Coopers Stout. First Brew.

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agarmeister

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Well, after being told of the virtues of homebrew by mates, and being convinced by actually tasting it, I went out and bought myself a Cooper's 23l kit. Bog-standard, I know, but it'll do for a start. Anyway, here are my issues;

1) What is the normal timeline for fermentation? I know that "normal" can be very different on each occasion, but you know what I mean. I did the mix as instructed (it's my first brew, so I won't be too adventurous. Next time out, however, I might..!) It ended up at about 24 degrees before I added the yeast (probably a couple of degrees higher than ideal, but you gotta let me away with it this time, I was excited!) OSG was about 1038 I think, dropping to maybe 1028 after 24 hours. My problem is that by about 12 or 15 hours in there was a good 7 or 8 cm of Carbon Dioxide foam on the top, and now, 36 hours after addition of the yeast this foam is dropping quite quickly. Is this normal? Also, temp has been at about 26 degrees for most of the process. I've put a wet towel on it to cool it down but it hasn't helped a whole lot. I know that the Cooper's kit says 21-27 degrees, but I also know that the closer to the lower end of that scale the better... And putting the whole thing into a water bath ain't gonna happen this time, unfortunately... You guys reckon it should still turn out okay?

2) I have to go out of town for work in a week or so, and will be gone for about 10 days. When I go, the brew will have been down for 8 and a half days, meaning that when I return it'll be about 18 days post start of fermentation. Now here's my choice; do I bottle just before I go, assuming FSG has been reached, or should I leave it as is until I return? Normally I'd have no qualms about leaving it in the bucket, but I'm slightly apprehensive due to the higher than ideal temperature, plus my not knowing if it'll get even warmer when I'm away.

Your help and advice will be greatly appreciated!
 

zabond

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Hi & welcom to the forum
ferm time does vary a lot, leaving it for 18 days is not a problem it just gives the yeast a longer time to clean up,I personaly ferm for about 14 days @18*c then up the temp to 24*c for 7 days for my stouts then crash chill @1*C for another week then keg,what was your recipe as 1038 seem very low for a stout
also try to get the temp down to around 20*[freezing 2ltr milk bottles filled with salted water laying one ontop of your fermentor with a wet towel over it will get your temp down,keep a couple of frozen bottles in the freezer and change them twice a day]
the krausen dropping is normal
 

ploto

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What you describe sounds quite normal. Yes, it would be nicer to have it at a lower temperature, but that's something to consider for future brews.

I have left beers in the fermenter for over three weeks without any issues and I dare say your stout will be fine, if anything it may be all the better for it as the stout kits can sometimes take a while to drop the last bit below 1.020.

Just relax and start thinking about the next brew, and where you are going to put the temp-controlled fermentation fridge that you know you want!
 

agarmeister

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Hi & welcom to the forum
ferm time does vary a lot, leaving it for 18 days is not a problem it just gives the yeast a longer time to clean up,I personaly ferm for about 14 days @18*c then up the temp to 24*c for 7 days for my stouts then crash chill @1*C for another week then keg,what was your recipe as 1038 seem very low for a stout
also try to get the temp down to around 20*[freezing 2ltr milk bottles filled with salted water laying one ontop of your fermentor with a wet towel over it will get your temp down,keep a couple of frozen bottles in the freezer and change them twice a day]
the krausen dropping is normal
Cheers for the quick reply. It's just a can of the Cooper's Stout and a kilo of Cooper's Brew Enhancer 1 (Dextrose & Maltodextrin), which isn't an ideal partnership, but I was just eager to get brew #1 up and running! And I guess there's always the chance that the hydrometer's not bang on, but I guess as long as it's consistently wrong that's the main thing?
So I'm figuring that what you're saying is roughly to get the temp down and keep it down while I'm here, and if it rises a little when I'm gone it's not as big a deal? And say I bottle after day 18, how soon is that ready to drink? Also, is there any higher risk of infection/spoiling etc if it's left in the fermentor as opposed to in bottles?

Cheers again mate...
The water is freezing right now!!!
 

agarmeister

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What you describe sounds quite normal. Yes, it would be nicer to have it at a lower temperature, but that's something to consider for future brews.

I have left beers in the fermenter for over three weeks without any issues and I dare say your stout will be fine, if anything it may be all the better for it as the stout kits can sometimes take a while to drop the last bit below 1.020.

Just relax and start thinking about the next brew, and where you are going to put the temp-controlled fermentation fridge that you know you want!
Cheers for the reply! So you reckon it's within an okay temp range? And I'm not sure if my laundry is big enough for a fridge! Or, more to the point, if the missus would let me away with it! Might see if blacking out the window of the brewery/laundry helps, though it doesn't get much sun anyway. Still, every little helps... And like you said, this gives me all the more time to plan my next brew. I'm thinking a bitter or ale. Or is that me just looking too far ahead?!? So impatient to try brew #1 though! Typical first-timer, I guess...
 

RobboMC

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And like you said, this gives me all the more time to plan my next brew. I'm thinking a bitter or ale. Or is that me just looking too far ahead?!? So impatient to try brew #1 though! Typical first-timer, I guess...

Mate, I have up to 5 brews in the planning stages ahead of the one in the fermenter now. A good brew forms first as an idea and can take months to progress to a recipe after many changes and rethinks.

Back to your temperature issue; the biggest thing that holds brewers back in Oz is getting a brew kit for Xmas and doing the first brew in summer. I truly mucked up my first ever brew, pitching the yeast at 27 deg C and it heated iteslf to 30 the next day. By Day 2 the fermenting was all over bar a few slow bubbles. The beer tasted fabtstic to me as it was the first beer I had ever made myself. In hindsight it must have been real crap.

That was March, it took until my 4th brew in May of that first year to brew something at 18/19 deg C.

You will either learn to brew enough stock in Spring to get through summer, or get a fridge. I find April/May are great months for brewing ales and July/August is best for lager.

As for your next step, and I accept that others have already responded, I feel your apprehension about leaving it in a warm laundry for the next 10 days of high summer is not entirely unfounded. There is a slightly higher risk of it spoiling in the fermeneter, probably 1% as oppsoed to being in bottles it's completely safe assuming it won't explode from excess gassing. Blacking out the windows won't help as black absorbs heat, reflective tinting might help though! I'd be measuring the FG on day 8 so you know wheer you are; then doing everything you can to get in cold enough while you're away. Chances are it won't be finished on day 8, I've bottled sometimes on Day 9 or 10 at your temperatures but 8 is cutting it a bot to close for comfort. Can you beg, borrow or steal a spare fridge for the week? Or put it in a tray of water with towles tat are draped in the water, evaporative cooling is very effective; and pay someone bribes in promised bottles of beer to keep the water topped up. In my humble opinion you should try and keep it as cool as possible for the 10 days you are away.

Sorry to create conflict in your mind, but as they say ask 2 brewers a question and you get 3 different answers.
 

Mr Flibbles

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1038 is too low for a stout stout unless you like watery irish stout's. I'd leave it alone and keep the temperature constant at around 21 celsius. Bottle when you come back, then let it sit in the bottle for a week or two.
 

agarmeister

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Blacking out the windows won't help as black absorbs heat, reflective tinting might help though! I'd be measuring the FG on day 8 so you know wheer you are; then doing everything you can to get in cold enough while you're away. Chances are it won't be finished on day 8, I've bottled sometimes on Day 9 or 10 at your temperatures but 8 is cutting it a bot to close for comfort. Can you beg, borrow or steal a spare fridge for the week? Or put it in a tray of water with towles tat are draped in the water, evaporative cooling is very effective; and pay someone bribes in promised bottles of beer to keep the water topped up. In my humble opinion you should try and keep it as cool as possible for the 10 days you are away.
Sorry, by blacking out the windows I meant with cardboard etc. Anything that keeps some sun out has gotta help? Right now the fermenter is covered in 2 wet towels and has a bottle of frozen water wrapped up on top. I'm trying to baby it as best I can but it's a slow process getting the temp down. Also, I have convinced a mate to do this for the first 5 or so days of my being away, which should help. I guess all I can do is do my best and hope for a cold spell! I'm probably leaning towards leaving it in the fermenter while I'm away, or maybe bottling 4 or 5 bottles on day 8 (if it's ready of course) just to have something in bottles for comparison if nothing else... What do you reckon? I'm pretty annoyed at myself for being so hasty, but first brew fever and all that... I'll just work my socks off to keep it as right as can...
 

agarmeister

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1038 is too low for a stout stout unless you like watery irish stout's. I'd leave it alone and keep the temperature constant at around 21 celsius. Bottle when you come back, then let it sit in the bottle for a week or two.
Yeah, I thought 1038 looked low, but I guess it is what it is at this stage. And hopefully it's beer! So where do you think I went wrong to get such a low OG, considering it was a kit and all? As simple as too much water, cos as far as I can tell that was pretty much the only variable?
 

robinson_d

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the best beer ive made so far was bottled after 41 days. It took a while to brew but i was also busy for a week or 2.
 

Mr Flibbles

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<br />Yeah, I thought 1038 looked low, but I guess it is what it is at this stage. And hopefully it's beer! So where do you think I went wrong to get such a low OG, considering it was a kit and all? As simple as too much water, cos as far as I can tell that was pretty much the only variable?<br />
<br /><br /><br />

If you used the standard lager kit, with the standard enhancer, it will only end up around 4%, if you want a meaty beer that you can feel as you swallow, then use less water, more malt, and maybe some dextrose to up the abv, depending on the style.
 

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