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Batch 4: Coopers English Bitter

Wanting just a good, hassle free beer, I decided a no frills Coopers English Bitter with a Light Malt Extract as a little something extra.  Of course, my brews are never without some element of disaster.

The Weather Affects My Brewing

It had been rainy few days, which is awesome for the temperature in my house. Consistent rain brings the temp down to about 29 °C making it that much easier to cool fermenting brew. That, combined with the fact that it was Deepavali Friday and a public holiday, was a sign from the brewing gods to take on my next batch.

The malt extract that makes up this brew

I had left in the fridge a tin of Coopers English Bitter malt and a tin of Pale Malt Extract. Their time had come.

A quick hour later everything from the working surfaces to every conceivable container, cooking pot, utensil and cleaning cloth was sanitized and shiny, ready for a quality brew.

I whipped out the 2.5 litre brewing pot (a man has to make do with what he has), boiled only a tiny bit of water and added the two tins of malt extract, making sure to squeeze every last drop from the tins. The pot was a bout 3cm from the top, giving me enough margin of error in case of a sudden boil-up, which I was determined would not happen on this boil.

It was a windy day though, and in the corner of my outside kitchen where the stove is, little gusts of wind affected the gas flames under the pot.  I kept a close watch, popping my head around the corner every 2 mins to make sure there were no boil overs.

Disaster Strikes

40 minute went by without hassle. I checked, stirred and double checked the wort to make sure everything was going according to plan, and it was.  Unbeknown to me, the wind was starting to die down, and my gas flame was actually a bit higher than I thought.

During one such a lull in the wind the pot managed to boil over, but I was on the scene within seconds and only a little bit spilled.  I cleaned up the mess and in a jiffy.

I added some hops at the 45 minute mark and foolishly stood watching Restaurant Make Over on AFC, still checking on the pot frequently.

It was not long after one such check that I smelled that sweet stench of caramelizing wort and knew I had a spill.  Just how big I didn’t know until I entered the outside kitchen and saw wort all over the stove and dripping onto the floor.

The wind had died down completely, and the suddenly large flame on the stove propelled exactly half my pot of wort over the sides, onto the stove, the counter top and the tiled floor.

My wasted wort was upsetting, but only slightly more than the mess I was faced with.  The benefit of having an outside kitchen is that you can just wash things off and several buckets of warm water took care of the wort.

Crisis Management

I was left with half a pot of wort, which I knew was going to make a seriously weak brew.  The only other sugars I had in the house was about 500g of brown sugar.  I unceremoniously dumped this in with the wort and topped it up with some boiled water I had at the ready.

After the boil, I cooled the wort and transfered it to the fermenter where, prior to the pitching of the yeast I got a hydrometer reading of 1.032 at a temperature of 30 °C, which, according to Dave’s Dreaded Homebrew Calculator, could have a maximum potential alcohol of 4.65%, which is not too shabby.

I’ll have to wait for the end of the fermentation to see what Dave’s calculator thinks about that.

Bubbling Success

In a bin, filled with water. Cool the water. It's very effective.What has been effortless so far, is the fermentation. Although this post is dated for Friday (when this brewing adventure began), it’s actually written on Sunday, 7 Nov.

I gently woke the packet of dried yeast by first removing it from the fridge about 2 hours before I was going to use it.  About 20 minutes before pitching time I emptied it into a cup of luke warm water.

I thus had a fit and healthy slurry which I pitched from a height and mixed with a brisk few stirs into my wort.  And for a change, it worked as expected.

Yesterday I awoke to a happily bubbling fermenter, farting all but a constant stream of CO2.  It continued through the day and this morning when I woke it was still going, although somewhat slower.

It will likely be ready for bottling tomorrow night.

2 Comments

  • Jeff

    4 December 2010 at 00:49

    Hey, lemme know how this batch turn up? Brown sugar and all =)

    Me and my mates are getting some weird off taste on our batch that we are still trying to pin point.

  • 1Earth

    4 December 2010 at 01:22

    Howzit Jeff,

    I've got the keg in the fridge still, had a glass of it the other night. I finished off all the bottles already. It's drinkable, to be sure, and the alcohol is enough for a mild buzz on an empty stomach. It has a taste that makes people, like my friend who tasted with me, go "oh, tastes a bit like cider".

    I've read before that sugar, especially cane sugar such as brown, or worse, white sugar, will give beer a sour/cider taste, which is why they always use dextrose with extract kits for extra kick as the influence on the taste is apparently none.

    So if the off flavours you're getting is just a cidery-but-palatable taste, and you used white sugar, then you know why 🙂

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