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Making a Simple Lager More Interesting

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Brashidy

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Hey!
So, and friend of mine and I aren't particularly experienced home brewers, and are looking at getting the Coopers DIY kit. I saw this comes with an easy starting brew (ingredients and instructions) which seems to be a pretty simple lager that looks to finish at around 3.5% ABV by my research. Thing is, my friend and I much prefer ales (although still like lagers) and were thinking about getting the ingredients for an ale, but I don't want to just throw out those lager ingredients so also wanted to explore beefing up that lager into something more exiting.

We'd be looking to:
A) - Boost the alcohol percentage, ideally doubling it but at least getting it within the 5-6% ABV range.
B) - Enhancing the flavour. I'm not looking for some strange transformation into a stout or something, but doing something to make the lager a bit more interesting.

I've been doing a lot of research into potential options and would love to get some opinions into their viability. My ideas include:
- Doubling up: Part of the ingredients is a lager liquid malt-extract. Would buying another LME for, say a European Lager, and adding it boost the ABV and flavour?
- More yeast: This matches with the above. That second LME would come with more yeast which we'd add, but would getting even more yeast and adding it be beneficial too?
- More brewing sugar: The ingredients already include some dextrose, but would adding some more or a different sugar like honey or maple syrup help?
- Hops: I'd be interested to try dry-hopping or something similar just as I've never done it and like hoppy beers. Reckon that'd help this lager or would it clash?
- Malt: I've seen some similar recipes to what I'm thinking of here that add Light Dry Malt. Would 1kg Light Dry Malt instead of or with 2 LMEs (the original + an extra) be the thing I'm looking for here?
I understand that changing/adding things would likely alter how long we'd need to ferment the brew for and how much attention we'd need to pay to monitoring gravity etc. and am prepared for that.

For reference, the ingredients for the lager stater brew to make 23 Litres seem to be:
- 1.7kg Lager Extract
- 1kg Brew enhancer (80% Dextrose, 20% Maltodextrin)
Seems like a pretty simple base to add some extra spice to.

Thanks to all you experienced brewers for any input into this!
 

YAPN

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Hi Brashidy,

You may want to check out your Local Homebrew Shop (LHBS) and see if they have a similar, cheaper, set-up than the Coopers. They can be a great resource for beginners. Also, if you want to search this site for ideas use Google. As in 'aussiehomebrewer pimp my kit'. Turning your Coopers Lager into a stout would not be a very strange transformation, pretty simple and cheap really. But you'll get into that later. The ingredients you list at the end should give you 5%ABV.

Doubling Up.
Pretty popular idea. Choose two kits (cans) any two you like and add the kilo of sugar if you want get up to 7%-8%. Just remember that one kit contains enough bitterness for 23lt. Be guided by your taste buds, everyone's different.

More Yeast.
My advice is yes, always. Get some good dry yeast from your LHBS and use two packs for 23lt. It's a bit expensive but it can be re-used. On bottling day have a second fermenter filled with your next batch ready to go. Bottle your original brew and then get a (sterile) cup and scoop up the yeast slurry. Dump that into your second batch and away you go, 1cup is more than enough. I've stored the yeast slurry in a sterile vessel in the fridge for 24hrs and it still worked fine. Some brewers claim they've re-used the yeast up to 8 times, but anything more than 3 times adds a risk of failure.

More Brewing Sugar.
The short answer is yes, that would work. Dextrose is popular because the yeast converts all of it and does not leave much flavour behind. Honey, maple syrup, Coca Cola (yes, really) basically any sugar can be used but they leave behind flavours that may, or may not be wanted. Liquid and dry Malt products leave behind traditional beer flavours and add more 'body' to the beer. Something you might like since you prefer Ales.

Hops.
Go for it. Grab 40gm of your favourite and tie them into a length of pantyhose, neutral colour not black. Chuck that into the fermenter when the krausen drops. Google krausen. Some people throw loose pellets into their fermenters but that has never worked for me.

Malt.
See above. Liquid malt extract (LME) comes in cans that are the same size as kits and are normally sold at your LHBS. The term 'kit' refers to malt boiled with bittering hops and has been packaged to produce 23lt of beer, and is found on the shelf in the shopping mall and murphy's.

Take readings and keep notes. Clean and sanitize everything, twice.
You might want to decide the upper limit of how many dollars you are prepared to spend on equipment for your new hobby. It will give you something to laugh at as you fly passed it.

Cheers.
 

markeynz

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I started off less than a year ago with a Mangrove Jacks kit, came with a pale ale, which was rather good. I would suggest you follow the instructions, and keep it simple for the first few. Ive mainly stuck with the Mangrove Jacks kits so far, not sure how available they are over there, maybe not as popular as Coopers, but they have a massive variety.
Ive brewed a batch roughly every 2 weeks since i started in about December last year, mainly sticking with the MJ kits (with associated yeasts) and DME (and brewing a wifes choice to keep her happy every few batches), but was also bought a pair of Coopers kits for Xmas, the pale ale I just ran with, but having got more confident am looking to turn the lager kit into an IIPA.
The spreadsheet from Ianh is amazing if you havent downloaded it yet - Kit And Extract Beer Spreadsheet
Plug in some options, and see how you can go.
Ive not actually brewed with it yet, but looking forward to see how I can make the lager into an IIPA, my current plan is the coopers lager kit and coppers brewing sugar, along with a Black Rock Ultralight and Amber LME, and 100g of Pacifica hops.
Just got to wait for the wifes ginger beer kit to finish :(
 

Brashidy

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I started off less than a year ago with a Mangrove Jacks kit, came with a pale ale, which was rather good. I would suggest you follow the instructions, and keep it simple for the first few. Ive mainly stuck with the Mangrove Jacks kits so far, not sure how available they are over there, maybe not as popular as Coopers, but they have a massive variety.
Ive brewed a batch roughly every 2 weeks since i started in about December last year, mainly sticking with the MJ kits (with associated yeasts) and DME (and brewing a wifes choice to keep her happy every few batches), but was also bought a pair of Coopers kits for Xmas, the pale ale I just ran with, but having got more confident am looking to turn the lager kit into an IIPA.
The spreadsheet from Ianh is amazing if you havent downloaded it yet - Kit And Extract Beer Spreadsheet
Plug in some options, and see how you can go.
Ive not actually brewed with it yet, but looking forward to see how I can make the lager into an IIPA, my current plan is the coopers lager kit and coppers brewing sugar, along with a Black Rock Ultralight and Amber LME, and 100g of Pacifica hops.
Just got to wait for the wifes ginger beer kit to finish :(
Yeah, good call about starting simple. We gonna try not to complicate things too much, but just didn't want to brew a beer we didn't like as the first time and lose interest in home brewing. I hadn't tried out the spreadsheet or checked out Mangrove Jack's stuff yet, so thanks for the heads up!
 

Brashidy

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Hi Brashidy,

You may want to check out your Local Homebrew Shop (LHBS) and see if they have a similar, cheaper, set-up than the Coopers. They can be a great resource for beginners. Also, if you want to search this site for ideas use Google. As in 'aussiehomebrewer pimp my kit'. Turning your Coopers Lager into a stout would not be a very strange transformation, pretty simple and cheap really. But you'll get into that later. The ingredients you list at the end should give you 5%ABV.

Doubling Up.
Pretty popular idea. Choose two kits (cans) any two you like and add the kilo of sugar if you want get up to 7%-8%. Just remember that one kit contains enough bitterness for 23lt. Be guided by your taste buds, everyone's different.

More Yeast.
My advice is yes, always. Get some good dry yeast from your LHBS and use two packs for 23lt. It's a bit expensive but it can be re-used. On bottling day have a second fermenter filled with your next batch ready to go. Bottle your original brew and then get a (sterile) cup and scoop up the yeast slurry. Dump that into your second batch and away you go, 1cup is more than enough. I've stored the yeast slurry in a sterile vessel in the fridge for 24hrs and it still worked fine. Some brewers claim they've re-used the yeast up to 8 times, but anything more than 3 times adds a risk of failure.

More Brewing Sugar.
The short answer is yes, that would work. Dextrose is popular because the yeast converts all of it and does not leave much flavour behind. Honey, maple syrup, Coca Cola (yes, really) basically any sugar can be used but they leave behind flavours that may, or may not be wanted. Liquid and dry Malt products leave behind traditional beer flavours and add more 'body' to the beer. Something you might like since you prefer Ales.

Hops.
Go for it. Grab 40gm of your favourite and tie them into a length of pantyhose, neutral colour not black. Chuck that into the fermenter when the krausen drops. Google krausen. Some people throw loose pellets into their fermenters but that has never worked for me.

Malt.
See above. Liquid malt extract (LME) comes in cans that are the same size as kits and are normally sold at your LHBS. The term 'kit' refers to malt boiled with bittering hops and has been packaged to produce 23lt of beer, and is found on the shelf in the shopping mall and murphy's.

Take readings and keep notes. Clean and sanitize everything, twice.
You might want to decide the upper limit of how many dollars you are prepared to spend on equipment for your new hobby. It will give you something to laugh at as you fly passed it.

Cheers.
Massive thanks for the info, YAPN!
Yeah, reckon the doubling up and adding some hops at least sounds good to spruce it up. Would adding two different kids of yeast to the brew together clash at all? Like would they have different ideal brewing temperatures to consider?

Also, is there any method known for estimating how long a brew will take to ferment. I understand the whole, waiting until the gravity stabilizes technique, but based on the ingredients put into the brew can you guess the number of days/weeks??
 

YAPN

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Would adding two different kids of yeast to the brew together clash at all?
This probably wont matter if you are using the yeasts that come with kits, the little sachets under the lid. Double check the use-by date. You are right that fermentation temperatures vary according to the yeast but that is only important if you buy proper yeast from your LHBS. Kit yeast is a different animal, just remember that the warmer the fermentation temp the more flavours you'll get. This might not be a good thing. I would keep it to a stable temp somewhere between 16C and 22C. Easy for me to say because I've got fermentation fridge. Good luck.

"is there any method known for estimating how long a brew will take to ferment"

Short answer, no. Allow two weeks, it could be done in 7 days. Don't leave a finished batch resting on the yeast cake for too long, it can turn bad.
 

Brashidy

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Ah, OK, thanks for the advice.

Well, we ended up going two different lager extracts so I guess the yeast difference will matter even less, hopefully. And been spending some time recording ambient temperatures at different parts of my place at different times of the day, so I think I've found a place where the batch will stay a pretty stable temperature.

Will do an update once it's all done
 

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