How to brew a Coopers English Bitter

I’ve done some maths. Now that the St Peter’s Ruby Ale is carbonating away in bottles, if I brew a second batch with a fermentation time of two weeks, I should get a beer pipeline going. So I chose a Coopers English Bitter.

Unlike the last kit, I’ve had to go through a few more steps for brewing the Coopers English Bitter but the whole process was still straight forward. Most people go for a kit and kilo approach which is the hopped malt extract (in the tin), plus 1kg of dextrose. The sugar will simply ferment into alcohol, so won’t add any flavour.

So to make a tastier beer, although at a slightly higher cost, I decided to use a medium dry malt giving the beer a malty taste. The kit itself recommends a pale malt but as I like slightly darker beers (browner in this case), I thought a medium malt might be a better choice.

Coopers English Bitter

So the recipe for this was:

  • Coopers English Bitter
  • Medium Dry Malt: 500g
  • Dextrose (brewing sugar): 715g (aimed for 700g but went a little over!)

Before starting the brew everything was sanitised. I always do this as an insurance policy against the beer getting infected or off-flavours being produced. Fermenting bucket, spoon, jug — everything. The beer must be protected at all costs!

Before any cooking took place I put the tin of hopped malt extract into warm water to loosen the mixture inside. Some people chose to take the label off for this but I kept it on, life is too short to worry about labels.

Warming up malt extract

I then heated up 12 litres of water to about 80 Celsius and slowly added the dry malt extract to make sure it didn’t clump up. After this dissolved I added the dextrose that I had previously weighed. It’s good practice to boil the sugar to ensure its pasteurised, reducing any chance of infection hitting the beer.

Adding dry malt extract

Once this was done I poured the mixture into the fermenting bucket and added the (now loosened) hopped malt extract.

Adding malt extract

I filled the tin with boiling water afterwards, stirred, and poured into the bucket to make sure all the extract was used. After much stirring and mixing, I topped up the rest of the bucket with cold water.

Sugar solution into fermenter

Now… this is when I got into a little bit of difficulty. I should have waited for the sugar solution to drop in temperature before pouring it into the bucket, because the temperature after cold water was added still stood at 45 Celsius! Way too hot to pitch yeast.

Even after leaving the bucket for an hour the temperature was still above 30, so I filled up the bath with cold water and put the bucket in to cool. After over an hour the temperature had reached an acceptable 25 Celsius, still a little hot but not enough to harm the yeast.

Cooling the wort

I pinched dry yeast straight onto the wort and after 12 hours fermentation had started, with a lot of froth!

I’ll ferment this beer for around two weeks and then bottle condition for another 2 weeks before tasting. So a while to wait yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this beer turns out. A taste test will come.

[I forgot to mention the gravity of the wort was 1042, so expecting a beer just above 4.2% after fermentation.]