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Specialty Grain For The First Time - Help With Coopers English Bitter?

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slash22000

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Afternoon all,

I finally got my hands on some speciality grain and I want to add some to a Coopers English Bitter kit, but I'm having some trouble figuring out exactly how much is too much and how little is too little. I've made a number of brews before, just never with grains. Here is what I am thinking:
1 x Coopers English Bitter 1700g
1000g light dry malt
200g Caramunich II
100g medium Crystal

15g EKG hops 10 minutes
15g EKG hops 0 minutes
Kit yeast (no other choice)

Made to 22 litres
Keep in mind this is what I've come up with never having used grains before, but Google seems to think it's not a bad choice. Caramunich was recommended to me as being a good choice for English ales and Crystal is pretty much standard in most recipes. "The Internet" recommends no more than 10% - 15% per weight of malt, does that seem about right? The kit is 1.7KG, I usually add 1KG of dry malt, so that gives me 270 - 405 grams of grain to work with?

Will all that malt/grain result in an excessively thick mouthfeel? Should I add some dextrose? I'm not concerned about keeping the alcohol low or anything, I'll chuck in as much fermentables as I need as long as the yeast can handle it. I rehydrate my dry yeasts so I usually get Olympian performance from their struggle against sugar.

Regarding the grains. Should I add more? Less? I also have some pale Crystal around the place but I am thinking the darker medium Crystal suits the style more? Or should I stick to pure Caramunich II?

Steep the grains at ~70C, then I'm told you need to boil the liquid for approximately 15 minutes to kill bacteria etc so I figured I might as well throw in my EKG for a 10 minute flavour extraction at the same time? Any advice on how much water I should use to steep the grain?

A bunch of questions I know but once I get it figured out the first time it shouldn't be a problem! Any advice would be great. Cheers lads/ladies. :)
 

malt_shovel

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Afternoon all,

I finally got my hands on some speciality grain and I want to add some to a Coopers English Bitter kit, but I'm having some trouble figuring out exactly how much is too much and how little is too little. I've made a number of brews before, just never with grains. Here is what I am thinking:
1 x Coopers English Bitter 1700g
1000g light dry malt
200g Caramunich II
100g medium Crystal

15g EKG hops 10 minutes
15g EKG hops 0 minutes
Kit yeast (no other choice)

Made to 22 litres
Keep in mind this is what I've come up with never having used grains before, but Google seems to think it's not a bad choice. Caramunich was recommended to me as being a good choice for English ales and Crystal is pretty much standard in most recipes. "The Internet" recommends no more than 10% - 15% per weight of malt, does that seem about right? The kit is 1.7KG, I usually add 1KG of dry malt, so that gives me 270 - 405 grams of grain to work with?

Will all that malt/grain result in an excessively thick mouthfeel? Should I add some dextrose? I'm not concerned about keeping the alcohol low or anything, I'll chuck in as much fermentables as I need as long as the yeast can handle it. I rehydrate my dry yeasts so I usually get Olympian performance from their struggle against sugar.

Regarding the grains. Should I add more? Less? I also have some pale Crystal around the place but I am thinking the darker medium Crystal suits the style more? Or should I stick to pure Caramunich II?

Steep the grains at ~70C, then I'm told you need to boil the liquid for approximately 15 minutes to kill bacteria etc so I figured I might as well throw in my EKG for a 10 minute flavour extraction at the same time? Any advice on how much water I should use to steep the grain?

A bunch of questions I know but once I get it figured out the first time it shouldn't be a problem! Any advice would be great. Cheers lads/ladies. :)
Hey there,

If starting out on playing with grains, you may want to consider adding one type at a time.

Caramunich and English Crystal malts can bring fairly different things to a beer, so you may want to try one at a time and compare the differences. Even better still, use two fermenters and split the batch with one for each.

100gm of crystal seems a tad low. I don't have a brew calculator in front of me, but for a typical AG bitter to 22 Litres, you would need around 4.5 - 5kG of malt, so 10% would be closer to 500gm (I think 5% is plenty of crystal in an Enlgish bitter and the kit will have some included in it).

Note that 10 - 15% is when considering the weight of grain and is not interchangeable with dried / liquid malt extract. In other words, it may take 3 or so kilos of malted grain to extract the same amount of fermentables that is then de-hydrated to the extract sold in bags / tins.

You can steep at what ever temperature below around 75oC (to lessen extraction of unwanted parts in the malt) as there is no further mash process going on with crystal. It is all achieved during the kilning process and locked in for good. As for the boil (grains removed!), when using dry malt extract use a ratio of 100gm / 1Ltr of water to get similar OG used for hop extraction. With steeping grains, something in the ball park will work fine. So a 250gm steep, add around 2.5 - 3Ltr of water with hops. That will help get something more than pure aroma from the hops. There are no hard and fast rules, don't be afraid to experiment, just try to keep the variables to a minimum so you understand the impact one change has on the overall beer (ie use one crystal malt at a time)


Also, download Brewmate software. It will be able to help you construct your recipes and help with brewday calculations, and it's free!.

Hope that helps
Cheers
:beer:
 

slash22000

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Caramunich and English Crystal malts can bring fairly different things to a beer, so you may want to try one at a time and compare the differences. Even better still, use two fermenters and split the batch with one for each.
Good call. I might stick with the Caramunich for the first batch then.
100gm of crystal seems a tad low. I don't have a brew calculator in front of me, but for a typical AG bitter to 22 Litres, you would need around 4.5 - 5kG of malt, so 10% would be closer to 500gm (I think 5% is plenty of crystal in an Enlgish bitter and the kit will have some included in it).
I see ... Most extract recipies I see only use 200g of specialty grains so I figured 300g was a lot, I might bump the grain to 400g to suit the style.
Note that 10 - 15% is when considering the weight of grain and is not interchangeable with dried / liquid malt extract. In other words, it may take 3 or so kilos of malted grain to extract the same amount of fermentables that is then de-hydrated to the extract sold in bags / tins.
Typical that it is more complicated! Good to know though.
Also, download Brewmate software. It will be able to help you construct your recipes and help with brewday calculations, and it's free!.
I will look into this, thank you. :)
 

Matt Browne

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Here's a recepie I use regularly:

1 Can Coopers English Bitter
800g light powdered malt
100g Crystal
100g Carared
10g Fuggles @ 10mins
10g Fuggles @ 0mins
Wyeast Denny's Favourite

With the grain I steep it in a large coffee plunger
for 20mins then strain it into the fermenter as if you were pouring coffee.

One of my favourites!!
 

fuddnuddler

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Slash, got for it...should be best beer you have made.
 

slash22000

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With the grain I steep it in a large coffee plunger for 20mins then strain it into the fermenter as if you were pouring coffee.
Huh. I never would have thought of that. I do have a French press here at home. I'm not sure how much liquid it would hold, but I don't think it would be enough for 400 grams of grain. I *could* do it in two 200g batches though ... Sounds like it would be a lot easier than using a grain bag. Great tip and thanks for your recipe!
 

bum

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You really should be boiling the steeping liquid (with grains removed) to sanitise it before you add it to the fermenter. Obviously Matt seems to omit this step without issue but it isn't what would be considered best practice.
 

petesbrew

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Huh. I never would have thought of that. I do have a French press here at home. I'm not sure how much liquid it would hold, but I don't think it would be enough for 400 grams of grain. I *could* do it in two 200g batches though ... Sounds like it would be a lot easier than using a grain bag. Great tip and thanks for your recipe!
The french press works well if you can fit it all in. Don't forget to rinse the grain afterwards into your boiling pot too, to get all the tasty goodness from it.
If you can get an english dried yeast from a homebrew shop it can't hurt.
Safale S-04 is easy to find, but I prefer Danstar Windsor.
 

slash22000

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Don't forget to rinse the grain afterwards into your boiling pot too, to get all the tasty goodness from it.
What do you mean by rinse? Just run some extra water through the grain?

If you can get an english dried yeast from a homebrew shop it can't hurt. Safale S-04 is easy to find, but I prefer Danstar Windsor
Unfortunately, brewing in Darwin, Coopers kit yeast seems to be the only yeast actually capable of fermenting my beer. Every other yeast I've tried has died out before it finished leaving me with sugary brown water. On the lookout for a fridge for temp control but no such luck.
 

Feldon

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I finally got my hands on some speciality grain ... I've made a number of brews before, just never with grains.
Don't forget to crush the grains before you steep them. :)
 

Matt Browne

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Yes the French Press would be good if it fits.
My large coffee plunger works well and sorry yes it's a double process.
Firstly put the grain in, fill it with boiling water, steep for 20mins, plunge then pour it into the fermenter.
Then pull out the plunger, fill with warm water, stir it up, plunge and pour again. This gives it the rinse.
Works for me!! Good luck!!
 

petesbrew

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Yes the French Press would be good if it fits.
My large coffee plunger works well and sorry yes it's a double process.
Firstly put the grain in, fill it with boiling water, steep for 20mins, plunge then pour it into the fermenter.
Then pull out the plunger, fill with warm water, stir it up, plunge and pour again. This gives it the rinse.
Works for me!! Good luck!!
Elaborated from my vague rinse advice above. Or use a strainer. same diff.

Fair enough re: the yeast. All the best!
 

slash22000

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Evening all,

Just wanted to post an update here. I downloaded the BrewMate software as suggested by Malt_shovel and tried to conjure up a proper recipie. The software doesn't have the Coopers kits or anything in it, but here's what I ended up calculating:
Grain Bill
----------------
1.700 kg Liquid Malt Extract - Amber (48.57%) I assumed this would be the closest thing to the 1.7KG kit malt
1.000 kg Dry Malt Extract - Light (28.57%)
0.400 kg Caramunich II (11.43%)
0.400 kg Dextrose (11.43%)

Hop Bill
----------------
15.0 g East Kent Golding Pellet (4.7% Alpha) @ 10 Minutes (Boil) (0.7 g/L)
15.0 g East Kent Golding Pellet (4.7% Alpha) @ 0 Minutes (Aroma) (0.7 g/L)

Batch Size (L): 22.0
Total Grain (kg): 3.500
Total Hops (g): 30.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.051 (P): 12.6
Final Gravity (FG): 1.011 (P): 2.8
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 5.24 %​
I decided to add the dextrose to bump the alcohol >5% (my family are Scottish and Czech, I feel as if I would betray them by brewing <5%) and to (theoretically) thin out the mouthfeel a little just incase it ended up super heavy with all the malt and grain.

I used my 1 litre French press as suggested by Matt Browne to steep the crushed grain in two seperate batches for ~30 minutes each (I also rinsed each batch of grains as suggested with <70C water and added to the mini-wort). The best way I could describe the smell would be stale biscuits, an almost bready aroma leaning towards sweet, as if a baker added too much sugar to a loaf of bread and then left it out in the sun. I boiled the resulting liquid (almost exactly 2 litres) with a little dry malt to theoretically hit 1.40 gravity in the mini-wort for the hop additions. It smelled fantastic.

I used my refractometer calibrated with distilled water to measure the OG (something I've never done before, silly me) and it was absolutely bang on 12.5 brix which Brewmate tells me = 1.050 OG. I'm extremely happy that I seemingly sniped the gravity and I am also extremely happy I don't have to mess around with the hydrometer anymore (the refractometer is new)!

The wort smells amazing. I've decided to ferment it in my bedroom with the air conditioner at 23C. I know that's still very hot for brewing but it's better than the 28C in the rest of the unit and I guess the cooler the better?

Thanks for all your advice everybody, if in the end it tastes near as good as it smells I will be extraordinarily pleased! :D
 

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