A Couple Of Rookie Questions

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mosto

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Hi all, I received a Coopers DIY Beer kit for my b'day a couple of week ago. I have dabbled very briefly in brewing before, but it was about 10-12 years ago. The extract in the box was just the Coopers 'Original Series' Lager. I followed the instructions in the kit and on the DVD that came with it to the letter but have a couple of questions, which may sound stupid to most of you, but as I said, I have little to no experience and am keen to learn the art of the brew.

Firstly, sterilizing. One thing the kit didn't have was a sterilizing agent. I soaked everything in Milton tablets, which we use to sterlize baby bottles. I then rinsed everything thoroughly. I'm sure this stuff is fine to use, but was interested if anyone had used this on their gear before.

Next, I mixed as per instructions. Besides the Lager extract it came with 1kg of Coopers Brew Enhancer 1. The instructions said to pitch the yeast ASAP, ideally between 21-27 degrees and maintain this temp through out the fermentation. It was pitched at 26 degrees. Soon after it rose to 28 deg so I put it in a large ice box with ice and wet towels and brought temp back to 22. It has been consistently hovering between 20-22 (without ice or towels) now for two days. The worry I have is, after reading this forum, I gather Lager should be fermented a lot lower. Should I try to get the temp down more? I should be able to with towels and ice.

Next, my SG was 1031. Is that low? If the FG were to be around 1008 that would, by my calcs, give and ABV of around 3.5%. Not really an issue, but I'd prefer it to be 4% - 4.5%. Should of mentioned earlier, brew was made up to 23L.

Finally, it came with 30 PET bottles. It's probably just because my disgust when forced to drink beer from plastic cups, but bottling it into plastic doesn't feel right. I also have some glass bottles I've been collecting so, again, not a real issue, but was wondering does anyone find any problems re taste when using PET. I thought I might bottle some in PET and some in glass and see if there's any difference.

Thanks in advance for your help. I've already found some great info and advice on this site.
 

Pennywise

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Hi mosto, I'm not to sure about the milton tabs, I use a no-rinse sanitized called Sarsan (sponsors sell it), but really, anything you use to sanitize your gear which needs rinsing will leave you with gear that is only as sanitary as the water you're rinsing with, maybe not always an issue.
The Lager kit actually comes with an Ale yeast, so keep it at 20c and you'll be fine.
The OG does seem a little low, but this might just be the ingredients weren't mixed all together properly.
I wouldn't worry about bottling in the PET bottles, I bottle in glass personally, but that's because I keep some beers for a fair while, and I just more comfortable with the sanitation side, and PET will eventually lose carbonation over the course of time. General concecsus is 12 months you'll be fine, after that you may notice a loss in cabonation. Re glass bottles, if you go down that route, make sure you use good quality ones like the Coopers Longnecks or the thick Pommy 500ml ones, roll tops all the way. And with glass you need to make damn sure ferment is complete and there are no infections. Exploding glass is alot more dangerous than popping PET's
 

mosto

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Thanks Pennywise. That's cleared up my main concern re the temp. I will have to ensure I mix my ingredients better next time as that may be the reason for the low OG. Will probably do the half PET half glass bottling, just to satisfy my own curiosity, but yeah, will probably just use glass after that. Not expecting any miracles first go, just hoping for something drinkable. Hopefully my brews will improve as I fine tune my methods etc
 

Strange Dog

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I am also a new brewer, having just bottled my fourth brew. I also started with the coopers kit.

I didnt even sterilize my new PET bottles, just rinsed them in hot water. I didnt suffer any infections. I store my bottles for 2 months before drinking and have no issues. I sanitize and sterlize my bottles now that I have used them, though.

My coopers yeast that came with the kit was trying to ferment at 10 degrees during winter. The brew turned out OK, just a little under carbonated. After that I started using yeast I bought from my home brew shop that was better suited to the fermentation temperatures I was expecting (in my case, Saf 23 I think it was) based on the advice of this forum. It made a world of difference.

As for your low FG, I have yet to get a FG that was any higher than 1036 and I believe on the advice of this forum that this is due to my ingredients not being sufficiently mixed. I dont really care, I only use SG to determine when to bottle. My brews turn out OK (alcohol wise, I am still working on the flavour...)

I look forward to seeing more of your posts, you may ask questions that I myself have been wondering about :)
 

muthead

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My coopers yeast that came with the kit was trying to ferment at 10 degrees during winter. The brew turned out OK, just a little under carbonated.
Don't think the carbonation would have anything to do with the yeast as carbonation in bottle takes place after fermentation has finished.
 

mgill

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Thanks Pennywise. That's cleared up my main concern re the temp. I will have to ensure I mix my ingredients better next time as that may be the reason for the low OG. Will probably do the half PET half glass bottling, just to satisfy my own curiosity, but yeah, will probably just use glass after that. Not expecting any miracles first go, just hoping for something drinkable. Hopefully my brews will improve as I fine tune my methods etc

Honestly if you want something drinkable, I would skip on the Coopers kits and duck down to your local home brew shop. Even if it is just starting simple with kit and kilo, there is a huge difference in quality.

Best bet for starting out would be buy a kit, buy a kilo of complex sugars (malt and dextrose) and maybe even splash out on some grain and hops. If you buy some grain the quick and dirty method would be to boil some water (1L), turn off the heat, add 200 or so grams of grain (just simple australian ale or similar), and let sit for 15 minutes, strain the grain, pour another litre of hot water over the grain, then boil the resulting liquid for ten minutes.

If you are feeling adventurous, add some hops a couple of minutes before you turn the heat off (look at the beers you like and google or research on this forum what hops they have in them).

This will make a huge difference to your first brews and will probably encourage you to appreciate the beer that you create.

Hope this helps.
 

manticle

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Don't think the carbonation would have anything to do with the yeast as carbonation in bottle takes place after fermentation has finished.

Actually the yeast remaining in the bottle acts in a very similar way to the yeast in the main ferment - that is it eats the small amount of priming sugar you add and produces a teeny bit of alc and some carbon dioxide. Because the bottle is sealed, the carbon dioxide stays in solution until you open.

You are right that the ferment temp shouldn't effect the final carb level but if the conditioning temp of the bottle was similar then it might. Certainly yeast does have an effect (a causal effect in fact) on carbonation.
 

almopec

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Miltob tablets work, but there are more economical sanitisers than milton tabs, like starsan or iodophor (i use both).
but if you do stick with the milton, like your babies things (and my boys things) they just need 15 min contact time and air drying after. Rinsing just makes things dirty again.

Hope that helps.
 

stux

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I used to use Milton (the one litre bottle) back in the day...

Now I use PBW to clean and StarSan to sanitize. No need to rinse the starsan
 

Mr Flibbles

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Nothing wrong with plastic. You can buy 2L bottles of 9.5% porter in Poland in plastic soft drink bottles for anywhere from $1.50 to $3. Of course, Australia has the most retarded alcohol laws, so you'll never see that here.
 

mosto

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Thanks all for the advice, it's all been very helpful. As for the Milton tabs, I used them because we didn't need them anymore (our youngest is past the point of needing to sterilize everything) and didn't have anything else. Once I've used them up (prob got 1-2 more brews worth of tabs) I'll move to something like Starsan as a lot recommend it and I like to no rinse idea.

Temp is still sitting consistently around 20-22. Will start taking gravity readings this arvo (day 3) when I get home, but I don't expect it will be ready to bottle until the weekend (and I won't have an opportunity 'til then anyway).

One difference I've noticed from when I tried to brew years ago is the smell. I remember my couple of attempts back then had a real pong, but this time, when I open the ice box to check temp there is a pleasant, dare I say it, beer smell. A fair indication that back then, being young and impatient, my cleaning regime was probably not what it should have been leading to infections.

Will let you know how I get on and if I have anymore questions and thanks again for the help so far.
 

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