My 9th batch of beer, the IPA, is just ready for consumption. I made a different flavour each time, and here are my thoughts on those Coopers beer kit i have tried thus far. This is a very subjective matter of course. Also, beer expert i am not, and i can only talk in lay man terms.
I realized that it is true, that, over time, anyone who is into beer will better appreciate beer that is more heavily hopped, and i am no exception. Having made my own beer for over a year, i now have higher expectations, which is a good thing, since i can derive more enjoyment out of good beer. I can no longer accept the typical bland and diluted beer you find in the supermarket.
Overall, i think the Coopers beer kits are unbeatable when it comes to ease of brewing your own, and i will continue using them until i have the time to move on to grain brewing. Here is how i would rank the Coopers beer kits: Continue reading Coopers beer kit tasting notes
This is my third time priming and bottling my home brew (Australian Pale Ale this round), and I was getting a lot better at doing it. Here are some tips that may be of help to you.
Tip #1 Use a syringe for priming
OK, let me first say that you will not get accurate results with this, so if you’re the sort who does gravity measurement, this may not be for you. Obviously, I don’t bother to measure the gravity. I just leave the beer fermenting for 3 weeks and bottle directly. I just want my beer quick and easy. Continue reading Priming and bottling – getting up to speed
Drawing from the experience of the my very first priming and bottling, i made changes to how i do priming and bottling for this second round of brewing. By the way, the beer does remind me of the Hoegaarden beer and seems more drinkable than the lager, which got a little boring after a while.
This is very unconventional, but i applied icing sugar into the bottle directly without dissolving it first. This introduces the problem of uneven carbonation, because i went by volume instead of measuring the exact weight of the sugar. Icing sugar tends to clump together, and there would be pockets of air when scooped up. Anyway, i don’t quite mind uneven carbonation. If there is too much carbonation (which is the case for my first beer project), just let the beer sit for a while. If there is little, well, i don’t believe it will be undrinkable.
It’s almost 10 weeks since i bottled my first home brew lager beer, and i felt it was time i started enjoying the fruit of my labour (the instructions says wait 12 weeks). I was half expecting the beer to be under carbonated, since i used less sugar for priming than recommended, and was a little unsure of how much sugar finally went into the beer. Well, all the worry proved to be unnecessary, as the beer turned out just fine! Continue reading Home brew lager beer taste test
I had initially wanted to taste the beer from my first project before i start another round of home brew (it’s 8 weeks since i bottled them and i will start tasting them only from 10 weeks onwards). Then i thought, what if run out of beer! So i quickly made preparation for the second round of home brew. I chose a completely different style of beer – wheat beer, just for variation. I don’t even need it to be close to the Hoegaarden beer.
In order to store the 34 bottles of beer from the first round, i bought another temperature regulator. Don’t ask me why, but i have another upright freezer at home which can hold 32 beer bottles. A chest freezer can probably hold more than 100 beer bottles, but what you place at the bottom is very hard to access afterwards. That said, i’m not suggesting that you get an upright freezer because the capacity is simply too small. Continue reading Hoegaarden beer project kick off
This is my second time buying the Coopers beer kit from Amazon. As expected, I received a dented can. This is the price you pay in exchange for a 25% discount. This time round, the sachet of yeast was missing as well, which was what also happened to some other Amazon product reviewers. Thankfully the yeast and the instructions sheet wasn’t missing when I received my very first beer kit. Why did I buy a second time from Amazon, you might ask, if I knew I was going to get a dented can and possibly missing yeast? Mainly because it is cheaper, even if only so by a small margin.
The time has come for me to prime and bottle my home brew beer. In case you don’t know what priming beer means, it is simply adding sugar to the fermented beer to kick off a secondary round of fermentation so that the beer becomes carbonated. The yeast present will completely consume the sugar and give off Carbon Dioxide, which has no where to escape, when bottled, except to carbonate the beer.
My heart was racing as I opened up the fermentation bucket for the first time since sealing it up more than 2 weeks ago. Prior to this, all I can smell when I open my chest freezer is sulphur (though not quite as bad as eggs), which is expected when brewing Lager beer. Being the pessimist that I am, I half expected things to have turned awry and ending up with 23 litres of foul smelling waste water. I held my breath and was greeted by.. Drum roll.. The sweet smell of beer!
So far so good, and I am more convinced now that making beer is really easier than it sounds. I proceeded to measure the sugar I was going to use for priming, and the digital weigh turned itself off before I managed to see the final reading. On hindsight, I should have poured the sugar into another vessel to measure proper, but I took a gamble. Too much sugar when priming can possibly result in exploding bottles when too much gas is produced. Too little and the beer may not be fizzy enough. Well, actually, i also omitted the step of taking the gravity reading (alcohol content) to ensure that the primary fermentation has completed, which, if it has not, will also result in exploding bottles. I guess in my case, I will have some gas in my beer and the likelihood of explosion is low. I am placing my bottles back into the chest freezer for fermentation and storage anyway, so the danger resulting from exploding bottles is nullified.
Home brewing isn’t so popular in Singapore, but there are businesses (and I think only two) dealing with home brew equipment and supplies. As you can imagine, the equipment they sell, brought in from Australia/US/Europe, are not cheap, compared to what you can find on Taobao.
Actually, you don’t need fanciful equipment to brew beer. All you really need is an airtight food grade container with an airlock. You can easily improvise your own by cutting a hole on the container lid and sticking an airlock into the hole. The airlock is harder to DIY since it has to be silicone/plastic for contamination prevention, but it’s a small cost to get one anyway.
I’m lazy to go the DIY route when I can buy from Taobao. There are a dozens of stores dealing with home brew equipment and supplies on Taobao, not surprising since the Chinese are heavy drinkers. After scouting around, I decided to get the following items.
Fermentation bucket – a stainless steel bucket would be the envy of many brewers from the western hemisphere, where the cost of stainless steel equipment is prohibitively expensive. I love buying stainless steel products on Taobao, not just in the case of a fermentation bucket, because they are dirt cheap in China. Yeah, stainless steel everything. Continue reading Taobao product recommendation – beer brewing equipment
Finally took the plunge and kicked off my first home brew project. It was quite straight forward actually. I guess the fact that DIY beer kits are sold signify that it is fairly fail-proof. I followed the instructions that came with the beer kit and it went fine, mostly.
I chose the Coopers European Lager as my first brew as I really like to see if i can make the easy-drinking light blonde type of beer. Lager beer is different from other types of beer in that it is supposed to be brewed at low temperatures – 21 degrees as recommended in the instructions but 14 degrees in many forum postings. I settled for 18 degrees as my brewing temperature, so that the fermentation wouldn’t be too slow, while at the same I do believe that lower temperatures will yield better results. Continue reading Home brew kick off
I’ve been making my own coffee at home for more than 2 years, whether Espresso or Kopi, and i’m not looking back. The sight of instant coffee makes me cringe. While browsing Amazon for Black Friday deals, i came across a product that sparked my interest – a home brewing beer kit. While i know since years ago that a colleague had already been doing it, the idea was simply lost somewhere in the depth of my long-term memory. Well, since then, my love for beer had been growing, LOTS, and i think i can’t afford to waste more time before i start home brewing!
Beer is probably the final frontier i will embark on (i doubt i will brew wine but who knows), and it completes the picture – life is meaningless without coffee and alcoholic drinks. Price is the main deterrence when it comes to enjoying beer, in Singapore at least. If i live anywhere else i may not be bothered about doing home brew. If i were to do the math very quickly – you can probably get the cheapest (lousy) 330ml (nowadays 323ml seems more common – cost is rising!) can of beer at $1.80, which works out to about S$5.50 per litre. On the other hand, a home brew beer kit which yields 23 litres of beer costs about S$45. With sugar (the only other necessary ingredient), electricity, water and bottling factored in, say at S$5, for a total of S$50 per 23 litres, it works out to S$2.18 per litre of beer, less than half the cost of buying ready made beer.
Besides the cost, I think there is also the psychological factor to consider. If you know that you have 23 litres of beer sitting around, you can drink to your heart’s content and not think so much about the cost. Nevertheless, too much alcohol is not a good thing, so if you cannot exercize restraint, i strongly suggest you don’t try to home brew. There is actually a limit to how much beer you can brew at home. Not a physical limit, but a legal one, and the limit is 30 litres per household per month. You shouldn’t be drinking more than that anyway, it will be bad for your health. I consider it fortunate that it is officially legal to home brew in Singapore, because if you live in Malaysia, you’re not allowed to do fermentation of any alcohol at home.