Real Fermenting: Aromatic Spice Stout

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Aromatic Spice Stout

Within the body of roasty oats and barley, there is spice at the heart of a stout ale. There are chocolate and caramel, coffee and molasses notes in those grains. Sometimes we add those literal items to accentuate the hints found in the base. This hopless ale doesn't attempt anything quite so obvious. Nutmeg, licorice, vanilla, bourbon and oak form the aromatic accents of this stout. 
Crystal and chocolate malts with home-roasted oats in the center

Roasting Oats

This stage has to be done a couple of weeks before your brew day to allow some vegetal notes to dissipate. For this recipe, I roasted 1/4lb of rolled oats at 350F until they were golden brown and smelled great. Store them in a cool dry place for two weeks until you are ready to brew.


For 3 gallon of ale:
3lb 8oz dry mat extract
8oz brown sugar
11oz chocolate malt
8oz crystal malt 60L
4oz toasted oats
3g wormwood
1g nutmeg
5g licorice
20g mugwort
1 sachet Nottingham ale yeast
2oz American oak chips
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
1 vanilla bean
3 gallons distilled water
Licorice, mugwort, wormwood and nutmeg

For a fuller description of good brewing practices see my post on the Holiday Wit or John Palmer's How to Brew or any intro guide to brewing. Boil the licorice, mugwort, wormwood and nutmeg in 2 quarts of water for 30 minutes. While this is boiling, steep the crushed grains and the roasted oats in 2.5 gallons of water (160F) for 30 minutes in your main kettle. Remove the crushed grains from the steeping water and add the herb decoction (straining out the herbs) to the main kettle. Bring all of this to the boil. Turn off the heat and add both the malt extract and the brown sugar and stir until they dissolve. Boil again for 20 minutes and then turn off the heat. Cool the wort to 70F as fast as you can. Add the wort to your fermenter and stir the yeast in vigorously for a couple of minutes to oxygenate the wort. Seal up the wort in your fermenter and fill the airlock with vodka. At this time your can start soaking your oak chips in the bourbon in a sealed container. You may steam or boil the chips if you are concerned about infection.
DME and brown sugar
After one week in the primary fermenter, it's time to transfer the ale over to secondary. At this point, add the oak chips and bourbon and the vanilla bean, which should be split open the contents scraped out before the whole lot is added. It should be around two weeks in secondary, but I'm going to be sample the ale to see how the oak level is. After bottling with 1/3 cup corn sugar or 1/2 cup DME, this ale will need a couple of months in the bottle for the bourbon and spices to mingle nicely. Exciting times!

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