Phantom Banter – Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Coffee, Vanilla Beans, Cocoa Nibs and Rum Soaked Am. Oak.

If you haven’t been to The Answer Brewpub in Richmond, VA for their beers and Vietnamese cuisine, I suggest you do so… as soon as possible.  The have some fantastic offerings including their line of adjunct stouts that use ingredients such as Kona Coffee beans, hazelnut, maple syrup, toasted coconut, and macadamia nuts.  They are truly out of this world!  My wife tends to shy away from many different styles, but I do have to say she is a fan of a big chewy stout, and when we visited here, she has been asking to go back ever since.  These stouts are different; they remind me more or less of a melted, liquid desert rather than a beer.  After our tour of the beer in Richmond, I decided (along with my wife’s influence) to attempt and brew a batch in honor of An (the owner) and the Answer Brewpub!

A twist on the traditional Imperial Stout brewed with a ton of flaked oats and roasted malts.  I plan to condition this Imperial Oatmeal Stout on vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and whole Indian Monsoon Malabar coffee beans for added complexity on a clean fermenting, dry english ale (house) yeast with German Magnum for bittering and a touch of East Kent Goldings (EKG) for some flavor, then on top of it all I’ll toss it onto some Am. Oak cubes that were soaked in rum.

My timeline is this; after brew day, I will set it into primary fermentation for quite a while, making sure I make a hefty yeast starter well in advance (around 3.5 liters).  The yeast I use for most of my clean fermenting styles does well starting in the mid-60s and then ramping the temperature up slowly over the course of a week or two to finish out around 72-75 degrees to make sure it attenuates well.  At this point, primary fermentation will be far from over, so I will keep the beer sitting on the yeast cake for a few more weeks and transfer it to a secondary fermenter for some bulk aging.  Only after this period of time will I consider adding the adjunct ingredients and sampling frequently until I get the flavor and aroma I desire.

Phantom Banter label 1

Batch Size – 5.5 gallons @ 72% Efficiency – OG 1.100 – IBU 61

17.5 lbs  – Breiss 2-row pale malt

2 lb 5 oz  – Flaked oats

1 lb – Crystal 60L

12 oz – Black Patent malt

12 oz – Roasted Barley

8 oz  – Crystal 120L

8 oz  – Victory Malt

Mash @ 155F for 75 minutes, sparge and collect wort for 2 hour boil to a final volume of 5.5 gallons

2 oz – Magnum (13%) @ 60 mins

0.75 oz  – EKG (6.5%) @ 15 mins

Cool to 70F and pitch 2-step 2L starter (4L worth of yeast) of WLP007 Dry Eng. Ale


3 days @ 65

3 days @ 68

Bump up to 70F for 2 more weeks on the yeast cake then transfer to a secondary vessel for bulk aging of at least 1 month.

After bulk conditioning – 4 oz of whole (or coarsely ground) monsoon malabar coffee, 3 split and scraped Madagascar vanilla beans, 2 oz of cocoa nibs and 2 oz of Am. Oak cubes soaked in 8 oz of rum for at least 1 week – Condition on adjuncts to taste, then bottle (or keg)



I may have come across some 5 gallon bourbon barrels from a local distillery.  With that being said, I would have to ditch the rum and pour it all into a barrel, which sounds better anyway!








6 Replies to “Phantom Banter – Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Coffee, Vanilla Beans, Cocoa Nibs and Rum Soaked Am. Oak.”

    1. I just transferred from the barrel and added the coffee, cacoa, and vanilla soaked in more bourbon. So far I haven’t noticed any bourbon or oak character from the barrel after 3-4 weeks. Will take a sample at the end of the week to see how everything is going


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