This recipe appears in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” Learn more at mashmakerbook.com.
It’s a bitter world out there, and that was especially apparent during the holidays. Cold weather, long nights, crass consumerism and cynical marketing, the parking lots and interiors of retail establishments like a vision of the End Times or a Hieronymous Bosch painting. All this put me in the mood for something sweet, strong, and comforting. Although many of us may be picturing Ryan Gosling after that sentence, what I am actually talking about is a high-gravity sweet stout.
As previously mentioned, sweet stout (which sometimes does business as “cream stout” or “milk stout”) and its close cousin oatmeal stout are members of a family of “nourishing” dark beers: full of B-vitamins and carbohydrates, relatively low in alcohol. We’re going to obey the spirit of that law if not the letter, and go ahead and ensure our high-gravity fermentation produces a healthy level of Christmas cheer.
What makes it tick
We’re essentially going to pack a little extra holiday weight on a basic sweet stout/oatmeal stout frame. First, extra helpings of base malt to overshoot the stylistic original gravity by a good bit. Then a double whammy of flaked oats and a good percentage of crystal malt in the grist, plus lactose (a milk-derived sugar with low fermentability) in the boil will collectively create a silken texture, full body, and chewy, viscous finish.
It’s a stout, so obviously we need a healthy amount of roasted grains for the black color and required roasty, espresso-like quality. The baking-chocolate character of these roast malts, combined with a single hop addition at the start of the boil and a final alcohol content somewhere around 7–8% ABV will bring some needed balance to the bittersweet equation.
A recipe to try:
Oatmeal-Cream Double Stout
Target OG: 1.072
Target IBU: 35–40
8.5 lbs English Pale Ale malt, such as Maris Otter, Golden Promise, Halcyon , etc.
1 lb flaked oats
14 oz Perla Negra, Blackprinz, or Debittered Black malt (see notes, below)
14 oz Pale Chocolate Malt
10 oz Crystal 120
1 lb Lactose
1 oz Nugget
Your favorite stout yeast—for me, there’s no option for a full-bodied oatmeal or cream stout except 1318 London III.
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