Questions about Coopers kit and (new) plan

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Stavrogin78

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Ok, so that first attempt at a Coopers kit didn't go so well. Turns out I didn't really know what I was doing and kind of botched it, though it'll probably be better than what I've been drinking out of the local beer store for a while. But on RM-MN's advice, I've read through most of the relevant sections on howtobrew.com, and I think I've got a plan I want to run by you fine folks.

The first time I did this, I was totally confused on how much DME to add. Ended up using the can contents and 1lb of Briess DME. OG was only around 1.030, and it shows. Put away a few of these tonight and barely felt a thing. Knowing what I now know, it looks like there just wasn't nearly enough stuff in the wort.

So tell me if I'm thinking this through right. The can contents should be around 36 points/lb/gallon, if I'm understanding the book right. I do 23L/6gal batches. The can is 3.75lbs, I think. So that gives me 135 points. The DME is usually around 40, from what I read, so one pound gives me another 40. That's only 175 points on a 6 gallon batch, for a calculated OG of 1.029, which is not far off what I measured (think I got 1.032).

If I'm understanding the book right, I actually want about 240 points for a 6 gallon batch to get me to a nice 1.040. The can is still only going to give me 135, so I need another 105. Using DME and assuming 40pts/lb, I need about 2.5lbs of DME to get me to the gravity I want to end up right around the 5% ABV mark (typical of commercial beers, and what I'm used to).

The LME in the can is already hopped, so it seems to me the kit directions insofar as boiling are concerned are reasonable. Boil the water, add the DME and the can contents, stir it up, but there's no need for a 1hr boil after that. The hops is already in there. This is something I'm unsure on. With a pre-hopped kit, do I need to go through the 1hr boil and hot break business if I'm not adding any additional ingredients? My thinking is to try the kit more or less "as is", see what I get, and adjust the next time around. Not going for finesse here, just a solid "starting point" beer.

Also thinking of going back to my old process (which I used with the Brew House kits) of racking to a carboy after primary fermentation (5-6 days) and giving it a couple of weeks to clear. I'm learning that this step has now become sort of controversial. I'll add here that I don't have a lid for my primary, and have always just used a clean towel over it to keep out contaminants. Plastic cling wrap with a couple of air holes poked in it was suggested and apparently works fine, too. I can't think of a reason I couldn't combine the two for the first week, then rack off to the carboy for conditioning. Does that seem sound?

The kit instructions recommend 1lb of DME and 300g of dextrose, but everything I'm reading (and my instincts) are telling me that dextrose is good for priming, but DME is really the right tool for the job when it comes to fermentation, hence my plan for the can contents and 2.5lbs of DME. Am I on the right track here?

As for priming, kit instructions recommended 8g/L of dextrose, giving 184g of priming sugar for bulk priming, which is what I used. It looked about right. Sound right to you?

Any guidance on this would be appreciated. Thanks, folks!

Stavrogin

P.S. RM-MN, are these some of the right questions? :)
 

RM-MN

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Yes, these are some of the right questions. Now for some suggestions. Get a lid for your fermenter or a bucket with a lid if your fermenter is non-standard size. With the lid and an airlock there will be no need to move the beer to secondary so just avoid this step with it associated chance of infection. While you are at it, get a second bucket fermenter so you can have more than one beer fermenting/clearing at once.

Your calculations look about right to me for the amount of DME to add to get the OG you wish. One question I have is the bitterness of the beer. Coopers doesn't seem to tell if it is hopped enough for a 5 gallon batch or if you need more hops.

Adding DME to your batch will add flavor which the dextrose would not. Not having brewed a Coopers kit, I don't know if this is a good thiing or not. It probably is.

Check at your brewing supply store to see if they have unhopped malt extract. With that and your own hop additions you can get the bitterness level you want. You can also, by choosing the lightest color extract, add grains to get the kind of beer you choose. You can use 2 cans or bottles of extract instead of DME or dextrose. Sometimes this will be a cheaper option, sometimes not.
 

unionrdr

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I've done a lot with Cooper's cans over the years. See my recipes for some examples. But I typically add a 3lb bag of Munton's plain light or extra light DME to the can to get " normal" range ABV. I've even added flavor & aroma hops in 2-3 gallons of spring water starting @ 15-20 minutes to increase flavor & give some aroma with 1 1/2lbs of the DME in the short boil. Aroma hops at 3-5 minutes. Remaining DME & the Cooper's can @ flame out.
 

DaNewf

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http://store.coopers.com.au/brewing-info/recipes.html

This link will take you to the Cooper's Recipe site. The recipes do not list OG/FG but they do list an approximate ABV. You seem to have a handle on the math (I don't) and can work out the OG if you like. Even if you don't do any of the recipes reviewing them will give you a sense of what ABVs to expect with certain combinations of fermentables (sp?).

I am taking a (hopefully brief) hiatus from all grain brewing and have decided to do a couple of Cooper's kits in the meanwhile. I started out with Cooper's and I'm actually interested to see what I can do with them now that I have more brewing knowledge/experience.

I'm about a week out from trying my first attempt:

Cooper's English Bitter
1kg Light DME
Some Centennial and Fuggles hops I had leftover from previous brews

I used the kit yeast and filled the fermenter to 21 litres. This should get me 5+% ABV but I'm not really concerned what the exact percentage is.

I'm thinking my next brew will be the Czech Pilsner from the recipe site. I plan to try out the Brulosopher fast lager method.
 
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Stavrogin78

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Thanks for the info, everyone!

As for racking to a secondary, I've done this on virtually every batch I did with the Brew House kits and never had an infection problem. I also have two carboys, so using the carboys enables me to do two batches at once (but I only have the one primary). So I might stick with that for now, but down the line I will probably get a lid and try just leaving it in the primary for a couple of weeks.

As for the boil, this is where the Coopers kit instructions seem really unclear. So if I'm not adding hops (this time around), do I need to boil at all? If I'm understanding unionrdr right, if I was to add hops, the process would be to just add the DME to the water, get to hot break, add bittering hops, then add the Coopers can and the finishing hops with 15 minutes to go. I think the theory here is that adding the can at the end prevents the hops in the can from boiling off. But if I'm not adding anything, can I just dissolve the can and the DME, top up, and pitch?

I'm also noticing everyone seems to do 5 gallon batches, when I'm used to doing 6gal (23L). All the kits I've seen seem to be for 23L. Anyone know if there's any reason for this?

Thanks again for all the help!
 

DaNewf

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Pre-hopped bagged/canned kits are usually made to make 5 Imperial gallons (23 Litres) of beer. A lot of recipes coming out of the US seem to target a batch size of 5 US gallons (~19 litres). Standard kegs are 5 US gallons but I don't know if that is the reason for the batch size.

Reducing the batch size when making a pre-hopped canned kit is a way to increase the OG without having to increase the amount of additional malt extract/sugar/molasses/whatever... This also increases the bitterness slightly.

The downside is you lose about 3 bottles of beer for every litre you reduce the batch size by.
 

DaNewf

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Skip to 1:40.

If you aren't steeping grains or increasing bitterness with hops then boiling isn't required if the ingredients are sanitary (for example coming directly from unopened packaging).
 
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Stavrogin78

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DaNewf, that both answers my question and raises another one about "gallons".

In the howtobrew.com book, it takes you through OG calculations, based on yield of different kinds of fermentables, using the "points per pound per gallon" scheme. So my question is, is that based on imperial or US gallons? The conversion between the two is about 1.2:1, so it's significant enough to make a difference. I get the impression the numbers are in US gallons, but if anyone knows for sure, that would be helpful.
 
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