Where is the stout head?

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Mat B

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Hey fellas,

With winter coming up quickly, I want to brew a nice toasty stout to keep me warm and happy! Last year I brewed an oatmeal stout am very happy with the flavor (could be a bit toastier though), the beer holds no head. Lasts about 10 seconds. I did some reading and a few people said that oats are oily and may impact head, but not sure if this is the case.

Here’s the details:

21L batch – Brewed BIAB
½ tablespoon gypsum in mash
65 deg 90 min mash
Sparged with 80deg water poured over grains

Ale Malt – 3.6 kg
Crystal 150 – 400g
Black Patent Malt – 300g
Chocolate Malt 1200 – 300g
Quick Oats – 500g

Target 20g – 60 mins
Northdown 7g – 60 mins

Irish Ale Yeast WLP004 – Fermented at 18deg
Bulk primed with dextrose for 2.2 vol CO2
OG – 1.054
FG – 1.018


Does anyone have any insights they could share? I really want to brew a kick arse stout with a nice creamy head. Welcome recipe ideas too. And before anyone replies to say that having no head is normal or fine - I don’t enjoy it.

Cheers!
 

klangers

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Oats if anything should ADD to the head because of their protein that they bring to the table.

How did you cook/use the oats?
 

Bribie G

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Porridge oats are whole oats that have been rolled after removal of the oat bran.
However they are not de-germed.

So they have a high oil content, up to 18% but more typically about 4%.
Oils kill head.

In brewing they tended to use de-germed oats for example during the second world war when barley was in short supply and they needed adjuncts. However supermarket oats aren't the same as the old school brewing oats.

I'd tend to use flaked wheat if you are looking for a raw adjunct as it has been de-germed (to yield the oily wheat germ).

edit: not sure about flaked barley, MHB might know.
 

Mat B

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Good responses so far!

Yes, I used supermarket quick oats. I did too much research, you know the kind where you find arguments supporting both views, then you end up picking the one that is easiest for you - ie. quick oats. Maybe that's my problem.

I just threw them in the mash from memory.

Should roast barley be a given in a stout bill? I think I copied an oatmeal stout recipe found online.
 

good4whatAlesU

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Was just kidding, the black patent and other dark grains will get the job done. I'm just a sucker for roast barley...mmm

Slightly off topic; "Stout' originally just meant 'strong' and could be applied to any type of beer.
 

pnorkle

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Mat B said:
I used supermarket quick oats. I did too much research, you know the kind where you find arguments supporting both views, then you end up picking the one that is easiest for you - ie. quick oats. Maybe that's my problem.
This pretty much describes what I did on the weekend with a stout - except I used rolled whole oats Ah well, I guess I'll find out in a couple of weeks or so if there's no head... not that I'm fussed of course, as long as it goes down well :)
 

rude

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Mate you need head & Im sure you will get some

Good luck
 

mr_wibble

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I made an oatmeal stout recently, it turned out quite nice with lots of head.
I used porridge oats, which I cooked on the stove until they were a goopy, then threw into the mash.
The porridge made up about 17% of the grist.

Some things I've read say you can just mash rolled ingredients, since the heating part of rolling process pre-gelatinises them.
I was unsure, so proceeded on the side of caution, pre-cooking.

Anyway, I have no problems with head on the beer.

How was the carbonation?
Could there be some residual detergent/oils on the glassware? (rinse! rinse! and rinse again!)
 

Danscraftbeer

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Mat B said:
Yes, I used supermarket quick oats. I did too much research, you know the kind where you find arguments supporting both views, then you end up picking the one that is easiest for you - ie. quick oats. Maybe that's my problem.
I cant point to the info right now but there is some reason why you should not use quick oats. I cant actually remember the details.
Whole rolled oats baked/toasted in the oven works a treat from my experience. even as high as 10+%.
 

damoninja

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When using oats I always add some wheat or carapils to even things out in the protein department.
 

Stouter

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One in the FV now that's getting bottled today.
I was very cautious with the rolled oats and only added a very small % to my usual grain bill.
I'm not real keen on head or much carbonation in my Stouts, and don't mind either if the serving temp isn't chilled or cold.
 

Bribie G

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damoninja said:
When using oats I always add some wheat or carapils to even things out in the protein department.
Yes, agreed. Oats don't inevitably kill your head, depends if they are low oil and you have extra proteins in the brew. I'm sure it's on the forum somewhere - written by someone in the industry - that quick oats are made from a different grade of oats to the top range porridge oats such as Uncle Tobys etc.

The top range people get the pick and the quick oats grade can be variable I think.
 

damoninja

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Bribie G said:
Yes, agreed. Oats don't inevitably kill your head, depends if they are low oil and you have extra proteins in the brew. I'm sure it's on the forum somewhere - written by someone in the industry - that quick oats are made from a different grade of oats to the top range porridge oats such as Uncle Tobys etc.

The top range people get the pick and the quick oats grade can be variable I think.
Makes sense, I've used the shitty cheap home brand ones as well as some more better ones couldn't really comment either way as they were different beers.

Sometimes I toast them, I notice under a heavy toast some of them sweat a little which can then be blotted away.

Oils and fats are definately killers of head. Worst foam I ever had on a beer was a chocolate stout with too much cocoa added to the boil, the fat content even prevented a krausen from forming in the fermenter. Ended up with a thin white ring of fatty solids around the edge of the fermenter and every bottle.
 

Jack of all biers

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damoninja said:
Worst foam I ever had on a beer was a chocolate stout with too much cocoa added to the boil, the fat content even prevented a krausen from forming in the fermenter. Ended up with a thin white ring of fatty solids around the edge of the fermenter and every bottle.
Jeez, how much cocoa did you use on that one? Would be good to know a "do not exceed" level if we're ever tempted to use it.
 

IsonAd

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Stouts are my head nemesis too (well that and ginger hair). I dont know what i do, but most of my stouts, be them oat, foreign, Tropical, irish, american etc i almost always suffer from lack of head. It's almost as if the wort elopes before entering the fv. ive also noticed a lack of krausen on a lot of them too (supposedly not correlated at all to head). I wonder of it's ph related but yet to test.
 

Stouter

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This isn't working for either of us is it.
Is the tropical version carrying some fruit?
 

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