The Stout Experiment: Rolled Oats vs. Flaked Barley vs. Flaked Rye vs. Flaked Wheat

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kinkothecarp

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This experiment was to test the performance of flaked rye, flaked barley, flaked wheat, and rolled oats in five batches of Stout. The recipe was as follows:

Original Gravity: 1.055
Final Gravity: 1.018
IBU: 36
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14days @ 65F

4# Extract
2# Pale malt
0.5# roasted Barley (350l)
0.75# chocolate (330l)
0.75# victory
0.5# crystal 40
0.5# crsytal 120
1# ________________
1oz Zeus @ 60 minutes

Mashed the 2# Pale at 156F for 60 min, took the pale out, then steeped the specialty grains for 30. Removed, brought to a boil, and added the extract and hops.


The 1#___________ has five combinations in each 5 gallon batch:
1# Rolled Oats
1# Flaked Barley
1# Flaked Wheat
1# Flaked Rye
.25# Rolled Oats, .25# Flaked Barley, .25# Flaked Wheat, and .25# Flaked Rye


I'll let you know what happens!
 

bknifefight

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Sounds like a cool experiment. I'm really surprised there were no replies on the day he made this post.
 
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kinkothecarp

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Ah, yes, I didn't see that people had responded. I brewed with three others - so we're going to taste them tonight, I'll talk with them, and we'll write down our opinions by tomorrow night!
 

TheDom

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I'm also curious to hear the results!

Another curiosity: why didn't just mash the pale malt and your specialty grains together? Limited kettle space?
 

prosper

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My bet on percieved body:

The Rye contributes the most body, and it's usual grainy rye flavour
The Oats come in second, but with a neutral flavour profile
The mix in 3rd
The barley 4th,
and the wheat in last place, with a slight doughy flavour contribution.

The overall favourite - too hard to call, depends on the individual preferences
 

kanzimonson

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I'm gonna actually take the controversial stance that there will barely be a difference in the beers. I think the rye and wheat will taste similar, and the oats and barley will taste similar. With all the other flavorful grains in this brew, there's not a lot of chance for the flavor of the flaked grains to shine through.

Looking forward to it.

And now that we've started giving you our thoughts, I reiterate the necessity of it being a blind tasting.
 
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kinkothecarp

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The Results:

Experiment
The beer was poured into J.K. Adams beer flight glasses and labeled only with a number by a dispassionate observer. A form that listed #1-#4 was given to each of the three brewers that asked for tasting notes and a guess for which ingredient went into each batch.

We omitted the mix.

Participant Background

Each of us has a fairly vast knowledge of beer (We've finished www.ratebeer.com's Top 50 Beer list together, GABF, greater than 500 samples each, etc.)

Person 1 and Person 3 formulate all the recipes we brew, Person 2 just gives us money, hangs out, and drinks with us while we brew. He helps us with the physical tasks, but doesn't know much about making recipes. However, he's the least picky of the three.

Person 1 has the least experience brewing, Person 3 has the most.

Person 2 is the most experience drinker - or at least he drinks the most.

I do admit, we make almost 80% of our beers with Rye, and don't use the other ingredients too often.

The following is the results from the score cards:

Person 1
#1 [Wheat]: Head lasted the longest of all those tested, distinct mellow taste, oily, but not as oily as #3.
Guess: Wheat
#2 [Rye]:This is the rye. Crisp, smooth, I know that taste. Rye.
Guess: Rye
#3 [Oats]:This is the best tasting of the three. Thick, oily, good mouthfeel, and the carbonation feels different than the others. It feels much thicker than the others, so this is what a stout should be.
Guess: Barley
#4 [Barley]: Head retention almost as good as #1, however, there is no distinct taste. Oily, but not as much as #1 or #3.
Guess: Oats

Person 2
#1 [Wheat]:Certainly a different taste, thick, tastes pretty good, head lasts a lot longer than the other, has a distinct taste, I can't tell if it's oats or wheat. Whatever it is, it is good.
Guess: Oats
#2 [Rye]:This one is the best. I love the crisp taste. It's perfect. Matches the burnt flavors very well. I bet it is the Rye. It's the best.
Guess: Rye
#3 [Oats]: This one is thick, second longest lasting head, it is pretty good, thick, it tastes like something, but I do not know it. Barely maybe. It is good.
Guess: Barley
#4 [Barley]: I am not sure, it tastes like #3. It is good.
Guess: Oats

Person 3
#1 [Wheat]: This one must be the wheat. It's thicker than normal, has a very distinct aroma, and tastes a little bit like wheat. The flavor is difficult to discern, but it's almost defiantly wheat. I'm 90% sure.
Guess: Wheat
#2 [Rye]: It's Rye. Obvious. I can't overstate the ability to tell what this one is.
Guess: Rye
#3 [Oats]:This one I'm not so sure about - it tastes like it could be either roasted barley or oats. It's thick creamy, head lasts a long time, I liked this one very much. It's easy to tell this from the others, this being superior. It's got a little bit of the Barney-Flats or Breckenridge thing going for it, so I'm guessing oats.
Guess: Oats
#4 [Barley]: This is a close second to #3. It's got a thick creamy head, albeit not as significant as the wheat, it's got a good smell - but not different from #3. It's well-balanced, but it's lacking the mouthfeel of #3.



Conclusion
I don't think that there is too big of a difference here. The rye is discernible, the wheat maybe, and the other two are VERY difficult. I think in a large pool of samples, the odds of us getting them right would be reduced drastically. Honestly, the last two were guesswork on the part of all three of us.
 

IowAve

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What a great idea! Do you guys have any similar experiments planned for the future?
 

chyunster

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I'm new to this forum - what a great experiment! I plan to use flaked barley in my next stout despite all the recipes that call for oats
 

pkeeler

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Any difference in the OG or FG of the batches? Did you pre-cook the oats? Were they instant oats or 5-minute?
 

Johnnyooze

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nice writeup! I like the idea of doing half batches with the idea of, say, adding or switching a couple of ingredients so you can get side by side results. its going to help train my pallet!
 

MVKTR2

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I'm planning a dry irish stout with rolled oats rather than flaked barley and was looking for comparisons when I came upon this. Seems the flavors from this small sampling tend to be the same or very close. However the oats added body while the barley did not or even thinned the body while both added head. I'm thinking a betaglucan/protein rest at around 120 for 15 minutes would do a lot to reduce viscosity imparted by the protein in the oats. Between that and a 148 mash temp getting the beer to be dry and fairly light bodied shouldn't be a problem. Thoughts?

An interesting note I've found in a few sources has been opinions of pro brewers differs quite a bit on the results flaked barley has upon a beer. The pros tend to treat it as adjunct for thinning the beer and adding a certain low-impact flavor character while homebrewers think of it as adding body and head with a similar view on flavor impact. Meanwhile both groups view oats/oatmeal similarly, a source of body and mild flavor impact.
 
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