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Homebrewing a Cherry Oatmeal Stout We Call Cherry-O

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If you are a casual reader of Beer Loves Company then you no doubt know that we have been homebrewing quite often lately. We learned the art (or craft if you prefer) by brewing with other members of both homebrewing clubs to which we belong and by doing research as well as some experimentation. All of this knowledge and effort has been put into practice frequently over the past few months. The craft beer scene has been garnering increased interest seemingly every day with beer festivals, charity events and even breweries popping up like gremlins from Gizmo’s back after getting wet. If you don’t get that reference google Gremlins or better yet just watch the movie. This is the perfect time of year for a horror/Christmas movie mash up.

Now having a (modest) knowledge of brewing and experience under our belt we felt confident when we volunteered to brew a beer for the upcoming Babylon Lion’s Club 19th Annual Beer, Wine & Food Expo. What we didn’t know when we said we’d brew for the expo was that Karp’s Homebrewing and Hardware would contact us out if the blue to brew a beer for them to be served at Great South Bay Brewery‘s Punktoberfest (stayed tuned for more on that brew, the well received Sesh-on saison). So with a tight schedule ahead of us we set out to decide what we’d like to brew. Luckily Alicia had an idea or two in mind for the ale we’d produce to pour at the Brewer’s East End Revival (B.E.E.R.) homebrewing club table.

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Alicia is a fan of darker beers and stouts inparticular. Two beers which she enjoys are made by local craftbeer pioneers Blue Point Brewing Company. They are year round favorite Oatmeal Stout and welcome winter seasonal Sour Cherry Imperial Stout. Many of the beers and of course ciders we have been brewing so far have been on the lighter side of things. With these two dark, roasty and delicious beers as an inspiration we decided to search for a recipe which would allow us to create a brew of our own which would end up within the same league.

In scouring the many resources we decided to head back to a place many a homebrewer has found a winning recipe, Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. The Oatmeal Stout contained within this essential text became our starting point. With most of the other beers we have brewed we have enjoyed taking several twists and turns before we arriving at our final formula. With Cherry-O (thanks to Kevin’s mother for the name) however we decided to stay faithful to the design set forth in this homebrewing bible, for the most part. The grain bill sounded good to us but we thought adding Brown malt in place of Victory giving us some more roasted flavors and a pleasant bitter snap. We also had recently purchased a packet of Safale US-04 to use during a future brew and we thought it would do well in this recipe providing the background upon which our malts and other additions could shine. Having gone through the (shockingly) immense effort of harvesting, separating and drying local Cascade and Fuggle hops which we picked by hand we decided to use these instead of the recommended hops. We have used these same hops to great effect in several of our products recently and will be sad when we run out of them. The last tweak we decided to make was to add some Organic Black Cherry Juice which we purchased from Whole Foods.

Our brewing system currently consists of a 15 gallon kettle with a ball valve, a propane burner and plastic buckets for fermentation. We are lucky that our house has several rooms with varying temperatures (all suitable for fermentation). In our garage we set up the kettle and burner system, light the flame and brought the water up to temprature. At the same time we also had our flaked oats toasting in a 350 degree oven. We let those go for about fifteen minutes. When the oats were ready and the “mash” temperature was reached we clipped our nylon bag to the side of the kettle and poured our grain in, mixing along the way to break up any dough balls (clumps of grain with a dry inside). Stirring the grist helps to increase the surface area which introduces as much water as possible to the mash allowing for more a better conversion rate. Since we were using flaked oats we took the suggestion put forth in Brewing Classic Styles and used an extended mash of 90 minutes (most often the mash is around 60 minutes). After our mash was completed we moved our nylon bag to another vessel and raised our flame to bring our wort to a boil. Once reached we boiled for 60 minutes and added our hops, which we placed in a cheese cloth sack, in for the final 10 minutes. As of now we do not have a cooling method other than placing our wort filled fermentor into our sink in a bath of water filled with ice aerating before we do so. We let this sit over night until it reaches the pitching temperature of our yeast which we then rehydrate and add with some yeast nutrient too. The bucket was then placed in a section of our basement which maintains a temperature of 65-68 degrees for 10 days. On the 10th day we brought the bucket up and tasted the green beer to decide how much black cherry juice we would add. The amount ended up being 32 ounces into our 5 gallons of beer. The bucket was then recovered and moved back to the room for further fermentation and will be racked and kegged in the next day or so. What we have so far tastes very nice and we are hopefully it is only getting better.

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You can still purchase tickets for the 19th Annual Beer, Wine & Food Expo which will take place Thursday, November 7th at Chateau Le Mer in Lindenhurst. The Lion’s Club website is quite slow seemingly coming out of the past from a time when the interweb was known as the World Wide Web so you will have to be patient with it when ordering tickets. If you prefer you could also call the phone numbers listed in the flyer below for further information and to acquire your tickets. We have been told by several people that this is one of the best events of the year so we are looking forward to seeing what it is all about. The B.E.E.R. members will have several brews flowing for thirsty patrons to try. If you plan to attend make sure to come by and taste Cherry-O!

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CHERRY-O (OATMEAL CHERRY STOUT)

Grain Bill:
British Pale Ale 9.4 lb
Black Roasted Barley .5 lb
Crystal 80 .5 lb
Brown .75 lb
Chocolate .75 lb
Flaked oats 1 lb (toasted for 15 minutes at 350)

Hops: 2 oz hops (local Cascade & Fuggle blend)

Yeast: Safale US-04 & nutrient

MASH: 154 for 90 minutes (fluctuating between 154-160)
BOIL: 60 (Hops at 50)
FERMENT: 65-68
CARB 2-2.5 (our intended carbonation level)

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BLC Brewing

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