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  • Writer's pictureCalgary Brewery Tour Guy

How to Beer Judge Tutorial - Oatmeal Stout by YYCTOURS Calgary Brewery Tours

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

2023 Canadian Brewery Awards

BJCP 16B. Oatmeal Stout

Gold - Meta Brewing Corp. Calgary, Alberta.

Spectrum Stout

a glass of Oatmeal Stout from Meta Brewery in Calgary by YYCTOURS

In this How To Beer Judge series, YYCTOURS will be breaking down the judging categories from all the Calgary and Alberta brewery winners at the 2023 Canadian Brewery Awards and Conference and letting you know what the judges are looking for when they pick a winner.

To learn more about the BJCP’s role in judging, please visit our community education page.

Stouts have been around for hundreds of years and it is believed that the first use of the word in reference to beer goes as far back as 1677. Stout which by definition means strong and thick was used to describe a style of beer that was stronger than other beers of the time. As we discussed in our education series, back then, all beers were dark and smoky. By mixing different batches of beer, brewers would arrive at products with different strengths and the ones that were stronger would be called stouts.

As these dark strong beers gained in popularity, in the 1700’s this stout beer became known as Porter. Ireland became well known for their ‘Stout Porters’ which were made with less water so that the beer would be stronger in alcohol. As drum kilning became industry standard in the early 1800’s so did the use of other lighter malts that could be used in tandem with dark patent malt while still delivering the darkness of a porter. This began the first true ‘Stout” that we know today.

Oatmeal has been used in beer for centuries, however, in the late 1800’s it was added as an ingredient to promote “healthy beer’ and advertised as ‘Milk Stout’ to be consumed by nursing mothers. It enjoyed some success up until the end of World War II. In 1980, Samuel Smith brewed an Oatmeal Stout that reintroduced the beer to Europe will also introducing the style to the U.S. where it really took off.

When judging Oatmeal stouts according to the BJCP guidelines, overall, one can expect a dark, roasty, full-bodied stout with enough sweetness to support the oat backbone. The sweetness, balance, and oatmeal impression can vary considerably allowing for differences in balance and interpretation. American versions are often more hoppy and are less sweet and less fruity than English Stouts. Bitterness, sweetness, and oatmeal impression can vary and a light use of oatmeal may give a certain silkiness of body and richness of flavor, while heavy use of oatmeal can be fairly intense in flavour with an oily finish.

The aroma should have a mild grainy, roasty, coffee-like character with a light malty sweetness that can give a coffee-and-cream impression and a low to medium-high fruitiness. A medium-low earthy or floral hop aroma, light grainy-nutty oatmeal aroma and medium-low diacetyl are all optional in an oatmeal stout.

The appearance will be brown to black in color. It should have a thick, creamy, persistent tan- to brown-colored head.

The flavor will be similar to the aroma with a mild roasted coffee, milk chocolate, or coffee-and-cream flavor, and low to moderately high fruitiness. Oats can add a toasty-nutty, grainy, or earthy flavor. Medium bitterness. Medium-sweet to medium-dry finish, which affects the perception of balance. Malty, roasty, nutty aftertaste. Medium-low earthy or floral hop flavor optional. Medium-low diacetyl optional but typically absent. Mouthfeel: Medium-full to full body, with a smooth, silky, velvety, sometimes an almost oily slickness from the oatmeal. Creamy. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Stronger versions may be lightly warming from alcohol.

This year’s Oatmeal Stout Gold Medal winner Meta Brewing Co won two Canadian Gold medals this year (also Celestial Canadian Wheat- Wheat Beer) at the 2023 Canadian Brewery Awards. They currently consignment brew but their very own location is just around the corner.

Please be sure to follow us on social media for more How To Beer Judge in our community education series and to check out our Calgary brewery Tours for Calgary’s best craft tours.

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