Set aside ¼ cup of the oats for the topping; in food processor, grind 2 cups of the remaining oats until fine; set aside.
Sprinkle remaining oats evenly over rimmed baking sheet; toast in 350F oven for 20 minutes, stirring once; let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the flour, the warm water and the yeast; let stand until frothy, about 15 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk together the ale, skim milk powder, sugar and salt; whisk in yeast mixture; stir in 3 cups of the remaining flour and the ground and toasted oats; stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a slightly sticky dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding more of the remaining flour as necessary to prevent sticking; place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over; cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Punch dough down; cut in half; pat each half into 11- x 8-inch (28 x 20 cm) rectangle; starting at narrow end, roll up into cylinder; pinch along bottom to smooth and seal; fit into 2 greased 8- x 4-inch (1,5L) loaf pans; cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Brush loaves lightly with water; sprinkle with reserved oats.
Bake in centre of preheated 375F (190C) oven until golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, about 40 minutes.