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Ethereal Brewing | Lambda Oatmeal Stout

Ethereal Lambda
Katie Oswalt

ABV: 5.7% | IBU: 30

Though Ethereal Brewing has been cranking out new recipes consistently throughout its first year in business, the same brew still warms my soul week in and week out.

The Lambda Oatmeal Stout, my tasty favorite, was named the Lambda for a very good reason. The lambda is a measurement of industrial malfunctions, which seemed all too appropriate for the title of this accidental brew success. Due to the level of popularity of stouts, the brewers decided it would make no sense to even attempt the initial recipe. It has now become the most popular beer on the menu, second only to the IPA.

So what was this “mistake”? Yes, this perfect beer was in fact a very fortunate accident. Andrew Bishop, the initial brewer, unintentionally used the wrong malt when whipping up the first batch. Father and owner John Bishop remembers this day clearly. “I was ecstatic when early one Saturday morning I received a phone call from my son Andrew asking me to meet him at Ethereal Brewing to help brew one of our first beers ever! I rushed down thinking I was finally going to be able to brew and to make a significant contribution. After loading about 700 pounds of grain into the mill and then dragging it up to the mash tun to help pour it in, it finally hit me: I wasn’t brewing. I was the mule hauling grain for the brewer!” He laughs, then adds, “It wasn’t until the following day that I heard that there was a mix up on the malt, regular chocolate rather than pale chocolate. By that time, ‘the die was cast,’ so it was just a matter of waiting.”

The original pale chocolate malt would have made the beer a toasty and light flavor, but instead regular chocolate was tossed in. This gave the beer a much roastier and darker chocolate taste, which didn’t turn out to be a problem after all. But that wasn’t the only potential mistake.

The second issue with this brew was that the fermenter tank temperature dropped to the mid-30’s as soon as the yeast was pitched (ale yeast is normally ferment above 60 degrees) so it was not able to ferment properly. There is a risk of contamination and bugs at this point. Head brewer, Brandon Floan, remarked, “It was kinda of scary.”

The brewers had to heat up water, recirculate the brew through the fermenter’s jacket, and throw more yeast in the beer in order to start the fermentation process ASAP.

The outcome (no bugs or contamination included!) was a wonderfully delicious sweetness balanced by the contrasting roasted flavor of the beer. With the malt that was originally called for, the brew would have been far too sweet for this delicate concoction. The scrumptious stout pours thick and opaque with a gorgeous tan head, boastfully photogenic in its beauty. Each sip holds a perfectly balanced toffee and molasses succulence, dessert-like and satisfying without being too heavy to drink a second glass. In fact, it’s hard not to. “Eventually,” John adds finally, “we all agreed the beer was very tasty and decided it was the new recipe!”

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  1. Brian

    So many great creations have come from accidents/mistakes. The wonderful Lambda stout, also my favorite at Ethereal, is another fine example.

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