How to plan a re-brew

So as a home brewer develops his or her brewing skills, the natural tendency is to start developing recipes. This task can be a little more nebulous than cooking, where results can be measured instantaneously. I decided to try my hand at creating a recipe for a stout that was somewhere in between a breakfast stout and an oatmeal stout, two of my favorite beer styles.


I love the coffee/chocolate notes from heavily kilned malts and the silky, almost vanilla like character that oats can contribute. Wandering about the grain room in the Milwaukee store as I build the grain mixes for our boxed extract kits gives me time to think amongst the specialty grains and come up with ideas for future batches. I decided to use every type of oat that we carry to create a triple oat breakfast stout. It made a pretty good beer, but now the hard work comes in deciding how to improve it.

Here’s the recipe:

Triple-oat Breakfast Stout

  • 8.5 lb Rahr 2-row
  • 1 lb Briess Organic roasted barley
  • 0.5 lb Briess Caramel 80
  • 0.5 lb flaked oats
  • 0.5 lb Fawcett oat malt
  • 0.5 lb Simpsons golden naked oats

Target OG 1.059
Single infusion mash at 153 F, 1 hour
Mashout 168 for 10 minutes

  • 0.75 oz Nugget hops (12.2% AA) 60 min
  • East Coast Ale (White Labs 008, 1 L starter)

At the time of writing, the beer has been in bottles for three weeks, after roughly six weeks of carboy aging. I now notice that the roast character has a great flavor, but the organic roasted barley only had a 300 L toast, so the color is more akin to a ruby porter – dark brown and slightly transparent. The oat flavors really shine through, and provide a thick, silky almost milk-shaky mouthfeel, which was the target. My hop choice, while common for a stout, produces a more bitter than expected finish in conjunction with the roasted barley.

So, now that the high and low points of the beer have been assessed, where do we go now? I’ve decided to revert back to Simpson’s roasted barley to achieve a more robust color and roast character. I’ve also decided to change my hop selection to an ounce of Fuggle, or possibly EKG. The yeast selection may change to Wyeast 1028, one of my favorites – the ester production from the higher temperature fermentation on the East Coast Ale was nice, but with the abundance of English ingredients in the malt bill, I may use an English yeast.

Unlike my cooking pedigree, waiting for results on a beer can take several weeks if not months, so developing your own beer recipes demands patience, good note taking, and plenty of tasting. Don’t rely on your own palette to make all the judgements, get your friends and fellow home brewers to taste your beers, the more viewpoints you seek out give you more opportunities to really create your own signature brews.