Friday, July 8, 2016

Brewing a NEPA with Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats

A few years back, while taking inspiration from Tired Hands Brewing Company, I started using rolled or flaked oats in all of my New England Style IPAs/Pale Ales (NEIPA/NEPAs) with truly great success. I experimented with many batches working with different percentages of Rolled Oats in the grain bill, some a little heavy and others just right, all the while adding a silky/creamy texture and a distinct oat flavor to the resultant beers that took them to another level. Through all that tweaking I feel like I now have a good grasp on how to use them for the character that I want, which as I said, is heavily Tired Hands inspired. But recently Jean from Tired Hands mentioned that they use exclusively Thomas Fawcett Oat Malt and not Rolled or Flaked Oats. My whole life is a lie.

The astute will find the fault in this orange photo.
He mentioned this tidbit on a recent episode of Steal This Beer, a pretty great podcast hosted by Augie Carton of Carton Brewing (Right on?). Augie and Jean went back and forth chatting about various Tired Hands-y things when Augie brought up the topic of using Oats in hoppy beers Jean revealed that their supplier was once out of Rolled Oats and asked if they wanted to try malted Oats from Thomas Fawcett. Jean says this was only a few months after they opened so basically I've been doing it all wrong? Maybe not wrong since I really like the character of the beers I brew with the Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oats, but could a beer like HopWards be better when using the malted oats?

On a visit to the Fermentaria in the fall of 2015 I saw a palate of malt and half the thing was loaded with Thomas Fawcett Oats. Around the same time a commenter on the blog said he heard Jean used them, but I hadn't heard anything concrete until now, and do I even care? I guess I do because I ordered some based on the rumors, and I'm a Tired Hands fanboyThe order of malted Oats ironically was delivered the day after I heard Jean on Steal This Beer, lots more great info in that episode other than malted Oats stuff by the way. Due to his endorsement using them got pushed to the top of my list.
Thermapen going strong after a few years of abuse.

This post could have been a complete reworking of my HopHands clone recipe, but I thought I put that to bed a few months ago, not to mention the beer is great the way it is. I did; however, stick with a similar grain bill for my first try with these Oats, going with an all Thomas Fawcett line up with 81% Floor Malted Halcyon and 19% Malted Oats. The hoping, though, is totally different. It's been a few years since I used Azzacca and I really loved how it paired with Citra in an IPA that never hit the blog. While going heavier on those two I rounded it out with Centennial, Simcoe, and Columbus. Quite a trendy lineup of hops which I came up with by way of a Tired Hands Alien Church clone recipe I have been working on slowly. Of course it was then fermented out with Wyeast 1318 London Ale III fast becoming the quintessential New England IPA/Pale Ale yeast of choice, remember when we used to Conan?
The uncrushed floated right to the top towards the end of runoff.
If you take anything out of this post it should be this, milling Thomas Fawcett Oat Malt might take some mill adjustment or double milling. The husks are almost like rice hulls by touch, they are long and relatively thin, as light as a feather when compared to 2-row. I mixed the Oats and my Pale Malt together and began to mill, as I always do. After a pound or two I checked on the crush, another SOP of mine, and to my surprise there were tons of uncrushed Oats in there. What's more, there wasn't anything I could do about it as everything was all mixed together. I suppose I could have tried to double mill the whole bill but that would have been throwing good money after bad as I already mill really tight. Plus some of the Oats did get cracked open, just not all of them. My target OG was 1.055 for this beer, I hit 1.050, which is a big miss for me as I have things well dialed in at this point. But some of those kernels just weren't crushed. Don't make the same mistake I made, mill the oats separately and combine after.
Beautiful looking cold break, no?
I am pretty excited to see what these can lend to the final beer, my next batches of HopWards will also have the Oat malt. But if I am honest I was hoping I couldn't tell the difference between Oat malt and trusty Bob's Red Mill rolled, since it's so easy to go to Whole Foods and pick up a bag, also cheaper. Well, I can tell the difference...maybe Jean Broillet IV is on to something here.

Tasting Notes: Hopped Up Oat Jawn:

Appearance: straw yellow, hazy but not murky at all, the perfect level of haze imo. A pillowy bright white head that sticks around and leaves significant lacing.

Aroma: I've dug into this aroma so many times but cannot put my finger on precise descriptors. It's a huge aroma that I can best describe as a tropical fruit medley, I get some peach, some guava, orange zest, nectarines...just a nice balance of fruit here. What I don't get is a malt aroma, specifically the oats, when I use the rolled oats they have a distinct aromas that melds with the fruit character. For better or worse.

Haze, not murk.

Taste: medium light body, nice and smooth with a subtle bitterness that balances the smooth body well. Carbonation is medium low, just enough to waft notes of crackery malt, fruit and enhance the silky texture across the palate. The finish leaves you with a subtle bitterness, something that I miss in some HopWards batches but it's something that makes you want to grab another sip.

Overall Impressions: This is supremely drinkable,which is something I strive for in all my hoppy beers, the hop character is a great mix and the oats are mild but play well. It's interesting because I think this is more in line with how Tired Hands beers are right now while HopWards is a throwback to the early days of the brewcafe due to the rolled oats. I wonder really how early they switched to the malted Oats. Either way, these Oats are going to get you super close to Tired Hands style of hoppy beers.

At 18% rolled oats come through in the flavor fairly significantly, while the malted oats (keeping in mind half were not crushed) are a balancing yet contributing factor to the drink. I think you can really push the limits with these oats and go high percentages with them where I wouldn't recommend more than 20% rolled oats. I quite like these, but the body is a tad lighter than with rolled, possibly due to the crush. I think that pairing both rolled and malted might be the ticket to a balanced yet creamy, juicy NEPA. But for now I'm going to immerse myself in the world that is malted Oats. Who knows, a 100% malted Oat beer might be in my future, Forest & Main has already begun theirs.


Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.82 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Measured OG: 1.050 SG
Measured FG: 1.010 SG
ABV: 5.2%
Estimated Color: 4.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: ~65 IBUs (Pfft, please, not even)
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

81.0% - 8lbs 12oz - Thomas Fawcett Floor Malted Halcyon (3.1 SRM)
19.0% - 2lbs 11oz - Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats

First Wort Hop - 0.61 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 29 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %] - 11.6 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] - 10.9 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 0.75 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 7.1 IBUs
Boil:  5min  - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 2.6 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %] - 1.8 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] - 1.6 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.75 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 1.2 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.75 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 0.8 IBUs
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Primary - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 1.00 oz Azacca [14.86 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 0.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 0.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days in Keg - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %]

Wyeast 1318 - London Ale III - 500ml of slurry

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.0 F 

Fly Sparge 5.50 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.32, Water Profile 2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ratio ( 127ppm Ca, 6ppm Mg, 10ppm Na, 150ppm Cl, 75ppm SO4). Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 65f for 8 days, at which point I bumped up to 70F for 5 days and added the first round of dry hops in Primary. After a total of 13 days in primary I kegged and dry hopped in the keg for 5 more days. Tapped 20 days from brewday.


  1. This sounds awesome. I got 10# to work with soon. I may actually have to brew another hoppy beer with them. I may rip off this recipe and use some hops I have around. I've got a fair bit of TF Marris Otter as well. The color in the cold break is amazing.

    1. Its so simple theres nothing to rip off! Try upping the Oats to %25, at least thats what I plan to do. Cheers!

  2. Have you tried any dry hopping during the first few days in primary during active fermentation? Tonsmiere talked about exploring the interaction of hops and yeast at one point and was curious if you had thought about it as well.

    1. Trillium dry hops at this time, believe bissel does too, and likely treehouse. I don't believe Jean said when he dry hops, Ed, any idea?

    2. Also, Ed, just a thought if you are tired of "ales of the river wards".... "Oats of the riverwards" sounds about right

    3. I dry hopped this batch at the tail end of fermentation, while I love the results ive been getting using that process I can't quantify if its better than my previous methods or not. I think a split batch is in order, paging the Brulosopher?

    4. However, I do not know if Tired Hands dry hops at the tail end of primary.

      Ha! Oats of the Riverwards is brilliant!

  3. Have you ever used Pilsner and oats instead of pale malt and oats?
    I'd be interested in the results of this???

    1. I have, and my buddy John at 2nd Story Brewing in Philly does that on his hoppy beers. When I have used Pils Ive actually noticed the beer dropping clear more quickly, not crystal clear but certainly not murky either. Taste wise I cant say I noticed anything defined, especially when hidden behind so many hops. If your on the fence on whether or not to try it I say go for it, Ive used Pils as the base for HopWards before with success.

  4. This is great - was hoping for just this post after hearing the malted oats comments. Perhaps Tired Hands prices are more under understandable considering the price of malted oats vs rolled. They had a special keg on tap recently that they said was 60% oats.

  5. So, did you remove the hops after 5 days in the keg at room temperature and then force carbonate after removing. I brewed this up last week and just added the dry hops today so I may need to force carb with the second round of dry hops. Looking to have this ready for a party in 10 days.

  6. +1 with the malted oats / 2-row combo. This is now my GO TO IPA malt bill and it's fantastic.

    1. Quick edit: my percentages are actually 2/3 pale malt and 1/3 malted oats....
      Usually 8# pale 4# oats for a 5 gallon batch

  7. I'm trying to crush the malted oats now....such a pita!!! The mill either doesn't pull the oats through or the gap is too big to crush them. I'm about to mix them with the 2 row just to get some traction.

    Did you have any trouble milling them on their own Ed?

    1. Huge pain in the butt, I havent yet figured out the trick for them but am considering conditioning to malt to get it to cling to the mill a little more. Most recently I have just resorted to running it through the mill 4-5 times.

  8. Greetings Ed,

    I, too, have been experimenting with oat malt recently and was wondering if you had settled upon an optimal grist percentage for the grain?

    So far I've done 15%, 20%, and 25% all with ~20% flaked wheat in addition to the base malt. Body has been excellent, but I noticed a somewhat grainy character at 25%, so I'm thinking 20% might be optimal for my own applications. Was wondering if youre experiences have been similar.


    1. Hi Charles, Ive had similar results, I like to blend some flaked and some Oat malt. For me I like 30% Oats splitting them evenly, but at times going 12% flaked without issue.

  9. FYI breweries would just put the malted oats straight into the mash tun. No milling needed.

    1. For flaked oats, yes, you can add them directly to the mash. Malted oats have a husk that must be removed via milling prior to mashing.