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Monday Brews: 11-18-13

It’s a good news – bad news Monday here at Boards and Barley. First, the bad news: the Scoville Kickstarter campaign is being moved to mid-December. We’ll all just have to be patient a little longer. Now the good news: I’ll be at BGG.con demoing Scoville and meeting a lot of you awesome people this week!

That’s right. It’s gonna be a slow week on Boards and Barley because I’ll be down in Dallas enjoying some full on boards and barley with fellow designers and gamers and publishers. It’s gonna be awesome!

Never-the-less, today is Monday so I present to you the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week:

The Barley:

Rasputin rounds out the lineup of stouts.

Newton’s Oatmeal Stout: My own oatmeal stout is a decent homebrew. However, it is gonna have some competition soon as I recently bottled my scotch ale, which will be named after Sir Alexander Fleming.

Lost Coast Eight Ball Oatmeal Stout: This is a pretty good oatmeal stout, expecially since it doesn’t have that “homebrew” characteristic that my beer possesses.

Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout: A straggler from the 6-pack I purchased was thoroughly enjoyed. I find this double cream stout to be very drinkable.

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: It was a strange week for me barley-wise. I only had stouts. A few years ago that would never have happened. I do believe my beer palate is maturing! Unforunately I enjoyed this brew after those other stouts and so I only went for half the bottle. But if you want something potent then I would recommend anything that says “Russian Imperial.”

The Boards:

Cable Car: This is one of the best games to get a game night started. The strategy is light. The decisions are few. The screwage is immense. It has everything to get people into the gaming mood. And since it plays quickly, Cable Car makes it to the table relatively frequently. Fun game!

Last Will: I played this at our board game night as well. And I lost badly. I am usually pretty good at this game, but I made a HUGE error on the very first turn and really botched things. Plus, the Old Friend wasn’t available for me as the first player in the first round. That really hindered my game. But despite my pitiful performance this is a game that I love playing. It is a really awesome design.

Compounded: I taught Compounded to four family members over the weekend and the consensus was that they loved it. One of them is a chemist so it was right up her alley. My older brother, who isn’t really a gamer, dominated everyone by getting some compounds completed really early. If you have yet to check out Compounded, maybe it’s time to pick it up!

Kingdom Builder: We played Kingdom Builder with the Crossroads expansion. It is a great expansion and I love the new “objectives” to strive for during the game. This is a really enjoyable game for me as it is light enough to keep my wife interested, yet deep enough to make me care on every turn.

Dungeon Roll: I played this solo and had a decent game… or so I thought. I fought hard to get those 19 points only to learn that that only makes me a Village Hero. I must be doing something wrong since I barely ever score in the 20s. Oh well. Also, if you haven’t seen it, there is a Winter Heroes promo pack on Kickstarter right now for a super low price. But hurry up since there’s less than 24 hours to go!

Designer’s Corner:

As I mentioned last week I’ve been in the designer doldrums lately. This time of year is usually so busy for me that I brain rarely gets a spare moment to work on hobby stuff. However, since I’ll be down at BGG.con this week I’m going to bring my notebook and idea box to see if I can come up with anything for my current games or possibly to come up with a few new games. I’ll keep you posted.

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So those are the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed last week. What did you enjoy? And will I see you at BGG.con?

Newton’s Oatmeal Stout

NewtonOn Boards & Barley I tend to focus on the Boards side of things. But today is a Barley day! Why? Because I just bottled my oatmeal stout and I feel like writing about it.

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.

Oatmeal Stout

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.

The sack of steeping grains sits nicely while providing beautiful character to my beer!

The sack of steeping grains sits nicely while providing beautiful character to my beer!

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.

Why Newton?

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!

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