If you follow the posts here you know that John and I won a couple awards with our beers at the NERHC.  While winning ribbons is nice, my motivation for competition is to get unbiased opinions about my beers from experienced judges.  I wanted to review one of my scoresheets and discuss some changes to make according to how the judges commented on a beer.

 For this post I want to review my scoresheets from the Oatmeal Stout I submitted.  I posted my current “in progress” recipe on the site a while back.  Now I want to make some notes to change a few things.

First off this beer scored a 36 out of 50.  This beer scored the highest out of the five beers that I sumitted. A score of 36 is falls in the Very Good designation (30-37) according to BJCP.  There were three judges scoring in this category.  The main points from the judges comments that I want to focus on for recipe changes are:

  • Low Roast character
  • Ester like profile in the aroma and flavor, possibly too sweet for style or unbalanced
  • Low hop bitterness and flavor

Roast issues:  I was a little gun shy when putting the recipe together originally with the black malt and the roasted barley.  I felt that the chocolate malt was a bit too strong.  So to change this I would back off the chocolate a bit and change it to 0.5lbs from the 0.75lbs. Subsequently, I would raise the roasted barley and the black patent too 0.75lbs each.  This should also darken the beer a bit more too as one judge had listed the color as dark brown, where I really would prefer an opaque black color.

Ester and sweetness issues:  This was the first time I used WY1084 Irish ale yeast. It was an experiment and I would prefer to use my standard WLP002 English Ale yeast.  While the english ale yeast does produce esters I am personally much more comfortable with how that yeast performs.  Using too high a fermentation temp can lead to excess ester production, but I fermented that beer at a solid 68F so I don’t think fermentation temps led to the estery nature in this case.  I’ll switch the yeast back to WLP002 and ferment at 68F again.  I also used a 0.25lb of Crystal 120L.  I would consider lowering this as it can give you that raisiny sweet like flavor.  But if I am going to up the black malt I think that keeping the crystal 120L where it as a measure against the black malt bitterness becoming too strong.

Bitterness:  Personally I don’t like hop flavor in my Stouts, at least not in this style which is more of an English style.  However for bitterness I would agree with the judges here that with this much malt complexity and a bigger body more bitterness may help with the balance.  Knowing that the black malt and roasted barley are going to be higher that may compensate for some of the lacking bitterness, so I think I’ll either have to find some 5%AA EKG hops or just up the amount of my 4%AA EKG to 3oz from 2.5oz.

So the new recipe would look like this:
(For 7 gallons)
12lb Marris Otter malt
1lb wheat malt
1.5lbs flaked oats (quaker whole oats)
0.5lb rice hulls
0.75lb Crystal 40L
0.25lb Crystal 120L
0.5lb Chocolate Malt
0.75lb Black Patent
0.75lb Roast Barely

3.0oz EKG (4% AA, pellets) -60 minute boil
1.0oz EKG (4%AA, pellets) -30 minute boil

Mash at 156F (up from 154F to increase the body a bit more too).

Hopefully I can brew this one up soon while its fresh in my head and I still have some of the last batch in the keg for comparison.
Next time, I review the silver medal winner 60/- Scottish Ale.