Thursday, June 26, 2014

#22 Oatmeal Pale Ale - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 42
Serving Temp: 38F
Carbonation: 2.8 vol
Grade: B+

This beer came out perfect.  I think this is the first time I can say this (with the possible exception of the Irish red), but there is literally nothing wrong with this beer.  The brewday was technically precise, and it fermented clean, with all the flavors in their place.  But that means all my critiques on this beer are mistakes in my initial vision, not the execution.

So there it is, a nice clear golden color with a bit of hop haze, and a fluffy white head.  As hoppy as it is, there is surprisingly little lacing.  Instead it reminds me more of a Bavarian hefeweizen, where the foam is a dense pile of fluff that forms a little tropical island in your glass and slides neatly all the way down to the bottom of the beer.

Speaking of hops, this beer has a lot of them, more so in the aroma than in the taste.  It has that classic American hop smell (which makes sense considering I used two classic American hops), leaning neither toward the grapefruit of Cascade nor the dank side of Columbus.  The taste is hoppy and bitter but certainly not over the top in either respect, which is good because this beer finished surprisingly dry (81% attenuation!). The malt is as light, crisp and clean--or bland and boring--as you would expect from a pale ale.

Here in the malt subtleties is where we find out what the oats brought to the beer.  As I stated in the recipe post, oats are just bland.  Raw flaked oats don't add any flavor--no maltiness, graininess, or nuttiness--leaving the beer tasting even lighter and simpler than it is.  However the effect on mouthfeel is pretty cool.  Despite the extremely low FG (1.009), it still has that silky creaminess you would expect form an oatmeal stout.  The oats were a significant portion of the grist at 15% (oatmeal stout guidelines say 5%-10%) which I think was just right.  The flavor doesn't scream oats, but the effect is not unnoticeable.

Now that's all well and good, but the total package does not come together in a compelling way.  I realized after I brewed that I had a whole school of half-baked ideas swimming in my head, but unlike Jack Horner, when I stuck in my thumb, I pulled out a lemon.  The amalgamated recipe just doesn't do it for me.  I don't think I'll revisit this concept, but I learned a lot about oats in the process, so hopefully that comes in handy down the road.  Tune in next week for a session IPA that may or may not contain a small percentage of oats.

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