Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 3:41 am

I brew an oatmeal stout every year as cold weather arrives. This year I am think of splitting my 10 gallon batch and adding oak and possibly vanilla to one carboy. Anyone have any luck with this? Do the chips and vanilla pod have to be soaked in star San before adding to the fermentor? My original thought was to just add the oak but then thought the vanilla could add a nice touch.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:02 am

For the vanilla I'd say sanitize that in some way, like a neutral grain alcohol or StarSan. I made the mistake of putting unsanitized beans straight into 2.5 gallons of a very nice robust porter while the other 2.5 got coffee. I tried the vanilla porter with a few friends of mine one day and nearly smacked the glasses out of their hands when I tasted how infected it was. A very unpleasant sourness. The coffee porter turned out great.

I haven't tried oak but I'd guess the same thing. Either way make sure to dump the full contents (sanitizer and beans/oak) into the beer so you don't lose any flavor.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:13 am

KiltedDrummer wrote:For the vanilla I'd say sanitize that in some way, like a neutral grain alcohol or StarSan..


Vodka/Everclear work great for sanitizing vanilla/wood. I would NOT use StarSan here.
By steeping it in a neutral alcohol, you can dump the goodies into your batch and keep all the flavor.

One other thing you can do is steam your oak chips before adding them,
but that kind of defeats the purpose as it pulls a lot of flavors/aromas out of the wood and they escape in the steam/water.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:32 pm

BDawg wrote:
KiltedDrummer wrote:For the vanilla I'd say sanitize that in some way, like a neutral grain alcohol or StarSan..

I would NOT use StarSan here.


Wouldn't StarSan and alcohol have the same effects on sanitization and flavor/stability when it's added along with the vanilla/oak? I've been racking on top of StarSan foam when I transfer into my fermentor so I hope I haven't been shooting myself in the foot.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:59 pm

KiltedDrummer wrote:
BDawg wrote:
KiltedDrummer wrote:For the vanilla I'd say sanitize that in some way, like a neutral grain alcohol or StarSan..

I would NOT use StarSan here.


Wouldn't StarSan and alcohol have the same effects on sanitization and flavor/stability when it's added along with the vanilla/oak? I've been racking on top of StarSan foam when I transfer into my fermentor so I hope I haven't been shooting myself in the foot.


That foam, condensed back down into liquid form is a tiny amount. The amount of StarSan you'd need to sanitize something like a vanilla bean would be much greater. Many pros won't even trust the foam, but it's generally accepted that the tiny amount is okay, but not desired. In other words you don't want any more of it than you absolutely have to.

BDawg wrote:One other thing you can do is steam your oak chips before adding them,
but that kind of defeats the purpose as it pulls a lot of flavors/aromas out of the wood and they escape in the steam/water.


What I like to do is add the bare minimum amount of water & boil the snot out of them. Then I add the whole kit & kaboodle... and the wood. I'm not sure what the kaboodle is, but I think it's a great addition to the flavor profile.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:17 pm

Everything Oz said was what I was thinking. You don't want to dump in a non-trivial amount of StarSan (foam is ok).
You can also let the stuff soak in the alcohol without fear of it losing effectiveness. StarSan will become ineffective when the pH gets out of range (? 2.5? 3? I can't remember).

Also, his solution of using a minimum amount of water when steaming is good and avoids the dilution problem I was thinking about without losing all the goodies that you'd lose if you just threw all the water away.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:13 pm

BDawg wrote:Everything Oz said was what I was thinking. You don't want to dump in a non-trivial amount of StarSan (foam is ok).
You can also let the stuff soak in the alcohol without fear of it losing effectiveness. StarSan will become ineffective when the pH gets out of range (? 2.5? 3? I can't remember).

Also, his solution of using a minimum amount of water when steaming is good and avoids the dilution problem I was thinking about without losing all the goodies that you'd lose if you just threw all the water away.


Even though you leach a little out of the wood, it's still in the water :)

I find the smallest pot I can that'll take the chips as a single layer in the bottom. A little bit of overlap is fine. Then I add just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, throw on a lid, hold your boil for 8-10 minutes. Keep in mind that I live at a pretty high altitude, so you may have to adjust the amount of water, but I still wouldn't boil/steam for any less time. The key is to have the majority of the chips still submerged after you're done - the tips poking up are fine. Adjust how much water you start with for your altitude.
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Re: Oatmeal stout

Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:43 pm

I used about three whole vanilla beans added to the fermentor for a pumpkin ale. I boiled them in 1/2 cup of water in a really small saucepan for about 5-10 minutes, chilled it and added the vanilla and water to the fermentor 24 hours before bottling. It added a hint of vanilla to an amber pumpkin ale (Papazian's grain bill and JZ spices) and had no infection. If I were to do this to a stout if either add the vanilla a few days earlier or just use more vanilla bean. Probably the latter.
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