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First time brewer - English Bitter advice


lickedthestamp
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1 hour ago, lickedthestamp said:

Thanks @Journeyman - I thought I had read that SG of water should be 1000 at about 20°C but I must've gotten that one wrong. I guess even with 998 as the correct baseline reading, it will still be the same difference (4) - just the first reading was out by +2 and the second one was out by -2. Just means I really need to get a second hydrometer so I can hopefully get some certainty on the readings.

 

1 hour ago, Hairy said:

Me too.

Yes, I saw that also. But it was something I ran across elsewhere and it fits the science. Water is densest at 4° - above and below it is less dense and the point of max density is what the hydros are calibrated at.

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7 hours ago, Hairy said:

It seems you are correct about the density of water.

But it seems that hydrometers are often calibrated at different temps e.g. 15° or 20°. I guess it pays to check this.

yep it should be marked on the hydrometer what it was calibrated at and whether to read the upper or lower meniscus.

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10 hours ago, Hairy said:

It seems you are correct about the density of water.

But it seems that hydrometers are often calibrated at different temps e.g. 15° or 20°. I guess it pays to check this.

 

3 hours ago, Titan said:

yep it should be marked on the hydrometer what it was calibrated at and whether to read the upper or lower meniscus.

I'd never noticed that - it's down the end I never look - who has a brew at 1.100? 😄 My glass one has Upper Meniscus and 20° - the Coopers one has nothing on it except the name.

@Coopers DIY Beer Team- can you tell us what temp the Coopers hydro is calibrated at? Also upper or lower meniscus?

EDIT: I found where I got the idea - it's a PB2 post from way back...
"
The hydrometers, supplied with the DIY Beer Kit, are calibrated using distilled water at 20degC - they should read 0.998 +/- 0.001."

Edited by Journeyman
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Thanks @Journeyman - I am going to test with some distilled water @ 20°C and see what results I get.

I did read on a thread on here (will add the link when I can find it) that if the Coopers plastic hydrometer is reading low, you can calibrate it by trimming it down (basically removing weight) until it reads correctly. I assume that also means if it is reading high you could also add weight to bring it to the correct reading.  Of course, you could also just note how much it is reading low/high in distilled water @ 20°C and correct any readings accordingly - but what fun would that be? 😂

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21 minutes ago, lickedthestamp said:

if the Coopers plastic hydrometer is reading low, you can calibrate it by trimming it down

Keep in mind one of the people doing that found he then had a whole lot of lead(?) shot spill out and it was new hydro time. Better just to write the adjustment on it to remind you.

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From what I read you trimmed it down from the top - ideally just off the red tip - rather than the bottom where the lead shot would be? But would all depend on how far under it is reading - probably feasible to do if only reading slightly under, not so much if it is more. Adding weight would probably be easier in some respects.

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1 hour ago, lickedthestamp said:

From what I read you trimmed it down from the top - ideally just off the red tip - rather than the bottom where the lead shot would be? But would all depend on how far under it is reading - probably feasible to do if only reading slightly under, not so much if it is more. Adding weight would probably be easier in some respects.

The older Coopers hydrometers had a longer red tip, maybe 30mm long. It was easy to cut off a couple of mm at a time to get the right reading. On the curent Coopers hydrometers the tip is only about 10mm long, so less to play with.

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31 minutes ago, Shamus O'Sean said:

The older Coopers hydrometers had a longer red tip, maybe 30mm long. It was easy to cut off a couple of mm at a time to get the right reading. On the curent Coopers hydrometers the tip is only about 10mm long, so less to play with.

Yeah a lot less room for adjustment!

And apologies to @Journeyman - Iooking closer at the hydrometer I understand now what you were saying re: trimming off too much of the red rip. The narrow part of the hydrometer is hollow and this allows the appropriate amount of lead shot to be dropped into the base, which is then capped by the red tip. I can see now why if you took too much off the lead shot would spill out 👍

Anyway, as it stands though I don't really need to do any adjusting 😅 The kit hydrometer is very close to reading 998 @ 20°C in distilled water - I would say 997 or 997.5 depending on whether you take the upper or lower meniscus...

20200822_141851.jpg

No idea why it gave such different readings though before when using regular tap water. I will do another couple of readings over different days with the distilled water to confirm it is reading consistently before I am confident with it.

Edited by lickedthestamp
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26 minutes ago, lickedthestamp said:

No idea why it gave such different readings though before when using regular tap water.

Tap water has stuff in it. 😄 That's why everything that goes in my body uses water from an RO system. e.g. fluoride is classified as a neurotoxin yet it is added to water. Others can drink it if they like - I prefer my water to be H2O with a few essential minerals. 

Put some water in a saucepan and boil it dry and see what is left.

I would hazard those additives would alter the density of water and give slightly different readings to distilled water.

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Yes I know tap water has stuff in it 😂 But I had 2 different readings from tap water that was near as dammit the same temp and even came from the same tap lol.

(obviously there could be some variability in the tap water itself, which I didn't realise at the time 🙂)

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Ok so have taken a few more hydrometer readings over the last week using distilled water @ 20°C and have been getting consistent readings everytime (same as above), so now confident that the hydrometer is reading correctly 👍. Can only assume that perhaps variation in the tap water itself was what gave the inconsistent readings earlier.

Which means that I need to revise my ABV calculation on ESB Brew No 1. OG was 1040, FG was 1004 which gives an approx ABV of 4.8% before adding in the carbonation drops - which may put this up over 5% in the bottle. Coopers ESB recipe estimated about 4.1% so this seems quite a bit higher? Granted though I substituted 1kg of LDM rather than BE1 and golden syrup instead of molasses, so I think I will take a SG reading once I open up a bottle to try and confirm what the approx ABV is (will just need to degas the sample in order to get an accurate reading). Bottles feel like they have carbed up ok and looking nice and clear, so just need to be patient for another 3 weeks!

In other news I started Brew No. 2 going today - it's the Muntons St Peters Ruby Red Ale kit 🙂. A bit different to the standard Coopers kit, in that it comes with 2 cans of liquid extract + yeast (6g) + sachet of powdered EKG hops. Easy enough to put together, and the kit seems to get good reviews so I am hoping that I can get a decent result that isn't too dissimilar to the actual product. I also invested in an Inkbird + heat belt to help maintain temps - where I have the FV is generally good for temps through the day and evening but would get a bit cool in the early AM hours - so this should provide a bit of insurance. Also means I just need to find a fridge in due course... 😉 😅 

Edited by lickedthestamp
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Well Brew No.1 has been in the bottle for a couple of weeks now and I couldn't resist trying one tonight to see how it is travelling. Happy to say that it seems to be coming along juussst fine 🙂

20200903_193728.thumb.jpg.9ec6500b3bf3e9ed2b00be89f43a62c9.jpg

Colour is good and has cleared up nicely in the bottle. While it is certainly a bitter I don't find to too strong and definitely has some nice caramel flavours to it. Poured a nice head - I was worried that 2 carbonation drops would be too much but tbh I think it's spot on. I am pretty stoked with the result and am keen to see what another couple of weeks in the bottle does to it 👍

As for brew No. 2, fermentation looks pretty complete now so will take a SG reading tomorrow and then on again Saturday - expecting to bottle that one on the weekend. The inkbird + heat belt has certainly made things a whole lot easier in terms of keeping temps stable overnight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another couple of weeks of aging in the bottle has certainly improved things, the bitterness isn't as pronounced and has resulted in a much smoother beer 👍

If I was to do it again I might add say 200g of maltodextrin to help with head retention, but apart from that I am pretty happy with my first go at home brewing 🙂

So aging Brew No2 in the bottle at the moment. Carbonation seems a bit slower than the first brew, but based on the kit recommendation only used 1 carb drop for this one - so hoping it comes good with a bit more time in the bottle.

Have some Enigma and Vic Secret hops and crystal malt on order to attempt the Fair Drinkum Aussie Pale Ale for Brew No.3,  so looking forward to those arriving and getting going on that one soon.

 

Edited by lickedthestamp
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  • 1 month later...

Just to update: 9 weeks in the bottle now for Brew No.1 and wow - this has just improved so nicely with time. 'ESB' is right - so so smooth. A perfect supping beer. I really wish I hadn't already opened as many (and given to friends to try) as I did - going to cherish these last dozen or so bottles. Next time I make it - probably next autumn - I will know to leave it for at least 2 months before touching it 👍

Edited by lickedthestamp
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