Archive for the 'Kit Brewing' Category

KIT#7 – Coopers Lager

Kit: Coopers Original Series Lager
Plan: Hop a Coopers Lager kit with a little Mittelfruh for a Boston lager style. Use Nottingham for a clean lager taste. Looking forward to doing this one. Bulk-prime with 150g dextrose.

500g light spraymalt
500g beer kit enhancer 1

Hop Schedule
15 mins – 25g Hallertauer Mittelfruh
5 mins – 25g Hallertauer Mittelfruh
Dry Hop – 25g Hallertauer Mittelfruh

Music: Electric Light Orchestra

OG: 1.040
Expected FG: 1.010

Edit**
Bottling Date: 08/05/2011
Actual FG: 1.010

Made up kit using the usual procedures but using a large Le Creuset as a brew pot. Worked quite well, I have to say. Dissolved about 300g of the spraymalt in 2 litres of water, which I later topped up with another litre after I put the hops in. Added hops according to the above schedule. There was lots of yellow bits in the resulting wort (lupulin?). Had a problem with my new strainer funnel. 50g of hops is a huge volume when fully hydrated and will not fit in this tiny funnel. As a result, I spilled a few hops into the fermenter. My only other option is to get a large sieve as I’m planning doing hops of this volume in the future. That was the only “incident”.

Fermentation took off within an hour! And was kicking off with gusto by the next morning. No big krausen though, about 2 inches. A different type of fermentation with the Nottingham yeast. It looks like the beer is fizzing! Like a big pint of beer really.

26/04/2011 – Looks like fermentation is just about to stop, still a slight fizz on top though, and some brown yeast floating on top too. Will rack to secondary at the weekend, following a gravity reading.

29/04/2011 – This thing is still fizzing! It’s good really, because the yeast is taking out a lot of the residual sweetness, hopefully leaving a cleaner, lager-like flavour. I think it’s starting to clear a little too, but that could be the morning sun shining through the fermenter. Still some hop particles floating on top and lots of clumps of brown yeast.

02/05/2011 – Racked to secondary after 11 days in primary. Racked onto 25g Mittelfruh hops, contained in a sanitised muslin bag. Still some tiny bubbles coming from the primary FV before I bottled. Gravity read 1.010. Taste was okay, a little muddy/yeast perhaps but some nice potential there and was quite lager-like.

07/05/2011 – Bottled this bad boy. Only 5 days on the dry hops but they’ll have done a good job. Need to look at my siphoning technique and get my secondary FV down lower. Must remember to put a cloth under the FV on the counter to stop it slipping. I ended up disturbing yeast that would have stuck to the bottom of the FV if I hadn’t been so cack-handed in trying to tilt the FV to get the last couple of litres out. Ended up leaving about 2 litres in the bottom of the FV when I was racking to the bottling bucket! Bottled 34 bottles. Good smell but I didn’t have a taste. Looking forward to sampling this one. I’m guessing it might condition a bit faster as the fermentables were 50% BKE. I’ll try a bottle after 1 month.

12/05/2011 – Think it’s carbonated already. Definitely some pressure in the bottles. And plenty of fizz when I try to upset the yeast back into suspension.

22/05/2011 – Moved to shed after 2 weeks at room temperature. Plenty of fizz in it I think. I put one bottle in the fridge for a couple of nights and could tell the difference in the amount of CO2 absorbed when compared with one of the other bottles. Lots of smaller bubbles shaken out of suspension. I thought better of drinking it though and moved it out to the shed along with all the others.

01/06/2011 – Tried one. Just over three weeks in the bottle. Tastes very green. There’s an overly fruity and slightly plastic flavour on this. Also plenty of chill haze or sediment. Not entirely pleasant, but I still drank most of it. There’s a strong Hallertauer flavour which makes the beer reminiscent of a pale ale so it’s possible I’ve overdone the hops on this one. Good head retention though. Will wait another month before trying another.

07/08/2011 – Now that I understand a bit more about home brewing I can see it was a bit stupid to expect anything like “Boston Lager” by simply adding a shitload of hops to this kit. First of all, I added far too much hops. I reckon that by simply adding a 25g hop tea would have freshened up this kit considerably. Lagers, even “faux lagers, are never hopped heavily like this. The result more resembled a hoppy pale ale than a lager. The Notty yeast did a fine job in producing a clean tasting beer, but a lager it ain’t.

Saying that, the beer was very drinkable and was a particular hit with the missus.

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.

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

**Edit
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.

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%

**Edit
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.

KIT#3 – Coopers Sparkling Ale

Kit: Coopers Sparkling Ale
The Plan: Combine kit with Nelson Sauvin & Cascade hops to make something like Brewdog’s 5am Saint.

Music: Led Zeppelin
Date: 19/12/2010
Time: 8:00pm – 9:30pm
OG: 1.056
Expected FG: 1.014 – 1.016

**Edit
Bottling Date: 08/01/2011
Actual FG: 1.014
Actual ABV: 5.5%

Used Safale S-04 11g sachet, rehydrated in boiled kettle water at 30C. Boiled 1.5l water in a saucepan and added 300g dextrose, 100g wheat spraymalt (to aid head retention), 500g light spraymalt. Dissolved with a spoon and added 25g Nelson Sauvin hop flowers. Turned off heat and left to steep for about 10 minutes. Added resulting mixture to kit extract and 1.5kg can liquid malt extract. Pitched yeast. OG a whopping 1.056. Aerated well and topped up to 23l. Haven’t bothered using an airlock this – what’s the point? Just left a small crack in the lid.

In less than 2 hours (before I went to bed) the aeration foam had died down and there was visible fermentation. Couldn’t believe it.

Plan to dry hop with a mixture of Cascade and Nelson Sauvin.

Notes

20/12/2010 – Some gentle fermentation going on. The fermentation on my first 2 batches would have been a lot more vigorous. Not sure if this is to do with the yeast used or the temperature in the room. It was extremely cold last night. A slow start has a good effect on fermentation though, so no worries there.

21/12/2010 – Serious krausen which has lifted the lid off slightly. Fermentation looking good.

01/01/2011 – Racked to secondary, after nearly 2 weeks in primary. Beer has cleared extremely well. The yeast cake was highly compacted, not sure if this is due to the length of time in the FV or the use of S-04. The FG was anywhere between 1014 and 1016. had a taste, probably the least pleasant taste I’ve had straight out of the trial jar. It reminded me of wine somewhat, lots of alcohol in this one. Dry-hopped with 20g of Cascade and 10g of Nelson Sauvin with a muslin bag (sanitisied in StarSan solution). I wedged the hop bag down with the paddle and put the lid on so the hops are fully immersed. 2 days later and there’s a great hoppy aroma coming from the FV. I’m planning on dry-hopping it for a week or so before bottling.

08/01/2011 – Bottled brew at 1.014. I had half a bottle left over and it tasted pretty good – probably the best taste yet, straight out of the FV. Considering it was warm, flat and unconditioned I was surprised at how good it tasted. Big hop flavour and aroma. But then, it has been in fermentation for 3 weeks. Should mature nicely in the bottle and hopefully the big Nelson Sauvin aroma will still come through. It doesn’t taste like 5am Saint, and certainly not like Coopers Sparkling, but it’s definitely right up my street. Looking forward to supping this one. I also experimented by adding 2 carbonation drops to 2 of the PET bottles (they both have unbroken seals). Hopefully they don’t explode!

22/01/2011 – After only two weeks in bottles, I had a sample. Lots and lots of flowery hoppiness but very sweet. My guess is that the sweetness was from the priming sugar because the beer was barely fizzy. I also had a blinding headache afterwards, let’s hope I don’t get that with the next bottle. Left by the radiator in cardboard boxes for a few days and the bottles seem more pressurised. Moved elsewhere in the kitchen and will leave for another 2 weeks. This is a high gravity brew so it’s going to benefit from an extended period of conditioning, just like the IPA I did.

17/02/2011 – This has been conditioning in the shed for at least two weeks now. I’m planning on leaving it well alone until 08/03. By then it will be 2 months in bottles and should have improved considerably. If not, I’ll leave it for another month.

20/02/2011 – Opened a bottle of this by mistake as I thought it was a Pale Ale! Improved a little bit but it’s going to be at least another 6 weeks. It’s tantalising – I can taste the potential in this.

12/03/2011 – Tried another bottle and it has changed considerably, a little more bitterness coming through, some of that serious in-your-face maltiness is mellowing. I’m not getting much of the hops at the moment, but there is lots of fruitiness. I’m not sure if this is due to the NS hops or the S-04 yeast. It’s definitely going to need another month to mature further. Getting there though.

27/03/2011 – Another sample. Really improved. Had no problem finishing this glass. A very malty drop, similar to the IPA I did. Very little hops coming through on flavour or aroma. Will leave another week or two, but I’d be quite happy to drink this. It tastes like it needs a big dose of Centennial or Simcoe. Couldn’t get over the clarity of this beer – it looks almost as clear as a commercial beer.

20/04/2011 – Just started milling into this now! What a lovely drop. Looks like all the patience was worth it. A nice alcoholic kick, bags of fruit from the yeast and hops. I can even detect the tiniest hint of clove which I find very appealing but some people on the internet seems to think it’s an “off-flavour”. Whatever :) I thought before that I’d never do this kit again, but I’ve changed my mind. It’s defintely one to do again, with a few tweaks here and there. The only downside is the long conditioning time.

As a 5am Saint clone it’s pretty pants, but still very happy with it. The next attempt at a clone will be much nearer the mark.

21/04/2011 – Use the kit yeast, which contains some lager yeast. Might attenuate a little better and give a less sweet flavour. Definitely a big-ass dry hop next time. I think the maltiness of this brew will stand up to a lot of hopping.

KIT#2 – Coopers English Bitter

Kit: Coopers English Bitter
Music: Nick Cave “Dig Lazarus Dig”, Midnight Oil
Date: 31/10/2010
Time: 3pm – 5:30pm
OG: 1.023(!) (corrected for temp at 22C)
Expected FG: Don’t Know (someone suggested 1.008)
Expected ABV: 3.8% (from moderator on Coopers Forum)

Edit
Bottling Date: 14/11/2010
Actual FG: 1.006
Actual ABV: ?

Sanitised using VWP in the usual fashion. This time I re-hydrated the yeast properly – I covered the jug in foil and placed a thermometer in water. I cooled the water by putting the jug in a bowl of water cooled with mini ice-packs. Worked a treat – had to keep an eye on the temperature though, as this method cools the water quite quickly. The temperature was exactly 30C when I sprinkled the yeast. Stirred with the thermometer and left to stand for about 25-30 mins. Probably a bit too long.

I sprinkled 500g spraymalt into the FV and poured in 1.5l boiling water, swirled to dissolve the malt. Added the can of malt extract and rinsed the tin out with another 500ml boiling water. Trashed the wort using the paddle and created lots of bubbles. Started to add cold water and mixed well, aerating the wort. By this time, there was a huge head on the wort. By the time I neared 5 gallons, I was afraid the head would fall out of the FV. Just made it though.

Then I realised i had left the paddle inside the FV!! [MISTAKE #1] Figuring my hands were clean enough after all that sanitisation, I retrieved it using my hand and rinsed under the tap.

Took a sample in the trial jar using the baster.

Took temperature, was shocked to see the wort was at 20C! Thought it would be a lot hotter. I used 3l boiling water and no cold spraymalt when I did the Muntons IPA. Need to be careful of that in future. no delay in pitching the yeast – gave it a swirl in the jug and swirled it into the FV. Gave the FV a stir with the paddle and popped the lid on it. Attached air lock filled with boiled water.

Took the temperature of the wort in the trial jar. 22C. The hydrometer reading gave me 1.022! Even adjusted for 2 degrees in celsius, this reading seems way too low. After doing a bit of reading online, I now know this brew is going to be pretty low in alcohol, but 1.022 would mean it would have to ferment out to 1.000 just to give an ABV of 2.5%!!!! It’s possible that the wort had not been mixed thoroughly at the top of the FV where I took the sample from. Must remember to mix better and take sample from deep within the FV.

By 11pm, the wort had started to bubble a little. No stir from the airlock though… surprise surprise….

01/11/2010 – Some foam on top this morning and some very gentle bubbling but no krausen. Put a post up on Jim’s Beer Kit about the low OG.

02/11/2010 – Some serious krausen on top now. Big buildup of CO2 in FV also. No bubbles in the airlock though! The lid on my FV must be really loose.

10/11/2010 – Dry-hopping an English bitter with Cascade? Okayyy… We’re not exactly striving for authenticity here, then?? Racked to secondary and dry hopped with 20g Cascade. Took gravity reading. 1.006 at 21°C which makes 1.007.

14/11/2010 – Bottled to a mixture of PET and glass using 1 carbonation drop per 500ml bottle. Removed floating hop bag from FV. Sanitised with 19l StarSan. Little or no sediment in FV this time. Gravity 1.007. Taste was sweet and fruity with plenty of bitterness coming through. I’ve better hopes for this than the IPA. Two weeks to carbonate and a week to condition.

29/11/2010 – Put one bottle in the fridge overnight and sampled. There’s a nice bitterness there, but like the IPA, it’s also got that fruity/sweet taste. Maybe they both need more time to mature. Pretty low carbonation, same as the IPA, but is perfect for the “bitter” style. I’m going to have to bulk prime in future I think. I’m going to leave at room temperature for another week before moving to shed.

03/12/2010 – Tried another bottle and it’s tasting pretty damn good! Loads of cascade hops on the nose which reminds me of 5am Saint – surely no bad thing! A pleasing ‘pop’ when I cracked the bottle open, so definitely more carbon dioxide developed since last week. I also noticed there was a layer of gas sitting on top of the beer when I opened the bottle. Presumably this carbon dioxide had not been absorbed into the beer because it had not been left in a cool place. So we’re looking good. The fruity taste has dissipated somewhat, and there’s lots of bitterness now. Very pleased. For the moment. Will move some bottles to cooler room and leave some at warm temperature for purposes of comparison. Now, if only the IPA was developing as well…

05/12/2010 – Moved just less than half of the bottles to the shed. Very cold out there at the moment. I want to see if the bottles condition further – hopefully the CO2 will be absorbed into the beer, instead of sitting on top it, after a few days conditioning. Will test again this weekend.

17/12/2010 – I’ve only about 12 bottles left I think! I’m reasonably pleased with this one. There’s a bit of Cascade coming through which might be masking some off flavours there, but it’s very, very drinkable. I really must leave a couple of bottles aside for consumption in a couple of months time. Would definitely do this kit again, but will be doing it in an ESB style next.

04/01/2011 – Finished this batch now! Excellent. It’s a nice kit, but I think it needs some extra hops. Got some Fuggles pellets so will use plenty of these next time.

05/01/2011 – Even though I was pretty pleased with this one, I don’t think I’d use American hops in this kit again. I think there’s more appropriate kits to do that kind of hopping with. But I would definitely dry-hop with something like EKG or Fuggles. I actually think this kit is so good I’d use it to “use up” hops, and just throw a load of leftovers in it.

Despite the small amount of extra malt that goes into this one, I’m not sure I’d change it. It makes a really good session bitter. Would be interesting to double the malt though and steep some crystal in it.

KIT#1 – Muntons Gold IPA

Kit: Munton’s Gold India Pale Ale – Troops Tipple
Brew Music: Mark Lanegan “Field Songs”, ELO
OG: 1.050
Expected FG: 1.014
Expected ABV: 4.8%

Edit
Bottling Date: 24/10/2010
Actual FG: 1.016
Actual ABV: 4.5%

My first lesson in home-brewing: calm first-time brewer nerves by drinking beer. I opened a BrewDog 5am Saint, a Cains Lager and finally an Erdinger Urweisse.

So, the kit was a Munton’s Gold IPA purchased from “thehomebrewcompany.ie”. I was using the following guide from beoir.org:

http://www.beoir.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33:getting-started-brewing-beer-with-beer-kits&catid=17:kit-brewing&Itemid=48

Boiled kettle for yeast re-hydration.

The first thing I did was sanitise all of my equipment: 2 fermenters, plastic spoon, thermometer, hydrometer, can opener, glass measuring jug, 2 plastic jugs (one to contain thermometer, can opener etc. the other filled with sanitiser). I used 4 tsp of VWP sanitiser in 2 gallons of hot tap water. Closed lid and shook vigorously, then added other equipment and allowed to soak for 15 minutes.

Removed trial jar and filled with sanitising solution, put in hydrometer and thermometer. Set aside.

Fill 1 plastic jug with sanitising solution. Rinse the other plastic jug in plenty of cold water. Place airlock and can opener in second plastic jug.

Remove glass measuring jug and rinse well with cold water. Filled jug with 200ml water, a mixture of boiled kettle water and tap water (!). Also should have covered with foil [MISTAKE #1]. Re-hydrated yeast. Water should have been cooled to 30C but I sprinkled the yeast in at 32C. [MISTAKE #2]

Boiled kettle for water to soften tins of malt extract. Added 2 tins to large saucepan and added 2 litres of boiling water. Left to stand.

Rinsed fermenter with several changes of hot top water and cleaned with a soft cloth. Took care to clean the rim of the fermenter and the lid, especially around the lid seal. Set aside.

Removed cans of malt extract from saucepan using oven gloves. Opened cans with the sanitised can opener and emptied contents of both cans into the fermenter.

Filled kettle twice and added 3.5l of boiling water to the fermenter, according to packet instructions. Mixed well using the large spoon and verified that no extract was sticking to the bottom of the fermenter.

And now, for my biggest newbie mistake… I pitched the yeast without checking the temperature of the wort. [MISTAKE #3] I immediately realised my mistake and took the temperature, it was 27C, maybe 28C. Although the yeast now seems to be working, it’s possible that this mistake may contribute some ‘off’ flavours – specifically some fruity esters.

Anyway, mixed well after pitching yeast before realising my fourth mistake. I had pitched the yeast before taking a gravity reading. [MISTAKE #4] I took a sample of wort by dipping the trial jar into the fermenter. It was very difficult to read the gravity because of bubbles in the trial jar. However, I took some photos of the reading and I’d estimate it to be 1.050. When adjusted for temperature, the OG is 1.052.

Closed lid on fermenter and attached airlock. Put in corner of kitchen, resting on cardboard. Disappointed not to see immediate results. How predictable. Patience grasshopper.

11/10/2010 – Finally, some krausen on top! Plenty of krausen touching off the fermenter lid too. No sign of bubbles in airlock.

12/10/2010 – Opened fermenter again, same (slightly less?) level of krausen. Krausen is mostly white/cream but has patches of dark sediment on top. Yeast? (Seems to be normal – checked photos of krausen online) Started monitoring temperature using baby room thermometer. Room is about 20C at night when cooking/heating is on. Temperature is 18.5C in the morning (at it’s coldest). Presumably, this is okay as the wort is supposed to be a degree higher than the room temperature?

13/10/2010 – I just can’t leave this thing alone! Despite my best intentions, I opened the fermenter again after still seeing no activity in the airlock. Still plenty of bubbling going on but nothing too vigorous. The krausen has become very light, a lot of the dark sediment which was on top of the krausen has disappeared – presumably dropped down into the wort. Wort definitely looks clearer and there is a more “beery” smell!

15/10/2010 – The krausen hasn’t changed much in appearance, still plenty of bubbles and a very agreeable, beery smell. 5 days and still fermenting!

17/10/2010 – Racked to secondary fermentation. Wort was at 20.5C. Calculated gravity at 1.016. Target gravity is 1.014, according to Munton’s instructions. Tasted wort, not bad, quite beery, but still a little too sweet. Sanitised siphon, secondary fermentation bucket with 2 gallons of VWP solution, same as primary fermentation. Rinsed siphon with plenty of hot water and filled with cold water. Attached to racking tube and siphoned to second bucket. Made every attempt not to introduce oxygen by placing the end of the siphon under the wort, but there was still a thin layer of bubbles/foam on top. Not sure if this is okay. Cleaned lid and airlock with hot water and reattached to secondary fermenter.

21/10/2010 – Prepared a 1l StarSan solution using 1.5ml concentrated sanitiser, taken with a pipette. Sterilised baster, thermometer, hydrometer etc. Took gravity reading of 1.016. So, gravity has not changed at all in 4 days. Clarity is excellent, as it was 4 days ago. The taste is also the same, seems to be quite sweet which I’m now thinking might actually be fruity esters. A sign of pitching the yeast at too high a temperature perhaps? I didn’t think it tasted particularly hoppy either (though I’ve read that this Muntons kit has very subtle hopping for what’s supposedly an IPA…). Smells like beer though…

24/10/2010 – Had mop and floor cloths ready. Place secondary FV on worktop. Place spill tray (baking tray) on chair. Prepare StarSan solution (1oz per 19l) in other fermenter. Sterilise 2 jugs, thermometer, hydrometer, siphon, racking cane, siphon clip, 6 bottle caps. [MISTAKE #5] Forgot to sterilise bottle tree! Placed bottle tree on sink drainer. Sterilised bottles in batches (34 PET Bottles, 34 PET caps, 1 clear PET bottle & cap, 5 crown caps, 5 glass bottles). Prepare siphon and runoff dish. Fill sink with warm water to clean off bottles after filling (prevents sticky bottles!)

Placed bottles in spill try and add 1 carbonation drop per 500ml PET bottle.

Recorded gravity of 1.016 at 20C. This gives 4.5% ABV and a real attenuation figure of 53.7%. Had a taste, still the same strong fruit flavour, not unlike lemonade! :-/ A bit of hops coming through now though, I think.

09/11/2010 – Moved to shed for conditioning and clearing. Bit nippy out there at the moment. The clear PET bottle (wrapped in a brown paper bag) has expanded so that it doesn’t stand on it’s own any more. Hopefully a sign that the carbonation has worked well.

13/11/2010 – First taste after 4 weeks conditioning. Just over 2 weeks conditioning at room temperature. A few days in shed. Chilled for about 5 hours in fridge. Tastes odd. It’s a lot less carbonated than I expected it to be. Either 1 carbonation drop per bottle isn’t enough or all the yeast flocced out. Seems quite hazy too. The taste is still far too sweet with very little bitterness coming through. Will try again next week. A disappointing first taste.

05/12/2010 – All is lost, it seems. Carbonation has not improved and flavour has not improved much, if at all. Think I might be chucking most of this one. I’ll keep 10 bottles or so (just in case it comes good), but I could use the bottles for something decent. I’ve got it into my head that the flavour is “plasticy”, but I’m not sure. If it does taste of plastic that generally means that there were traces of chlorine in the FV. Just in case, I’m going to sanitise with StarSan all the way next time. It’s also possible the fermentation simply stuck and the yeast flocced out, not cleaning up some the off flavours. It would make sense, given the higher than expected FG.

17/12/2010 – Tried another bottle, it’s definitely changed again. Might also be a bit more carbonated. But I still couldn’t finish it. Will hold onto it for another month and then decide.

03/01/2011 – This has changed again. There’s a little more bitterness coming through, but it’s more of an aftertaste. The plasticky taste has dissipated somewhat also. Finally, it’s starting to become drinkable, but it’s still disappointing. It will probably be a struggle to get through it. I think I’ll be giving a few of these away!

31/01/2011 – This developed into a pleasant enough drop. It’s certainly drinkable. I think I did pitch the yeast at too high a temperature. I don’t know where the plastic taste comes from. Perhaps the bleach sanitiser. Only a few bottle of it left. I think I would try it again (as a split batch), but under my new sanitisation regime.

14/03/2011 – Two bottles of this left. It’s really matured into quite a pleasant beer. There’s still a slight background off flavour. Pity it took so long to condition. Did I rack it off the yeast too soon? Did I pitch the yeast at too high a temperature? Sanitisation not good enough?


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