This is the brew that got me into home brewing. It was pretty simple as it used malt extract from a can, but it was one step on from just using extract as I steeped some specialty grain and boiled a few hops for a while. I also dry hopped. I thought it tasted most excellent as did many of my friends and it is the brew that got me hooked on home brewing.
Here is the recipe to make 21 L of about 5.5% beer.
- 1.7 kg Coopers Amber Ale can of hopped malt extract (this has bittering hops already added)
- 1.5kg of Black Rock light malt extract. Any can of unhopped light malt extract would do. Try and get tins of malt extract that are fresh as they taste better than old extract.
- 300g of medium crystal malt to add a bit of colour/body and sweetness to balance the hops. It will need to be crushed so you can extract the flavour etc.
- 100g of Amarillo hops (30g at 30 min, 30g at 15 min, 30g at 5 min and 10g dry hop)
- 100g of Cascade hops (100g dry hop). You could substitute other hops such as Centenial or Summit for the Amarillo or Cascade.
- Yeast. I would suggest Safeale US05 or Danstar Nottingham from a home brew supplier that keeps their yeast refrigerated. I would suggest throwing away the yeast that comes with the Coopers kit as it will have often been stored at ambient temperature.
- Cleaner – Unscented nappy wash like napisan works well to clean organic dirt. The home brand stuff at the supermarket is good.
- Sanitiser – Get a good sanitiser from the Home brew shop. I find Star San to work very well and as it is “no rinse” it is easy to use.
How it goes together. You will need
- A big pot and a way to heat it
- A thermometer
- A mesh bag or a sieve.
1. First of all you want to make sure your fermenting vessel is clean. A good wash out with a cleaner like napisan should do the trick. I often soak my containers overnight with a napisan solution in them. Once the container is clean (i.e. no physical dirt can be seen) it will need to be sanitised before the ferment. Cleaning gets rid of the dirt where bugs hide, but does not get rid of the bugs. Sanitising kills the bugs so that your precious brew does not get infected!
2. Grab a big pot and heat some water to about 67 deg. Use as much water as you can 3/4 fill the pot. I was using a pot that I was able to put about 7 or 8 litres of water in, but you could probably get away with doing it in 3 or 4 litres.
3. Grab the mesh bag, put the 300g of grain in the bag and steep in the 67 deg water for 30 minutes. Try and keep the water at about 67 deg but a degree or 2 either side wont matter. You could buy some cheap stockings to use as a mesh bag, or home brew shops will sell you something. Spotlight have a nylon mesh fabric that is cheap (voil?) and can be sewn into a bag if you are feeling like being crafty. Otherwise at the end pour the liquid through a sieve to take the grain out.
4. After 30 minutes pull the bag of grain out and let it drain for a minute or two. While the grain is draining start heating the pot to the boil.
5. Once boiling you will add some hops. When brewers talk about hop additions they always time it from “flame out”. This assumes that the pot is boiling and your hop additions are added at time intervals measured before you take the pot off the heat. My recipe has the Amarillo hops added at:
- 30g Amarillo at 30 minutes
- 30g Amarillo at 15 minutes
- 30g Amarillo at 5 minutes
So once the pot is boiling, add 30g of Amarillo and start timing. After 15 min add another 30 g and after 25 min add another 30g. After 30 minutes take the pot off the heat, and cool it down. The easiest way to cool it is to put the pot in a cold water bath (either fill the sink or a bucket or the bath with cold water and sit the pot in it).
6. Add the contents of the pot to the fermenting container. You will also need to add the malt extract and the balance of the water to make the entire volume up to 21 litres. I would personally boil the entire volume of the water for the brew to make sure it was sterile, but many people use the water straight from the tap. The liquid malt extract in the can should be sterile until you open it… you should do everything possible to make sure you dont add bugs to your brew which will mean opening the cans with sterilised can openers and getting it out with a sterilised scaper. Alternatively you could add the malt extract to the water if you are going to boil, and boil it all for about 15 minutes to make sure it is sterile.
7. Add the yeast. With dry packet yeast you can simply sprinkle the yeast on the top of your wort (wort = malt+hop+water mixture). Get the temperature of the mixture in your fermenting container to about 20 deg before you add the yeast. I always like to rehydrate dried yeast for an hour or two before adding to the wort. To rehydrate yeast take about a cup of water that you have boiled and then cooled to about 25 deg. Add to a sterile jar and let the dried yeast rehydrate in the water. Add the whole yeast slurry to your brew.
8. Cap your fermentor with an airlock (filled with sterilised solution) and keep your brew at a constant temperature. If the yeast gets too cold (below about 15 deg for ales) or too hot (above about 22 deg C) then the yeast are likely to give your brew strange flavours. If you can keep it at a constant temperature of about 20 degrees it is ideal. In general slightly lower temperatures will usually give you a cleaner tasting brew and slightly higher temperatures will give a brew with more esters.
9. After about 12 to 24 hours you should see gas start to bubble through the airlock. If the yeast is old or has been badly treated (i.e. not kept refrigerated) then it may take longer.
10. After the first few days the airlock bubbling should slow down, this is when I would add the 10g of Amarillo and 100g of Cascade hops into the fermenting container. After 2 weeks the air lock should be no longer bubbling or very slow. I usually just bottle my beers after 2 weeks, but I am confident that the yeast and temperature control I use is good. If you are unsure if the ferment has finished you can either leave it for another week or 2, or take a hydrometer reading. The FG should be down about 1.010.
11. To bottle the beers I usually decant from the fermentor into a bottling bucket as this way I can leave most of the dead yeast behind and I can mix the sugar needed to carbonate the beer in. I add dextrose before bottling, but normal sugar is fine. I would usually add about 110g of sugar for a 21 L brew with a little water in a pot and boil for about 15 minutes. I let this cool and then pour into the bottom of the bottling bucket, then using a sterilised piece of clear pipe I siphon from the fermenting container into the bottling bucket. The sugar solution will mix in as you siphon the beer in. Getting an auto-siphon is a good thing. I used an ordinary piece of pipe for a while and after making quite a mess I bought something like this and brewing got easier.
12. I make sure the bottles are clean and I rinse them with sterilising solution before adding the beer. I have a bottling valve which attaches to the tap at the bottom of my bottling bucket (like this ). This makes bottling easy as you simply slip the bottle over the tube pressing the bottom of the bottle against the valve at the bottom of the tube. The bottle fills with primed beer. You can fill the bottle right to the rim as when you remove the bottling valve it leaves the right amount of air gap in the top of the bottle.
13. I use crown cap bottles (330, 500 and 750s) and I have the crown caps sitting in sterilising solution before putting them on the top of the bottles and clamping them on with a capper.
14. The beer then needs to mature for a couple of weeks. There is a secondary fermentation in the bottle from the sugar we added at the end and this adds the carbonation to the beer. For this secondary fermentation to proceed you need to keep the bottles somewhere warmish for a couple of weeks. I usually fill a couple of small clear plastic soft drink bottles with the beer as well. With these I can see when the beer has clarified and I can tell if the beer has carbonated by how tight the bottle gets.
15. Enjoy your beer. Try serving a beer like this at about 10 deg C. If it is too cold you will not be able to taste all of the hop and malt flavours.
16. If you brew this, let me know how it goes!