KIT #4 – Coopers Australian Pale Ale

Kit: Coopers Australian Pale Ale
Plan: To make an American style ale using the Coopers APA kit.

  • 1.7kg Coopers Australian Pale Ale
  • 500g light spraymalt
  • 250g dextrose
  • 150g wheat spraymalt
  • Cascade Hop Tea & Dry-hop
  • No secondary – dry-hop

Music: Pearl Jam, Otis Redding
Date: 08/01/2011
Time: 2pm
OG: 1.032
Expected FG: 1.010
Expected ABV: 4%

Bottling Date: 22/01/2011
Actual FG: 1.004
Actual ABV: 3.6%

I’d planned on using the Wyeast American Ale smack pack I bought, but I only recently discovered that to use the yeast correctly necessitates making a “starter”. Couldn’t be bothered as never had any trouble in the past with Coopers or Safale. I’ll do some research and see if I can just pitch it directly into the wort without negative consequences, regardless of what the manufacturer says.

Made a big mistake by using too small a saucepan. Just while I was going to get an oven glove to transfer the wort to a bigger pot, it boiled over. Pretty badly. Hope I didn’t affect it too much because I did include an extra 150g wheat malt, for head retention. Transferred to bigger pot anyway (should have added more water!) I used 30g Cascade pellets, boiled for 10 mins and 60g Cascade flowers, steeped for 15 mins. Was supposed to be 20 mins but I got impatient. I was alarmed at how dark (and green) the malt liquor was after the steeping, but the wort is still incredibly pale.

I’m also slightly concerned at how much wort was left over in the hop flowers – I didn’t want to squeeze them too much and get grassy flavours developing. I used a sieve to transfer the malt liquor to the FV, but I’d say there’s a lot of tiny particles in there that the sieve didn’t catch. Hopefully these will fall out of suspension along with the yeast. Made up to 22l to improve the body slightly, was supposed to be 21l, don’t know how I managed to screw that simple measurement up. Only 3 hours later and fermentation has already started, so looking good. I have it on the other side of the kitchen this time, away from the radiator, and the heating has not been on this afternoon. I’m trying to start the fermentation off at a lower temperature, to see if this gives a cleaner flavour. The wort smells pretty Cascade-y already, so I’m not sure if it’s going to need a bit of dry-hopping. I can make that call later I suppose. I think I see now why Cascade is described as a spicy hop. Very nice.

Going to research leaving out racking to secondary this time and bottling after 10 days.

09/01/2011 – Potential disaster here. The fermentation has not started. It seems i pitched the yeast at too low a temperature. I think it was around 18deg. Just checked the Coopers instructions which says to pitch at around 21°C. RTFM!

Sanitised a spoon, roused the yeast, and moved the FV over near the radiator with the heating on full blast. There were some tiny bubbles appearing within an hour or two. By the time I’d gone to bed, the krausen had developed some more. With well over 24 hours for fermentation to start, I hope there is no infection.

10/01/2011 – Looks like I got away with it – plenty of krausen and that flaky, oaty layer on top of the krausen. Smells different from the other yeasts though, not entirely pleasant. Must research if this yeast is different from other Coopers yeasts.

Update: The Coopers forum describes the yeast available with this kit as “Ac+L” which I think means a mixture of ale and lager yeast. The yeast did look like a mixture of two yeasts, and would also explain the slightly strange/unfamiliar smells coming from the FV.

12/01/2011 – Still big fermentation going on, and a seriously rank smell coming from the FV. So this is the famous “eggy” smell of lager yeast.

16/01/2011 – Took a gravity reading of 1.006 so looking good on the fermentation front. Still a very eggy aroma, so had a quick taste. Plenty of hop bitterness but the eggy taste comes through also. Hopefully this will dissipate with bottle conditioning. Surprisingly, there is no Cascade flavour or aroma coming through, despite using 3oz of hops!!! Made a hasty decision to dry hop with 30g Cascade pellets. Most sank to the bottom and a few floated.

An hour later, I discovered all of the pellets had dissolved and floated to the top forming a thick layer of green sludge! Looks terrifying. I’m hoping this layer will sink, but this might take a few days. Not sure yet whether I’ll rack to secondary for a few days and cold crash – depends on how much hop matter settles out of the beer. Great Cascade aroma coming out of the FV now though. Will leave until the weekend.

22/01/2011 – I had some serious issues bottling – I had to keep restarting my siphon because it got clogged with debris from the pellet hops. I will not be putting hop pellets directly into the fermenter again! Too much hassle. I also batch primed for the first time (150g dextrose). This was a little worrying as I wasn’t sure I’d get the full 22l into the bottling bucket as a result of siphon clogging – in which case the beer would be over-primed. Got the vast majority of it thankfully, but I disturbed a lot of yeast in the process.

The beer now looks really cloudy in the bottle. Hopefully will be alright with some cold conditioning. The FG was 1.004-1.006, my lowest yet. It tasted unpleasantly “grassy” but I’m told this should dissipate with time. I just may have got too ambitious with this one!

04/02/2011 – I’ve only just realised that I used an incredible 120g of Cascade in this thing!! It’s either going to be delicious, or a complete disaster…

14/02/2011 – The first taste! And it’s not bad at all!! I am really surprised given the overwhelmingly grassy flavour it had before I bottled. This has largely dissipated, but there’s still a herbaceous aftertaste, but not unpleasant. It’s quite a light bodied beer, as expected. A significant “minerally” taste, similar to what you’d get on a Sauvignon Blanc. The lager yeast perhaps? I really thought I had overhopped this thing, but again, it’s not overwhelming. A big citrussy hit from all the Cascade, and plenty of Cascade aroma. I enjoyed it right to the bottom of the glass and was even contemplating opening another. But will wait a couple of weeks before another sample. Really pleased. Learned a few lessons with this brew!

20/02/2011 – I thought “screw it” and opened another bottle. Absolutely fantastic! It’s changed in the bottle again, even though it’s only been a week since the last taste. Bags of hop flavour in it, very citrussy from all the Cascade. It’s a very refreshing drop, quenches the thirst and makes your mouth water at the same time. Wow. All of the grassiness has dissipated. Still a slightly minerally taste at the end but I think this might just be the kit. The combi yeast gives it a very clean flavour – less of the fruitiness associated with ales. Will do this again for definite. It’s got a light body which I quite like so I might resist the urge to increase the malt extract on the next attempt. I think this is now ready for drinking! I’m getting a real appreciation for how the amount of fermentables affects the conditioning time. My sparkling ale (1.056 OG) which I have conditioning was bottled weeks before this pale ale and it’s nowhere near ready yet.

13/03/2011 – Strange, it seems to be losing it’s hop aroma. Still a fair bit of flavour, depending on when I drink it. Sometimes I think it tastes good and sometimes I think it’s become flavourless. Further research needed methinks, but the bottles are disappearing fast.

12/04/2011 – One bottle of this left and it’s drinking fantastically well. Great hop flavour. The only downside is the slightly minerally taste which may be because of the combi yeast. The beer pours great when it’s chilled in the fridge and carefully poured. Otherwise it goes a little cloudy. Might rack this next time. I’ve already bought no less than two Pale Ale kits, one of which will be a Trashy Blonde and the other a 5am Saint. I love the bitterness of this, will definitely make it to 21 litres the next time too.

13/04/2011 – I think it was the wheat spraymalt which has made the brew cloudy. It doesn’t look like it’s going to clear and I don’t think it’s chill haze.

Would use 1kg of light spraymalt next time to give it a bit more body. Will also use a US-05 yeast to make it more American in style. Loving the hop schedule though, but will definitely look at my siphoning/clogging issues. I’m not dead against pellets but I need to invest in some straining bags.

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