So far, its been pretty cool trying to brew my own beer from the Coopers Home Brewing Kit for the first time. Its a learning process, and so far its been easy and fun! Granted, I have no idea what my beer is going to be like when its done, but I’m confident it will be OK!
In part three, we basically mixed all of the ingredients to make beer. We took the Coopers Beer Concentrate, sugar, hot and cold water and mixed it all up in the fermenter. We had a slight problem getting the temperature to the point where the brewer’s yeast could be added, but once we got the yeast in we sealed up the fermenter tight, inserted the airlock and crossed our fingers!
Then the waiting. Waiting for signs of life from my little science experiment on the kitchen counter was actually a little worrisome. Then, after a few hours it happened.
Glug….. Then some time, and again! Glug….
I excitedly hurried to my kitchen to see gasses pushing through the airlock greating a little glugging sound! I’ll admit, this made me really happy! (My wife rolled her eyes) The glugging sound is GOOD! It means fermentation has begun, and in short time it was glugging along at least once per minute, sometimes more! So, I’m thinking the overheated wort maybe was OK? We’ll see.
Soon enough, I saw other signs of fermentation. Condensation formed on the inside of the fermenter lid, and within a couple of days this frothy ring formed around the inside of the fermenter at the level of the beer. From what I understand, this is like the residue of the fermentation process. Microbial poo perhaps? I don’t know, but I had the three signs that my beer was going in the right direction. Happy me!
Another important thing I watched was the stick-on thermometer. From where my beer was on the kitchen counter, it stayed pretty much at the right temperature the whole time. I don’t know if the fermentation process creates its own heat, but it stayed above 72. Keep an eye on that because if the temperature drops too low I think the fermenting might stop.
On the fifth day, the glugging slowed to the point where it almost stopped. To me, this was the time to take the beer’s vital signs with the hydrometer. The hydrometer is the only way to really tell if the fermentation process has completed and this is important.
If the beer is still fermenting when you bottle it, there’s a chance the bottles might explode! (Another good reason for me to use the plastic bottles!)
The hydrometer measures the alcohol content, and the idea is to get the same reading in two consecutive days. That means the yeast has eaten all the sugar and its time to bottle! Here’s a tip. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the hydrometer before you use it. Its a scientific instrument, lots of lines and numbers, so know what you’re looking for before you measure your beer! This is my first hydrometer, but it seems like a quality instrument that you get with the Coopers kit. All glass, lots of markings and made in France. Fancy!
Coopers recommends a hydrometer reading between 1008 and 1010 if you’re using their pre-measured ingredients. I got 1011 for two days in a row which brought me to another dilemma. 1011 is a touch high, but it was 1011 for two days. Do I bottle or not? The idea is that if the reading is the same for two consecutive days, its done.
If you let the brew sit too long after it finishes fermenting, it can get messed up too. What to do?
I took a final reading later in the day and when I got 1011 again I decided to bottle. We’ll see what implications that decision has in a future post! I wasn’t thrilled that I couldn’t nail it, but I think I did the right thing. Live and learn, right?
Any home brewers out there with the right answer? Do you wait or bottle when the reading is the same for a couple days, even if the reading is a little off?
Bottling the beer was pretty easy. I ended up not using the ‘little bottler’ gizmo that Coopers sens with the kit, but the spigot on the fermenter was perfect for filling all the plastic bottles.
Each of the 730ml bottles gets two of the pre-measured carbonation drops, which are just pieces of sugar. This is called ‘Priming the Bottles’ and the measured sugar dose is needed for the secondary fermentation process that happens in the bottle over the next two weeks or so.
So, in go two Carbonation drops and then just like a giant cooler of Gatorade, I filled each bottle, sealed it with the provided plastic caps, turned each bottle over a few times each to mix it up a little, and into a box they went!
While my bottled home brew is sitting for two weeks doing its secondary fermentation thing, I’m also trying to keep them around the same temperature. Say 70. You don’t want them to get too warm or two cold.
And that’s about it. We’ll wait two weeks while my home brew ferments in the bottles and see what happens. I’m going to buy a bottle of Coopers Lager to compare my home brew to their own store-bought brew. Stay tuned to learn the results!
So do you want to brew your own beer from a kit? I haven’t destroyed anything yet, and I bet you won’t either! Why not buy a Coopers Microbrewery Kit for yourself or for a friend as a gift? Its fun! Just click on the link below now and get yourself started making beer!
Don’t forget to check back next week when we break out the beer I made and compare it to a store-bought bottle of Cooper’s Lager!