January 24, 2011

Tasting: Twa Oats Roastie

Hello, stout ... nice to see ya. It's been a long time; you're just as lovely as you used to be.

I'm sorry, Conway Twitty - that's your song, and this is an oatmeal stout.

Twa Oats Roastie? It's my own pidgin Scots for "Two Oats and Little Roast-flavored One."

The two oats in question are flaked oats and oat malt.

Flaked oats, being raw oat kernels first gelatinized and then roll-smashed into mash-ready flakes, give beer that velvety and creamy texture and full mouthfeel you want in an oatmeal stout; but they don't taste like much, especially when buried under an avalanche of roast malt flavors.

Oat malt is made from oat kernels that have been partially germinated and then kilned (malted - natch), and so have some diastatic power on top of oats' innate texture-creating properties; plus the kilning (4 Lovibond) gives oat malt a built-in grainy, toasty flavor that both cuts through and enhances the chocolate-and-coffee roast character of stout.

The inspiration for the recipe came from Maclay's Oat Malt Stout, of which many a pint was enjoyed by your author in his formative beer nerd days. Sadly it's no longer brewed, so like so many other defunct and rare beers, we homebrewers have to take matters into our own hands. However, I never set out to clone it - Maclay's Oatie Maltie Roastie was a jumping off point, much like Mr. Twitty's song was for the opening to this post. Thanks again, Conway.

Twa Oats Roastie
10.5 gallons, all-grain
OG 1.053

  • 153 F 60"
  • 168 F 10"
  • 2 oz Centennial (whole, homegrown) @ 60"
  • 2 oz Liberty (whole, homegrown) @ 20"


Half of the batch is still in the carboy, making friends with 6 oz of cacao nibs; more on that later. But here are my impressions on the half currently on tap in Schloss Dawson:

Looks: Black. Like a stout. It's clear though ... garnet-red when held up to a bright light.

Smells: Kinda hard to believe the cacao nibs aren't in this batch - very chocolatey, with a balance of burnt roast, baking bread (thanks NeoBritannia!), and toasty oatmeal backing it up.

Tastes: Roasty from front to back (predominantly baking chocolate and light roast coffee) with the dark malts' acidity pairing with hops to square off with all that oat-, Maris Otter, and yeast-derived nutty sweetness. Sweetness almost wins out, but a bitingly bitter last-minute rabbit punch from the roast malts at the very finish makes it tough to call. 

Texture: Vvvvelvety, dense, but the roast malt acidity keeps it from seeming like one is drinking a pint of whole wheat bread.  

--- update:

The second half of the batch - Twa Oats Nibbie-Roastie. After six weeks' intimate contact with cocoa nibs in the secondary, my Scottish-accented double oatmeal stout was nitrogenated, and now is on what I believe to be the keg's penultimate pint. So I figured I better make with the tasting notes while that is still possible:

looks: jet with garnet edges and what a sticky, dense head ...

smells: the nitro dampens the bouquet, moreso for the roast grain than the oat malt, interstingly - comes through  more biscuity than roasty. Reminds me of Central American coffee sweetened with demerara and Nutella on whole wheat toast. How's that for pretentiously specific?

tastes: crusty, crunchy oats and crackers with baking chocolate and a hint of yeasty fruit which comes on stronger towards the end, giving way to a drying and roasty/100% cacao chocolate bar-like finish

texture: creamy, luscious, dense, and silky

And as a corollary, last week I conducted an experiment I've long wanted to try: I pulled a doppio espresso (the Peace Coffee blend) in a shot glass, then dropped the shot glass into a pint glass and poured stout on top of it. Real-time coffee stout - it was transcendent. The 1.5 oz of hot liquid exhorted new intensity from the stout while at the same time infusing it with incredible bittersweet chocolate and caramel notes and a very fresh coffee character.


  1. Been looking an Oat Stout to make this spring for next winter, looks like I found a great one to try. The tasting notes sound like exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks.