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Banana Oat: Messy and Reckless

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brcfarmer

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I’ve got two approaches to winemaking. One is precise….procedural. The other is “Let’s just throw some crap together and cross my fingers”. This was the latter.

I’ve made banana wines in the past. Bananas are cheap - even the organic ones - and it’s fun to watch something that initially looks like mopwater from a Home Depot bathroom turn into good wine. It takes a while for the alcohol to cool down, but treating people to something exotic is a rewarding experience.

I decided to make a gallon of banana wine with oats. Specifically, flaked oats. They were wicked cheap at Wal-Mart, and, having been told on several occasions that oats are probably not a good choice for winemaking because of a, b and c, I KNEW I’d end up trying it eventually.

I began with the traditional chopped banana simmer in a huge pot. No peels for this run. Bring to boil, and then let it ride on medium for a spell. However, this time, I poured in a pound of oats with my bananas.

Yes….a pound of flaked oats. There are probably a number of SMARTER ways to handle such a thing, but the moment took me. I can’t explain my thought process beyond…”yeah it’ll gelatinize, but if I overcompensate with water, I think I’ll be alright.” The sort of rough estimation that leads to building a lopsided tool-shed. I don’t know how the beer guys pull it off, and, for the moment, I didn’t feel like putting in the research time. I just wanted to have fun with it.

I was able to separate the “water” with repeated strainings, but lemme tell ya….it was a hair less thick than Bisquik batter. Got a little more than a gallon, dumped 3/4’s of it, and mixed the remaining 1/4th with more water. Probably the only hope I have at being able to rack actual liquid out of there. I added lemon slices…a ton of pectic enzyme (would pectic enzyme clear up grain starch?) and two pounds of brown sugar. Then I tossed my yeast.

I didn’t touch my hydrometer once. There was just something about the consistency of what came out of that frothy banana-oat cauldron that made me think, “Can I trust this thing with an accurate reading?”. Beer guys would probably have a better handle on something like that.

Anybody done a wine with oats before?
 

Shayne Edwards

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It will all be good, I believe the very best of Irish Whiskey always used to used oats in making the wash. Apparently it is a right bastard to deal with, I will try find the link I was reading about and post for your perusal, it may have some hints in it.
 

brcfarmer

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Thanks, Shayne...I appreciate it. It's looking good in primary so far. Not starchy at all, really. Underneath the fermentation smell, there's something I haven't come across in making fruit wines: this slight Worcestershire sauce smell. It's not unpleasant - just different.
 

brcfarmer

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After racking into secondary, I have a delightfully boozy smelling concoction that is hospital bedpan yellow in color...when it finishes, will likely be a nice golden color. Much like previous banana wines, I have a thick layer of lees on the bottom that I'll probably rack out sooner than later. My hope is that the oats will lend a strong flavor component rather than just giving it body
 
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Shayne Edwards

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Hopefully it will add that creaminess that the whiskey makers talk about and take your banana wine to a different place.
 

brcfarmer

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So here's an update.

OatmealBlend.JPG
Here's what it looks like today. Yes, there's a ton of lees on the bottom, but otherwise it's great. Gonna give this one an early racking to get that stuff out. Smells citrusy. The bedpan yellow has been replaced with a nice golden color. Got a bit off the top and it tastes good...rather different from other wines I've made in the past. Certainly different from other batches of banana.

It's now official. IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO MAKE WINE FROM OATMEAL. Just be careful about how much you're using. Strain it out well before you add it to primary.
 
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brcfarmer

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Not exactly, Shayne, there's more going on than that...I'll probably have a better idea of what to call it when the yeast colony is more spent and the actual taste starts to shine through. But, then again, taste is one of those weird subjects in the home winemaking world....what it tastes like now might not have anything to do with what it tastes like a year from now. But we ALL do it despite ourselves....taste it right after primary and make wild speculation. That's part of the fun, I guess.
 

Shayne Edwards

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I know that I am taking the micky a little, however, seeing the wine is made essentially with porridge and bananas could you safely label this as a breakfast wine??
 

brcfarmer

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I know that I am taking the micky a little, however, seeing the wine is made essentially with porridge and bananas could you safely label this as a breakfast wine??
ABSOLUTELY! The Breakfast of Champions...
After the first racking, there's another half inch of lees in there, but, honestly, it's not that bad considering the gummy mess I dealt with to get this thing started. What gets me is that, by the look of it, this stuff will actually be transparent in the end. Maybe I overestimated the starchiness of oats. Yeah, they gum up like nobody's business, but are they actually STARCHY?

Has me wondering if oats could stand on their own as the main flavor component in a wine. Honestly it could go either way. I wouldn't try oatmeal by itself necessarily, but maybe use a bunch of raisins like a traditional New England apple cider. Something tells me that any newly minted "oatmeal wine" category will probably need serious aging to bring out any strong essences. I think Jack Keller said that it took a long time for his wheat wines to come into their own. And, let's face it, oats are good, but they're not super flavorful. However, fermentation and sitting around really changes the taste of stuff.
 
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Shayne Edwards

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I did some more reading on an Aussie brew site and there was talk about adding an enzyme to break down the starch to usable sugars, other advice was around time and this occurring naturally. Again if I can find the link, I will share it.
It is really interesting what you are doing and learning, I think it wont be long until I have a shot at as well, using what you have learned of course. MMMMMmmmmmm Breakfast Wine!!!! Good on you mate.
 

Brigitte

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Following your post. This is interesting. Can’t wait to see the end result. I was wondering about a pumpkin oatmeal wine.
 

brcfarmer

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Following your post. This is interesting. Can’t wait to see the end result. I was wondering about a pumpkin oatmeal wine.
I would go for it. The banana oat looks pretty good so far, but the final result is still in the air. Just be really sparing with the oatmeal.....it's messy to work with.
 

brcfarmer

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Looks great. There's the slightest powdering of lees at the bottom after some weeks of just sitting. I'm really hyped to try this during the next racking.

I want to make an oat wine with a little bit of orange, lemon and raisins tossed in there during primary. Next run I'm gonna try a quarter pound of oats instead, and really control the simmer to try to minimize the gummifIcation ( is that a word? ). I mean, it has to gum up a bit to really release the essence, but I believe it can be done without the gloopy mess.

The goal here is to get those OATS to really show themselves.
 
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Brigitte

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I’m intrigued... I may give the oat wine a go when I have a carboy freed up. Since you are an out of the box thinker.. I have been pondering using PB2.. powdered peanut butter in a wine. May need to start a new thread on it rather than keep a conversation going here. But PB and concord .. PB and chocolate.. might be interesting.. and less fat to worry with than using the real peanut ... any thoughts?
 

tradowsk

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@Brigitte I was at a local meadery this weekend and tried an experimental PB&J mead. He used powdered peanuts and concord juice and it turned out really well! He mentioned to be careful with the amount of peanut you add, apparently a few of his batches were not good.
 

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