Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Comparing Oatmeal Stouts

In my solitude, thought I'd compare my Oatmeal Stout (scant 3 weeks in bottle) with a Samuel Smith's Celebrated Oatmeal Stout, keeping in mind that the poor British contender is doubtless suffering from his transatlantic travel... Though I did extract the one I bought from a cardboard box, eschewing the tortured, well-lit-shelf option.

The SS is considerably more translucent--held up to the light, it's very ruddy complected. Mine is far more opaque, for whatever reason, only a little reddish light comes in around the edges. My beer also has a darker head, with better retention (There's a healthy dose of Carapils and a little wheat in the recipe I used). The SS smells of coffee with little hints of dried fruit--perhaps a little bit of date. My beer's nose is a little fuller. There's less coffee, but a nice little delicate whoosh of estery fruitiness. I think it's more alcoholic too--actually, just checked the stats on SS in Michael Jackson--it's OG is only 1048, whereas the homebrew version started at 1071. That's slightly deceptive though, as the finishing gravity was relatively high too.

In this sense, it's kind of an apples and oranges comparison. The Samuel Smith's example is ultimately a little drier, definitely more poised and balanced, but occasionally seems thin when compared with the slightly creamier, more voluptuous (and fresher) homebrew. I prefer the tighter, drier finish of the SS, but the homebrew does linger nicely. Mine started with a More Beer kit, tweaked in two ways. I gave it an extra long boil, effectively jacking up the gravity. I also gave it a very light whole-flower Kent Goldings dry-hop (unmeasured: 1/3-1/2 ounce?), which I think I can perceive.

When I make up my own Oatmeal Stout recipe I think, I'll keep a relatively high gravity, perhaps 1065, but make sure it ferments a little drier, for a cleaner overall profile. I'll add even a little more dry hops, and I'll privilege those unfermentables which are think are giving that nice head and full mouthfeel, lending a sound malt base for the aromatics. All in all, a pretty successful homebrew though.


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