only that there was something different about it. I've used any number of different types of rye (including American and German as there are those that swear up and down that German rye has that signature character) and so far no one has been able to peg it including several BJCP judges.

That being said, I use it in my big stouts and man does it up the mouthfeel once you start approaching 15-20%. I'd recommend rye over oats any day.

Also, just as a disclaimer, I'm not saying that rye doesn't have its own flavor, it most certainly does. I've just found that it doesn't have the flavor that people expect.
Exactly! Rye tastes like bread, and a little earthy. But it is not actually spicy the way most people think. I mean, rye bread that contains caraway seed tastes spicy from the caraway, but not from the rye.

I've used rye malt up to 40%, and noted the very full creamy head and mouthfeel. It also seems to add some gray color, but that might just as easily be from the rice hulls that I add along with it to prevent stuck runoff.
 

ong

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I have seen so much confirmation bias in brewing (including myself obviously) that I have no problem believing what you say is true.

I like those type of experiments, I really would love to taste a 100% rye beer just to know how it tastes.
I’ve got a 100% rye fermenting now. It’s kind of got the consistency of thin pudding, despite a lengthy beta-glucan rest. Hoping it thins out!
 

Silver_Is_Money

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If increased mouthfeel is the name of the game, and rye is the solution, should I preferably use rye malt or rye flakes? Will 10% of the grist be sufficient?
 

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Here is the grain bill from my most recent stout, which I call an Irish dry oatmeal stout. This one was brewed to OG 1.047, 4.8% ABV. It has plenty of smoothness, especially if allowed to warm to a more traditional serving temperature.

UK pale 70%
Flaked barley 9%
Flaked oats 7%
Roasted barley 7.3%
Carafa II 2.7%
Crystal 80L 4%
Yooper has a good oatmeal stout recipe I've had good results using 3 or 4 times.
I think the key to this having a rich full body (without being 'thick') is the flaked barley.

Oats give a creaminess to the beer, but not body. What I really like for that rich mouthfeel (but not sweet or thick!) is using Wyeast 1450 (Denny's Favorite) as the yeast strain.

In my recipe, between the oats (for slickness), flaked oat (for body and a rocky head) and that yeast strain (rich mouthfeel), I think it's very drinkable but not too thick or heavy.
 

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Interesting thread. I have an Oatmeal Stout that I have brewed many times. I do really enjoy it but have not been able to get the mouthfeel that I wanted. It is a 5 gal batch with 2 lbs of flaked oats and 1 lb of flaked wheat.

I have played around enough with mash temps to learn that it is not the easy switch that I once thought.

The one thing that I have found to have biggest impact on mouthfeel is ABV. Alcohol adds a lot of body/mouthfeel/sweetness to a beer. The problem is that I have jacked my recipe up to near 8% and I want to pull it back in to the 6.5% range.

I have not brewed this recipe since I started playing with water chemistry. I do believe that a water profile with a good amount of both Sulfate (~75 ppm) and Chloride (~100 ppm...maybe higher) will help.

I need to play around more with Flaked Barley (never used it before) and Carapils (I am not sure how much impact it really has) and other adjuncts (like Malted Wheat vs Flaked Wheat).
 

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I think the key to this having a rich full body (without being 'thick') is the flaked barley.

Oats give a creaminess to the beer, but not body. What I really like for that rich mouthfeel (but not sweet or thick!) is using Wyeast 1450 (Denny's Favorite) as the yeast strain.

In my recipe, between the oats (for slickness), flaked oat (for body and a rocky head) and that yeast strain (rich mouthfeel), I think it's very drinkable but not too thick or heavy.
+1 on Denny's. That yeast really makes it.
 

MaxStout

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Interesting thread. I have an Oatmeal Stout that I have brewed many times. I do really enjoy it but have not been able to get the mouthfeel that I wanted. It is a 5 gal batch with 2 lbs of flaked oats and 1 lb of flaked wheat.

I have played around enough with mash temps to learn that it is not the easy switch that I once thought.

The one thing that I have found to have biggest impact on mouthfeel is ABV. Alcohol adds a lot of body/mouthfeel/sweetness to a beer. The problem is that I have jacked my recipe up to near 8% and I want to pull it back in to the 6.5% range.

I have not brewed this recipe since I started playing with water chemistry. I do believe that a water profile with a good amount of both Sulfate (~75 ppm) and Chloride (~100 ppm...maybe higher) will help.

I need to play around more with Flaked Barley (never used it before) and Carapils (I am not sure how much impact it really has) and other adjuncts (like Malted Wheat vs Flaked Wheat).
Add 4 or 5% flaked barley in your next one and mash around 154-156F, that might help. You should be able to brew a rich, smooth OS without having to push the ABV into imperial stout territory. Try a Samuel Smith OS, it's rich and creamy at about 5%.
 

dmtaylor

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rhys333

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I’ve got a 100% rye fermenting now. It’s kind of got the consistency of thin pudding, despite a lengthy beta-glucan rest. Hoping it thins out!
Sounds... interesting. Like sipping from a spittoon! :inbottle:
 
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