What is an Oatmeal Stout? (Flavor, Ingredients, and Recommendations)

Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. Turns out it is also for making great beer. If you’ve never heard of an oatmeal stout, you may be wondering what they are.

An oatmeal stout is a variety of stout ale brewed with oatmeal as one of the ingredients. The oatmeal gives the beer a velvety mouthfeel and a toasty flavor. The style is also known for roast malt and coffee flavors. An oatmeal stout will have a relatively low ABV (4.2-5.9%) and dark brown or black color with a thick, creamy head.

Keep reading to learn about what makes an oatmeal stout an oatmeal stout as well as 10 great choices to try.

The oatmeal stout beer style – a comprehensive look

You shouldn’t have to chew your bee, but that may be the first thing you think about when you hear about an oatmeal stout. Thankfully an oatmeal stout is not some weird mix of your breakfast oatmeal and favorite stout.

An oatmeal stout is, as the name implies, a stout with some amount of oats in the recipe. It has been brewed for over 100 years with several rises and falls in popularity. As a style, it is most similar to milk stouts in flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel.

Naturally, there is a lot more to the history and characteristics of oatmeal stouts. Let’s take a closer look at this style of beer.

History

As a stout, the history of the oatmeal stout begins in England. Stouts evolved from strong porters called “stout porters” into their own style in the 1700s. This is when brewers began experimenting with various types of stouts. One of which was the oatmeal stout.

The first recorded oatmeal stout was brewed in 1894 in England.

The style grew from there with many other brewers picking it up. Eventually, the style declined in popularity. The style was returned to popularity when craft brewers revived it around 1980.

Like milk stouts, when oatmeal stouts were first brewed, they were marketed as a healthy option. Brewers claimed they were nourishing due to the oatmeal used in their brewing. They went so far as to recommend the style to mothers and “invalids.”

Flavor

The flavor profile of an oatmeal stout is focused on the sweeter side.

Oatmeal stouts are not as sweet as milk stouts but sweeter than dry stouts. That said, there can be a lot of variation within the style. Malt notes such as roasted coffee, caramel, and chocolate are common.

The official style does not have a strong hop profile, but hop flavors and bitterness can be present. Additionally, fruity flavors (esters) are not present in all oatmeal stouts, but some may have these notes. Finally, you should not taste a strong alcohol presence.

Aroma

The aroma of an oatmeal stout will be your first impression.

An oatmeal stout should smell of caramel and roasted coffee, reflecting the flavor. Other aromas can include mild fruity notes. Overall, an oatmeal stout will smell sweet and malty.

In order to get the full aroma experience, you should drink the beer out of a pint glass. A can or bottle will mute the aroma. 

Mouthfeel

Once you take a drink of an oatmeal stout, the difference between it and standard stout will be apparent.

An oatmeal stout is full-bodied, smooth, and silky. Carbonation should be medium to high. Many brewers use nitrogen carbonation to increase the silky mouthfeel.

While not as immediately crucial as the flavor, the mouthfeel can control the character of a beer. It is a great supporting aspect. Together with flavor, it can make or break a beer. 

Common questions about oatmeal stouts

Like most beer styles, oatmeal stouts can vary greatly from one to the other. The recipe can be tweaked slightly, new ingredients can be added or taken away and you’ve got a completely different beer.

Because of this variability, there can be some uncertainty surrounding the style. Here are some answers to clear the air.

Do oatmeal stouts actually contain oatmeal?

Finished oatmeal stouts do not contain oatmeal. However, oatmeal is a part of the recipe in the form of flaked oats or malted oats.

Most beers are filtered and pasteurized, removing any lingering impurities that weren’t removed earlier in the brewing process. Even the beers that aren’t (some smaller breweries and home-brewed beer) shouldn’t have any oatmeal in the final product.

Are oatmeal stouts sweet?

Oatmeal stouts are typically sweet. This is not due to the oats after which the beer is named. Instead, they are usually sweet because the chosen yeast strain does not consume all of the sugars present.

That said, not all oatmeal stouts are sweet.

Are oatmeal stouts bitter?

Oatmeal stouts can be bitter. While not as strong as an IPAs hop bitterness, there can be some bitter notes in an oatmeal stout.

If the brewer uses too high of a ratio of oats to other ingredients, it can produce a bitter flavor. Additionally, there is usually some hop bitterness to balance the malty sweetness.

Is an oatmeal stout like a Guinness?

An oatmeal stout is not like a Guinness. Guinness is a dry Irish stout. It is less sweet and not as full-bodied as an oatmeal stout.

These two stout styles do have some similarities but are two rather different styles at the end of the day. They often look similar with their dark coloration and thick head of foam. The biggest differences are in the flavor, mouthfeel, and aroma.

How many calories are in an oatmeal stout?

A 12 oz oatmeal stout has roughly 180 calories.

This is on the higher end of average calories per 12-ounce beer. Stouts and IPAs tend to have a lot of calories.

The best oatmeal stouts to try in 2022

While not as well known as the ubiquitous Guinness, oatmeal stouts enjoy decent popularity. There are many great craft brewery examples of the style.

Here is a list of the most recommended oatmeal stouts:

  • Fremont Brewing Co. The Rusty Nail 
  • Millstream Brewing Co. Back Road
  • Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
  • Founders Brewing Co. Breakfast Stout
  • Great Lakes Brewing Co. Ohio City Oatmeal Stout
  • Rogue Ales Shakespeare Stout Nitro 
  • Terrapin Beer Co. Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout 
  • Anderson Vally Brewing Co. Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
  • Summit Brewing Co. Oatmeal Stout 
  • Modern Times Beer Black House

1. Fremont Brewing Co. The Rusty Nail

  • Brand: Fremont Brewing Company 
  • From: Seattle, Washington
  • ABV: 13.3%
  • IBU: 40
  • Featured Hops: Magnum & US Goldings
  • Taste: This imperial oatmeal stout is full of bold flavors. You will taste cinnamon, licorice, malty sweetness, and espresso. This full-bodied stout is impressively complex.

2. Millstream Brewing Co. Back Road

  • Brand: Millstream Brewing Company 
  • From: Amana, Iowa
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • IBU: 20
  • Featured Hops: N/A
  • Taste: Back Road stout starts with a grainy malt flavor that moves into roast malts. Sweetness is the dominant flavor, but it is balanced by some mild bitterness.

3. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

  • Brand: Samuel Smith Old Brewery 
  • From: Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England
  • ABV: 5%
  • IBU: N/A
  • Featured Hops: N/A
  • Taste: The first flavor notes you’ll taste are caramel and chocolate with a hint of fruitiness. It is not as sweet as other oatmeal stouts but still well balanced between sweetness and bitterness.

4. Founders Brewing Co. Breakfast Stout

  • Brand: Founders Brewing Company
  • From: Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • ABV: 8.3%
  • IBU: 60
  • Featured Hops: N/A
  • Taste: The Breakfast Stout is a delicious combination of coffee and oatmeal. It opens with rich roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and malty sweetness.

5. Great Lakes Brewing Co. Ohio City Oatmeal Stout

  • Brand: Great Lakes Brewing Company 
  • From: Cleveland, Ohio
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • IBU: 25
  • Featured Hops: Willamette
  • Taste: Prepare your tastebuds for roasted malt flavors, hints of caramel, and chocolate. The Ohio City Oatmeal stout provides an even sweet and bitter profile.

6. Rogue Ales Shakespeare Stout Nitro

  • Brand: Rogue Ales
  • From: Newport, Oregon
  • ABV: 5.7%
  • IBU: 60
  • Featured Hops: Cascade
  • Taste: This dark stout brings cocoa, coffee, and smoky roast malt to oatmeal stouts. This one is more bitter than sweet though it is mostly roasted malt flavors.

7. Terrapin Beer Co. Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

  • Brand: Terrapin Beer Company
  • From: Athens, Georgia
  • ABV: 9.4%
  • IBU: 50
  • Featured Hops: Nugget
  • Taste: Enjoy the best of breakfast with this sweet coffee oatmeal stout. The main notes are roasted malt with hints of coffee. The creamy mouthfeel lends itself to the notes of dark chocolate aftertaste.

8. Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

  • Brand: Anderson Valley Brewing Company
  • From: Boonville, California
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • IBU: 14
  • Featured Hops: Chinook & Northern Brewer
  • Taste: Brewed with oats, chocolate, and roasted barley, this beer combines smoky malts and dark fruits. It is not overly bitter or sweet. 

9. Summit Brewing Co. Oatmeal Stout

  • Brand: Summit Brewing Company
  • From: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • ABV: 5%
  • IBU: 32
  • Featured Hops: Northern Brewer & Pilgrim & Fuggle
  • Taste: This oatmeal stout tastes of chocolate, caramel, and hazelnut. It starts sweet before developing into a bitter-and-sweet mix.

10. Modern Times Beer Black House

  • Brand: Modern Times Beer
  • From: San Diego, California
  • ABV: 5.8%
  • IBU: 40
  • Featured Hops: N/A
  • Taste: This beer proves that coffee and oatmeal just go together. Brewed with house-roasted Ethiopian and Sumatran coffee, Black House starts with roasted barley and roasted coffee. It develops into caramel, oats, and toast.