Preparing Oatmeal

So I read that since I’m using the old fashioned oats I’ll need to cook all 1.5 lbs of them.

Do I drain them?

Can they be cooked the day before?

Do you mix them in with your other grains upon filling the mash tun? Layer them?

Does the cooking water need to be treated?

Here’s what How To Brew (12.2) says:

“Oats are available whole, steel-cut (i.e. grits), rolled, and flaked. Rolled and flaked oats have had their starches gelatinized (made soluble) by heat and pressure, and are most readily available as “Instant Oatmeal” in the grocery store. Whole oats and “Old Fashioned Rolled Oats” have not had the degree of gelatinization that Instant have had and must be cooked before adding to the mash. “Quick” oatmeal has had a degree of gelatinization but does benefit from being cooked before adding to the mash. Cook according to the directions on the box (but add more water) to ensure that the starches will be fully utilized.”

Could the oatmeal be placed in a bowl to soak instead of cooking it?

If you use ‘instant’ or ‘quick’ oatmeal, you don’t need to do anything…just add it to your mash. If you use regular rolled oats, you definitely need to cook them first.
If you use steel cut (aka ‘pinhead’) oats, they also need to be cooked first, but note that Steel cut/pinhead oats take much longer to cook than regular rolled oats. However if you soak them overnite first, the cooking time is reduced.

Personally, for the last 30+ years I’ve used the instant oats in my brewing (added directly to the mash with the other grains) and have gotten great results.
I save the steel cut/pinhead oats for my breakfast bowl or for making goetta (“Cincinatti Scrapple”)

We buy the old fashioned oats here.

I’m actually wondering what difference cooking them prior does. It seems like the mash does the “cooking” (I do a 77 min mash). I had been considering boiling water and adding it to the oatmeal in a very large bowl and covered.

You need to gelatinize the starches in the oatmeal, which is a fancy way of saying cook it. This has already been done with instant oats. What I’ve done in the past is just make them according to the instructions on the box as if I were having them for breakfast, and add it to the mash water before the rest of the grains to keep it from becoming a big goopy mess.

Is there any reason I couldn’t add boiling or extremely hot water to a bowl to “cook” them?

Any idea how this effects the strike water temp? I’d think after 10 mins or so of sitting in hot water that I’d probably be close to mash temps. Would it be prudent to drop my strike temp down maybe 3-5*? I was considering ~158* for my oatmeal stout.

My opinion - I think you need to boil them for a few minutes for it to work properly. I’ve never tried just steeping them, so don’t let me discourage you from trying it.

I’m not all that organized, so usually the cooked oats are sitting around for awhile and cool down to close to room temperature by the time I’m ready to add them, so it hasn’t been an issue to adjust the strike water. Since you’re mashing fairly high, though, I could see not wanting to overshoot your mash temp by too much. A good 10 minutes with the lid off should be enough to drop the temperature low enough that it won’t affect your mash temperature too much.

Good luck! Are you going to toast the oats?

I’d save the old fashioned oats for oatmeal and use quick oats for your beer. Just easier and I don’t know of any benefit to making your life more difficult in this regard.

I have been told that toasting the oats prior will make the flavor pop. But I’m uncertain what exactly (time/temp) is needed. I would like to try it.

I have to admit I’m a bit perplexed as I get different answers from different people. So I Googled the difference and cannot really seem to understand what the real difference is between old fashioned rolled oats and quick oats (not to be confused with instant).

From everything I read it seems it’s merely a matter of the thickness they were rolled to. One cooks in 5 mins and the other may take as much as 15 mins.

Though the can states “old fashioned rolled oats” it gives a 5 min cook time and microwave instructions, which leads me to believe these are more likely quick oats. As there’s not much difference I wonder if that’s how they can state “old fashioned oats.” Given the 5 min cook time I intend to treat them as quick oats and not precook them unless someone shows me that I indeed need to.

I’m still lost on why the hot mash temp wouldn’t cook any oatmeal in an hour, why they’d need to be precooked. But then portions of the physics of the mash are still a bit of a mystery to me… I understand just enough to be comfortable doing it until I decide to use oddball ingredients.

I’m wondering what the real difference between cooking them on medium for 5 mins is compared to using very hot/boiling water and allowing to steep for those 5 mins. It doesn’t seem to my thinking to be all that different. But then my logic has failed me before…

I bought a large can of this oatmeal, and will make it do this time. However, if needing to be precooked is a part I’ll certainly go for easier oatmeal next time. But it does appear by the cook time that this is actually quick oatmeal.

I’m guessing that if I toss these straight into the mash and they did indeed require cooking first my OG reading will be lower? How else would I know?

It’s a myth that “old fashioned rolled oats” and “rolled oats” are different products. Unfortunately John Palmer has perpetuated this myth in How to Brew. The term “Old Fashioned” is added for marketing purposes. I use the Quaker “Old Fashioned” rolled oats in the mash without pre-cooking and have never had any problems. ... r-faq.aspx

[quote]Quaker® Old Fashioned Oats are whole oats that are rolled to flatten them.

Quick Quaker® Oats are made the same way but are simply cut into slightly smaller pieces so they cook faster.

Instant Quaker® Oats use the exact same oats, only they are rolled a little bit thinner and cut finer so that they cook very quickly.[/quote]
Oats do need to be mashed. Extract brewers will want to do a mini-mash with some malted barley to provide the enzymes required for conversion.

I’ve used the plain old Quaker rolled oats multiple times by just adding them to the mash tun with the rest of the grains. Did use steel cut oats for a change once and cooked those the night before. And I have toasted rolled oats twice. Single layer on a cookie pan in the oven at 250* until they were slightly browned.10-15 minutes if I remember right. Smelled really great while toasting. Did it make a difference in the beer? Don’t know.