Batch #3-09: Bitter

Style Australian Bitter
Ingredients Cooper’s Bitter Pre-Hopped Malt Extract Kit
Brewing Date: Saturday, February 28, 09
Primary Fermentation: Saturday, February 28, 09
Original Gravity: 1.030
Secondary Fermentation: n/a
Bottling Date: Wednesday, March 11, 09
Final Gravity: 1.010
Release Date: Friday, April 10, 09
Alcohol by volume: 3.1% ABV
Final Release Name: Sheriff of Nottingham’s Bitter


With 43 bottles now available, it was time to start the next batch. I decided to stick with another Cooper’s Kit for this and the next batch, since they are easy and my first batch had an uneasy start–but did come out quite well.

I boiled the extract in 2 liters of water for 25 minutes, but initially added no sugar.  The kit instructions call for 1Kg of sugar (the first batch used 1/2 this much corn sugar).  I guess I got gun shy because the initial result of the first batch was so sweet, prior to bottling.  About 15 minutes into the boil, I added 16oz of cane sugar (1/2 the recommended amount again). I did not use corn sugar this time, since one of my mentors stated that corn sugar can add an undesirable taste to the beer.  So this time I will another sweetener to compare with the corn sugar.

I cooled the wort in an ice batch for 15 minutes, just as the first batch, then poured it into the fermentation bucket with 2 gallons of cool water already inside the bucket.  I then topped of the fermentor at a little over 5 gallons with cool water.  This time, the wort was much cooler after putting all 5 gallons in the bucket.  I think only boiling 1/2 gallon of water versus a whole gallon aided in cooling the wort faster.  I took an initial gravity reading (1.030), then pitched the yeast immediately, sealed the container and stored it in the garage.

1 Mar 09, 6:00PM — At 18 hours after pitching yeast, I am already getting bubbling cycles at 10 second intervals.  So far, so good.

5 Mar 09, 7:00PM — The bubbling cycles are at 7-10 second cycles, so all is well.  The fermentation is occurring in the garage, with some temperature range variations from 47F degrees to 63F degrees over the week.  It does not appear to have affected the yeast negatively.  The first batch (Lager) also went through similar temperature cycles.

9 Mar 09, 6:00PM — The bubbling is still occuring at 18-20 seconds intervals, so this batch may take a full 10 days for initial fermentation.

10 Mar 09, 6:00PM–Bubbling interval is just about 1 minute.  Gravity reading is 1.010

11 Mar 09, 6:00PM–Gravity reading now stable at 1.010.  Began bottling at 9:50PM.  Completed about midnight.  The beer does not have the sharp tangy taste that the first batch had, and the batch produced fifty-one 12oz bottles, one 24oz bottle, and two 25oz bottles, in addition to another half-glass I used for sampling.  Not bad.  Conditioning in the bottles has started.

10 Apr 09, 12:00PM–Released the batch.  The taste is very good, and has the same tang (bite) as the first batch.  Reaction to this brew was good.

Lessons learned:  Cane sugar, overall, gave this beer a slightly-sweeter taste than the lager (which used corn sugar).  It did contrast nicely with the bitterness of this brew.  I’m not sure cane sugar is the right answer overall, and I’ll limit its use to when I want to emphasize sweetness.