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Old 12-08-2011, 11:43 AM   #1
nmesmeric
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Default Very Basic Brewing Questions

I am very new to home brewing and am having a basic attempt at brewing some Coopers English Bitter.

I have it in a 5 gallon fermenter at the moment, just as it was out of the packet, nothing else added.

I was going to just get a syphon and syphon it straight from first fermentation into some plastic 2 liter coke bottles after three weeks of fermenting. Then basically start drinking it 'if it tasts ok ish'

My questions are as follows:

1) When i syphon it into the coke bottles do i need to add anything else, i've seen priming sugar mentioned but i dont need it to be fizzy as it is meant to be bitter?

2) How do i know if it has finished fermenting, i have just bought a hydrometer but i took no initial readings?

3) Also have you any other tips for improving my plan highlighted above? i do realise that there is a good chance this beer is going to taste pretty rotten lol

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer such basic questions,

Cheers,

Felix

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Old 12-08-2011, 12:15 PM   #2
Brewskii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmesmeric
I am very new to home brewing and am having a basic attempt at brewing some Coopers English Bitter.

I have it in a 5 gallon fermenter at the moment, just as it was out of the packet, nothing else added.

I was going to just get a syphon and syphon it straight from first fermentation into some plastic 2 liter coke bottles after three weeks of fermenting. Then basically start drinking it 'if it tasts ok ish'

My questions are as follows:

1) When i syphon it into the coke bottles do i need to add anything else, i've seen priming sugar mentioned but i dont need it to be fizzy as it is meant to be bitter?

2) How do i know if it has finished fermenting, i have just bought a hydrometer but i took no initial readings?

3) Also have you any other tips for improving my plan highlighted above? i do realise that there is a good chance this beer is going to taste pretty rotten lol

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer such basic questions,

Cheers,

Felix
Well, first of all welcome to HBT and brewing. Done properly it's easy fun and yields as good a result as any commercial brew.

Secondly: info... Are you using Coopers malt extract. You said out of the packet .... I assume you got as far as adding some water
To it and/'or boiling it and adding yeast. That should result in a fermentation. if it's fermenting you should seen yeast and bubbles/ foam on the surface (krausen). That is an indication of fermentation.'

No worries an about not taking a gravity reading but I would use caution and sanitize the hydrometer and as cleanly as possible get a reading now.
The only real way to see if the beer is done fermenting is to get 3 identical readings in a row from your hydrometer. Air locks can leak so not seeing bubbles is a bad way to gauge fermentation but it can work in a pinch.
Wait until it's fermented all the way out and give it a little more time to clean itself up( there is good stuff going on even after the final gravity is reached).
Priming sugar is a specific amount of sugar added after the fermentation to produce carbonation. After the ferm is complete you add priming sugar ( usually boiled in water to dissolve and sterilize it ) and then transfer into bottles. that will re-activate the yeast and produce co2 that will go into solution because the beer is in a confined space (bottle). You don't have to add it but your
beer will be as flat as cow piss if you don't.
If you do use priming sugar you need to have some understanding of your original gravity ( in this case you will have to make some assumptions based on how much extract you used and the amount of water I-'if you used a kit it should tell you what the OG expected is.) . Then USE A PRIMING CALC! It is easy to over do it ( no more than 5 oz sugar in a 5 gal batch). Use too much sugar and the result would be exploding bottles ( read: not good)
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmesmeric View Post
I am very new to home brewing and am having a basic attempt at brewing some Coopers English Bitter.

I have it in a 5 gallon fermenter at the moment, just as it was out of the packet, nothing else added.

I was going to just get a syphon and syphon it straight from first fermentation into some plastic 2 liter coke bottles after three weeks of fermenting. Then basically start drinking it 'if it tasts ok ish'

My questions are as follows:

1) When i syphon it into the coke bottles do i need to add anything else, i've seen priming sugar mentioned but i dont need it to be fizzy as it is meant to be bitter?

Beer is generally consumed carbonated - adding priming sugar is how we do it. You can put a little less or a little more depending on how you'd like the end product.

2) How do i know if it has finished fermenting, i have just bought a hydrometer but i took no initial readings?

In a few weeks check the sg with the hydrometer. If you keep getting stables readings then you're good to go.

3) Also have you any other tips for improving my plan highlighted above? i do realise that there is a good chance this beer is going to taste pretty rotten lol

Probably not rotten. Beer is easy to make as long as you sanitize and read lots of HBT threads

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer such basic questions,

Cheers,

Felix
You can search a lot of topics on this forum as well in case a future question you might have has been asked before.

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Old 12-08-2011, 12:20 PM   #4
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Well I believe that I have read on here that some one else has carb'd/conditioned in coke bottles before so I guess it could work. I'm confused about not needing it to be fizzy because it's bitter though. I would imagine that proper carbonation would help the flavor of the beer but to each their own. If your down with with flat beer, then I say you plan is sound.

On a side note, even if you did add priming sugar to carb up some of the beer, you could always drink one of the bottles flat and then one when carb'd to see the difference.
Either way congrats on the brew and welcome to the site! This place is an awesome repository of information!

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Old 12-08-2011, 12:23 PM   #5
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Some beers are served with very little carbonation and are quite good. After reading a few threads on real ale (I think?) I decided to experiment with my Cream of three Crops Amarillo beer. It is cellar temp and barely carbonated. And it is fantastic.

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Old 12-08-2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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Thanks a lot on the quick reponses

I will use my hydrometer to work out the readings to see if it is complete, can you just float this in the top of the fermenter tub and take a reading (sanitised of course)?

I get confused with how i prime the bottles. By the sound of things i take some dissovled sugar water and put a small amount of this in the bottom of my coke bottles, i then fill them up with the beer from my fermenter via a syphon tube and leave it in a cupboard, is this correct?

Also daddysu, i'm thinking of english bitters you find in pubs, they generally dont have much if any carbonation, they are quite flat drinks, that is what i'm aiming to produce.

Cheers,

Felix

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Old 12-08-2011, 02:58 PM   #7
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nmesmeric - welcome to the world of homebrewing. I have a couple of comments based on yoru questions that, hopefully, will hep you out a bit.

There are two ways to add priming sugar to the beer. The first method is to simply add the sugar to the bottle you plan to use and pour the beer on top. This is not recommended as it gives inconsistent results from bottle to bottle. The better method is to siphon your beer into a bottling bucket, dissolve the priming sugar in a couple of cups of water, add to the bottling bucket and stir with a sanitized spoon to mix everything evenly, then bottle.

The sugar used is corn sugar, not table sugar, and for a 5 gallon batch between 1/2 and 3/4 cup. The more sugar, the more carbonation.

I have had plenty of English beers in my time, and none of them were flat. While you probably don't want it as bubbly as a Czech pils, you probably do want some carbonation. You may be thinking of the nice smooth mouth feel of some of your favorite English brews, but they get that from the malts used, etc, but they are carbonated.

Another tip I'd like to pass along is to use real beer bottles, not the plastic coke bottles. Beer caps are cheap, and the thick glass of the bottle will prevent bottle bombs from making a mess in your abode.

After you get the beer "primed" with sugar, leave it alone for about a week at 70 degrees and enjoy. Keep in mind that there will be a layer of yeast at the bottom of the bottle when everything is done. I usually pour gently just to the point that the yeast is about to get in my glass then stop. Unless it is a hefeweizen, in which case the yeast is okay in the glass.

Good luck!

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Old 12-08-2011, 03:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmesmeric View Post
Thanks a lot on the quick reponses

I will use my hydrometer to work out the readings to see if it is complete, can you just float this in the top of the fermenter tub and take a reading (sanitised of course)?

I get confused with how i prime the bottles. By the sound of things i take some dissovled sugar water and put a small amount of this in the bottom of my coke bottles, i then fill them up with the beer from my fermenter via a syphon tube and leave it in a cupboard, is this correct?

Also daddysu, i'm thinking of english bitters you find in pubs, they generally dont have much if any carbonation, they are quite flat drinks, that is what i'm aiming to produce.

Cheers,

Felix
There are 2 ways to add priming sugar. you can add priming solution to each bottle. However, a simpler and more reliable way is to put the cooled priming solution for the entire batch in the bottom of the bottling bucket, then quietly rack the beer with a siphon from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. The gentle swirling is usually enough to thoroughly incorporate the solution throughout the beer and results in the same amount of carbonation in each bottle regardless of size.
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by william_shakes_beer View Post
There are 2 ways to add priming sugar. you can add priming solution to each bottle. However, a simpler and more reliable way is to put the cooled priming solution for the entire batch in the bottom of the bottling bucket, then quietly rack the beer with a siphon from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. The gentle swirling is usually enough to thoroughly incorporate the solution throughout the beer and results in the same amount of carbonation in each bottle regardless of size.
Yes, this.

And, you CAN use table sugar or corn sugar. The former is cheaper.

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Old 12-08-2011, 04:25 PM   #10
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I brewed the cooper's English bitter from a kit I was given. I used this priming calculator to prime it to style standards of the BJCP; http://http://www.tastybrew.com/calc...s/priming.html
It gives the amount of priming sugar by weight,not volume. I primed mine to the "ordinary bitter" listed next to the English bitter category. The amount for 1.3 volumes of co2 is def what you're looking for.
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