The Cascadia Brewers Alliance (the homebrew club that I belong to), is having an “in club” competition on making beer with breakfast cereal. This competition was thought up by Christopher Cericola, who has been a member of our club for a little over a year, after moving out here to Vancouver, Washington from the East Coast. Chris is a creative brewer and constantly thinks outside of the box. In this instance though, he’s thinking inside the “cereal” box (pun intended). He threw the following cereal brands into a hat and pulled out two of them.
- Fruit Loops
- Cap’n Crunch (regular)
- Cap’n Crunch (w/Crunch Berries)
- Cocoa Krispies
- Lucky Charms
- Chex (regular)
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- Golden Grahams
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch
The two brands that were pulled were Cap’n Crunch (w/Crunch Berries) and Honey Nut Cheerios. The rules are as follows:
- The brewer must choose one or both of the two cereals listed and the chosen cereal must be at least 10% of the grain bill. If the brewer choses both cereals, he/she will still only need 10% and it can be split between the two cereals. The nongeneric versions are preferred.
- The brewer my dry hop with the cereal, but it will not count towards the mash requirement.
- The beer should be based off of the BJCP 2015 Guidelines styles. This is restricted to beer only. No ciders, wines or meads.
- There are no limits on adjuncts, grains or yeast.
- The brewer must submit their recipe and process for the beer.
- The brewer must brew at least 1 gallon.
- For judging, the brewer must provide three 12 ounce bottles.
- The brewer does not need to be present at the tasting to enter/win, just have your entries and info ready. You can have them brought to the tasting by anyone.
I chose to use the Honey Nut Cheerios. Below is a photo of my mash midway through stirring in my strike water.
The beers will be judged as follows:
- Taste 5 points (was it drinkable, would you drink this again, etc.).
- Creativity 5 points (how did the cereal affect the style, was it just added as an afterthought, etc.).
- Style 5 points (did it adhere to the style chosen).
Final scores will be determined by adding all scores together, and find the average.
Because of the judging rules, I had to put a lot of thought into my creation. My main thought was to try to create a flavor that adhered to the judging criteria as closely as possible. I made notes about Cheerios and the flavors. You can definitely taste oats, honey and nuts when you eat this cereal. I happen to not like the aroma of Cheerios, but do enjoy the flavor. I did a lot of reading online about making beer from breakfast cereals.
I learned that a lot of the time the flavors don’t come through and when they do, they are very subtle and can be easily overlooked. I didn’t really consider the Cap’n Crunch at all. The Honey Nut Cheerios option already has many attributes that work really well in beer.
- Oats work well in beer, especially in oatmeal stouts.
- Honey works well in beer, but sometimes it can be difficult to get honey flavors, because of how fermentable honey is. If put in early (such as in the boil), honey’s flavors and aromas can disappear.
- Nuts also are used in beer. In addition, nutty flavors are in many beer styles, without actually putting nuts into the beer.
My goal was to try to enhance the Oats, Honey and Nut flavors that the Cheerios bring to the table. I also wanted to create the “breakfast” experience. Cheerios are eaten with milk, so I am striving to bring that flavor to the breakfast table (once again, pun intended).
I also love flavored oatmeals for breakfast. I used to eat an instant oatmeal that was a banana nut oatmeal and another that was brown sugar oatmeal.
As you can see from all of this research/thinking, I’m trying to create something quite complex. My idea is to create a cross of a milk stout and an oatmeal stout. I want to enhance the flavors of the oats, honey and nuts already found in the Cheerios. I also wanted to create banana flavors, since I love bananas in my oatmeal. Lastly, I want the “milk” factor in the beer.
I ended up using two boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios. Through research about how honey nut cheerios are made, I realized that I wouldn’t have to convert starches to sugars, as cheerios are a “puffed” type of cereal. Some breakfast cereals need to be gelatinized to be able extract the sugars from the cereal. This was a plus for me, as I didn’t have to really on a crap load of enzymes in the mash. Those enzymes only had to deal with my normal grain bill. I’m going to list my grain bill now, and the reasoning of why I chose those grains for my banana nut milk/oatmeal stout.
- 2lbs. 2 oz. of Honey Nut Cheerios (Two boxes)
- 4 lbs. Pale Ale Malt (Great Western)
- This was chosen as the base malt. It’s one of my favorite base malts and I use it a lot. It has plenty of diastatic power to convert starches to sugars.
- 3 pounds of Belgian Wheat Malt
- This was chosen so that I can create the banana flavors. I’ll do this by using Weihenstephan Weizen (Wyeast #3068) yeast. This yeast is reknowned for throwing off a lot of banana aromas and flavors. Especially when the wort is under-oxygenated, the yeast underpitched, and the fermentation temperature controlled to be mid-60s F at pitch and allowed to free rise to about 70 to 72F.
- A combination of 4 specialty malts.
- 1 lb. of Victory Malt
- 8 oz. of Pale Chocolate Malt
- 8 oz. of Roasted Barley
- 8 oz. of Special Roast
- These specialty malts do two things for the beer. They should enhance the nuttiness, as they are used frequently in beers for this very reason. They also are the specialty grains needed to make it fit the style of a Milk or Oatmeal Stout.
- 1 lb. of Honey Malt
- Instead of using honey to get honey flavors, I decided on Honey Malt. It creates intensely sweet honey flavors and aromas without roastiness or astringency (exactly the flavors I’m looking for in this beer!). I’m already using some Roasted Barley, so I’m getting some roastiness, but I want it to be mostly undetectable. Oatmeal is not roasty or astringent, so those types of flavors wouldn’t be appropriate.
- 1 lb. of Flaked Oats
- This is to fortify the oat flavor of the cheerios. It will also lend a smooth, silky mouthfeel and creaminess to the beer. Just what I’m looking for.
- 1 lb. of Lactose (Milk Sugar)
- It is a “Milk” Stout, after all. This is not fermentable by the yeast, so it will add that residual sweetness and the “milkiness” that makes it a “Milk Stout”.
- 1 lb. of Rice Hulls
- I’m so glad I had these in the mash. I think this was the stickiest, gooeyist mash I’ve ever had. It took me nearly two hours to batch sparge this beer.
I ended up with 5.5 gallons of 1.071 wort into the fermenter. No oxygen added, except for some stirring and splashing. One smack pack of the Wyeast #3068. No starter. I want to stress the crap out of the yeast, so they’ll create those banana flavors I’m after.
So far, at 1 day in it’s bubbling away nicely at 67F. It was at 65F this morning when I got out of bed, so it’s rising slowly. When it gets to about 70F, I’ll start trying to hold it there or slightly warmer.
Here is the recipe: Banana Oatmeal Milk Stout
I’ll post more on the experiment in the future. I’ll also take notes on the other entries and let you know how they did.
Please comment or ask questions. I’ll be happy to answer questions or just trade stories about creative brewing experiments.