Well, here we go – my first homebrew… finger’s crossed it isn’t a dud first experience! I’ve followed the kit instructions pretty closely with a minor, I think, tweak in the hop department. I bought the kit, plus some other bits and pieces including extra hops and a St Peter’s IPA kit from http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/ - prompt delivery with a tracking code and everything intact except for the very flimsy Cooper’s DIY Beer DVD, which was cracked! No worries, as the video is also online along with many other instructional videos from other folk on YouTube.
I started with a Cooper’s Original Series Lager Kit… and did some research online. It isn’t quite a lager, for starters, it comes with an ale yeast so is really a light ale. Quite a few reports of using this kit with extra hops (in various ways) can be found on the popular homebrew forums too.
In a more general sense, there were various things said about water treatment, with the primary concern being to get rid of chlorine. There was some talk about boiling water to achieve both de-chlorination and to remove some hardness.
On Saturday I boiled 25l of finest Cambridshire tap-water and popped it into a 5 gallon plastic barrel I’d included in the order. This sat for about 24hrs to cool, with the lid off (covered with a teatowel). This plus a little Brita filtered water from the fridge was my brew water. Used with a little reservation as it did taste a little “odd” – not bad odd, just different from the tap water.
Come Sunday evening, I sanitised all equipment as best as possible and started my brew!
I made up 20 litres as per the kit instructions. I.e. dissolve the Brew Enhancer 1 in hot water, mix in the hopped malt extract, top up with water to 20 litres.
This is where I went off-plan. I took off 2 litres of wort and brought this to boiling point in a large saucepan. I then added 10g of Saaz hops, then after 6 mins I added another 10g, then boiled 6 more minutes. I added this extra-hopped wort to the fermenter through a strainer.
After mixing this in the temperature was up at about 30C, so I added 2lt of chilled water from the fridge – through the hops in the strainer – then topped up with room temp water to just a little over the 23lt mark. This left the temp a little high at 28C.
I sprinkled the packet of yeast and moved the fermenter to the warmest room in the house – the study. I’m currently a little concerned that there doesn’t seem to be much activity in the brew, though there is some. Perhaps I should have followed the frequently seen instruction to toss the kit yeast and buy some brewing yeast separately. Well, time will tell.
I also just tasted my OG sample and… hmm… it’s a bit bitter. At room temperature mind you. I thought I was being conservative with the 2x 10g hopping with the Saaz, which is only 3.1% alpha acid. I’d seen forum posts where people popped in 2 x 30g and then another 30g dry-hops post-ferment. I do intend to add some dry-hops too, I have some Sorachi Ace for this!
The OG was a seemingly low 1034 – though this looked more like 1033 after it had been sitting for a couple of hours.
Well, for the timebeing, here’s
live Y-Brew-Cam: Hm, light’s not so great for beer, isn’t it? Brew-Cam cloaked… here’s an older pic:
The notes I’ve written down on my Cooper’s brew-sheet are:
- Brew Kit: Lager
- Adjuncts: Brew Enhancer 1 – 4099110704
- Hops: Boiled in 2lt wort – 10g Saaz at boil, 10g more Saaz after 6 min, 6 more min boiling.
- Yeast: Coopers – 7g – 31111
- Date: 2012-06-17 @ ~21:00
- OG: 1034 (1033 after 2 hours)
One review comment on the coopers kit: why on earth does it come with a non-permanent marker that wipes off the shiny brew-sheet provided?
I finished with a cup of tea made by steeping the spent hops. It was quite bitter, but tasty. Was drinkable with a teaspoon of light brown sugar added.