Most of you probably don’t know this, but there are many scientific discoveries that were made by brewers. In fact, it was a brewery in London during the sewage problems of the 1800s that provided insight into the bacteria problems in the water. The people at the brewery were not getting sick because they only drank beer, which had undergone a boiling process. Those around the brewery were getting sick from the unsanitary water that was plagued by rotten sewage. But enough about that.
What is a stout beer? Stouts are dark, sometimes bitter beers that are brewed with roasted barley and malt. The barley is often roasted to the point of charring. This provides a “burnt” type of flavor that can often taste like coffee or chocolate. These beers can be all over the map in terms of hoppy-ness. But the main character of a stout beer in the roasted flavor.
An oatmeal stout is a variant of a stout beer that is brewed with steeped oatmeal added to the steeping grains. The addition of the oatmeal gives this variant a sweeter, smoother finish. Also, these have a more mellow character than a standard stout. The roasted character, however, remains in the beer. Some popular oatmeal stouts include Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and Young’s Oatmeal Stout.
My Beer: Newton’s Oatmeal Stout
Way back on September 11th, in honor of our awesome country, I brewed beer. It was my first time brewing a beer while using the steeping grains. Basically the steeping grains add about 30 minutes to the brewing process. You put a bunch of crushed grains like barley and malt into a sack and soak it in hot water for about 20-30 minutes. Then this becomes the base liquid for the boiling wort.
After you’ve steeped the grains, which is rather like steeping a tea pack in hot water, though on a much grander scale, then you can begin to brew the beer. The kits I have used have said to bring a gallon of water up to 170 degrees and use it to rinse the grains. So I simply pour the gallon over the grain sack and catch the water in the boiling kettle.
The wort boils for about 45 minutes, during which time the hops are added. After 45 minutes you’re basically done. You bring the beer down to about 115 degrees and add in enough water to bring it to about 5 gallons. Next you pitch the yeast, which is a fancy way to say you add yeast to the liquid. Then seal it up with an airlock and you’re good to go!
The original or starting gravity of my stout was 1.047. This isn’t a very high gravity, but stout beers aren’t known for being high gravity beers.
After a week in the fermenter I transferred the beer to a glass carboy. I let it ferment and age in the carboy for about three weeks and this past Sunday I bottled it.
Bottling is the worst part of the process. I don’t buy bottles, so I have to de-label them, which is a big pain. Then you’ve got to make sure your 45-50 bottles are clean, so I run them through the dishwasher without detergent. After that I sanitize them using One-Step. In the meantime I transfer the beer back to the plastic fermenter, dissolve bottling sugar, add the dissolved mixture to the beer, and then I proceed to bottle 10 at a time and cap them.
For this batch I ended up with 46 bottles, one of which will remain on my shelf for all time. Doing a little math, if an average 6-pack costs $8.50, which seems on par with my FLBS (Favorite Local Beer Store), then 45 bottles (7.5 6-packs) would cost about $64. The beer brewing kit itself cost about $42. So I am saving $22! That’s a considerable amount. The downside is that I have 7.5 6-packs of the same beer. Is that $22 worth having so much of the same beer? (It is worth it if you can bring it to game nights and drink other people’s beer!)
My Newton’s Oatmeal Stout had a final gravity of 1.015. This means that the beer has an ABV (Alcohol by volume) of 4.2%. Therefore I should be able to slam a bunch of these bad boys and feel little effect.
I like to name all of my beers after Renaissance men. In my opinion Renaissance men are not necessarily from the Renaissance. Rather, these are people who happen to be experts or masters in many trades. Sir Isaac Newton was definitely a Renaissance man.
I could have chosen a pudgy character who more closely fit the bill of being “stout.” However, Newton seemed to fit the bill of being “stout” due to his contributions to science and his place in history. I suppose I could have saved Newton in case I ever brewed an apple ale, but I don’t think I’ll ever brew an apple ale. So Newton joins my Renaissance fleet that already includes Leon Battista Alberti (Amber Ale) and Benjamin Franklin (Honey Ale).
In a couple of weeks a new Renaissance man will join the team behind the guise of a Scotch Ale. Unfortunately William Wallace is not technically a Renaissance man, so I’ll have to choose a different Scot as the namesake for the beer.
If anyone has questions about brewing or beer styles or anything having to do with zymurgy, please let me know!
Welcome back to Boards & Barley! So glad to have you here. Last week I posted an article about using Inkscape to make icons for your game design prototypes. It appears that the article was pretty well received. If there are other things you’d like me to show how to do in Inkscape, just let me know!
Today is Monday, so I present to you the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed in the past week:
First some news: last night I bottled my third batch of homebrew. It is an Oatmeal Stout and will be named after Sir Isaac Newton. So in a few weeks I’ll be able to enjoy some Newton’s Oatmeal Stout. The picture shows the beautiful bottles of awesomeness. They will be waiting patiently in my basement.
New Glarus Spotted Cow: Yum.
Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge: This is a very good beer that comes from Lake Mills in Wisconsin. The upside is that it reminds me and my friends of the great Beer Run event that the brewery holds each November.
Hinterland Oktoberfest: Not good. This hoity toity beer was not a good Oktoberfest. It did not even taste like an Oktoberfest. Served in 16 ounce bottles at a high cost by a brewery that thinks it’s high end, I expected something better. Disappointed with this one.
New Holland Dragon’s Milk: Wow! Not necessarily a good “wow.” Just Wow. This beer is potent. I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and it lived up to expectations. This beer had a ton of character.
New Belgium 1554 Black Ale: New Belgium has some interesting beer styles that I don’t always enjoy. However, the 1554 Black Ale is definitely one that I do enjoy. I have to wonder, though, if that’s because it makes me think of Euro style games. This beer could have a theme based on the black plague. All it would need is some bored looking dude on the label!
Point Oktoberfest: This is a passable oktoberfest, which is saying quite a bit compared to the Hinterland oktoberfest listed above. It’s not my favorite oktoberfest, but I’d drink it again.
It was another down week for gaming. But this week we’ll be having a game night, so hopefully I get a few more games in this week.
Kingdom Builder: Somehow I sneaked out a win over my wife. With a final score of 84 to 81 it was a closer finish that I was expecting. I was surprised when I saw how close she was.
Yspahan: I got to play Yspahan for the first time this past week. And I snapped this awesome picture. The game is a really cool game design despite the possibility of dice results ruining it. I pulled off a big win and really enjoyed the game.
So those are the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy?
First things first: Happy birthday to my good friend Jeremy (@JeremyVanMan). I hope you have a great day!
Second, it’s Monday, which means you’re probably having one of the worst days of your week. And that’s why I present The Monday Brews to you weekly. Hopefully by reading what I enjoyed over the past week you can forget about work for a few minutes and remember the fun games you played this past week.
So here’s the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed this past week:
Ben Franklin’s Honey: I was able to enjoy my second to last of this homebrew while homebrewing. As Charlie Papazian says, “Relax and have a homebrew!” There’s nothing better than enjoying one of your hombrews while you’re homebrewing.
Leinenkugels Oktoberfest: Now that the temperatures are dropping this seems like a more appropriate beer choice rather than like two weeks ago when it was 90 degrees. I love the oktoberfest style and attending Oktoberfest in Germany is definitely near the top of my Bucket List.
New Belgium Pumpkick: Now that fall is nearly upon us it’s time to start enjoying spicy pumpkin beer. The New Belgium approach to pumpkin beer was an excellent one! Some pumpkin beers are just too pumpkinny, but this one was very nicely done with a subtle presence of pumpkin. Nicely done, New Belgium!
Great Dane Stone of Scone Scotch Ale: The scotch ale style is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I used to consider Belgian styles as my favorites, particularly Tripels, but my palate is changing. This was brought to my house in a growler and was thoroughly enjoyed.
New Glarus Staghorn: This is a local Oktoberfest style brew that the aforementioned Jeremy considers the best Oktoberfest there is. I cannot disagree. This is an excellent beer and I look forward to Autumn so that I can enjoy this particular beverage.
Kingdom Builder x3: I’ve been loving this game since I bought the Crossroads expansion at GenCon. I think that the new expansion is a very nice addition to the game. And we also made a 6 player variant that would also work for 8 players. The picture shows the setup we used for 6 players. We played with three teams of two. You would work together and the final scoring would be done based on your two teams colors together. Yet the adjacency rule only held for your own color. I may write this up as a session report on BGG because it worked so well.
The Little Prince: I can’t get enough of this game. We taught another new player and he enjoyed it despite not doing very well. It’s just so clever. On the flipside, I wouldn’t mind a retheme. Get on that, internets!
Skyline: When looking for fillers, this game has been our pick of the poison lately. It’s simple. It’s quick. And it’s fun. My only complaint is that I wish the base dice, middle dice, and top dice were different colors. That would make it just a bit easier to see what dice you are actually using. But it’s a very fun game.
So that was the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy??
Another week has left us. And what a glorious week we have upon us. Just as we are gearing up for GenCon it turns out that I have a birthday this Friday! So of course this week will be a good one. I suppose I should try to get some playtesting in so that I’m not taking garbage to GenCon. But we’ll worry about that later.
Here’s a recap of my boards and barleys from the past week…
Capital Brewery Supper Club: This is an excellent beer to enjoy when you’re not worried about anything. Sit back, put your feet up, and realize this beer’s “not bad.”
O’So Big O: This was another decent beer to enjoy while relaxing. It had a little tanginess, but that didn’t hinder the enjoyment. This beer is from the wonderful town of Plover, WI.
Ben Franklin’s Honey: I again enjoyed some of my own homebrew. However, I have a big problem. I am almost out of my own beer and I don’t have a batch currently fermenting. We are approaching mission critical here. I’d better start brewing!
Here’s glimpse of a cooler I was able to rummage through at a party I attended this weekend. Some of the better beers were in a different cooler.
Horny Goat Watermelon Wheat: Rule #1: No fruit in beer unless it’s a Lambic and it’s done correctly. Rule #2: If you’re using fruit in beer, please just not watermelon. Yeah… I didn’t care for this beer and won’t be having it again.
Pabst Blue Ribbon: Out of reverence for fellow game designers that I had the privilege to meet at Protospiel-Wisconsin, I hoisted a cold PBR this weekend. And I realized that it wasn’t that bad. I’d have another, especially if it was available at GenCon!
Unfortunately I didn’t get to play as many games as I had hoped. Here’s the three that I did manage to play:
Tsuro: My friend’s $1.20 thrift store find has made the table a bunch lately. And we got it out again this past week. This is a great filler game that doesn’t take much though, has minimal downtime, and is also fun to play. unlike last week we didn’t have a three-way tie for the win.
Guillotine: This is a fun card game where players try to get the most points over the course of three days. During each day different cards are placed on the table. On a player’s turn they can play a card from their hand, and then they must take the card closest to the guillotine. The card they played hopefully allowed them to put a better card in that spot so that they didn’t have to take a bad one. It’s a pretty fun game despite some dude’s butts on some of the cards.
The Settlers of Catan: We always have fun when we play this game, even with 6 players. When we play with 6 I get to use my two different versions and the table looks pretty funny. But it’s always a fun game, even if I know I’m going to lose after the initial placement phase. Here’s a picture of our setup:
Another week under the belt. What Barley or Boards did you enjoy this past week?
What a splendid week we had last week. I ordered prototype cards for Conclave. I playtested new components for Scoville. And I enjoyed a few beverages.
Here’s a recap of what I drank and what I played last week:
Here are the tasty beverages I was able to enjoy last week:
Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss: This was an easy choice since we were camping. It’s a pretty easy-drinking wheat and honey beer from Wisconsin brewer Leinenkugel’s. We needed something in a can (Not Pabst!) that would be enjoyable around a campfire. I had requested Leinie’s Summer Shandy, but my wife choose Honey Weiss instead. No complaints there.
Ben Franklin’s Honey: This is my second homebrew and is rather enjoyable. Perhaps I have something for honey beers. This was enjoyed while working on game design. A perfect combination!
New Belgium Fat Tire: This fine beverage was enjoyed after our softball game where we won and became the first half champions of our league, thus locking in a spot in the championship game for our team.
Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale: This delicious scotch ale from nearby Lake Louie Brewery was also a post-game celebratory beverage. It is probably my favorite scotch ale and I hope to visit and tour the brewery someday.
Pearl St. Mills Pils: This was the last of the celebratory softball beverages and unfortunately also was my least favorite. It was a typical pils and nothing about it really stood out. Or it could have been because I had two before this one, it was late, and I was really tired. I guess I’ll have to give it another attempt.
Alberti Amber: This is my first homebrew and I only have a few of them left. I saved the very first bottle and it will remain in my basement/man cave forever! I was able to enjoy this during a game night last Friday. I think it’s pretty decent for a first go at homebrewing.
Here are the delightful games I was able to enjoy last week:
Conclave: This prototype of mine is still very rough. I solo tested it and learned that it needed some mathematical tweaks to make sure things are balanced for all players, and so that it can actually be played the way I want it to be played. I’ll likely have this with me at GenCon if anyone is interested.
Scoville: Four of my Level 1 friends were willing to test some new components for this game. The components are bonus abilities that let you do things you normally can’t do. But you can only do them once per game. If you use an ability, then you sacrifice the four points that it is worth. If you do not use them, then each is worth 4 points at the end of the game. This is like the train stations in Ticket to Ride: Europe.
Tsuro: This tile-laying game plays quickly and can be frustrating. We played twice, but the finish to the first was quite memorable. This picture shows the final tile placement, which resulted in all three remaining players being eliminated at the same time.
Gentlemen Thieves: This is a competitive game where you are trying to earn your own character the most loot from participating in different robberies throughout the game. On your turn you place a piece of evidence onto one of the five locations. If a location then has at least one of each of the five different types of evidence, then that location is robbed. The evidence tokens are flipped over to the loot side and divvied up between whichever team robbed the location. The team that robbed the location is the one with more evidence of their player colors in that spot. The game ends when the Brigadier makes a showing, and the player with the most loot wins. This is a fun light-ish game with a large mental aspect. I’ve now played twice (Once 2p and once 5p). I enjoy it, though it feels like my brain wants to explode each time!
So what Barley or Boards were your favorites from this past week? Anything you’re hoping to enjoy this week?