Coopers Lager I (X01) – An Introduction to Brewing

2010/01/05 at 9:15 pm 2 comments

Lao-Tzu famously stated “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. For my journey into the world of home brewery that relevant first step was with the Complete Lager Package included with the Coopers Microbrewery Kit.

Now here’s the rub with my particular situation: I currently live in a condo with a tiny galley-style kitchen which means dealing with the large volumes and quantities required for brewing pose additional challenges. Not only that, but additional storage space is at an absolute minimum which will require creative solutions for finagling a location for a fermenter and any additional secondary vessels. However, given that brewing is mostly an art form I’ve no doubt a technique can be developed for the limited spaces available. At the end of the day if I can make it work then you can make it work too.

Anyway, on to the learning experience labeled as Experiment #1 (X01) Coopers Lager I. Unfortunately all I had to go on with this brew was an illustrated set of overly vague instructions paired with a comically produced instructional DVD. Now, being as how I’ve been heavily involved in software development for the better part of 5 years I’m used to starting projects with a deficient set of requirements. So with the general concept of keeping all items as sterilized as possible I set out to brew my first batch of glorious nectar.

Step #1: Assembly and Sterilization

First thing I did was assemble the fermentor. Then I reassembled the fermentor, this time making sure to place the large sediment catch in place. Next I added roughly 1/4 cup unscented household bleach to the fermentor, filled it to the brim with water, and placed the airlock, spoon, and bottle filler in the mix to sterilize.

While the pieces sterilized I boiled a pot of water and placed a glass measuring cup and silicone Pac-Man shaped oven mitt. I then reserved a portion of boiled water in the measuring cup for later use. The remaining water was poured over the bottom of the fermentor lid to complete the sterilization process.

After 30 minutes the fermentor and the containing pieces were rinsed until the smell of bleach was no longer detectable. Then the pieces were rinsed for the same amount of time beyond the lack of smell to ensure all traces of the caustic chemical were removed.

Step #2: Mash Preparation

Following the included directions I stored the malt in a warm solution in the sink while 2 liters of water was boiled. Now came the moment of truth: assembly of the ingredients in a quick fashion to reduce the amount of contaminants within the fermenting vessel. I opened the malt can, poured it in the fermentor along with the included brewing sugar mix and boiled water.

Step #3: Filling and Finishing

Like I said before, I have a small kitchen so the only hope of willing the fermentor with the remaining 23 liters of water was the dinky spray attachment on the sink. So as I mixed the viscous solution my wife held the spray attachment as close as possible to the vessel’s opening.

Roughly 18 hours later the vessel was filled, but the vigorous activity from the spray had caused a thick foam to form on the top and floor to be soaked. Alas we moved forward hell bent on finishing the task at hand. The yeast bag was opened and sprinkled on the foaming mass with the top applied, airlock in place, and properly filled with the reserved water from step #1.

The first and second day after completing the mash storage I was positive that I had screwed something up as there was absolutely no activity in the airlock. Then, suddenly and without warning I came home the third day to the sound of a glorious glub from the airlock. Then a second. Then more and more. The yeast lives!

Unfortunately, since it is currently winter down here in the southern US temperature regulation is a bit hard to keep the mash within the suggested range of 21°C-27°C. For the most part temperatures of the fermentor have ranged between 21°C to a low tonight of 16°C. However, since it’s not too much out of range I’m expecting the brewing yeast to survive but just act slower than normal. Therefore I am planning to allow the primary fermentation to execute over a two week period rather than the suggested one week.

I stupidly forgot to take an initial specific gravity reading (O.G.) so knowing the final alcohol content is beyond calculation. However, once I realized that all was well and functioning in the brew I began taking specific gravity readings on a regular basis as stated below. These values will be updated as they are taken.

Date Specific Gravity
12/28 1026
12/29 1022
12/30 1020
12/31 1018
01/01 1018
01/02 1014
01/03 1013
01/05 1012
01/07 1010

Entry filed under: Brew Log. Tags: , , , , .

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January 2010
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