January 28, 2013

Wakey Wakey Coffee Oatmeal Stout

Today is "vacation day" for bar prep, which means it's the one day in nine weeks they don't schedule additional learning and we are encouraged to take the day off. It's a nice idea but I've been sick twice during my class and feel I'm a bit behind so I'm not taking the day off, I'm just going to take the day to try to get caught up. However, I do need some time to think about something other than the rule against perpetuities and the M'Naghten rule for criminal insanity defense. So I'm going to brew a one gallon batch of beer that I have been trying to find time to brew since late December when I first got sick.

I conceptualized this beer while hiking in the Rockies last summer with my wife and a couple friends. I was thinking about some of the breakfast stouts out there and how we have zero breakfast stouts available locally in Dallas so it would be interesting to try, especially since I've never played with adding coffee to beer although I love coffee and I love coffee beers.

You burned it you donkey!
My wife and I are big fans of Gordon Ramsay and his shows. After Hell's Kitchen has been on for like a million seasons I still find it entertaining enough to watch. Actually, the English versions of his shows are the best. He is both funny and acrid but also the shows focus a lot more on the food than the Fox versions of the shows that focus more on the interpersonal drama. There are many good Ramsay quotes but one thing I really enjoy is when he wants somebody to focus he tells them, "wakey wakey" which I thought was a great name for a breakfast stout. One of our friends pointed out that "wakey wakey, hands of snakey" is also a common line from the My Name is Earl sitcom.

I thought up this beer being slightly different than the typical breakfast stouts in a couple ways. First, many breakfast stouts tend to be bigger beers but I'm on a solid session(ish) beer run so I wanted to make this beer a little smaller than those but bigger than the very sessionable Guinness-style dry Irish stouts. Second, many breakfast stouts employ chocolate along with oats and coffee but I thought I would leave the chocolate out and see how the beer works without it. A future rendition might bring in the chocolate. I've also seen some of these beers enjoy the presence of vanilla and other additions but I thought starting simple made the most sense.

I struggled to pick a method for adding coffee to this beer. There are many methods out there that range from adding coffee or coffee beans to the boil at flameout to adding cold coffee or hot coffee to the bottling bucket and just about every way imaginable to add coffee to the fermentor. I want good, fresh coffee flavor but I also want to make sure I'm not allowing the coffee to be a vessel for infections to enter my beer. So I took a combination of steps to try to meet both goals. The Mad Fermentationist recently posted a similar breakfast stout where he added the coffee beans directly to the fermentor prior to kegging and indicated that was a good way to get long lasting, fresh coffee flavor. (Who am I to disagree with him?) I decided before adding the coffee I would give them a soak in a small amount of vodka for about four hours prior to adding them to the fermentor just as a preventative measure to reduce the likelihood of infection. I will let the beer sit on coarsely chopped coffee beans for twenty four hours and then bottle.

So with that in mind, here comes the recipe:

Wakey Wakey Coffee Oatmeal Stout


Batch size: one gallon
Est. ABV: 4.83%
Est. OG: 1.050
Est. FG: 1.013
IBU: 18.2
SRM: 35.7

Grain Bill:

72.13% 1.32lb. Maris Otter
10.93% 0.20lb Quick Oats
6.56% 0.12lb Chocholate malt (450 SRM)
6.56% 0.12lb Roasted Barley (300 SRM)
3.83% 0.07lb Crystal 120

The Mash:

Single infusion of 0.57 gallons at 165F for a 154F 60 minute mash
Sparge with 0.71 gallons of water at 174F

Water profile: London (ish)

Calcium: 69
Magnesium: 22
Sodium: 85
Chloride: 50
Sulfate: 40
Alkalinity: 235

(RO water plus 0.5 grams of chalk, calcium chloride and 1.5 grams baking soda)

The Boil: 60 minutes

0.20oz EKG (5% AA)

The Fermentation:

Yeast: Safale S-04 slurry

Pitch at 65F and remain at 65F for one week, raise to 70F for two days.
On day nine, prepare 0.30oz coffee beans by hand chopping with knife. Soak in small amount of vodka for four hours then add vodka and beans to fermentor for 24 hours.

Bottle with 0.95oz priming sugar for 2.6 volumes of carbonation. Bottle condition for 2-3 weeks.

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I neglected to use a mid-range crystal malt here because I wanted the grains to give more presence to the chocolately character and less to the sweeter, caramel notes a mid-range crystal malt will provide. Additionally, I chose a coffee with a lighter roast that carries a sweeter, nutty flavor, so I wanted to leave an open space in the flavor profile for the coffee to come through without getting tangled up in crystal malts. I am not always a fan of really dark roasts because they can be a little too acrid and miss some of the more gentle toffee/nut/caramel/vanilla flavors you can find in a medium or mild roast. I think most brewers tend to use a darker roast coffee in their beers but it can lend an acridness and acidity to the beer I don't always enjoy.

The coffee I chose is one of my favorites and almost always found in my house. I am using Coffee Beanery's Beanery Blend. Coffee Beanery is a chain coffee house that sadly was squeezed out of the area by Starbucks. The only way I can get the coffee is by ordering it, so I order it quite a bit. They make really good flavored and non-flavored coffee beans. I might be biased after years and years of drinking their coffee but I generally prefer them over most of the local coffee houses because they seem to take the approach that more extreme is better (similar to the IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPA or 8000% ABV stout trends in beer) and end up making coffee that has an assertive but single note flavor with too much acidity. Sorry, not trying to turn this into a coffee rant. Just explaining the choice of coffee.

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