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Old 01-14-2012, 01:31 AM   #1
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Default Low ABV - Coopers Lager Kit

I'm just getting started with brewing beer, and decided to try a few extract kits while I accumulate the equipment to go AG. My wife got me the Coopers DIY starter kit that comes with the "Coopers Lager Extract" can and 1kg of dextrose/maltodextrin blend. Added sugar to fermenter, added hot water & mixed, added warmed extract then topped off to 23L as per the kit instructions. OG was 1.034. Nice foaming action after 24h, dissipated after 3-4 days. Fermentation temperature was 20-22C.

After reading some advice on these forums, I decided to extend the suggested fermentation time even though my FG readings were stable at 1.012 over several days. Let brew sit in the fermenter for an extra week and a bit (2 weeks total). Bottled in 750ml PVC bottles using the provided priming sugar drops.

Right off the bat I felt something was funny. The ABV seemed low (2.89% + 0.5% ~ 3.4%) and the beer tasted very yeasty. No off flavors, just tasted like pizza dough... I figured it would dissipate after hanging out in the bottles.

Just cracked a bottle open to see if flavor had improved (it's been 1wk in the bottle). I wasn't expecting miracles, but was hoping the flavor had matured a little... Beer cleared nicely and there was a little yeast deposit on the bottom, but it was still VERY yeasty and obviously low ABV. Also virtually NO carbonation. I'm by no means a beer snob, but I couldn't drink it.

Tried to follow everything to a tee. Sanitized bottles/equipment using star san. I should mention that I am using the "new" coopers fermenter with a spigot on the bottom and a non-sealing lid. Did not transfer to a secondary fermenter - went right from the primary to the bottles.

Hopefully the above is enough to diagnose the problem. I thought perhaps it may be a problem with the yeast or a lack of adequate mixing... Shook all the bottles and am letting them hang out another week or two... hoping I won't have to pitch it.

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Old 01-14-2012, 01:39 AM   #2
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One week isn't really enough to carb. The recommend period is three weeks at 70 degrees to carb and condition. You may see some carbonation after a week, especially if you are above 70, but the beer still won't be ready. Below 70 and it will take even longer.

The yeasty taste is most likely because the beer is full of yeast. It hasn't carbed out and settled to the bottom yet. Give it another two weeks at room temp and report back how good your beer tastes.

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Old 01-14-2012, 01:42 AM   #3
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What was your original gravity? How are you determining the ABV?

Your beer is still green. Wait another 2 weeks or so. It usually takes at least 2 weeks to carbonate and most often 3 or more.

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Old 01-14-2012, 01:44 AM   #4
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Ok, thanks for the suggestions folks.

@kh - OG was 1.034. Determined ABV using (OG-FG)/7.46. Added 0.5% for bottle-action.

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Old 01-25-2012, 11:16 PM   #5
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Ok, it's been another week and a half (almost 3 weeks in the bottles) and the beer has carbonated but the taste has not improved. It tastes like slightly sour apples with a very strong yeasty taste.

I'm wondering if perhaps it was fermented a little too warm... it's fairly undrinkable at this stage. I have another batch that's ready to bottle and I'm low on empties, so I'm thinking of just pitching it. Any chance the flavor will recover, or did I do something wrong?

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Old 01-25-2012, 11:17 PM   #6
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Also, the ABV still tastes very low.

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Old 01-29-2012, 01:40 PM   #7
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I just brewed the same one. It is a very light beer. There is a different taste, almost fruity sweet. I think it's just the kit. I'm really letting mine age though at 65f. It's hard not to open a bottle, but everyone says leave it at least a month. My ABV was low as well, about 3.5%. Next time I will brew only 20-21 liters instead of the recommended 23.

Cheers.

I'll post how mine turned out in a couple weeks.

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Old 01-29-2012, 01:54 PM   #8
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Also lagers like to be fermented around 50 degrees

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Old 01-29-2012, 02:01 PM   #9
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I did this one awhile ago. Two weeks was alright, in my opinion. The ones I opened after three weeks were much better. I know that patience is difficult when waiting to try your beer, but you will be better off in the long run.

Try getting more bottles and a second fermenting bucket or carboy so that you can brew more than one batch at a time and keep a rotation going. This will allow you to have a variety of beers and not be as impatient about waiting for the next one to be finished.

As for the ABV, most of the Coopers kits aren't high ABV. What you brewed was around 4.4%. That's not that low. There are a number of commercial beers at around that level. If you want something with a higher ABV, you might want to look into altering the recipes a bit.

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Old 01-29-2012, 03:08 PM   #10
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My experience was the same as yours. The coopers kits need some level of augmentation in my opinion. I don't think I'll do any more of them.. altho I love their DIY fermenter. Never a worry of headspace and blowoff.. and there is a krausen ring to remove so you don't have all that sludge drying on the side.

I've started using Better Brew kits now and they have plenty of fermentable s for a beer that is not flat tasting and has decent alcohol.

Check out "unionrdr's" profile. He has some modified recipes to show how to make them much better.

Oh, and Coopers kits use an ALE yeast. Still, IMO, the temps recommended for the yeast in the kits better modified. Lower your brewing temperatures to between 18-19*C and keep the beer on the yeast in the primary for 4 weeks.. not 7 days. You will be happier. Better taste by far.

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