When I moved house to Kirrawee in early 2008, I decided that I would start to brew my own beer. I had never done this before as we had a severe shortage of space. In addition, I also decided that I would keg the beer rather than bottle it. This was mainly because I did not want to waste time cleaning large numbers of bottles.
|My Brewery Label|
After we settled in, I purchased a Coopers home brewing kit. This comes with everything to create your first brew, including 30 plastic PET brown bottles. These are said to be 700 ml but when I tested them with water, they are 750 ml.
In August I purchased 15 extra bottles as I wanted to make a whole brew of bottled beer and I inadvertently destroyed two by putting almost boiling water in them.
I started the first brew on 26 April 2008 and discovered that the temperature in the house was a bit too low based on the recommendations in the brew kit. Until this time I had not connected up my home weather station so I was not aware of the inside temperature. The temperature at that time varied between about 21ÂșC in the early afternoon to about 16ÂșC overnight. I put the fermenter in the laundry and using the clothes dryer and a basin with hot water to keep the temperature up.
As such, it took about six days to be ready for bottling. I did this on 3 May and on 12 May I tasted it. It was quite nice but a little flat. I put this down to the temperature being a bit low for the secondary fermentation. Despite this, it went down well.
Right from the start I decided to limit the alcholo content of the beers by using less sugar/malt in the fermentation process. I generally use 500 grams of whatever I put in rather than the 1 kg recommended.
As mentioned, my original intention was to brew in kegs and in mid-May 2008 I purchased the kegging equipment. I purchased two 18 litre kegs, one tap, lines and fittings and a CO2 cylinder. When we moved, our old fridge went under the house and I drilled holes for the lines and set it up. I later purchased another tap so I can have two different beers available from the kegs at any one time.
What I did not know then but do now is that there are at least two different types of kegs, well, at least the connectors. The first one has pin (bayonet) fittings for the inlet and outlet connections. These are mostly Coke kegs and are considered the older type. In Australia these appear to be the less common type. The second has ball fittings. These are held on by spring-loaded ball bearings. These are mostly referred to as Pepsi kegs. The ones I bought are the Coke pin fitting kegs. The only problem with this is when I went to purchase some extra kegs, I had a bit of trouble finding some. I finally found some on Ebay (more about this soon).
On 12 May 2008 I started the second brew. This was a Coopers Pale Ale. I made a mistake when doing this as I thought that the Brew Enhancer 2 (which can be added to the standard brew to make it taste better) was added in addition to the sugar. Luckily I did not add it before I realised the mistake. As such, this brew only had normal Coopers sugar added.
This also took six days to finishing fermenting due to the reasons outlined above. I kegged it on 18 May and put it in the fridge with only a small amount of gas to evacuate the air from the space left inside the keg. After it cooled (one day) I put in 200 kpa of pressure. After two days I dropped this to 100 kpa but when I tested, I thought that the beer was a bit flat so I upped it again for another day. Another mistake! The beer was way to fizzy and I ended up with 80% froth when pouring. After a lot of effort, I got it right (you have to release pressure, shake the keg, release the pressure and repeat till you get it right).
This beer was great. It tasted very much like Coopers Pale Ale and it was drunk in under three weeks.
My next beer was a Hahn Premium kit I purchased. It cost a bit to buy but after tasting it when first ready, I am a bit disappointed as it tasted nothing like Hahn Premium. I decided to let it age and not taste it again for a month or more (it tasted okay but not like Hahn).
After I knocked over the first keg, I decided to do another Pale Ale and this time I did it with the Brew Enhancer No 2. As I was having a house warming party in mid-July, I had arranged to borrow two kegs and this is where I discovered that there are different types of connectors. As I said, I wanted some cheap ones and I found someone in Newcastle selling three on Ebay. I won these for $83. They needed some work done on the o-rings as they are in fairly poor condition. I got one working okay and then a second one. I will need to purchase some o-rings and do some cleaning to get the third one working as well as fix the other two up properly. I still have not done this in 2013!
As the temperature in the house in Winter was so low, I purchased a cheap single bed electric blanket. I put the fermenter and any bottles on this and used the blanket to keep the temperature right (I stopped using this later as the colder temperature just means it takes longer to ferment).
I plan to try and keep three full kegs in the fridge and another in production so I can age them a bit. I will report on the ageing process once I have some that are older than the 7 weeks that I have so far achieved.
Since brew 3, I have been using the electric blanket to keep the temperature right for both primary and secondary fermentation. The bottled beer produced since then have been much better, with far more bubbles than the first ones.
Also, when I created brew 5, I added a chilli to three bottles. In mid-July, I tasted one and it was quite interesting. The beer went down well, but left a tingling taste in my throat. I was funny that my lips and tongue were not affected. I was going to the other two bottles out during my party but I forgot. I took another one to a ski weekend and those who tasted it found it very interesting.
In August 2008 I purchased a Coopers Bitter kit as I wanted to try it out. This brew came out very, very dark. It looks more like an old beer. I quickly tasted it after I gassed it up and it seems nice. However, it was a bit too dark for my liking and I doubt that I will make it again.
I also puchased a Coopers International European Lager and made this up. I decided I wanted to bottle this as it recommends putting it away for three months. Therefore, I purchased another 30 PET bottles. I decided that I would not drink this till near Christmas 2008. I tried it after 96 days and it was excellent. After over four months it got better. One of the best brews I had made to that date and even in 2013.
I also purchased a Coopers Pilsner. This has been the best beer I have made so far. I made another brew almost straight after I kegged this one. This time I put them all in bottles. I left this brew for over two months before I tried and it was even better than the first one. I have since made another and intend to make one about every four brews.
In early November 2008 I made a Coopers Cerveza. I did not like this and will make again.
In late November 2008 I made a Coopers Real Ale. I added 200 grams of honey to the brew and tried it on New Year's Eve, it was nice.
|Extra keg tap||$60|
In about 2009 I have moved all the fermentation to under the house. The temperature there is normally around 20Âș to 22Âș in summer and down to about 14Âș in
winter. I now let my beer brew in the fermenter for between 21 and 28 days, no matter the temperature. This has produced far better tasting beers as well as making them much clearer.
I also started using 500 grams of honey in the Lager, Draught and Real Ale brews instead of sugars. If I am in the country and I see honey for sale, I purchase some 1 kg bails of whatever is on offer. The honey does not give a honey taste to the beer, but it does add a flavour which very much depends on the type of honey. I have also used commercial honey and have found that the Woolworths premium brand is very good.
I have also been given some more bottles which means I can have a lot of beer in storage. From the first brew I have been putting away two bottles into a box for aging. I generally let these get to at least 10 months old before I drink them. I am now averaging about 12 months before I drink the last one. Some have even made it to 600 days, with many around the 500 days mark. Of these, virtually all have been much better than the younger bottles of the same brew. Only one or two have been a little flatter than I remembered the earlier ones to be. It seems that you can keep the beer in the plastic bottles for at least 500 days without it going off or flat.
I have also been making Coopers Pilsner in winter when the temperatures are lower. I bottle these and do not start for at least three months. In 2012 I left a brew for about six months before I tasted it and about 10 months before I actually started drinking it. They are excellent and my favourite beer.
Brews to Date
|1||26 April 2008||Cooper's Lager||
500g||4.3%||Bottled 3 May 2008||12 May 2008||Tastes nice but a bit flat. Too cool when secondary formation|
|2||12 May 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g||4.3%||Kegged 18 May 2008 (+8 750ml)||21 May
2008||Very nice. A bit flat but later put too much gas in. Got right in the end and polished off with the neighbour!|
|3||19 May 2008||Hahn Premium (Blue Mountains Lager)||400g||Malt and dextrose||4.0%||Kegged 27
May 2008 (+6)||30 May 2008||Cloudy and does not taste like HP but is a nice drop anyway|
|4||9 June 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g||Enhancer 2||4.3%||Kegged 14 June 2008 (+7)||17
June 2008||Was very nice, totally consumed at party|
|5||14 June 2008||Coopers Blonde||500g||Enhancer 1||4.0%||Kegged 22 June 2008 (+6)||25
June 2008||Was very nice, totally consumed at party|
|6||22 June 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g||Enhancer 2||4.3%||28 June 2008 (+6)||19 July
2008||Quite nice - about five litres consumed at party|
|7||7 July 2008||Coopers Blonde||500g||Enhancer 1||4.3%||13 July 2008 (+6)||6 August
2008||Very nice, going down well|
|8||14 July 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g||Enhancer 2||4.3%||20 July 2008 (+8)||25 August
|9||8 August 2008||Coopers Bitter||550g||5.4%(?)||14 August 2008 (+7)||7 September
2008||A bit too dark for me, I drank it but I will not make it again|
|10||16 August 2008||Coopers International Lager||550g||Enhancer 2||6.9% (?)||Bottled 25 August
2008||Very, very good|
|11||26 August 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g||Enhancer 2||4.0%||30 August 2008 (+8)||10
October 2008||As good as all the other Pale Ales I have made|
|12||30 August 2008||Coopers Pilsner||300g dextrose||500g Light Dry Malt||2.8%||20 September 2008
(+8)||19 October 2008||A bit flat in kegs but tasty, bottles excellent|
|13||20 September 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g||Enhancer 2||4.8%||26 September 2008
(+8)||7 November 2008||Flat at first but now great|
|14||12 October 2008||Coopers Lager||600g dextrose||3.2%||15 October 2008||27 November
|15||15 October 2008||Coopers Pilsner||300g dextrose||500g Light Dry Malt||4.6%||24 October
2008||3 December 2008||Excellent!!|
|16||24 October 2008||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 1||2.9%||29 October 2008||7 November
|17||7 November 2008||Coopers Cerveza||500g Enhanced 2||2.7%||13 November 2008||13
|18||27 November 2008||Coopers Real Ale||500g||200g honey||4.6%||3 December 2008||31
|19||10 December 2008||Coopers Pilsner||300g dextrose||500g Light Dry Malt||4.3%||17 December
2008||26 January 2009|
|20||22 December 2008||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||2.9%||28 December
2008||Got better as it aged|
|21||3 January 2009||Coopers European Ale||500g||Enhancer 2||2.9%||12 January 2009||10 May
2009||Not good, brewed at too high temp|
|22||27 January 2009||Coopers Draught||500g honey||3.8%||6 February 2009||21 March
|23||6 February 2009||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||2.4%||15 February 2009||29
March 2009||Very good|
|24||14 March 2009||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 1||4.6%||23 March 2009||2 May
|25||24 March 2009||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.1%||2 April 2009||2 May
2009||Great and got better|
|26||2 April 2009||Coopers Draught||500g honey||4.6%||17 April 2009||4 June
|27||19 April 2009||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||5.0%||1 May 2009||5 June
|28||4 May 2009||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||3.8%||19 May 2009||17 July
2009||Not as good as previous|
|29||19 May 2009||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||4.8%||2 June2009||7 August
|30||2 June 2009||Morgans Sheaf Wheat||Special mix||4.6%||16 June 2009||1 September
2009||Okay but not worth extra $|
|31||19 June 2009||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||4.0%||18 July2009||1 October
|32||18 July 2008||Coopers Lager||500g honey||4.6%||9 August2009||22 November
2009||Nice and got better|
|33||11 August 2009||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||4.6%||August 2009||15 November
|34||12 September 2009||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||3.5%||11 October2009||20 December
|35||11 October 2009||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.4%||29 October2009||24
December 2009||Very good
|36||9 November 2009||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||4.0%||22 November 2009||23 April
|37||24 November 2009||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||4.6%||13 December 2009||30 January
|38||13 December 2009||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||3.5%||10 January 2010||26
March 2010||Got better as it aged|
|39||13 January 2010||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.4%||3 February2010||15 May
|40||3 February 2010||Coopers Draught||500g honey||6.2%||17 February 2010||19 June
2010||A great beer|
|41||17 February 2010||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.4%||8 March2010||?
|42||10 March 2010||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||4.8%||27 March2010||25 April
|43||29 March 2010||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||3.5%||27 April 2010||10 September
|44||9 May 2010||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.4%||3 June2010||12 November
|45||3 June 2010||Coopers European Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.1%||27 June2010||1 December
|46||28 June 2010||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.1%||24 July 2010||25 November
010||Best I have made|
|47||1 August 2010||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.1%||9 September 2010||25
February 2011||Very good beer|
|48||15 September 2010||Coopers Lager||500g honey||5.4%||9 October2010||17 December
|49||9 October 2010||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||5.6%||31 October2010||29 July
|50||1 November 2010||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||4.3%||20 November2010||28
|51||2 November 2010||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||6.3%||11 December2010||3 July
|52||11 December 2010||Coopers Lager||500g mango pulp||5.1%||10 January 2011||17 April
2011||Interesting, not great|
|53||12 January 2011||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||4.8%||6 February 2011||8
|54||12 February 2011||Coopers Draught||500g honey||2.1% (!)||28 March 2011||17 October
2011||Housesitter drank them all!|
|55||19 April 2011||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||5.6%||15 May2011||3 December
2011||Very nice, got better|
|56||23 May 2011||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.1%||28 June2011||9 November
|57||3 July 2011||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.5%||24 July2011||3 September
|58||3 August 2011||Coopers Draught||500g honey||5.4%||6 September2011||12 December
|59||15 September 2011||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.4%||11 October2011||8 March
|60||14 October 2011||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.4%||29 November2011||15 May
|61||12 December 2011||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||2.7% (!)||12 January2012||21
October 2012||Had to throw out as went off due to holidays and not bottling|
|62||14 January 2012||Coopers Lager||500g honey||4.8%||1 March2012||17 August
|63||25 March 2012||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||2.7%||15 April2012||30 September
2012||Not as good as others|
|64||16 April 2012||Coopers Real Ale||500g honey||4.0%||6 May2012||10 June
|65||10 May 2012||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.4%||1 June2012||11 January
|66||4 June 2012||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||4.7%||25
|67||30 June 2012||Coopers Blonde||500g honey||5.1%||25 July2012||9
November||Nice and easy|
|68||2 August 2012||Coopers Pilsner||500g special mix||5.1%||27
|69||7 October 2012||Coopers Draught||500g honey||2.9%||21
|70||12 November 20112||Coopers Pale Ale||500g Enhancer 2||5.6%||7
|71||27 January 2013||Coopers Blonde||500g Enhancer 2||4.6%|| 2013|
|72||? March 2013||Coopers Draught||500g honey||4.6%|| 2013|
|73||14 April 2013||Coopers Lager||500g honey||4.6%|| 2013|
As you can see from above, I have concentrated on Coopers' kits. Not only are these cheap and available in supermarkets, they are great! I generally now only
brew the following:
In 2013 I will also do a Coopers European Lager as I have not done one for a long time and I did enjoy it.
I probably like the Pilsner the best, but the Real Ale is a close second. The honey seems to make it a much better beer. As mentioned, the type of honey used
can make a big difference to the taste and the alcohol content. The honey purchased direct from the country bee keepers seems to be stronger tasting and have
Cost of Beer
This cost includes capital cost and recurrent cost of making the brews.
|Brews||Capital Cost||Recurrent Cost||Kegs||Bottles||Equals Cans ||Cost per Carton||Cost per
can||Recurrent per can|
I designed some labels for my beer and printed a few up. They are shown below.