I was very happy with my last oatmeal stout and with the cold weather coming soon to the area I figured now would be a good time to rebrew it. While I was very happy with the original it was slightly more berry/fruity and less coffee/roasty than I would have liked. I also currently have a large quantity of American 2-Row that I am using in place of the Maris Otter so a few substitutions were required. To reduce the fruity character I dropped the 4 oz. of Special B and instead upped the Crystal 80 by 2 oz. and switched the yeast from the West Yorkshire strain to WLP002. To make up for the lack of biscuity character from the Maris Otter I added a quarter pound of Munich malt and a couple extra ounces of Victory. Lastly, I slightly increased the roasted barley amount to increase the coffee character that I desire in a stout. I did make sure to keep the 2 pounds of Oatmeal which seemed to give the original batch a great nutty and silky quality.
I managed to mess up my mash temperature somehow, initially hitting only 146 instead of the 154 I was aiming for. After 10 minutes I added about half a gallon of boiling water to bring it up to 156. I'll be interested in seeing how this affects the attenuation and body of the final beer.
Cooled to 75 F then placed in 65 degree basement and added the yeast.
Racked one carboy to 3 gallon keg. Added .5 oz of medium toast oak cubes to the other carboy, with plans to also add coffee in the future.
Added .25 oz Peet's Major Dickason's Blend and .5 oz Eight O'Clock Coffee Original to the carboy with oak. Keg kicked of straight version.
Racked to keg at 10 PSI. Coffee flavor is very strong but not overwhelming in still sample.
Tasting of Coffee Version:
Appearance: Very dark black, almost entirely opaque. Pours with a moderately big head despite the slow exit from the tap. Head is tan and lasts shortly before falling to a foamy covering that sticks around. Pretty good all around.
Smell: Roast hits the nose first and dominates the aroma with heavy face-in-the-bag-of-coffee-beans character being augmented by a sweet cream-caramel and victory malt toasty/nutty malt characters. Just a touch of ash that may be from the malts or the heavily roasted coffee.
Taste: Subtler than the nose, the coffee is present but blends smoothly with other roast characters, light creamy caramel, and a moderate to low bitterness. The coffee character isn't overwhelming but is certainly present. Oak flavors aren't particularly noticeable, every once in a while I get some definite oak character but it's only just there.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and fairly dry. The body is a bit lighter than I would like but comes in creamy and goes down easy. I'm not sure if the oatmeal or oak give it the creamy impression despite the dryness or whether that is more a factor of the moderately low carbonation, but it certainly works. The dryness is likely related to the error with the initial mash temp, but it didn't fully sink this beer.
Overall: I can't find too much to complain about in this beer, it's smooth, easy drinking, refreshing, and has just enough coffee and roast to keep things interesting. While I think the beer could be a little better with Maris Otter instead of 2-row I don't know that I would change anything else about it. If I wanted to give more oak flavor I would probably either double the dosage or contact time, but I don't know that it would necessarily benefit the beer.
The un-oaked, un-coffeed version was enjoyable but without the Maris Otter malt character and a slightly higher attenuation and cleaner yeast profile than the previous batch it came off a tad boring. This version seems to have taken it up a notch without overwhelming the base beer.