Brew Review​: No Oats About it, DuClaw Explores Vegan Options

​What started as an experiment turned out to open up a whole new audience for DuClaw Brewing this year. Oat milk, mostly used in the coffee community as a dairy alternative, was used in place of lactose in some of the Baltimore brewery’s upcoming projects.

“This was an idea from one of our brewers, Mark Johnson when planning for 2020,” said DuClaw Operations Director, Chris Wood. “We wanted to give a dairy alternative a try in some of our beers that might traditionally benefit from the use of lactose for creaminess.”

​The audience ​DuClaw didn’t anticipate taking notice was the vegan community​ said Madeline Caldwell, DuClaw Marketing Director​.

“[They] rallied behind these beers in the best way​,” she said​​. “​Many of our beers happen to be vegan, so it’s led to some nice points-of-entry into DuClaw as well.​”​

Oatshake ​Double IPA and The PastryArchy Oat Milk ​Stout ​have hit​ shelves ​recently alongside Sour Me Blackberry Honeysuckle Tea, in DuClaw’s 19 states of distribution, DC, Canada and France.

Using ​oat milk was definitely experimental​, Wood noted​.

​He said they had initially planned to buy the​ oat milk​, but it was unavailable in the volumes ​they needed​.

“So we made our own​,” he said. ​”For breweries looking to make their own oat milk … I would not recommend it unless you have an industrial macerator or equipment to hydrate and mix at the same time.

“Let’s just say we now know what not to do! With that said, we did what we set out to do without one, so it’s possible.”

Wood said they tried both flaked oats and oat flour.

“Neither was ideal without special equipment — extracting the liquid was a nightmare — it basically turned into oatmeal in the lauder tun; we essentially had a collapsed grain bed, 3,100 pounds of wet oatmeal,” he said “Then, because it was so thick, we had trouble boiling it. It turned into dough bricks, yes bricks, in the kettle, and we had to manually clean those out as well.

“I say that I don’t recommend breweries try making oat milk, but I know in my heart that if we had to do it again, we could. My mind is always working. That’s how you push boundaries. If you’re not willing to risk failure, then you’ll never have success.”

When it comes to volume​ of use​, ​Wood said it’s different for every type of milk you use since they have different properties.

​”​We tested ratios using our ​Stout and ​Double IPA bases, making sure the oat milk was enhancing the beer ​versus taking away from it​,” he said. ​”​Our ​Double IPAs are pretty hoppy, for example, and we didn’t want to overpower that so we use slightly less oat milk in the Oatshake than in The PastryArchy Oat Milk ​Stout.​”​

Since this house-made oat milk was a new process for ​DuClaw, ​Caldwell thought it’d be fun to share a little bit about ​the oat milk-making journey when we released these beers.

​”​We failed fast and learned fast and ended up with some fantastic beers​,” she said.​

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