Considering that I occasionally run a couple of ads on this blog that feature Coopers products I decided that it was in my and my readerships best interest to brew up one of their kits to experience the process and sample the finished product. The style I chose was their 'International Series' pale ale. I opted for the pale ale because it's a favorite beer of mine that I drink regularly and am familiar with many commercial brands, so it's a good style for the sake of comparison. I also want to take a moment here to warn you that the following may be overly detailed (read boring) in order to be thorough in the process of examining my Coopers experience.
The kit included 1.7kg (3.75 lbs.) of hopped, liquid malt extract and 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of a mixture of dextrose, dry malt extract and malto dextrin, and also a 7gram pkg of dry ale yeast. It also included enough "carbonation drops" for bottling but I would be kegging this batch so I set those aside. The included instructions say to dissolve the fermentables in 2 liters of boiling water or 4 liters of hot water and then top off with cool water bringing the total to 23 liters (6 gals.) which should also lower the temperature of the liquid enough to safely add the yeast (70f. - 80f. according to instructions). Since I have a bunch of brewing equipment and a few years experience, I decided to do things a little differently to make it easier on myself and insure that the beer was sanitized going into the fermenter. I would boil the entire volume of water for several minutes without the ingredients, then add and dissolve the ingredients into the sanitized liquid and finally run the wort through my plate chiller into the fermenter.
Before I started, I wanted to know what the actual gravity of the wort would be if I followed the instructions exactly. So I needed to add up the total sugars that I would use and divide by the 6 gallons of liquid at the beginning of fermentation. I figured the liquid malt extract at 1.038 per pound dissolved in 1 gallon of water (38 x 3.75 = 143). Unfortunately the dry mixture of dextrose, DME and malto-dextrin proved to be a little problematic since I was not sure what percentage of each of the dry ingredients were in the mix. It was necessary to make some assumptions. The first assumption was that the ingredients were listed on the box in the order of largest to smallest quantities. This meant that the dextrose (corn sugar?) was of the highest percentage followed by the DME and finally the malto dextrin. Having the least of the malto dextrin make sense since it is the least fermentable and is probably added as a way of increasing the mouth feel of the finished beer. So, based on these assumptions I figured 45% was dextrose with a gravity of 40, then 40% was DME with a gravity of 45 and finally 15% was malto dextrin with a gravity of 30.
Total volume 2.2lbs or 36 oz.
45% = 16.2 oz. x 40 = 40.5
40% = 14.4 oz. x 45 = 40.5
15% = 5.4 oz. x 30 = 10.12
this gives a grand total of 1.091
Adding the LME of 143 and the dry ingredients of 91 I came up with 234. Well, if you divide that by the 6 gallons liquid you get an original gravity of 1.039 which is a little low for a pale ale. I then divided it by 5 gallons to get instead 1.047, better. So, I decided to just use 5 gallons instead and to see what happens.
One hour Later.....
I brought 5.25 gallons of water to a boil for 5 minutes, shut off the heat and dissolved in the ingredients completely. I then pumped through my chiller to the fermenter aerating as it went and then I added the included package of dry ale yeast. Fermentation temperature is 72f.
The original gravity came out at 1.045
Come back for my complete evaluation of the finished beer!
Leave a comment if you have 'Coopers' experience.