Using Oats in Beer

If you’re a beer fan, there is a chance you have wondered about the role of oats in your favorite brew. Oats in beer can add new flavors and additional texture to your pint, making it even more enjoyable. In this article, we will look into brewing with oats and look at how they can enhance the quality of your beer.

The Basics of Brewing Oats

First things first, let’s take a look at the basics of brewing oats. Oats can be added to beer in various ways, either as whole oats, steel-cut oats, or rolled oats. They can then be further divided into two broad classes, malted and unmalted.

Malted vs. Unmalted Oats

Malted oats are germinated oats that have been kilned and roasted to varying degrees. They add to the beer’s color, aroma, and flavor and provide enzymes that help convert starches into fermentable sugars. Whereas unmalted oats are raw oats that have not undergone the malting process, and as a result, they contribute to the beer’s overall texture, mouthfeel, and head retention.

Contributions of Oats in Beer

Oats can contribute various characteristics to beer, including a smooth and creamy mouthfeel, a silky texture, and a light sweetness. Oats can also add a pleasant nutty flavor to the beer and notes of toasted bread or crackers. Additionally, oats can help balance any bitterness from hops and contribute to a longer-lasting head on the beer.

Types of Oats Used in Beer

Many different types of oats are used when making beer, including traditional oatmeal, flaked oats, and oat malt. Traditional oatmeal can be added to the mash to create a creamy texture, while flaked oats are popular for creating a smooth and silky mouthfeel, and oat malt is a specialty malt that can be used in small amounts to add a nutty flavor and improve head retention.

Different Oat Varieties for Brewing

Several different varieties of oats can be used when making beer. Some brewers prefer combining oats to get the desired texture, flavor, and aroma. Some popular oat varieties used in beer brewing include: 

Four different typies of oats in beer laid next to each other.
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Rolled oats: These are flattened oats that have been steamed to make them easier to mash. Rolled oats add a creamy texture to beer and are commonly used in stouts and porters.

Steel-cut oats: These are oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces than rolled oats. Steel-cut oats have a more pronounced oat flavor and are commonly used in pale ales and IPAs.

Flaked oats: They have been pre-gelatinized, making them easy to add directly to the mash. Flaked oats are popular for their ability to create a smooth and silky mouthfeel and are commonly used in New England IPAs and oatmeal stouts.

Oat malt: This specialty malt is made from malted oats. Oat malt contributes a nutty flavor and improves head retention. It is commonly used in Belgian-style beers and English ales.

Benefits of Using Oats in Beer

There are several benefits of using oats when making beer to include an improved flavor and texture as well as benefits in the brewing process itself. Oats can help improve the beer’s mouthfeel and texture, making it smoother and creamier. Oats are also used to help balance the bitterness from the hops and add a nutty, toasty flavor to the beer.

Additionally, oats can improve the brewing process by providing enzymes that help to break down starches into fermentable sugars. This can result in a more efficient brewing process and a higher yield of alcohol.

The Bottom Line

Oats in beer may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about brewing, but they can be an essential component depending on the style of beer you are making as they are capable of creating unique flavors and textures associated with different beer styles. From creamy stouts to smooth New England IPAs, oats can take a good beer to the next level.

P.S. Be sure to pick up your gift of Big Robb’s top 5 favorite beer recipes from his brewpub; details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom on your phone. Cheers!

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