Yorkshire Oat Ale


Yorkshire Oat Ale
Yorkshire Oat Ale


When I saw this for the first time, I thought that something got lost in this recipe’s time travel.

The malted oats are cold mashed, which is very unusual in brewing. Since I’m such a fan of the strange historical recipes, I figured I would give it a go, and see what happened. I cold mashed the oats, as instructed, for around 12 hours. The specific gravity for that batch was 1.02. For those of you less familiar with the specifics of brewing, that is crazy low. The whole batch smelled a bit like damp silage that a horse might turn its nose up at. So far, I was not impressed.

But I dutifully bottled it anyway, and set it aside for a while. Finally, on a warm day, I cracked one open with great trepidation. To my surprise, the result was a very drinkable, low alcohol sour drink that proved quite refreshing in the heat of summer. The long cold mash seems to result in a sort of lactic fermentation, which creates that sour twinge. Very cool, quite easy, and well worth a try!

Recipe for Yorkshire Oat Ale

“Grind a quart of oat malt, made with the white sort, and dried with coke, and mash with forty-four gallons of cold soft water, let it stand twelve hours; then allow it to spend in a fine small stream, and put two pounds of fine pale hops, well rubbed between the hands, into it; let it infuse, cold, for three hours, then strain and tun it; put yeast to it, and it will work briskly for about two days; then stop it up, and in ten days it will be fit to bottle. It drinks very smooth, brisk, and pleasant, and looks like white wine, but will not keep. -Mackenzies, 1829


  • 1 heaping lb. malted oats
  • 1 gallon water
  • 3/4 oz. hops
  • 1 packet ale yeast

Cover the oats with the water, and let stand for 12 hours. Add the hops and let those soak for an additional 3 hours. Strain the mixture into a carboy, add the yeast, and allow to work until it’s done. Rack into bottles, and let sit for around a month, but not longer than 6 months.



9 Comments Add yours

  1. wkaplan1105 says:

    The stable tenders in the Eyrie would probably make this with all those oats lying around…

  2. What variety of hops did you use?

    1. Chelsea says:

      Eeps! You know, I don’t recall. I sometimes combine my leftover hops remnants, and I might have used one of those mixes. I know that’s an imprecise and wacky method for modern brewing, but it seems to fit the stranger historical recipes. šŸ™‚

  3. Kingsley says:

    How did you arrive at the 1-pound malt + 1 gallon water?
    Isn’t the recipe 1 quart malt + 44 gallons (woah 44! Typo?)

    Can you take a stab at what “allow it to spend in a fine small stream” means?
    Are you sure some sort of more than room temperature mashing didn’t happen? Perhaps it is not listed in the recipe because it’s implicit and assumed?

    Anyway – Your version:

    Did you bottle it? Carbonate it otherwise?
    What was the final gravity? Abv?

    Oh, and what is a “heaping pound”? Is this a volumetric imperial measure? If this is the same sort of thing as a “heaped teaspoon”, doesn’t the shape of the vessel change the actual measurement?

    You don’t mention if you ground your malt as per the recipe, this would give better conversion.

    Ah i think I have it roughly in metric ~
    1 litre of oat malt
    4 litres of water
    22 grams of English hops (low AA, guess about 3-4%, maybe Fuggles)
    11 grams of English Ale yeast … although maybe a saison yeast would work well.

    Sounds pretty cool, I might give it a brew over the weekend.

    1. Kingsley says:

      Hmm, it does say “strain and tun it” ; in a mash tun? So it it then mashed after straining ?

      I’ll have to find out somehow.

  4. Tom says:

    A tun is just a vessel. Any vessel.

    I’ve done the maths on the bushel/quart thing. You’re looking at 5lbs / gallon. Looking back through my notes, a Bushel of Oat Malt weighs 32lbs. Also, Yorkshire use UK Bushels/gallons, if you’re converting the recipe and you’re not from the UK.

    Have tried this before, with little success, so I’m going to try it again tonight. Wish me luck.

  5. punkrawkgeek says:

    How’d it turn out….?

  6. Mark says:

    Just started a batch of this. 6lbs of malted and 2lbs of steel cut oats. Sitting in my plastic fermenter with 6 gallons water. Gonna add 2oz Fuggles and 1oz East Kent Holdings hops and some basic California ale yeast.

    1. Mark says:

      OK. Total failure. When I checked the fermenter, it was milky, smelled bad and had some hairy mold growing in it… But, I am so curious about this, I will be trying to brew it again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s