Batch #5-09: Draught

Style Draught
Ingredients Edme Draught Pre-Hopped Malt Extract Kit
Brewing Date: Friday, May 1, 09
Primary Fermentation: Friday, May 1, 09
Original Gravity: 1.030
Secondary Fermentation: n/a
Bottling Date: Tuesday, May 5, 09
Final Gravity: 1.010
Release Date: Friday, June 12, 09
Alcohol by volume: 3.1%
Final Release Name: Merry Men’s Draught


This is the first batch using other than a Cooper’s malt extract kit.  Interestingly, the manufacturer (Edme) has a website, but not individual product pages.  So I borrowed a picture of the can’s label from another site for the product view.  Edme is interesting, just for the labels.  I’m not sure how sales are improved by putting a picture of an orangutan sucking his finger above the caption “You’ll go ape for it”, but who am I to comment or criticize: obviously it worked with me since I bought their product.

I started this batch about 3 weeks later than I wanted, so its release date has to be after Memorial Day weekend for proper conditioning. But I was able to gather some more bottles during the break, and I think I will be able to do back to back batches, with two batches in conditioning.

May 1, 2009 9:45PM :: I boiled the extract in 4 liters of water for 35 minutes, initially adding 35oz (1Kg) of corn sugar as the water was steaming but short of boiling, adding the malt syrup after the water began a full boil (same technique as the stout). I stirred the wort vigorously in the brew pot for the first several minutes, and kept it on high heat for the entire time. I occasionally stirred the wort every 2 minutes or less.

I cooled the wort, as usual, in an ice bath for 15 minutes, then poured it into the fermentation bucket with 2 gallons of cool water already inside the bucket. I then topped off the fermentor to exactly 5 gallons with cool water. The temperature was around 81 degrees after topping off to 5 gallons.  I took the initial gravity reading (I’m very glad to have a new hydrometer), pitched the yeast, sealed the container, and stored it in a corner of my office in the house: The garage is getting over 80 degrees during the afternoon hot times, so that is not an option.

02 May 2009 11:00AM –Wow, only 12 hours into fermentation the bubbles are coming out almost non-stop.  I’ve never seen the yeast get out of the lag phase this fast, or be this aggressive.

03 May 2009 11:00AM — The bubble cycles are now a steady 3 seconds apart.

04 May 2009 6:00PM — The bubbles have come to a near standstill, so I give the bucket a swirl to revive the yeast.  At 10:00PM, the yeast is still idle.  Took a gravity reading: 1.010.

05 May 2009 6:00PM — Took another gravity reading: steady at 1.010.

05 May 2009 9:00PM –I bottled the beer.  This time, I used Munton’s carbonation tabs in each bottle for the priming sugar.  The bottling went smoothly.  Of note was the use of 6 PET bottles which came from an abandoned microbrew beer kit in a friends garage: it’s one of those kits that makes about 0.75 gallons or less per batch in a plastic container shaped like a wood barrel. This was a productive batch, yielding 31x 12oz bottles, 10x 25oz bottles, 2x 24oz bottles, 2x 11oz bottles, and 6 12oz PET bottles.

The PET bottles are an experiment.  I’m somewhat of a purist when it comes to beer, so plastic is not a natural choice for me.

Of note in this batch: fermentation was very fast.  I’m not sure how that will impact the taste.  I’m also not sure whether the higher temperature at the time I pitched the yeast and/or the higher room temperature for fermenting had any impact on this.  The taste is good, but can’t be related to any specific style of beer.  It has a very light amber/reddish color.

12 May 2009 8:00PM — Time to try a bottle to check conditioning.  The carbination tab has dissolved (expected), and looks like the trum I normally see on the bottom of the bottle (expected).  But there seems to be a much thicker layer of trum than using cane or corn sugar directly in the bottle.  Also, the carbination is there, but the head is very light and quickly dissipates.  Flavor is quite good, and the aftertaste is pleasant.  It is very light and smooth.  I’m hoping the head will improve over the next few weeks.

12 Jun 2009 — Release day: the comment of a good “picnic” beer was applied to this batch again.  There are some inconsistencies with head formation across the various bottles, with most of the bottles creating very little carbonation; hence not a lot of head, and quick dissipation.  I am not sure what caused this: use of carbonation tabs instead of corn sugar for priming, bottles not properly sealed, or a combination of both.  Also the beer has a strong lambic aftertaste which, while drinkable, detracts from the core flavor of the draught.  The strange behavior of the yeast in this batch makes me suspect the fermentation process as the source of the lambic aftertaste.  There is no sign of contamination of the beer: I think the type of yeast and the fermentation temperature are the main factors.

I still enjoy drinking the beer, but I personally rank this as the worst of the four beer batches thus far.  Draught also seems to be an unofficial, even nebulous term for beer.  I’m hoping the problem is not a switch to Edme kits, vice Cooper’s.  The next batch should help determine that.