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Sand Pit Special

Classification: stout, sweet stout, all-grain

Source: Glen Wagnecz (, HBD Issue #1630, 1/13/95

This recipe was adapted from Bob Jones "Smoooth Stout". Further guidance regarding the use of oatmeal was provided by Spencer Thomas. The rest was just plain experimenting (Evil Scientist/Boo!). This recipe is one of my most well received by both beer and non-beer drinkers alike. Some call it a "desert beer" because of its richness.

Like Bob's original recipe, it tastes OK after about2 weeks in the bottle, but tastes killer after about 6-8 weeks. Holds its good taste for months after that...

It's called Sand Pit Special because the water comes from the spring that feeds the sand pit out back...

Ingredients: (for 15 gallons)


Preheat the picnic cooler with boiling water, dump, and add the grains (pale, crystal, and carapils). Strike with between 7 and 8 gallons of 175 F. degree water (YMMV) to get to about 155 F. When the temperature is stable (10 minutes), add the prepared oatmeal and stir gently. Let sit for 1 1/2 hours and begin sparge. Use enough water (9-11 gallons) at 170 F. to collect 16 gallons. Why 16? Because I like to drain 1 gallon off of the bottom for my next starter!

After you've got the 15 remaining gallons in the boiler, ignite the jet engine or other device capable of supplying the heat that this big thermal mass will soak up. My experience is that I'm usually around 135 F. at the start.

Steeping. Take the specialty grains and place them in a section cut from some nylon pantyhose and secure with a knot. Tye a string to this and drop into the kettle. About every minute or so raise the bag and allow to drain slightly. Steal a clear glass of the wort and check it for taste (should taste roasty and somewhat nutty, but not overpowering, because the sweetness that is presently balancing the taste will be gone after fermentation). My second test is the black cat test. Glance pass the glass to the black cat and color should be close. If you don't have a black cat, hold the glass up to a medium light and you shouldn't see through it. Take another sip. Yum. A word of caution, if you don't get the taste before 165 > 170 F. (you probably will well before), kill the heat and finish the steep before proceeding.

The Boil. Approach the boil carefully (use a thermometer). The same things that give this beer its nice creamy head just ask for a boilover. DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE KETTLE UNTIL YOU GET A HOTBREAK. At boil, add 1/2 ounce of Nugget (13% AA) or the equivalent AA% of a similar bittering hop and boil for an hour.

Remove the Nugget, kill the heat. Add 1 ounce of East Kent Goldings + 2 ounces of Fuggles (I use a hop bag so you may want to reduce this quantity some) and turn on the cooling. Pitch yeast starter around 75 F.

YOU MUST USE A BLOWOFF TUBE FOR THIS ONE. I have never made this batch without experiencing a good day's worth of eruptions. The Irish is nice, however, in that it finishes rather quickly, two weeks at most. Carbonate per your tastes.

The starter. I use the Wyeast Irish Ale Yeast (1084?) puffed and pitched to a 1.050 starter. Leave yourself at least two days in advance to "farm" around 3/4 gallon of krausening starter.