KIT#5 – Coopers Stout

Kit: Coopers Original Series Stout
Plan: Make up kit with 1kg dark spraymalt, use some Fuggles for late hopping.
Brew Music: Black Sabbath (appropriate eh?), Ozzy Osbourne
Brew Date: 20/02/2011
Brew Time: 2pm – 4pm
OG: 1.046 – 1.048
Expected FG: 1.010

Bottling Date: 05/03/2011
Actual FG: 1.010
Actual ABV: 4.9%

Brewing kits is a much less stressful experience now that I’m on my fifth. However, this one still threw up a couple of challenges. I used one and a half sachets of Coopers ale yeast (from Coopers Stout and English bitter kits), so used about 11-12g in total. Hopefully this should help give all that malt a good kick in the arse. Rehydrated as normal.

Made a hop tea using the cafetiere and 25g Fuggles pellets. I filled the cafetiere with with boiled water, I’d say the temperature was around 90C. Left the pellets to steep as long as the yeast was re-hydrating (20 minutes). This worked extremely well – even with the pellets there was no sediment in the resulting hop tea. Will use this again. I sanitised the cafetiere in StarSan first.

Used 1kg dark spraymalt and 200g of unrefined caster sugar and just dumped the whole lot into the FV. This turned out to be a big mistake as I had serious issues with clumping. Even with heavy stirring/thrashing, I couldn’t get the lumps of malt to dissolve. I could hear them rattling around as I stirred. I ended up removing them with my sanitised hands and boiling in a saucepan then adding that to the FV. Hope I didn’t contaminate the brew. I think it might be a good idea to boil the malt first, but I will need to get a large steel stockpot first.

The kit itself is really dark! Smelt great. Added the hop tea and pitched the yeast at around 23C. Filled to 20l.

I heard this kit has a tendency to foam excessively so I took the precaution of placing the FV in a black plastic bag to catch any overflow. A little bubbling before I went to bed.

21/02/2011 – Got up this morning to see the (thankfully) familiar sight of the brown FV lid, meaning that the krausen had hit the lid. Excellent. A few hours later and loads of foam is spilling out of the FV.

22/02/2011 – Krausen has stopped spilling out of the FV now. But there’s still a good 5 inches layer of krausen and plenty of bubbling action.

29/02/2011 – Have completely ignored this for the last few days. Krausen has dropped out completely. Brew looks tasty, nice, thick and black. Going to get a gravity reading this evening. If it looks like it’s fermented out completely, I might just bottle it as soon as is practical. Not sure whether I’m going to use carb drops or batch priming this time. Batch priming probably, would like a more subtle carbonation in this, sensitive to style.

07/03/2011 – Never took that gravity reading – how’s that for relaxed brewing! In fact I never even took a reading before I started siphoning to the bottling bucket. I had to stop siphoning and take a sample out of the last few litres left in the FV. Glad I did, for peace of mind on bottle-bombs. I got 1.010 in the end which gives a very respectable 4.9% ABV.

Bottling was time-consuming, as usual, but very much hassle free. Used about 8 glass bottles this time in addition to all the PET bottles. Batch primed with 80g dextrose to give what will hopefully be a softer carbonation (would need to be a lot softer than I put in the Pale Ale)

Beer has a very strong fruity smell. As I was getting to the bottom of the FV I started to get more roast, coffee-like aromas. This has great potential but I’m going to leave it for a month to age before tasting a bottle.

12/03/2011 – The PET bottles are now carbonated, at least there seems to be a buildup of gas there. I’ll leave the bottles indoors for another 2 weeks and then out to the shed for another 2 weeks before tasting a bottle. Pity I don’t have this ready for St. Patrick’s Day!

31/03/2011 – Hmm, not great. Tasted a bottle and was decidedly underwhelmed. It’s been nearly a month since bottling, but it wasn’t at all enjoyable. Didn’t even finish the glass. Head was non-existent. A sharp, astringent flavour (as opposed to hop bitterness). Almost “cidery”. I didn’t get any of the flavours I was expecting, like coffee and chocolate. Hops were non-existent, too apart from the sharp bitterness. I guess I’ll have to do my usual and leave it for another few weeks before attempting another bottle.

22/04/2011 – Improving, but I certainly wouldn’t drink a whole lot of these. Got nicer as I neared the bottom of the glass. Could get more roastiness there. Give it another month so.

10/05/2011 – Another taste. Definitely getting somewhere. Get plenty of roastiness there now, but no coffee, liquorice or chocolate! A little too fizzy. Reveals its subtle charms as the glass gets warmer. Hopefully it will improve more after a further month in the bottle.

08/06/2011 – Something about this I’m not quite happy with. There’s a fruity/yeast taste to it that seems out of place and I think it’s my own doing. I think it might be the Fuggles hop tea. It’s almost like the beer is still a little green, but that can’t be the case: it’s 3 months in the bottle now! Will try another bottle tonight. It occasionally let’s some of it’s roasty character through, normally near the end of the glass.

15/08/2011 – Alas, all is lost. This may be the only batch to date which I’d consider dumping. It’s got a bitter, yeasty bite. An off-flavour of some description. It’s very disappointing because I think I can taste a smooth and mature beer underneath the off-flavour. Will definitely do the kit again though.

Going to try to get closer to the commerical Coopers stout. Maybe the “Stouter Stout” which is brewed to 18 litres.

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