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Old 12-04-2011, 04:19 AM   #1
Vendrixfly
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Default Coopers English Bitter (With Adds)

Hey everybody!

I'm spankin' new to the forum but have been a lurker for the past couple months; greatly appreciative of the the mounds of info you guys provide to the fledgling home-brewer. You rock.

So.. I'm on my second brew. First was a Coopers Dark Ale with the minor improvement of Dextrose and it turned out fine after bottle conditioned, albeit rather uni-dimensional and certainly not sessionable, but definitely proving that drinkable beer can be made at home. So I was excited.

Just bottled my second brew Thursday, after being in primary for 2 weeks and had some concerns about the final product. I know about the issues with extract brews, the 1.020 curse, and uncontrollability, but I don't have the space in my Chicago apartment to move to all grain. I want to make good beer with what I have, and know it can be done. Here's the recipe, 30 min boil:

1 can Coopers English Bitter LME
1 can Coopers Light LME
1lb light DME
.5lbs Crystal 80
.5lbs Maltodextrin
.5oz Fuggles (15 min)
.5oz Fuggles (5 min)
1tsp Irish Moss

Boiled 2 gallons of filtered tap water and put in sanitized primary

Boiled 2 gallons of filtered tap for 10 minutes and brought temp down around 168 degrees.

I steeped Crystal 80 for 30 mins @ 160 degrees in water, took out grains, brought to a boil and cut flame while I added and stirred in all extract and Maltodextrin, boiled for 15 mins. Added 1st Fuggles and Irish Moss @ 15 mins, then 2nd at 5 mins. Cut flame and brought down to 70 degrees within 20 mins in an ice bath. Aerated wort and took a SG reading of 1.055 or approx 7%

Pitched one vial of White Labs liquid British Ale yeast 002 (which had been out of the fridge for 5 hours and at room temp) and let sit in 72 deg for 4 hours under airlock. After 4 hours I stirred the wort to re-suspend and fermentation began almost immediately. The next day I carefully moved the fermenter down into the cellar in the basement to stay at 68 deg ambient for the next two weeks. Never got over 71 deg. Checked 1 week in and had a very nice 2-2.5in krausen.

There was very little activity (less than 1 per 2min) bubbles when I went down on bottling day, and even those were very sporadic, so I took a gravity reading of the wort. It tasted amazing, but was only at 1.020. I decided to bottle. Adding 3oz of boiled priming sugar I transferred to bottling bucket and bottled.

1.055 - 1.020

Now I'm concerned. The low attenuation may have been due to the addition of specialty grains, boiling of LME, or incomplete fermentation, but I'm only on my second brew and have no idea...that's why I finally decided to come out of the cask and ask you guys Does everything I did sound okay? Should I be afraid of bottle bombs? The beer was only at 4.6% but it tasted good, I wanted an ESB at around 6% but maybe it's only a "Best Bitter" because of this. With the space I have at my disposal I'd just like to get better at extract brewing, maybe an all DME bill next time? Pitching more yeast? A starter? All these questions are coming out at the same time because I've waited so long to become part of the forum. Happy to be here and thanks for any help.

We'll see in a couple weeks if I end up with a delicious drinkable (yet sweeter) Best Bitter, or shards of glass hoping to avoid my empty carboys and aging wine. I've already prepared for the possibility of bottle bombs, hope they don't happen this time around!

-Dan

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Last edited by Vendrixfly; 12-04-2011 at 04:52 PM. Reason: Temp typo
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:44 AM   #2
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You might be okay. Being an extract brew with maltodextrin, along with not making a starter, it could have finished at 1.020. The bubbles on bottling day could have just been off-gassing. Plus you only primed with 3oz of priming sugar. I would check on the carb level weekly.

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Old 12-04-2011, 05:26 AM   #3
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Thanks for getting back. I brought 3 of the 12oz bottles up to the apt to keep an eye on the process; they're wrapped in paper and plastic bags and stowed in a trunk just in case...

I added less than usual priming sugar because I wanted a more authentic carbonation for an English Bitter which I'm told should be lower than those we have in the states. This might be to my advantage if the beer really wasn't fully fermented, I suppose. I'll check it weekly to see what comes of the brew.

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Old 12-04-2011, 01:52 PM   #4
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Newb here, as well, so my comments here may, or may not, be lacking in authority but If your FG measurements were static over several days, having a 1.020 FG won't lead to bottle bombs. Have had a couple of extract brews so far ending in the low to high 0.020s (highest of 0.026) and no problems.

Only thing I'd suggest is that, rather than relying on ambient temps, it's always beneficial to have an eye on the temp of the fermenter with a stick on fermometer/brewometer type thermometer.

think your sugar calculation for a less carbonated, more authentic end product is a good move too.

BTW, you seem to be exceptionally well organized and knowledgeable so I reckon you'll be turning out some pretty good beer, very soon.

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Old 12-04-2011, 02:23 PM   #5
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Cool, thanks Ogri. I do have a stick on thermometer on my fermenters. After the first few days of more vigorous activity the temp slowly lowered down to ambient. Showed 68 for the rest of primary. One mistake I did make was not checking the fg over the course of a couple days. I just bottled out of eagerness...last batch was bottled way to early, almost 5 days in, so I figured it was good to go. These are the things one learns with more experience.

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Old 12-04-2011, 02:46 PM   #6
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I see several factors that contribute to your lack of attenuation. WLP 002 is a low attenuator and probably even more so when using malt extract. Also, crystal and maltodextrin is going to add a point or two to your terminal gravity.

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Old 12-04-2011, 03:16 PM   #7
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Indeed. Suppose I forgot to account for the unfermentables when taking SG. Is it true as well that boiling LME can lead to further unfermentables sugars?

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Old 12-04-2011, 03:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vendrixfly View Post
Cool, thanks Ogri. I do have a stick on thermometer on my fermenters. After the first few days of more vigorous activity the temp slowly lowered down to ambient. Showed 68 for the rest of primary. One mistake I did make was not checking the fg over the course of a couple days. I just bottled out of eagerness...last batch was bottled way to early, almost 5 days in, so I figured it was good to go. These are the things one learns with more experience.
You, ideally, want to make sure that the first, initial, period of vigorous fermentation is regulated, temp wise, at lower temps. best if at the lower end of the range of the yeast you are using, then allow it to head slightly higher towards the later primary fermentation. Three weeks, at least, fermentation should see you turning out better beer than bottling prematurely.

Personally, for my first few brews I found the hydrometer a little intimidating , and decreasing the volume of my batches ( 2 gallon, Mr. Beer LBK) for FG testing a little wasteful, so neglected the practice initially.
Have also noted that the SG readings between satellite fermenter and main fermenter actually show very similar, if not exactly the same, readings simultaneously. So, using a satellite to approximately monitor the progress of the brew, then draw a couple of samples from the main fermenter to establish
Completion of fermentation is an economical way of doing things.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Vendrixfly View Post
Is it true as well that boiling LME can lead to further unfermentables sugars?
If you overheat the LME it could caramelize a little, contributing to more unfermentable sugars and burnt/overly sweet flavours.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
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Thanks, have heard of that... Next time I'll be sure to add it late in the boil or split it up.

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