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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Cooper Best Extra Stout - My First Batch
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:22 PM   #1
cdsearcher
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Default Cooper Best Extra Stout - My First Batch

Hello All,

I am new to the forum and I have been reading as much as I could find here, but like all newbies I guess I need some reassurance....so....

I am trying to recreate (as close as possible of course) my (current) favourite stout, Coopers Best Extra. I bought the Coopers home brewing kit along with a can of the Stout extract. After advice from my lhbs guy, I ditched the Coopers Brew Enchancer 1 for 3lbs of Muntons Plain Amber DME. Along with the DME he also recommended Papazian's JOHB book, which I have read (well most of it - more the beginners sections).

I boiled the Stout extract with 1 gallon of water for 20mins (picked too small of a pot to include the DME, duh!). I then added the hot water/extract mixture to the plastic fermenter and poured in the DME. I had to stir pretty briskly for 10min to get all the DME to dissolve. I then poured in more spring water for a total of 5 gallons of water used (to the 20.5L mark on the fermenter). I let the mixture cool and then pitched the (Coopers supplied)yeast. After an hour, noticeable gas in the air-lock, bubbling well after 7hrs. The kraeusen did blow the water out of the air-lock and I attached a hose to let the foam have a controlled way to expel. At 25hrs, I could not resist quickly opening the fermenter and removing most of the remaining foam with a santizied spoon (not touching the liquid or inside of the fermenter).

My question (of course) is about knowing when fermentation is complete.

The OG was 1.066

FG after 32hrs - 1.024
FG after 100hrs - 1.023
FG after 124hrs - 1.021 still very very slightly bubbling?

How low should I expect the FG to go?

Has fermentation become "stuck" (sure did drop off quickly)?

How long can I leave the beer in the fermenter?;
JOHB states no more than 10days (beacuse the yeast begins to breakdown and cause off flavours). But some comments here seem to say leave it alone for a few weeks (I don't have a secondary fermenter to rack into).

Do you think that I had aerated the wort enough?

I hope this was not too longer or have too (basic) many questions

Cheers - Peter

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Old 04-20-2009, 10:47 PM   #2
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Welcome!

The simple response: fermentation is "done" when your gravity doesn't change over multiple readings (usually ~3 days is safe). If it sticks at 1.020 for 3 days, for example, it's generally considered to be done. If it moves down to 1.019 or less, repeat the process.

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Old 11-03-2013, 07:40 AM   #3
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For my first batch I also decided to make Cooper Extra Beer Stout.

Here is the original recipe (Coopers site)

Ingredients
• 1.7kg can Original Series Stout
• 1.5kg Thomas Coopers Dark Malt Extract
• 500g Sugar/Dextrose

Due to lack of ingredients at local store, I made it from:

Ingredients
• 1.7kg can Original Series Stout
• 1 kg Extra Dark DME (70-120 ECB)
• 500g Sugar/Dextrose

Made some mistakes:
- threw yeast at 29C,
- fementation finished at 1020 (after two weeks) and probably finished fast since bubbling stopped after one day,
- I rehydrated yeast but it seemed not alive (probably old yeast)
- I poured water in airlock and some of it found way into fermenter.

So, basically I brewed not very drinkable beer. After one week in bottles it is so bitter you can hardly drink it and you can detect also some smell (probably due to high fermantation temperature).

I want to know what caused bitternes?
Is this unfinished fermantation (stucked at 1020) or too much Extra Dark DME? Will time help?

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Old 11-03-2013, 09:31 AM   #4
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There are a few possible causes of the bitterness, starting with the fact that dry stouts are just a rather bitter style to begin with, and it may simply be that this recipe is on the bitter end of the spectrum of dry stouts. If you are used to the more balanced examples of the style, such as the original Guinness Extra Stout, an extract based stout in particular may seem to have less body compared to the professional beers, which can make it seem relatively more bitter. I am not personally familiar with the recipe in question, so I can't comment on it directly.

It could also be that the LME can was old. You mentioned that you thought the yeast packet might be out of date; if so, it is likely that the extract was as well.

It is unlikely to be from too much DME, as dry extracts are never (AFAIK) hopped. If anything, it may be from too little DME, but again, dry extract is more concentrated by weight than LME, and 1/3 less is about the right ratio. Still, you might want to use more DME next time, perhaps as much as another 0.25kg.

In any case, one week in the bottle is still quite young for any beer; while sampling it at one week can give you a sense of where it is going, it is better to wait at least two weeks before trying it. I know that such patience is difficult (I rarely manage it), but trust me, the difference of just waiting that second week can be well worth it. In my own experience, stouts can take up to a month to really mellow out (I once had one that tasted like soy sauce the first time I tried it, but proved to be one of the better of my early beers after some additional aging). Patience is definitely a virtue in this hobby.

Finally, I would add that you might want to exercise a bit more control over the process for your next brew. To begin with, rather than using a pre-hopped kit, I would buy plain light malt extract, some hops, and some specialty grains, and follow a recipe such as this one (assuming you wanted to stick to dry stouts for the time being):

2Kg Amber DME (the amber is closer to the British or Irish malt than the light is)
225g extra dark crystal malt 120*L
225g roast barley
100g black patent malt
100g chocolate malt
35g Bouillon or Brewer's Gold hops @ 8% Alpha acid (about 10 AAU)
Irish Dry Stout yeast, or if you can't get that, any English yeast such as Nottingham. Make sure it is not past it's use by date.

Also, get two mesh bags, one large and one small; the LHBS (Local Home Brewing Store) should carry them under 'hop socks' or 'grain bags'. Finally, make sure you have a big enough brew kettle; 12L is the absolute minimum size I would use, and the larger, the better. Preferably, it would be big enough to fit the whole 20L batch.

Start by heating at least 10L of filtered water to 60*C. Put the specialty grains in the large mesh bag, loosely enough that water can soak the whole grist, and steep the grain bag in the water for 20-30 minutes. Remove the grain bag and bring the water to a boil. Slowly add the dry extract, stirring it in thoroughly. Put the hops loosely in the smaller mesh bag, and add them to the boiling wort. Boil for one hour, then take the hop bag out. Cool the brew kettle by immersing it in an ice bath, if you can. If your BK is a full 20L capacity, and you didn't do a full boil, top up the wort with cool filtered water. Once the temperature is down to around 20*C (EDIT: not 30*C, as I originally wrote, that was finger trouble), transfer the wort to your fermenter and pitch the yeast.

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Old 11-03-2013, 11:27 AM   #5
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Some interesting points, thanks.

So stucked fermantation at 1020 does not infulence on taste/bitternes?
I thought this was only reason for bitternes. I never thought lack of DME will infuence on bitternes since extract brewing is basically adding only extract can and 1 kg sugar and in my case I even added 1 kg of DME (on top of 500 g dextrose) so there were more than enough sugar.

I will definitly wait month or two and then decided what to do with my first batch.

By the way, according to your recipe to throw yeast at 30C must be a mistake (meybe you mean 20C).

Best regards,

Dozzi

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Old 11-03-2013, 12:59 PM   #6
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Yeah,30C (86F) is def too warm for pitching. 20 (68F) is a much better pitching temp. Pour my chilled wort through a fine mesh strainer to not only get more gunk out,but aerate the wort as well. I use spring water to brew with,& put a couple gallons in the fridge a day or two before brew day to get it good & cold. I chill the hot wort in an ice bath down to 75F or so. Then strain it into the fermenter. Top off to recipe volume with the cold water.
By the way,19L equals 5.016 USG. The I stir it like mad for 3-5 minutes straight to aerate more & get the wort & top off water mixed well. This will give a more accurate gravity reading before pitching the yeast.
They say to rehydrate dry yeast at 80-90F,but I've done it at 68-75F with very good results. I put 400mL of warm water at the temp mention in my flask,the sprinkle the dry yeast in. Sanitize some foil,plastic,etc & cover the top of the flask with it. Wait 15 minutes,then stir & wait another 15 minutes. Stir again & wait 30 minutes. Stir & pitch. This comes from a PDF I read on US-05 as an example. Cooper's 7g ale yeast packet performs as well as US-05 when rehydrated properly. I did a side by side test once & observed this.
And the fact that it stuck @ 1.020 doesn't mean it's done & you can bottle. If you do,then bottle bombs are something I hope you enjoy. Swirl up some yeast off the bottom,but don't shake. Aeration is your enemy after fermentation starts. Then warm it a little & it should start finishing up by the next day. With an OG of 1.066,it should get down to 1.012-1.014 on average.

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Old 11-03-2013, 03:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
Yeah,30C (86F) is def too warm for pitching. 20 (68F) is a much better pitching temp.
Erk, that was a typo, I meant 20. I've fixed it in the original. I was definitely wrong about it being 20L, however.
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Old 11-03-2013, 03:55 PM   #8
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At 20L,you're not off by much gravity-wise.

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Old 11-03-2013, 07:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dozzi View Post
So stuck fermentation at 1020 does not influence on taste/bitterness? I thought this was only reason for bitterness.
Actually, one would expect a stuck fermentation to leave more residual sugars, which would balance the bitterness out and make it seem less bitter, for a given amount of hop alpha acids. While dark extract and dark malts do have some bitterness to them, it is usually less pronounced than the hop bitterness would be, even with a stout.

In most beer, the main source of bitterness is the hops, or in the case of the Cooper's kit you mention, the hop oil added to the malt extract. Adding more DME would only dilute the hop flavor, as dry extract does not have the hop oils in it. While the dark DME may indeed have some roasted bitterness to it, depending on how it was made, it would probably have only a negligible impact on the beer as a whole. Since most extra-dark DME is made with a a fair amount of darker crystal malt, and a smaller amount of black patent malt, there probably isn't much bitterness to it to begin with. The Cooper's Stout kit HLME presumably is different, in that it should have a significant amount of roasted barley in it to be true to style, but in general dark DME will be colored dark with black patent, which is intensely dark but in small amounts not very bitter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dozzi View Post
I never thought lack of DME will influence on bitterness since extract brewing is basically adding only extract can and 1 kg sugar and in my case I even added 1 kg of DME (on top of 500 g dextrose) so there were more than enough sugar.
Yes, but not all sugars in malt extract are fermentable, unlike with cane or corn sugar. The residual unfermentable sugars add to the body of the beer (as do some malt proteins, which affect the amount of head retention) and should help balance out the perception of bitterness to some degree.

I strongly recommend reading a book on brewing before going on with your next batch, to get some idea of what is really happening in the brew. The book the original OP mentions, The Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian, is a decent choice, and a tremendously fun book to read, but even the newest edition is showing its age now. I would strongly recommend How to Brew by John Palmer, which is probably the best beginner's textbook right now on the subject.
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:46 PM   #10
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Pre-hopped DME is available. We just don't use it that often. I never have myself,just the plain versions. Stouts genrally only have bittering hops added,as the roastiness of the malts used take the place of flavor/aroma additions. And boiling the Cooper's can wasn't a very good idea. It can darken lighter malts & give that "extract twang". Not to mention,changing any hop profiles designed into it.

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