People ask me all the time where brewers come up with ideas for each new beer recipe. R&D is essential and ongoing for us at Starr Hill Brewery. We have a small pilot rig where we can test new recipes with experimental ingredients or make tweaks to current recipes. Inspiration can also come while sampling beer from breweries located in distant parts of the country, or even experiencing a different flavor combination while eating at a favorite restaurant.

Our latest beer, Debut #2: Nitro Oatmeal Cookie Stout, was born from a memory. This may sound a bit cheesy, but let me elaborate. A friend of mine was married last fall and each guest’s parting gift was a recipe in a jar for his mother’s famous oatmeal cookies. On one cold fall day, I whipped up a batch, and they were honestly some of the best cookies I’d ever had. Fresh and warm from the oven, they reminded me of childhood, of grandma’s house, of being cozy, of sharing. I knew we had to make this into a beer.

As with most experimental recipes, the team first brewed a pilot batch and made some initial tweaks before delivering it on a production scale. Typically, we’ll use 2-row pale malt as the base malt for our recipes. However in this case, we used a new base malt: Marris Otter. This is a winter 2-row British barley that, when malted, gives us a very high extract and adds a fantastic underlying flavor. We then added rolled oats to the mash, creating a smooth, rich body for the base beer.

Building on the oatmeal stout recipe, we mixed in cinnamon and bourbon-soaked Madagascar vanilla beans in order to really hit those cookie flavor notes. The chocolate malt becomes accentuated with the addition of the vanilla, and the subtle, spicy aroma of cinnamon plays off the warm malty notes. After sufficient cold rest with the vanilla beans, we nitrogenate the beer in our specialty brite beer tanks to create a luxurious and creamy mouthfeel.

Bringing together these specialty ingredients, straight from the heart of traditional oatmeal cookie recipes, I think we truly have created a liquid version of this classic.

It is my hope that your own memories will be stirred upon your first sip of Debut #2: Nitro Oatmeal Cookie Stout. This is Starr Hill’s first ever oatmeal stout and our brewers employed a couple of new processes in the conception of this beer, which I think speaks to their creativity and brewing knowledge. Happy Stout Season!

Cheers and thanks for your support,

Robbie O’Cain
Brewmaster