The Woes of Conversions: McQuaker’s Oatmeal Stout

After the American Pale Ale went as well as it did, I had a busy summer. Unfortunately, I was busy with everything but brewing. I found myself hating my job, and looking for something else, and just generally dreading the winter doldrums. The shining light through all of this is that winter means heavy dark beers, the stouts, porters, and heavy malt and spice beers come out and it’s just delicious! With that in mind, I asked two buddies of mine if they wanted to brew an oatmeal stout with me. We agreed that yes, we would like to get trashed and brew beer together, as you can imagine, it was a tough decision and I had to twist their arms!

Well life seemed to conspire against me to brew this batch. I bought the ingredients in October/November 2012 and didn’t end up brewing until February 9th, 2013! There were plumbing issues in my apartment, scheduling conflicts, and life in general that got in the way. One of my buddies and I decided to just plow ahead and brew.

As brew day approached I got very excited, and started gathering the ingredients together, the yeast and hops from the fridge, and the crushed grain from the paper bags in the pantry. Everything smelled fine, and I began sanitizing. I will caveat this batch and say, that I have never been good at knowing how many ounces there are in anything, let alone in gallons, now I know there are 128 oz. in a US gallon.

The grain was steeped in 5 gal. (actually 2.5 gal) of 158° F water for 40 minutes, and then I added the dry malt extract, and some additional water, I brought the liquid to a boil and added the hops for a full 60 minute boil. After the cool down, I poured the wort into the primary fermenter. Shock ensued as I was at just under 3 gal! That’s when it hit me, I should have just looked up how many ounces are in a gallon, as opposed to trusting myself. Though, I will say you don’t learn unless you step in a pile of shit, and have to scrape it out of your tread. I added as much pre-boiled water as I had on hand then added ::sharp inhale:: tap water, ugh! I was for sure that this batch would turn out off-flavored and just all around terrible.

At this point, the only thing left to do was to pitch the yeast and wait for about 4 weeks to taste the beer. As I was reflecting on the process, I wasn’t really that disappointed. Every time I brew a batch of beer, no matter how good or bad it is, I always learn something new. And to be honest while having good tasting beer is rewarding, I feel like I don’t learn as much as when I have a batch go wrong, either on brew day, or in the bottle (as a latent result of an error along the way!) Thus each batch makes me enjoy brewing all the more. I think the one pursuit in my life that I like coming back to again and again, is learning. There are so many things in this world to learn and so many experiences to have. Why not try to have experiences that not everyone else has. Life should be interesting, life should be challenging, life should be tasty!

Grain Type:

  • 2 lbs US 2-row malt
  • 1 lbs UK flaked oats
  • .75 lbs US Chocolate Malt
  • .75 lbs US Victory Malt
  • .5 lbs TF&S Dark Crystal 185L
  • .5 lbs UK Roasted Barley

Extract Type:

  • 3 lbs Plan light muntons dry malt extract

Bittering Hop Bill:

  • 1.8 oz. US Kent Goldings


  • DCL S-04-SafAle (English Ale)


Tasting Notes:

This beer, as I thought it would, turned out terribly weak and watery. The great thing was that this was done right in time for St. Paddy’s day, so I dubed it a Session Stout. In the depths of the beer there was that great roasty taste, with all the elements that you love from stouts, but it was just way way way watery. Live and learn right?!


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