Archive for March, 2011

KIT#6 – Coopers English Bitter

Kit: Coopers English Bitter
Plan: 500g light spraymalt, made to 21 litres, 25g x 2 Fuggles Hop Tea, Steep 250g medium crystal

Music: Mark Lanegan – Field Songs
OG: 1.032
Expected FG: 1.006 – 1.008

Bottling Date: 27/03/2011
Actual FG: 1.008
Actual ABV: 3.1%

Steeped 250g crystal malt in 2 litres of water. The aim was to maintain a temperature of 60°C for 30 minutes. I put a little extra heat under the pot after about 15 mins and forgot about it! I’d say the pot was close to boiling by the time I realised. Didn’t have any funky odour to it so I decided to use it. Didn’t sparge the grain however, which I had planned to do.

Brought brewpot to a boil and added a third of the packet of spraymalt. Added 25g Fuggles and boiled for 15 minutes. Add another 25g Fuggles at 5 minutes. In the meantime, added hopped malt extract and spraymalt to FV and add 1l boiling water. Added hop tea to fermenter using a sanitised plastic sieve and sanitised cheesecloth and strained out the hop debris. Pitched the yeast at 22°C. Made up to just over 21 litres.

18/03/2011 – No foam!! And I’m heading off for the weekend. Might have to remedy this one remotely. I checked the diary for the first English Bitter I did and that seemed to take a day or so to kick off, so I won’t panic yet. Should have started by tonight.

21/03/2011 – Plenty of foam hitting the lid over the weekend in my absence. Fermentation seems to have completed as normal. The odd little bubble and a thin layer of foam on top. This one might be an early bottler.

27/03/2011 – Bottled brew with no issues. The FG ended up just slightly higher than the last time I did this kit. I put this down to the shorter brewlength and the steeped crystal malt. Taste was not entirely pleasant – bitter and extremely fruity at the same time. Should be nice after conditioning though. Didn’t notice a big hop flavour from the Fuggles but hopefully this will emerge after conditioning. The beer is very cloudy too. Didn’t quite have enough bottles so I probably lost a pint or so. 2 weeks to carbonate and 3 weeks to bottle condition.

17/04/2011 – First taster after only 3 weeks in bottle. I was weak, I couldn’t resist. If I’d realised this was only at 3 weeks I wouldn’t have opened one. As it turns out, this is extremely nice! Plenty of bitterness from the kit and presumable the shorter brewlength. But this seems to be balanced by the sweetness of the crystal malt which also contributes a caramel, almost barely chocolately, taste to the beer. It tastes much more complex than I was expecting. Quite refreshing too, for a dark beer. I ended up drinking two of them. The level of carbonation (from a single carb drop) doesn’t seem quite right – too fizzy. Not much head to speak of. A very fruity character from the yeast also which I hope will mellow slightly. Going to give this another two weeks before I sample another bottle.

20/05/2011 – Been getting some very good feedback on this. A very light and refreshing bitter, plenty of bitterness and a nice caramel backbone too. Light in alcohol, you could drink quite a few of these. I had one after tasting something salty and got different flavours however – a yeasty/Bovril type flavour.

I’ve already got another English Bitter kit to do. This kit really is a winner.

23/05/2011 – I’m going to try upping the malt slightly to 750g to bump up the ABV a bit. I’m also going to use a lighter crystal to see if I prefer that. Also going to use an S-04 yeast as I’m not sure I’m liking the Coopers ale yeast. The Sparkling Ale has a nicer flavour to it which I think may be coming from the yeast.

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