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Joseph

What I learnt today with my first brew attempt

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I love Coopers Pale Ale. Always have and always will. Must be the South Aussie in me. So my wife bought me a Coopers homebrew kit for xmas and today I finally had the chance to crack it open and pretend i'm Thomas Cooper. I jumped on this site to get an idea on what I was doing and I reckon I watched the starter video 9 times before I was confident enough to have a go. So how did I go?

First and foremost- Darwin water, even after running it for 10 minutes, comes out of the tap at about 38-40c. I did not take this into account..... On my "wet run" i thought i had the temperature right but completely failed to take into account the 2lt of hot water you add at the start to mix the enhancer. Rookie error. So by the time i had mixed everything i was running hot. Real hot! I added 3lt of fridge cold water, up to the 23lt mark, but the lowest i got in those first few crucial hours was 30c. I panicked and quickly started running a bath to sit the tub in and try and lower the temperature. It took a while but i managed to get it down slightly. Not as low as i wanted but it's not in the low 30's anymore. About 26c at the moment. OG was 1050 when I tested it

Tips for young players (meaning me)- Have about 10lt of fridge cold water next time. And have it at 18-21c before I add the yeast. I honestly don't know what to expect from this batch. I hope it's going to be ok but i won't be surprised if it can remove my wifes nail polish. 

 

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I had similar issues during my first couple of brews. Get a spare bar fridge and temperature controller, and all the hassle and stress will go away. I'm still trying to get hold of one cheap. In Perth it's getting too warm to brew at ambient room temperatures, Darwin is probably like that most of the year....

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Hey Joseph,

best thing about hobbies like brewing and other stuff that requires certain processes and what not...is that you’re always learning no matter how well you execute something. There’s no fun in being awesome at something straight away.  Welcome to the rabbit hole. 

 

M

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I don't think being awesome at something straight away (or later), is a problem I've ever had to deal with.

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That sounds similar to my first brew getting back into it. Just mixed the kit and *shudder* brewing sugar in the fermenter, topped it up, pitched the yeast and fermented it at whatever the ambient temp was, probably averaged about 28 degrees through the whole thing. It tasted more like cider than beer.

Your OG is high too if it's a kit and kilo of whatever. In 23 litres that would be around 1.038 not 1.050.

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Welcome to the world of Brewing Joseph,

Yeap Rule 1 is temperature. Control is the key to getting fermentation going and consistent brews. Fridge & controller as mentioned by Lab Rat is a great set up.

Partial to the Oz Pale Ale. Usual temp for me is pitching yeast is around the 22 - 24 c mark and then brew at 18c. If you keep it in the range you mention you will be right.

All the best with the first brew.

Cheers

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So i'm worried this batch will be no good. I simply can't get the temperature down any lower than 27c now. I'll sit out the 6 days and have a taste but i'm not expecting a great brew.

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, Joseph said:

So i'm worried this batch will be no good. 

Joseph, don’t worry too much mate. Most of us had our first brew turn out horrible. 

It’s like a right of passage or something.......

Edited by The Captain1525230099
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Yeah the first brew is never great - Not until you get your process down etc. I'm about 8 brews in and the improvement in just that time is outrageous. Ive since got a fermentation fridge and got more confident in dry hopping and grain steeping that my beers now have gone from terrible to quite drinkable. Not as good as what some of the others here are producing, but I've not had to tip any just yet!

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My first and twelfth were both bad. All the rest have been somewhere from drinkable to awesome!

 

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best advice came from someone already...If you are planing to stick with this brewing...by a fridge and a temp controller.

You will run the risk of worse beer if you dont manage the temps better (especially in Darwin)

Also...like everyone has said...the first brew is always stressful and can not turn out great...it will be drinkable...but just beer...nothing fancy.

Wait until you start adding hops etc...then it gets super rewarding and fun!

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31 minutes ago, Silmaril said:

My first and twelfth were both bad. All the rest have been somewhere from drinkable to awesome!

 

What happened with your 12th mate? Did you try something different? 

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Hi Joseph, & welcome to the forum.

+1 to what has already been said to you.

A mentor to many of us here on the forum & someone who was heavily involved in the Coopers DIY development program has a very simple saying...

PB2's BEER TRIANGLE: Thorough Sanitation + Fresh Ingredients + Appropriate Ferment Temp = QUALITY BEER

Adhere to that & you'll be making great home brewed beer in no time, & consistently good quality beer thereafter. 

Given the temperature issue you've had this time around, prepare a good 10 litres or so of refrigerated water & maybe an ice brick or two the day before your next brew day. 😉

Best of luck with your future brewing,

Lusty.

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57 minutes ago, Joseph said:

What happened with your 12th mate? Did you try something different? 

I added an extra kg of dextrose. Bad move!

 

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It's a good idea getting the pitching temp down with ice or chilled water etc. but that's only half the job done. You need to keep it down through the fermentation as well. In lieu of a fridge, you can wrap the fermenter in a wet towel or two and put a fan on it, or stick it in a tub of water with ice bricks/frozen bottles of water and change them in and out as needed. It's not perfect but it'll be a lot better than fermenting in the high 20s.

After that first brew I mentioned I started looking at these methods and my next few batches were a lot better, however they were also different kits and I used malt extract with them instead of sugar or dextrose, so probably three changes compared to the first batch. Still, never had that crappy cider taste once I got the ferment temp down to the high teens/low 20s.

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Posted (edited)

Good luck with it all, Joseph. Here's how I try to get a few degrees cooler. Wet towel, fan on low speed and a tray underneath the fermenter to stop water going everywhere. Some people use a tub underneath full of water but be careful not to contaminate your tap.

IMG_20190109_114537.jpg

Edited by MUZZY
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Posted (edited)

If you can afford it, you could consider a beerdroid as an alternative to fridge/controller. $800 but keeps propagation then fermentation locked at selected temperature. You'd be able to brew lagers even in Darwin. Made by Coopers, their recipes include Coopers Pale at only $16.50 for 10l. Being hopped dry malts the brewing process is easy if you use their Brewprints (55 different recipes), but you can use any recipe.

I can't categorically recommend beerdroid as I'm only up to my third brew so still learning. First was an irish red ale only a few weeks old but excellent quality. If I'm honest with myself better than anything I've done with an extract kit in the 30y+ I've tried off and on. Second brew's a Corona clone that is still conditioning. For my third I've used a Mr Beer extract kit, its on ferment day 4.  I've lined up a half coopers real ale can with enhancer and galaxy hops next.

Good luck with it, great hobby.

Edited by Brewzabit
incorrect word

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Sorry Joseph, my post was a bit off topic suggesting you buy something else than what you've got. Re getting the best out of your existing equipment, agree with others with using ice/cold water to get down to temperature the way to go.

On a positive note, Coopers does make their kits for Australian conditions so the yeast is more temperature tolerant than UK kits for example. Low 20s is still best if you can maintain it. Cheers.

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10 hours ago, Lab Rat said:

I had similar issues during my first couple of brews. Get a spare bar fridge and temperature controller, and all the hassle and stress will go away. I'm still trying to get hold of one cheap. In Perth it's getting too warm to brew at ambient room temperatures, Darwin is probably like that most of the year....

Will do mate. I'm looking at converting a wine fridge that the good guys are selling. Has temperature control

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27 minutes ago, Joseph said:

Will do mate. I'm looking at converting a wine fridge that the good guys are selling. Has temperature control

I don't know much about wine fridges, but unless they're super fancy, they only have a very narrow range of temp control, suitable for red + whites, obviously. I think you'd still need an external controller, which makes a bar fridge a cheaper option.

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7 hours ago, YeastyBoy said:

 

Yeap Rule 1 is temperature. Control is the key to getting fermentation going and consistent brews. Fridge & controller as mentioned by Lab Rat is a great set up.

I thought rule 1 was cleanliness. I guess it's back to the old drawing board for me. 😄

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2 hours ago, MUZZY said:

Good luck with it all, Joseph. Here's how I try to get a few degrees cooler. Wet towel, fan on low speed and a tray underneath the fermenter to stop water going everywhere. Some people use a tub underneath full of water but be careful not to contaminate your tap.

IMG_20190109_114537.jpg

Exactly what I do with Inkbird connected 

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Yes rule 1 is cleanliness. Without this you will be pouring half your beers on the lawn, maybe more. Brew fridge with temperature control is a nice to have but you can get away without one. You will make beer but the quality of the beer does improve if you can control the brewing environment. If you have a big Esky or a big plastic storage container half fill it with water drop your FV in there wrapped in a wet towel, don't worry too much about the tap as you can sanitize that just prior to bottling. Use Ice blocks if required. Now to the wine fridge, I have one and it has a temperature range of 6 to 18 degrees, however i have a data logger and trended the temperature and it does swing quite a bit, but that swing should not have much affect on the liquid in the FV, but just be aware if you do buy one. My personal cooling is a brand new chest freezer (well it was when i bought it) and an inkbird, easily handles any temperature I throw at it and takes 2 FV's.

Welcome to the forum.

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4 hours ago, Joseph said:

Will do mate. I'm looking at converting a wine fridge that the good guys are selling. Has temperature control

Unfortunately they can't be used if you want to cold crash the beer before bottling it as they don't usually get cold enough.

A cheaper option would just be a second hand fridge off gumtree or the like. I'll be looking for one soon as a second fridge to run another fermenter. Before that though I have a couple of hand I have to make for people who have requested them so I'll use it for the curing process, and then use it for fermentation. You can pick them up for 50-100 bucks or even free.

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