Well, my first brew (a Cooper's Lager kit) is now chillin' in the secondary. I call this my "Aleger" since it's a Lager kit made with Cooper's Ale yeast. We'll see how it turns out. Went from 1.042 to 1.005 at racking, and tastes like flat, warm beer...so I consider that a good sign.
Next. I am just not ready (mostly time-wise) to do an extract brew on my own, so I've bought a second kit. It's a Red Ale from "The Brew House". It's a bit unique in that it is a big mylar bag with basically the whole sterilzed pre-made wort (add 2 gallons of water to it, pH correction salts, no sugar, no boil).
Colour:Ruby red, copper
Bitterness: 18 IBU
Malts: Pale, crystal,Vienna and chocolate
I was thinking about boiling up some hops in those 8 litres to add some hoppiness to the brew (I really like IPAs). Is it cool to just throw some hops into the water, boil them for a while and then use that for the added 2 gallons? Will I get enough hop utilization in the plain water, or should I throw in some of the wort while I boil the hops?
Also, what might be a good hops strain to add if I can't get more Centennial? Goldings? More Cascade?
The kit comes with 15g of Cooper's yeast (oddly enough), so I've just saved my yeast cake from the first batch, and made a starter with it. I used corn sugar instead of DME (didn't have at the time)....good enough to get them going again?