Oatmeal Stout Part 1 Tasting Notes

November 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm


Oatmeal Stout Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a midnight black with a billowing tan head, quickly dissipates leaving behind minimal lacing.

Smell: Notes of chocolate and roasted barley dominate, sweet vanilla and coffee are also present.

Taste: Silky smooth from the get go, big chocolate and mild roast flavors are met with a moderate hop bitterness. Finishes semi sweet with hints of cocoa and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky and moderately carbonated.  Slightly hoppier then expected but still plays well with the darker specialty grains.

Drinkability & Notes: I was planning on adding two unique flavor combinations to the secondary, hence the Oatmeal Stout 2 Ways however due to some logistical challenges as well as the beer tasting pretty awesome as is I decided to veer of course from my original plan.

For me this beer encapsulates my favorite aspects of an oatmeal stout, specifically that silky smooth texture and chocolate flavors.  It has a great balance of  flavors and hops that work in concert to round out a classic oatmeal stout.

Next I’ll be adding a dry hop of cocoa nibs, bourbon soaked vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and some dried kung po peppers I grew this summer.  Im going to start with 8 oz of cocoa nibs and the vanilla bean.  As these flavors begin to reach their prime ill than add the cinnamon sticks and the Kung Po peppers.

Im pretty confident that this dry hop schedule should allow me to handle all of these moving flavor pieces in a civilized manner.  Based upon how the base beer tastes and some preliminary testing I have done I think these additions are really going to complement as well as tranform this beer and potentially put it on the next level status.

photo (3)

Pumptastic Porter

August 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Brewing pumpkin beers has become an annual right of passage for many homebrewers, myself included.  It marks the beginning of the end of summer, and the transition to the bigger, darker, maltier beers many of us prefer to drink during the fall and winter months.  There is a wide array of opinions when it comes to pumpkin beers, particularly if adding actual pumpkin is worth the extra effort (many argue that only the pumpkin spice is necessary)  I have always been a fan of using pumpkin in my beers, as you may have noticed by now, I take my brewing very seriously and don’t like to cut any corners perceived or not.

I decided to stick with the porter as the base beer for my pumpkin beer this year, as I really like the combination.  However, I decided to up the amount of pumpkin as well as fine tune the grain bill with a bit more speciality malts in an effort to hone in on that fresh, bready, pumpkin pie taste we have all come to love.

I have always added the Libby’s Pumpkin mixture directly to the mash water and grains but this year maybe the last time I go that route. I should have known that I was going to be in for it when I added the nearly 10 lbs of pumpkin to my mash water before adding a single ounce of grains.  I didn’t account for the additional volume of the pumpkin (first mistake), and wound up pulling off some of the mash water prior to doughing in to a level I felt comfortable with.  Upon adding the grains and rice hulls my pump ran great for about 10 minutes, before I had the dreaded stuck mash!  The addition of so much pumpkin, and in turn starches, to an already thick mash was to much for my system. The result was one of the worst stuck mashes I have ever had.

To make a long story short and much less profane, lets just say that I am now a firm believer in adding the pumpkin directly to the boil instead of the mash.  I’m hopeful that the additional pumpkin will be worth the trouble and come through in both mouthfeel and taste in the final beer, which should be a crowd favorite for my wedding.

Pumptastic Porter

Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.059
Est. Final Gravity: 1.019
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 29.2
Color: 25.9 SRM
Boil Time: 60Min

71.1% Maris Otter
8.9% Wheat Malt
6.1% Chocolate Malt
4.9% Munich II Malt
3.0% Carapils Malt
2.0% Amber Malt

.75 Oz Chinook (13.1% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
2 Oz Hallertaurer Mittelfrueh (4.0% AA) at 20 min
1.75 East Kent Goldings (4.06%AA) at 5 min
3 Cinnamon Sticks at 5 min
6 Whole Cloves at 5 min
1.75 tsp Nutmeg & Allspice

4 L Starter White Labs 011 European Ale

60 minutes at 154F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165F (Mash Out)


Added 9.4 lbs Libby’s Pumpkin to mash along with 1lb rice hulls.
Pumptastic Porter

Midnight Wit

February 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

As the doldrums of winter press on in the Northeast and I start to dream of the days when it will be warm enough to brew again, I thought I would crack into my recipe vault in search of some spring time seasonals for those of you lucky enough to either brew inside or live somewhere nice and warm.  Over the past two years or so dark versions of the popular beer styles have gained increased popularity especially the Black or Cascadian IPA and more recently the Black Lager.  Midnight Wit is my take on this concept, with the key to the recipe being the use of Weyermann’s Dehusked Carafa II during the last 10 minutes of the mash to get you the dark black color without any roasty astringent flavors.  Such flavors would clash with the fresh citrus and Belgian yeast aromatics that come to define the style.

As my memory serves this beer was extremely enjoyable and very close in flavor profile to a Hoegaarden minus the color of course.  It was while drinking this beer that I for the first time realized the effect color can have on perceived notion of taste and mouthfeel.  The light bodied wit beer appeared to taste heavy on the first sip, only after taking a few additional sips did I realize that it was in fact light and dry, and that the dark color had left my mind expecting a heavier fuller beer.  Nonetheless for those of you lucky enough to be brewing in preparation for spring I would encourage you to consider this recipe for a unique twist on a classic seasonal favorite.

Midnight Wit

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 16.1
Color: 19.3 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

30.6% American 2-Row
30.6% Belgian Pilsner
28.5% Wheat Malt
5.1% Carafa II (Added during the last 10 minutes of mash)
2.6% Flaked Oats
2.6% Flaked Wheat

2 Oz Hallertaur Mittelfrueh (4% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
2 Oz Styrian Goldings (2.6% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Orange Peel, Bitter at 5 min
2 Oz Coriander Seed at 5 min

3 L Starter of Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier

Mash at 150 for 60 minutes raise to 168 for a 10 minute mashout.

Midnight Wit

Great Lakes Christmas Ale Clone Tasting Notes

December 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

After some delay I was finally able to track down a bottle of the 2012 Great Lakes Christmas Ale at a local bottle shop in Philly.  Unfortunetly Great Lakes, along with many other fine Midwestern craft brewers do not distribute to New Jersey, but thats a topic for another post.

For this set of tasting notes I will be comparing the Great Lakes Christmas Ale Clone (clone) to the original Great Lakes Christmas Ale (GLCA) and highlighting the biggest perceived differences between the two.  After tasting the first sips of the original in close to a year I quickly remembered why this has become one of my favorite Christmas beers and I decided to brew a 10 gallon clone batch in the first place.

Tasting Notes Comparison:

Appearance: GLCA pours a dark orange, copper with a swiftly dissipating white head.  Clone pours a deeper shade of orange, bordering on brown with a much thicker head that dissipates just as quickly.

Biggest difference:  GLCA pours much lighter and has a subtle head that lasts well after the initial pour while the clone appears at least two shades darker and the head is non existant after a few minutes.

Smell: GLCA: swift pungent aroma of sweet malt and honey dominate.  Clone: subdued honey notes mixed with mild caramel and malt undertones.

Biggest difference: Depth of flavors, the GLCA is much more pungent most likely because it is fresher than my clone.

Taste: GLCA: Starts thin with a bready malt notes.  Finishes sweet with lasting notes of honey.  No hop flavors or bitterness present, mild carb bite.  Extremely sweet.  Clone:  Starts much thicker, strong malt backbone dominates initial sip, English malt notes are evident.  Carb bite about the same as the original with restrained  honey flavor lingering on the palate after the finish.

Biggest difference:  GLCA is much, much, sweeter with a malt profile that is much more defined and bready.  When the clone was younger the sweetness was much more defined but I do not think it ever reached the level of the original.  I prefer the clone in this regards as the GLCA is so sweet it boarders on being cloying.

Mouthfeel: GLCA:  Moderate carbonation, thin mouthfeel extremely sweet finish.  Clone:  Moderate carbonation, much maltier, much less residual sweetness.

Biggest Difference:  Mouthfeel and sweetness

Drinkability & Notes:  Both beers are extremely enjoyable and drinkable and they do a great job of masking the 7.5%-8.2% alcohol content.  I think the clone recipe is pretty close to the original, the substitutions I made to the original clone recipe are part of the reason some of the differences in my opinion, specifically the addition of the Golden Promise malt.  Furthermore the honey and spice flavors of the clone have faded over time and are much less than they were originally at the time of this tasting and comparison.  Overall I think the clone is very close to the original, especially if consumed fresh, as I remember the honey and spice being much more pronounced when fresh as they are in the original.

Biggest Difference:  GLCA is brewed by a top notch professional brewery, however because of that it also is quite pricey.  While the clone recipe has its short comings it still produced a hell of a beer that I have thoroughly enjoyed drinking over the past few weeks.  When you take into consideration the fact that you can brew a 10 gallon batch for the price of a case of the original, if you can find it that is, the clone becomes that much more attractive in my mind.


Great Lakes Christmas Ale Clone

October 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

One of the things I enjoy most about homebrewing is the exchange of ideas and information between fellow brewers, both in person and on online forums dedicated to the hobby.  I personally have taken advantage of fellow brewers willingness to help out on several occasions, whether it be troubleshooting problems, facilitating group buys, or sharing tried and true recipes.  This willingness to share doesn’t always stop at with the amateurs, in fact often times the pros offer advice and more importantly their recipes to some of our favorite beers commercial beers.

This was the case when Luke Purcell, brewer and field quality specialist for Great Lakes Brewing Company, confirmed the recipe for their highly touted Christmas Ale.  I made a few slight alterations to the original recipe which can be found here, based upon what I had at hand.  I added the Golden Promise to round out the 2-Row and used Styrian Goldings as a substitute for Hallertauer and Columbus for the Cascades called for in the orignial recipe.

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.077
Est. Final Gravity: 1.015
Est. ABV: 8.3%
IBU: 37.1
Color: 12.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

66.6% 2-Row
11.3% Golden Promise
7.5% Crystal 45
7.5% Wheat Malt
1.9% Special Roast
.1% Roasted Barley

3 Oz Styrian Goldings (5.5% AA) at 60 min
1 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 10 min
1 Oz Columbus (12.8% AA) at 15 min
6 Cinnamon Sticks at 5 min
2 Oz Fresh Ginger (peeled, cubed, and crushed) at 5 min
2 lbs 12 Oz Clover Honey at 5 min

3.94 L Starter of Wyeast 1028 London Ale Yeast

Mash at 154 for 60 minutes raise to 165 for 10 min mashout.

Pumpkin Porter

September 3, 2012 at 12:54 am

Tis the season……

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.061
Final Gravity: 1.016
ABV: 5.9%
IBU: 28.1
Color: 24.8 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

75.9% 2-Row Pale
10% Wheat Malt
6% Chocolate Malt
5% Crystal 80
3% Cara Pils

1 Oz Magnum (14.10% AA) at 60 min
1.3 Oz Stryian Goldings (6.1% AA) at 30min
1.3 Oz Willamette (4.7% AA) at 5min
3 tsp cinnamon at 5min
2 tsp Allspice at 5min
2 tsp Nutmeg at 5min
Couple of cloves at 5min

1.91 L Starter of White Labs 013 London Ale Yeast

Add 6 lbs libby’s canned pumpkin to mash Mash at 155 for 60 min. Raise to 165 for mash out.

Mash at 156 for 60 min


Orange Honey Wheat Ale

May 12, 2012 at 1:59 am

Batch Size: 11 Gallons
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.050
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.013
Estimated ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 35.1
Color: 5.6
Boil Time: 60 Min

39.5% (7 lbs 11.5 oz) Pale Malt 2-Row
30.7% (6 lbs) Wheat Malt
21.9% ( 4 lbs 4.5 oz) French Pilsen
5.4% (1lb l oz) Honey Malt
2.6% (.5 lbs) Oats

.25 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 60 min 5.7 IBU
.25 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 30 min 4.6 IBU
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 15 min 5.9 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 15 min 5.7 IBU
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 10 min 4.3 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 10 min 4.1 IBU
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 5 min 2.4 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 5 min 2.3 IBU
1.5 Oz Orange Peel Bitter 5 min
.5 Oz Citra (13.4 AA) @ 0 min 0 IBU
.5 Oz Columbus (12.8 AA) @ 0 min 0 IBU

White Labs 090 San Diego Super Yeast Cake

Mash @ 15 Degrees for 60 minutes mashout at 165 degrees