Homebrew Batch #10: Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.
I recently made the switch from extract to all-grain brewing. It's fair to say my first two extract batches were better than my first two all-grain batches. I've faced a learning curve in hitting the target mash temperatures and figuring out the idiosyncrasies of my equipment. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm.

I've been wanting to brew a high alcohol stoutsomething that will age well. I like the creamy texture of oatmeal stouts. I found my next homebrew when I saw the recipe for Stone's 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout in the The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance.

Stone gave me permission to reprint the full recipes for Stone Old Guardian Barleywine and Stone Smoked Porter, but if you want the recipe for the 12th Anniversary Ale, you'll have to buy or borrow the book.

This beer has a high starting gravity of 1.099.  Whenever brewing a beer of this size, a yeast starter is needed. I decided to use the yeast cake from my last homebrew, which happened to be Stone's Levitation Ale.

Brew Log:

Jan 7:  Brew day!  I followed Stone's recipe and instructions, but made two modifications:

  • I couldn't find Ahatanum hops, so I substituted Centennial. I also used Simcoe in place of Galena. Since both are bittering hops (used for the full 90 minute boil), I thought these substitutions would be OK. I matched the alpha acid content specified in the recipe.  
  • I targeted a mash temperature of 152° F instead of the specified 147° F.  My first two all-grain attempts were drier than expected due to my coming in below target mash temp. So I decided to go a few degrees higher to compensate. This should also provide a heavier body.

The grain bill called for a whopping 19.5 pounds and a long 90 minute mash. I wasn't sure if the grain and water would fit in my 10 gallon mash tun. Fortunately, it didwith a little room to spare. In the end, the first 35 minutes of the mash was at 158° F. This time I overshot the target because I pre-heated my mash tun. All part of the learning process. By the end of the 90 minute mash, the temp was down to 147° F.  This is the first time I used cacao nibs and the boil smelled amazing! My gravity readings were:

  • 1st runnings: 1.102
  • Sparge: 1.047
  • Combined pre-boil wort: 1.072
  • Final post-boil OG: 1.091  (target of 1.099)  

I racked the pitch black wort onto the a yeast cake (White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale) at 3:45 pm. Just two hours later, I saw fermentation bubbles. I expected a fast start, but I didn't think it would be this fast!

Jan 8:   I'm glad I hooked up a blowoff tube, because this thing is bubbling like crazy! 

Jan 11:  Fermentation activity has slowed down considerably

Feb 5:  Checked the gravity and it's down to 1.026 (vs. 1.022 target), so I'll let it ferment longer. I had my first taste. Even warm and uncarbonated, it tastes great! 

Feb 18:  Checked gravity again and it's down slightly to 1.024. Still tasting great. I'm done waiting and am going to bottle it this weekend!

Feb 20:  Bottled 6 gallons to 1.9 volumes of CO2 using 3.4 ounces of dextrose. According to my brew software, here are the expected stats:
  • ABV: 8.8%
  • IBU: 49
  • SRM: 60 SRM
  • Calories: 288 per 12 oz.

March 5, 2012:  First carbonated taste! Aroma of roasted malt, coffee, and moderate alcohol.  The same elements are in the flavor with the addition of vanilla, dark chocolate, and smoked malt. The smokiness surprised me, but when I looked at the beer reviews on Beer Advocate, many people commented about a similar smokiness. It's medium bodied and has a nice creamy mouth feel. It's currently under carbonated, but a few more weeks in the bottle should resolve that. The alcohol is present in the middle, but it drinks surprisingly well for an 8.8% brew. I'm really happy with how this has turned out and can't wait to see how it evolves! I expect it will  be good...

October 19, 2013:  I haven't done a good job of providing updates. It's been over a year...  I took a few bottles to a neighborhood block party. I love watching how everyone "oohs and aahs" when I pour this into a glass. It's heavy and reminds me of motor oil (not that heavy, but you get the point). This is maturing very nicely! The chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are all melding together beautifully. The alcohol comes through in the middle, but it has mellowed out. We paired it with chocolate desserts and it was a big hit!

More updates coming soon....

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  1. Nice notes! I'm brewing this up in the coming days so I can give them off as xmas presents to the family. How did this beer go with age? Christmas is over the summer here in Australia so the bottles won't be cracked open for a good 6 months or so...hopefully giving it enough time to really come together!

  2. Matt, funny you should ask. I just tasted a bottle last night! Age is treating this beer very well! I just posted an update. Check it out.


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