Style Guide For Brewing Brown Ales

Home Brewed Brown AleGenerally speaking, brown ales are relatively mild and malt-forward beers that pair well with many different foods. Sometimes brown ales are nutty. This is from the character of the malted barley being used. Whether you prefer the classic, English version or the slightly more hoppy and robust American-style, brown ales make for good drinking. And without a doubt, brewing brown ales is well worth the effort.

You could try brewing an English brown ale from a kit, or follow a brown ale beer recipe, but sometimes it’s fun to develop your own beer recipe. Here are some guidelines and suggestions for brewing your own brown ale:

Style Guidelines For Brewing Brown Ales

  • ABV: Brown ales tend to be fairly sessionable, usually 4.2 – 5.4% alcohol by volume. American brown ales go as high as 6.2% ABV.
  • IBUs: English brown ales range from 20-30 IBUs. Again, American versions tend to push the envelope a bit, reaching 40 IBUs or higher.
  • Color: Northern English versions are copper to light brown in color, 12-22 degrees on the SRM color scale. Southern English and American brown ales reach as high as 35 SRM.

Water Treatment For Brewing Brown Ales

If brewing English brown Ale, try to recreate the hard water of the UK. To simulate a beer from Burton-on-Trent, use some gypsum and calcium carbonate, or Burton water salts. A brew from London will be high in sodium (100 ppm) and fairly high in carbonate (160 ppm). Note: You should know the mineral content of the water you’re brewing with before you start amending it.

Typical Grain Bill For Brewing Brown Ales

  • All-Grain: As with many beers, a standard 2-row malt will be the foundation (70% or more) of your brew’s grain bill. A US 2-Row Malt will work, or try using Maris Otter for an English Brown. Chocolate Malt is the next most important component of the grain bill and will lend the beer a somewhat roasty, slightly bitter chocolate flavor. You don’t need a lot: 4-8 oz. for a 5 gallon batch should be sufficient (less if using other kilned malts). You may also wish to use up to 1 lb. of Crystal Malt, and maybe a pinch (2 oz. or less) of Roasted Barley if you’d like a more roasty beer.Shop Steam Freak Kits
  • Extract: If brewing with extract, use a combination of light and dark malt extracts or 100% Amber Extract. Definitely consider steeping a little chocolate malt with some lightly kilned crystal malt. Note: Steeping even a little chocolate malt will add a lot of color. To keep your beer brown and not black, steep at most about 4 oz. of chocolate malt.

Adjuncts For Brewing Brown Ales

You may want to consider using a pound or so of brown sugar or a ½ pound of molasses for color and complexity.

Hops For Brewing Brown Ales

If brewing an English brown ale, stick with the classics: East Kent Goldings or Fuggles. For American brown ales, use primarily US-grown varieties. Consider finishing with Cascade, America’s most popular hop.

Yeast For Brewing Brown AlesShop Liquid Malt Extract

For an English Brown Ale, consider using Wyeast’s #1098 British Ale or #1028 London Ale. Nottingham is a good dry beer yeast. If brewing an American brown ale, try Safale US-05 or Wyeast’s #1056 American Ale. Or, if you want to get really creative, use a Belgian Ale Yeast to make it a Belgian brown ale!

So do you have a good Brown Ale recipe? What flavors do you look for when brewing brown ales?
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Beer Recipe of the Week: Newcastle Brown Ale Clone

New Castle Brown AleConsidered by some to be the quintessential northern English brown ale, Newcastle was at one time the best-selling bottled beer in the UK. The beer, now ubiquitous throughout the US, was originally brewed in 1927 at Newcastle Upon Tyne. It’s a reddish-brown ale that highlights nutty malt flavor.

Though Newcastle is now brewed by the macro-brew powerhouse Heineken, many craft beer drinkers remember it fondly as a “gateway beer” to other traditional beer styles from around the world. Brew this Newcastle clone beer recipe and rediscover your love for brown ales!

Newcastle Brown Ale: Ingredients and Procedures

  • Malt – The key component in this brown ale is the crystal malt. The mid-range crystal 60°L malt is responsible for the nutty flavor in the beer. Small amounts of chocolate and black malt contribute color and a hint of dryness.
  • Hops – The classic English hop, East Kent Goldings, is used mostly for bitterness. Some hop flavor should be detectable, but will not overpower the malt.
  • Yeast – English ale yeast for this style of beer is essential. In the traditional brewing of this beer, the brewers would actually brew two separate beers, one high-gravity and one low-gravity. The high gravity beer would encourage the yeast to produce more fruity esters, which can then be blended down by the lower gravity beer. This is a lot of extra work for the homebrewer and is completely optional. It’s not impossible to do, but you’ll need an extra fermenter. It will be easiest if you’re using the all-grain method, taking the first runnings for a high-gravity boil, and the second runnings for the low-gravity boil. Then ferment the beers separately and blend them together at bottling time. (Again, this is completely optional.)

The beer recipe below is modified from the American Homebrewers Association. It was original printed in Zymurgy Magazine.

Newcastle Brown Ale Clone Beer RecipeShop Dried Malt Extract
(5-gallon batch, extract with specialty grains)

OG: 1.049
FG: 1.012
ABV: 4.8%
IBUs: 26
SRM: 15

5.5 lbs. light dry malt extract
12 oz. Crisp 60L crystal malt
4 oz. torrified wheat
1.5 oz. black malt
1.5 oz. Crisp chocolate maltShop Hops
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :90
1 oz. Kent Goldings hops at :30
1 tsp. Irish moss at :15
Fermentis Safale S-04: English Ale Yeast
corn sugar for priming

Heat about 3 gallons of clean, chlorine-free water to 150˚F. Place crushed grains in a grain bag and steep for 30 minutes. Discard grains and bring wort to a boil. Remove from heat, and stir in the malt extract. Return to a boil, taking care to avoid a boilover. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and Irish moss according to schedule above. At the end of the boil, chill wort to 70˚F or boil. Add enough cool, chlorine-free water to make five gallons of wort. Mix well with a sanitized spoon to aerate, then pitch yeast. Ferment at 65-70˚F. When fermentation in complete, bottle with priming sugar and cap. Beer will be ready to drink in 2-3 weeks.

Do you have a Newcastle brown ale clone beer recipe you’d like to share? Just leave it in the comments below.

David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

Home Brewing With Oats

Oats for Home BrewngLike barley, wheat, and rye, oats are a cereal grain that can be used in home brewing. It would be difficult to make a desirable beer from 100% oats, but nonetheless oats often find their way into a number of beer styles, especially the oatmeal stout. They can be used to add smooth, silky body and oat flavor to just about any beer style. Oats help with head retention, but may contribute a bit of cloudiness. Here’s more information on home brewing with oats…

Oats are found in a number of Belgian and farmhouse styles, namely saisons and witbiers (as in the Brewcraft Belgian Witbier Recipe Kit).

When home brewing with oats you will find that they are typically found in one of three forms: raw, flaked, or malted. As you might have guessed, raw oats are unprocessed. They have to be cooked prior to mashing in order to extract any fermentable sugar from the grain. Flaked oats are the most common form of oats used in brewing. They are gelatinized as they are pressed through heated rollers, allowing brewers to extract their fermentable sugars by adding them directly to the mash. Malted oats are malted in much the same way that barley is, but they are not very common.

It should be noted that oats are technically gluten-free, so they could possibly be used to make gluten-free beer, perhaps in combination with sorghum, rice, or corn. The only hitch is that oats are often processed on shared equipment with wheat. If making a beer for someone with a severe gluten allergy, only use oats that are certified gluten-free.

Home Brewing Your Own Oatmeal Stout…

If you’ve never try home brewing with oats before, one could place to start is with an oatmeal stout. Oatmeal stouts became popular in England, so it stands to reason to use English ingredients when crafting our recipe. Start with two cans of Munton’s Light Malt Extract.

Next, we’ll derive color and flavor from some specialty malts. Try between 4 and 12 ounces each of Roasted Barley, Chocolate Malt, and Caramel 80L. Extract brewers can steep the grains, all-grain brewers can added them directly to the mash, or partial mash brewers can do a mini-mash with an equal amount of base malt. Add 4 to 16 oz. of flaked oats, or up to 10% of the total grain bill. You’ll find when home brewing with oats that this about the typical amount called for.Shop Home Brew Starter Kit

For the hops, we’ll want to use an English variety. Fuggles would be a good choice. The BJCP calls for 25-40 IBUs, so about 2 ounces of hops should do the trick. This beer should have little to no hop aroma or flavor, so add most (or all) of the hops at the beginning of the boil.

Finally, in the yeast department, English ale yeasts are the way to go and there are many good ones to choose from. Any of the following dry yeasts would give relatively clean flavors: Munton’s, Nottingham, Safale S-04. Wyeast 1084: Irish Ale will give more fruity esters, especially if fermented at warmer temperatures.

Have tips for home brewing with oats? Share in the comments!
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the IBD.

What Is Malted Barley?

Maltster making malted barley.Malted barley is one of the four essential building blocks of beer. (The other three are water, hops, and yeast.) Most commercial beer is made with malted barley, though some beers are made with wheat malt, rye malt, and other cereal grains. So, what is malted barley?

Barley is a grass that comes in a 2-row or 6-row variety, which corresponds to way the grains are arranged around the barley stem. Barley grains (also called corns) are the seeds of the plant that in optimal conditions will grow into a plant. The corns store energy in the form of starch, a complex sugar, so that the plant can grow.

These sugars are what brewers use to make beer. The grain provides the sugar that feeds the yeast, which in turn converts the sugar into alcohol and CO2. But before these sugars can be used, they must be made accessible through a process called malting.

The Malting Process
Malting the barley is a three-step process carried out by a professional maltster. Using a variety of barley grown specifically for making beer, the maltster creates conditions that encourage the barley corns to grow, then kilns the barley corns before they have a chance to grow into plants:

  1. Steeping – The maltster soaks the barley in large steeping tanks, aerating the malt and maintaining a constant, cool temperature that discourages microbial growth. The water is periodically replaced, which gives the barley a chance to breathe.
  1. GerminationShop Home Brew Starter Kit – The barley is then moved to the floor where it is allowed to sprout. During this phase, enzymes are activated in the barley. The enzymes begin to break down the cellular structure of the grain, which makes the starches accessible for conversion into fermentable sugars. The barley will typically be turned regularly to prevent the rootlets, or “chits,” from getting tangled. The degree to which the barley is allowed to grow is called “modification.”
  1. Kilning –  The final step in malting the barley is the kilning. The maltster kilns the grain to stop the growing process, which preserves the starches and the enzymes for use in brewing. Depending on the style of malt produced, grains are kilned between 175-400°F. This step introduces color and flavor to the malt as the proteins and sugars are heated in the kiln.

Common Types of Malted Barley

Malted barley is generally categorized by color and given a Lovibond number rating between 1 and 500 to rate the color (1 being pale; 500 being black). These are several of the most common malted barleys:

  • Pilsen Malt – This very lightly kilned malted barley is ideal for lagers, but can also be used as base grain for ales. (1° Lovibond)
  • 2-Row Malt – A very common base malt for ales and lagers. 2-Row malt typically contains more fermentable sugar and less protein than 6-Row malt. (1.8° Lovibond)
  • 6-Row Malt – 6-Row is often used for lagers for its grainy flavor. 6-Row barley is primarily grown in the US. (1.8° Lovibond)
  • Vienna Maltshop_malted_grains – Vienna malt is kilned slightly more than Pilsen and 2-Row malts, but it still works well as a base malt. It is recommended for use in Pilsners and Vienna-style lagers. (3.5° Lovibond)
  • Munich Malt – Munich malt is a well-modified malt that lends a sweeter, maltier flavor than the lighter malts. It is ideal for amber ales, Märzen lagers, and dark lagers. (10° Lovibond)
  • Crystal Malt – A wide range of malted barleys are kilned at higher temperatures and called crystal, or caramel malts. They range from 10 to 120 degrees Lovibond, contributing significant color and sweet caramel flavor. (10-120° Lovibond)
  • Chocolate Malt – Chocolate malt is often used (in moderation) for brown ales, porters, and stouts. It contributes a chocolate-like flavor and aroma to beer; it is not actually made with chocolate. (350° Lovibond)
  • Black Malt – Black malt has been kilned nearly to the point of burning. It provides roasty, astringent bitterness and very dark color to stouts and other dark beers. Very little needs to be used to get the desired effect. (500° Lovibond)

Want to learn more about malted barleys? This book is a great resource if you want to learn more about malts or homebrewing in general: Homebrewing for Dummies

Now that you know the answer to the question: “what is malted barley?”, what are some of your favorite malts for brewing beer at home? And, what brews do you use them in?
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

A Simple Guide To Brewing With Adjunct Grains

Rolled Brewing AdjunctsIn 1516, Reinheitsgebot, also known as the German Beer Purity Law, was put into effect. To alleviate competition between producers of barley, wheat, and rye, it limited beer ingredients to only barley, water, and hops (yeast hadn’t been discovered yet!). Though some brewers choose to brew within these strict guidelines, many prefer to experiment and use more than just barley in their brews.

There are many styles of beer that require grains other than malted barley, including certain styles of Belgian Ale, English Ale, and yes, even German beers. The grains used in these beers are often referred to as adjunct grains:

  • Wheat – Wheat is mandatory brewing adjunct if you want to brew your own Hefeweizen or American Wheat Beer. Adventures in Homebrewing carries Red Wheat Malt, White Wheat Malt, and Wheat Malt Extract to lend your homebrew wheat flavor and body. Use 50-75% wheat malt in your grain bill for Weizenbier, or 1-2% to help head retention in any beer style.
  • Rye – Want to brew your own Rye Pale Ale or German Roggenbier? Briess Rye Malt contributes a unique, spicy and grainy flavor reminiscent of bourbon. You’ll want to use this brewing adjunct grain sparingly, as rye has a tendency to stick together in the mash kettle. You’ll rarely see more than 10-20% of malted rye in a grain bill (3.7° Lovibond). Another option is Flaked Rye, which gives the crisp, dry rye flavor, but with more body and more extractable sugar than malted rye.
  • OatsShop Brewing Kettles –  If you want to brew an Oatmeal Porter or Oatmeal Stout, you have to use oats! Regular, unmalted, whole-grain oats contribute flavor and head retention to your brew, but not much fermentable sugar. Flaked Oats are pre-gelatinized to make their starches accessible as fermentable sugar, but they’ll also do wonders for head retention and body. Oats are often included in some Belgian beers, such as the ever popular Witbier.
  • Corn – Corn, or maize, when used as a brewing adjunct must be cooked, then mashed with barley malt to extract fermentable sugars. Flaked Corn is pre-gelatinized, making starches accessible, and can be added directly to the mash. Corn adds essentially no color to beer, but contributes some sweet, corn flavor. It’s primarily used in American Light Lagers, certain Pre-Prohibition style beers, and traditional South American chicha.
  • Rice – Rice, usually in the form of rice syrup, is often added to American Light Lagers in place of malted barley because it’s cheap and doesn’t contribute much flavor or color. Flaked Rice accomplishes the same task, resulting in a dry, crisp beer. Rice Hulls are often added to brews made with a lot of wheat or rye to avoid a stuck mash.

Certainly, there are other brewing adjunct grains that you could play around with and put in their beer, but this list comprises the majority of what you’ll find called for in home brewing recipes.

What is your favorite adjunct grain you like to use in your beers?
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Boost Your Beers With These Alternative Brewing Sugars

Alternative Brewing Sugars For BeerWhile barley malt is the preferred source of fermentable sugars in beer, other ingredients are often used to supplement the grains. Among these, sugar is one of the most common.

Sugars come in many different varieties, all of which affect flavor, gravity, and color in different ways. Brewing sugars may be added to simply increase the gravity of a beer. Try adding a pound of sugar to a standard beer recipe kit to make an “Imperial” version of whatever base beer you’re brewing.

Brewing sugars can also be added to obtain certain flavor characteristics. Alternative brewing sugars for beer such as: brown sugar, Belgian candi sugar, and molasses all have distinct flavors that can add a layer of complexity to brown ales, Belgian ales, and stouts. Simple sugars will often ferment out almost completely, so they can be used to achieve a dry finish in Belgian ales, pale ales, and darker beers.

Alternative Brewing Sugars For Beer:

  • White table sugar – While table sugar is fine for priming, it has been known to produce “cidery” flavors when used in any significant quantity. It’s been highly refined to remove color and “impurities”, so it will not affect the color of your beer.
  • Corn sugarCorn sugar is ideal for priming, its fine, powdery grind helping it dissolve easily. Corn sugar can be used to boost gravity and lighten flavor without contributing color, so it’s ideal in styles such as Light American Lagers.
  • Cane sugar – Cane sugar is derived from the sugar cane plant, usually through a pressing to extract the cane juice. Then an evaporation to concentrate the crystals. The minimal processing means that it still contains some color and molasses flavor, but not as much as some of the sugars listed below. Cane sugar can be used for priming, but can also increase gravity in a wide range of beer styles.Shop Candi Sugar
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar is a great alternative brewing sugar. It tends to be darker than cane sugar, usually due to molasses being added back in to the refined sugar. Brown sugar can be light or dark and it contributes significantly more caramel and molasses flavor than cane sugar.
  • Panela/Picadillo/Jaggery – Panela, also known as picadillo or jaggery, is an unrefined dark brown cane sugar pressed into blocks or cones. It contains higher levels of molasses and natural minerals than more refined sugars. Since it’s pressed, it takes a bit longer to dissolve than granulated sugars, but the rich caramel flavor is worth the wait!
  • Molasses – Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process. It’s a dark syrup which can contribute significant flavor and color to stouts and other dark beers.
  • Lactose sugar – Lactose sugar, or milk sugar, is a non-fermentable sugar and the key ingredient that contributes residual sweetness to milk stouts and sweet stouts.
  • Candi sugar – Belgian candi sugar is probably the most commonly used alternative brewing sugar used in beer. It is usually sold in large crystals, can be either light or dark. It’s a key ingredient in dubbels, tripels, and other high-gravity Belgian ales.
  • HoneyShop Steam Freak Kits – Honey contains significant amounts of simple and complex sugars, as well as a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It will contribute wonderful flavors and aromas, which will vary with the type of honey. To preserve them, try adding the honey right at the end of the boil.
  • Maple syrup – Maple syrup is another alternative sugar source that will contribute unique flavors to a beer. It works great in brown ales.

When planning on using alternative brewing sugars in beer it is important to know that they have gravities in the ballpark of 1.036-1.046. Check out this table for more detailed gravity and color estimates.
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.

A Quick Guide To Dry Hopping Your Beers

Dry Hopping A BeerDry hopping is a popular technique for adding a burst of hop aroma to beer. Basically, all you do is add hops during the secondary fermentation. Because the hops aren’t boiled, they won’t contribute much bitterness (IBUs) to your beer. Dry hopping your beer can lend desirable pine, grapefruit, citrus, or floral aromas, depending on the hop variety you use.

Many popular American craft beers are dry hopped, especially pale ales and IPAs. Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA, makes use of a hop back, or torpedo as they call it, which circulates conditioning beer through a stainless steel vessel packed with whole cone hops.

But don’t let complicated brewing equipment intimidate you — dry hopping your beer at home is easy!

When should I add the dry hops?
The most convenient time to dry hop is when transferring from primary to secondary fermentation. Hops can be added at any time during the secondary fermentation, but for best results, they should have at least a few days to work their magic.

What variety of hops should I use for dry hopping?
Hops with low alpha-acids, usually referred to as “aroma hops”, are best suited for dry hopping. Examples of aroma hops include:

Shop HopsShould I use pellets, plugs or whole leaf for dry hopping?
It is best to do your dry hopping with pellets as opposed to whole leaf hops. Due to the processing involved in producing hop pellets, the aromatic oils are more accessible. They’re also a little easier to separate from the beer than whole leaf hops.

How much hops should I use?
A good range to stick with is 1/4 to 2 ounces of hops for a 5 gallon batch, though I think some hop aficionados are prone to adding more.

Will adding hops contaminate my brew?
If you’re worried about contamination you could briefly steam the hops before adding them to the fermenter, but most will agree that the alcohol present in your beer after primary fermentation will protect it against bacteria.

What about straining the hops?
Regardless of how you go about dry hopping your beer, the hops will need to be strained from the beer one way or another

  • DIY screen – You can try attaching a sanitized screen to the bottom of your racking cane when siphoning the beer from the secondary fermenter. An auto-siphon, which makes life much easier for the homebrewer, has a tip that won’t let much through, you could tie a sanitized hops bag around the bottom for some added filtering.
  • Put the hops in small mesh hop bagShop Wort Chillers – Placing the hops in a hop bag before even adding them to the beer is probably the easiest option. A brewer in this forum recommends tying dental floss to the bag for easy removal – you’ll probably want to use unflavored floss, unless you’d like a little mint or cinnamon flavor in your brew!
  • Cold crashing – Dropping the temperature on your secondary fermentation will help the hops settle out to the bottom of the fermenter, making it easier to siphon beer into a bottling bucket or keg without pulling along a lot of hops material.

Hopefully, this information will help you out. Just remember that the best way to go about dry hopping is to use hop pellets in the secondary fermentation. Use somewhere around 1/4 to 2 ounces, and stick with a variety of hops that is big on aroma and low in bitterness.

Have you tried dry hopping your beer? How did it turn out?
David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

Simple Style Guide: Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal StoutIn the world of stouts, Irish stouts are dry and milk stouts are sweet, but oatmeal stouts fall somewhere in the middle. The use of a small amount of oats in the grist give this roasty brew a smooth, somewhat creamy mouthfeel. This is, in essence, what you are looking for when making an oatmeal stout.

Topping Serious Eats’ list of Top 5 Oatmeal Stouts, Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is a classic. Rich and luscious, flavors of toasted malt and chocolate combine with oats for a smooth finish. A similar beer is made by Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC, – an excellent oatmeal porter. Flaked oats give the beer a smooth, silky character. 5.9% ABV, 35 IBUs using American hops, Chinook, Willamette, and Cascade. These are two great examples to seek out when crafting your oatmeal stout recipe.

Brewing an Oatmeal Dry Stout

The key question when making an oatmeal stout is how to add the oats. Oats contribute a little extra body to the beer, but if overused can make the beer seem oily. 5-15% oats is ample for an oatmeal stout, but some grists may include up to 25% in the most extreme cases. As for the oats themselves, flaked oats will contribute the most fermentable sugar and can be added directly to the mash, while raw, steel-cut oats from the store must be cooked, boiled separately before being added to the mash. Some brewers even use a pack of oatmeal from the grocery store – just be sure to avoid those with flavorings – unless you’re going for a cinnamon oatmeal stout, of course!

Grain Bill and Fermentables

An oatmeal stout gets its dark color from specialty grains like chocolate malt and roasted barley. Roasted barley helps to impart the dry, bitter flavor of coffee that stouts are known for, but it must be used sparingly (a maximum of 5-7% of the grist). Reduce the roasted barley in favor of chocolate malt to avoid overly burnt or charcoal flavors.

To accentuate the oatmeal character, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer John recommend, “Toasting the oats in the oven at around 300°F (149°C) until they begin to slightly color up and give off a nutty oatmeal cookie character.”

These ingredients can be combined with a standard base malt or light malt extract to form of your grain bill. Your original gravity shouldn’t exceed about 1.065.Shop Dried Malt Extract


An oatmeal stout is an English creation, so English hops work best when making this beer style. Examples include Kent Goldings, Fuggles, and Target. Shoot for 25-40 IBUs. Hop aroma is low to none, so use restraint in the late hop additions.


Oatmeal stouts typically have some mild fruity aromas, which are best delivered by the use of English ale yeast. Safale S-04 is a good dry yeast option. It’s generally recommended to rehydrate dry yeast, and if using liquid yeast, to prepare a yeast starter.

Now you’re ready to make your own oatmeal stout!

Do you have an excellent recipe for making oatmeal stout? Share it in the comments below. What kind of oats do you use, and for what percentage of the grain bill?

Sources: Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew (p. 168). Brewers Association.

David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

Water Treatment For Brewing Beer

Beer In Brewing WaterBefore you use water straight from the tap for homebrewing, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re putting into your precious brew. After all, water makes up more than 90% of beer by weight. Water chemistry can get a bit technical, but don’t worry — you don’t need a degree in chemistry to make good beer. In the famous words of Charlie Papazian, “Relax, don’t worry, have a home brew.” In fact, if you’re brewing with extract, you don’t need to worry much about water treatment at all. However, if you are brewing all-grain, water treatment for brewing beer becomes a much more important subject.

Why is Water Treatment so Important in All-Grain Brewing?
Water contains much more than pure H2O. There is usually an assortment of minerals, salts, and chemicals in there as well. Some minerals and chemicals are beneficial to your brew. Some help yeast grow so that they can ferment your beer, while others help to extract fermentable sugars from barley malt. It’s important to be aware of sterilizers, such as chlorine, which may affect the flavor of your beer. Finally, if you’re trying to make a style of beer traditionally brewed in a certain part of the world, you may want to recreate the brewing water profile used to make that beer.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on water chemistry and treatment for mash conversion and for water profiles of traditional and regional beers. But first, which minerals and chemicals should homebrewers to consider?

  • Chlorine/Chloramine – Chlorine & chloramine are often used by municipal water facility to sterilize the water supply. You can remove these chemicals from your water by boiling it for 30 minutes, letting it sit overnight, or by adding Campden tablets to your brewing water.
  • Calcium – Lowers pH and helps with mash conversion.
  • Magnesium – Lowers pH and aids yeast growth (up to 20 parts per million)
  • Sodium – Low levels of sodium can help give beer a full flavor; too much might make beer salty.
  • Carbonate/BicarbonateShop Brew Kettles – Can impede the mashing process and extract harsh hops flavors.
  • Sulfate – When combined with sodium, may introduce harsh, dry flavors.
  • Chloride – Can make beer taste sweet.

Tip: If you want to use your city or municipal water, you may want to get a water analysis before you start brewing. Call your municipal water department for a report. Alternatively, you could brew with distilled or reverse osmosis water, which has had most of the mineral content removed, then add your desired minerals back into the water.

Water Treatment for Mash Conversion
If you’re a partial-mash or all-grain brewer, it is important to manage your water chemistry so that you can extract fermentable sugars from your malted grains. For an effective mash, a pH level (acidity or alkalinity) of 5.0-5.5 is recommended.
Homebrewers can check pH with either pH control papers or a digital pH meter and correct pH levels using one or more of the following:

Keep in mind that adding malted barley to your water will lower its pH, so you may want to start with brewing water with a pH above 5.5.

Brewing Water Profiles for Traditional and Regional Beers
Certain beer styles originated in parts of the world where the local water hardness had a significant effect on that style. You may wish to recreate the water profile of a particular region by altering your water’s mineral content:

  • Burton – Famous for its use in English Pale Ales, water from Burton-on-Trent is high in sulfate (800 ppm), calcium (294 ppm), and carbonate (200 ppm).
  • Munich – Water from Munich, used in the famous Munich Helles and Oktoberfest lagers, is high in carbonate (180 ppm) with some chloride (60 ppm) and very little sodium (2 ppm).
  • LondonEnglish Bitters made in London use water that is high in sodium (100 ppm), and fairly high in carbonate (160 ppm) and chloride (60 ppm).
  • Plzen – Plzen, home of the famous Bohemian Pilsner, has very soft water (low mineral content). It has some carbonate (15 ppm), but very little of the other brewing minerals.

What kind of water treatment do you use for brewing beer? What kind of brewing water adjustments do you make?
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Recipe Formulation: Brewing Dark Beers

Woman Drinking Dark BeerOne of the biggest challenges of homebrewing is recipe formulation. There are so many different ingredients available to the homebrewer, that it takes a lifetime of brewing to develop a solid understanding of how each one impacts beer flavor, aroma, color, and mouthfeel. That’s why I often recommend that new brewers try clone recipes. You have a good idea of how your homebrew is going to turn out, and you get learn about different brewing ingredients along the way.
But sure enough, coming up with your own beer recipes is one of the reasons people enjoy homebrewing. It’s a sudsy expression of creativity – that just happens to get you buzzed!
One of the more challenging aspects of beer recipe formulation is figuring out how different malts affect a beer. This post will cover some tips and tricks for developing dark beer recipes.

Tips for Brewing Dark Beers

What makes a beer dark? Malt! In the third step of the malting process, a maltster heats the sprouted grain to dry it out and develop some flavor and color. This step is called kilning. Basically, the higher the heat and the longer the kiln, the darker color of the grain. Maltsters can used these variables to make malts that range from pale yellow in color to red, brown, or even black.shop_barley_grains
One thing to be aware of when brewing dark beer is, in general, it only takes a small amount of dark malt to affect beer color. But it’s not just about color – flavor is important too. It’s a balancing act between getting the flavor profile you want as well as the color.
When building a dark beer recipe, start by thinking about flavor. This clearly depends on the beer style, but also on your personal preference. Do you want a bready, almost chewy, sweet malt flavor? In this case the beer recipe might include decent amounts of lightly roasted Munich malts with just a touch of chocolate or Carafa to get the rest of the color. Or would you prefer a dry, bitter, roasty beer? In this case the beer recipe may include mostly regular pale malt with larger amounts of chocolate malt and roasted barley. Caramel malts can contribute complexity to beers, offering flavors of caramel, raisins, nuts, or dates. Think about the balance you want to achieve for your dark beer, then select the malts accordingly. Finally, small adjustments can be made to get the color where you want it.

What about using extract when brewing dark beers?
Dark malt extract works great for beginning homebrewers. It’s an easy way to brew a dark beer without having to figure out the right combination of malts to get the color you want. But a lot of homebrewers will agree that dark malt extract doesn’t give you a lot of flexibility when brewing dark beers. The dark malt extract was made with a specific blend of grains. You’re kind of stuck with the flavor profile you get.shop_liquid_malt_extract
An alternative way to do it is to use light malt extract and then use the darker specialty grains to get the color and flavor just the way you like it. You can certainly brew a stout using light malt extract! Just use 5-15% of the darker specialty grains to get the color and flavor you want. Explore some tried and true beer recipes to get a sense of what malts work well together and in what amounts.
With a little practice, you’ll soon get a feel for different specialty grains and how to go about brewing a delicious dark beer.
What’s your favorite dark beer style?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.