How to Home Brew Beer

Learn how to easily brew great tasting beer.

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Coopers Lager beer kit review - any good?

Coopers extract lager review
If you were forced on threat of being made to drink warm parsnip wine* to name one beer brewing kit brand, I think that Coopers would probably be the first one to come to many brewers minds. 

Even non-brewers will probably have heard of Coopers as the kit that their 'dad made a few brews with it back in the day'.

While I’ve been giving the Williams Warns and Black Rock kits a go of late, a chance find of a Coopers Lager while doing the supermarket shopping has led us to brew one of their lagers.

Coopers is a large Australian owned brewery known for great sparkling ales and their original pale ale. They are also almost synonymous with home brewing and their home microbrewing kits are very popular.

So this extract kit we are brewing comes with a good reputation for quality and I'm are going to assume a great taste!

So is there anything special I need to know about brewing a lager from a kit?


There’s a general rule of home brewing that’s often stated as an absolute so take this with a great of grain of salt when I say that it’s easy to make an ale than a larger.

Or perhaps more accurately stated, it is easier to hide anything brewing mistakes with an ale than a larger. This is largely due to the strength of the beer's flavours.

The first thing to consider is that the word lager is derived from a German word, lagern. It means ‘to store’. This should be a strong clue on how to make a good lager – they were originally stored for a long period in cold caves – and thus the lagering process was born as storing beer properly is really important.

Patience is an absolutely needed virtue here. 

Due to lager yeasts operating best at lower temperatures, they actually ferment the beer at a lower rate than compared to ales which often ferment at higher temperatures.

This can mean that to get a lager brewed from a kit to be at its best for drinking, you may need to let it ‘lager’ for more weeks than you normally let an ale sit. So hide it in a dark corner of the garden shed.

And maybe brewing it during winter.

I digress. 

While I will be using the yeast that comes with the Cooper’s kit, when making a lager one could always use a yeast that is a true lager yeast. If you're feeling adventurous, you might want to order the Lager YeastWL833 - it's a popular yeast for lager brewing.

There’s plenty of more things to think about brewing lagers but I need to move on.

So to the actual preparation of the Coopers Lager kit


To get the true taste and worth of this extract kit, I'm are not adding any flavours and we used dextrose only. No beer enhancer and no additional hops were added.

This might be somewhat of a mistake but for once I felt the need to try the kit on its own merits where the true flavours and characteristics of the beer wort alone come out to play.

This is a standard brew. I'm are not doing anything special and I'm are basically following the instructions on the can. Not that you necessarily must do this.

As usual, I sanitised the heck out of our fermenter drum to make sure that no sneaky microbes were lurking. First up we added one KG of dextrose to one litre of freshly boiled water and made sure it was mixed well – easily enough to do when the water is that hot!

I then added the contents of the kit.

Before I actually poured the malty goodness into the fermenter as well, I boiled the kettle. I then added the kit’s contents. I then added the boiled water into the can nearly all the way to the top. This way the extract would melt and I would be able to get all of it out from the can. 

Be careful though, the can will get very hot so I like to transfer it to the fermenter with a tea towel.

I then added 23 or so litres of water from the garden hose. This cools the wort to the point where the yeast has an environment to do its thing. If I added the yeast to the wort without the cool water, it would probably die.

Speaking of yeast, I should mention that before I did anything during this brew, I added it to a glass of warm water to activate it. The theory is that doing so gives the yeast more of a chance to compete with the wort itself. If that makes any sense.

Then I put the lit on the fermenter and placed it in the man cave covered in several sheets.

And then I waited.

I waited for 10 days which is possibly a little longer brewing time than needed and then I bottled.

And then I waited three weeks.

This felt like an eternity but I had some bohemian pilsners to keep my throat wet so it wasn’t such a hardship….

So what’s the verdict on my Cooper’s lager?



I made a decent homebrew beer! 

This was a no nonsense brew. No hops, no beer enhancer.

To my mind this meant I got to get to try the true characteristics of the beer.

Featuring a nice clear gold colour, it tasted like a standard beer. 

It had an OK head but fairly little body but no worse than some other beers I have made without enhancer (Coopers do their own enhancer if you're in the market for some). While this was not an amazing brew, I have produced a genuinely good drinking beer, if not one that needs some body.

This will be best served quite chilled and to that end, would be quite nice to drink at the end of a long hot day. 

By my reckoning, the beer was a shade over 4 percent alcohol by volume.

I figure if you were going to add hops you would not going wrong with a combination of both Moteuka and Saaz hops. (speaking of Saaz, check out my Riwika hops and lager experiment)

Grab a kit from Amazon today.


Update:

I also have now taken a couple of turns with the Coopers Pale Ale kits. I found they are pretty basic kits. To get the best out of them you definitely need to use an enhancer and the kit strongly benefits from the use of hops. I found the Pale Ales take a while to be drinkable and from 4 weeks on after conditioning, they were fine to drink when served cold.

Overall, I would not recommend brewing with a Coopers Pale Ale kit - unless you want cheap beer, because the kits I found were quite cheap.  

* Having actually tasted parsnip wine, I can confirm it to be one of the most horrid liquids in existence. 

⇒ How do I tell if my beer fermented properly? (I really want to drink it)

how to tell if beer fermented

How to tell if beer brew has fermented?

Fermentation is the name of the game when making beer.

If you don't have fermentation taking place, you simply don't have beer.

You have just have a 23 liter bucket of watery malt.

Homebrewers can face fermentation stage issues and a common problem is that fermentation has not begun. A typical sign is that there are no bubbles coming through the airlock.

But is no bubbles in the airlock really a sign of a lack of fermentation?


The first thing to bear in mind is that it can take at least 15 hours of your Earth time before the CO2 bubbles start gurgling through the airlock. 

So don't go drowning your sorrows just yet if the bubbles haven't started. If you think that your beer hasn't started brewing there's some problem solving you can do. 

If you are using a glass fermenter you can look for a dark scum that rings around the water level mark. You can probably see it through the standard white fermenter drum as well.

Or check for signs of foam or the krausen as it is affectionately known. Give it 20 - 48 hours before you start to worry.

If using a plastic drum you might be able to see through to check for the scum. Another trick is to take out the air lock and try and peek through the whole to identify scum or foam.

Also, did you firmly seal your fermenter? If not, the Co2 is possibly passing out via the lid and not the airlock meaning the pressure build up is not sufficient for gas to pass out the water trap.

We're going to assume your fermenter is in a warm place and not in some shed where the temperatures are approaching zero degrees centigrade. Your yeast will go to sleep if this is the case.

You could also check the gravity by using a hydrometer.

I'll assume you know how to use one.  The beer has usually finished fermenting if the final gravity reading is  1/3 to 1/4 of the original gravity. This, of course, means you took an original reading when you first prepared your beer.

You did do that right?

If you have the same reading 24 hours apart - that's your final reading and an indication that the fermentation is finished. 

Don't bottle your beer just yet, let it mellow for a bit longer.

The longer the better your brew will probably be. If you are a beginner brewer, trust me on this. Let you brew rest up just a little bit longer than you may have the patience for.

Brewing is a game of patience, and those who wait are rewarded with good tasting, clear beer

So why wasn't there any bubbles in the airlock? 

That's a fair question to ask.

It could be that there was a leak that allows the CO2 to escape (to teach you to suck rotten eggs, those bubbles in the airlock are carbon dioxide gas, the bi-product of fermentation).

You may have not tightened the drum enough or possible not screwed in the tap properly.

It's a good idea to check this is the case before you worry too much.
  • If you didn't see any signs of fermentation it could be that it's too cold to brew.
  • Is your batch of beer in a warm enough place?
  • If you're brewing during summer months, it's probably not too cold.
If you've left your beer in a cold place in the shed, then it may be too cold. If it's too cold to brew in your 'man shed' - say it's the middle of winter, you might want to bring your brew inside the house.

You could consider wrapping it in blankets or old sheets (I do this all the time just because that's what I learned to do at University in the cold, windy town of Palmerston North, NZ. This is a handy trick and will help to keep the chill off your beer. I think this trick works best if the beer is already warm enough to brew. 

Maybe leave it in the laundry if it's a warm place?

When I brew in winter I will often leave the fermenter our the warm kitchen or living room at least overnight so that the fermentation process has a decent chance to start. My wife hates that but still drinks the beer so go figure. 

Some brewers like to use heat pads (try the Mangogrove Jacks one) or panels to keep the beer at a consistently warm temperature. If you do wish to use a pad, you'll need to be able to store your brew close to a power socket so the heat pad can operate.

Yeast issues?

Another more serious reason for beer failing to ferment is yeast failure.

This may occur if the yeast has become dry. This is why you will hear a constant refrain from expert beer users to only use fresh ingredients.

In the case of a beer kit brewer, this means to not purchase old stock as the yeast could be too old (I do suspect however this is a bit of a housewives tale - as stock should rotate fairly we. 

However, in our experience, we haven't had this problem from a beer kit yet. 

A key trick is to add (pitch) the yeast at the appropriate temperature - if using a beer kit you will be well off to generally follow the temp instructions - you especially do not want to add the yeast if the solution is too cold as it may be hard for the yeast to get traction - and whatever you do, don't add yeast to boiling water (if that's what you are using to mix everything together) - as that will almost certainly kill the yeast and ruin any chance of your beer successfully fermenting.

So in summary here's some problem-solving tips:
  • Check for leaks that allow the CO2 to escape - tighten the fermenter drum
  • Look for foamy residue - if you see it, you're OK
  • Look for scum residue - if you see it, you're OK
  • Make sure the temperature is appropriate for the kind of beer you are making
  • Consider using a heat pad to ensure a consistent brewing temperature
Image credit to Quinn Dombrowski via Creative Commons Licence

How to identify and prevent 'off flavors' and smells in homebrew beer

how to identify bad flavors in beer


How to identify the 'off flavors' and smells in your beer


Brewing is not just boiling up some grains, throwing in some hops and bottling.

It's not that simple.

Brewing is a bit of science.

It's a bit of practice.

It's also a bit of experimentation.

You can do all that right but sometimes it's still a bit of luck.

Which is why when a brew batch goes wrong, it can sometimes be considered bad luck that your brew tastes like cabbage, butter or stinks of rotten eggs.

But is it really bad luck that your beer tastes like wet cardboard?

There are all kinds of chemical reactions happening in a brew and this is very normal and nothing to worry about.

It could be that for many brewers the smell of the hops over powers these smells and so when they are finally smelled, they get flagged as a concern.

For this brewer, I'd only be worried when it came time to bottle beer. And even then the first thing I would be asking is should I simply delay bottling another week? As every brewer knows, time is your friend when making beer!

There are many elements that can shunt the beer train off its brewing tracks, particularly improper preparation prior to making the beer and during fermentation and then bottling or kegging.

Working out what went wrong and what it means that you will be a better brewer for it.

And you know what?

The best way to learn is by tasting your beer and understanding what the 'off-flavors' of your beer are and how you might prevent them from happening with your next brew.

Here's a brief guide to help you trouble shoot common off flavors and what the smells mean for your beer!

When your beer tastes like green or rotten apples


I've never eaten a rotten apple but I know what a sour green apple tastes like.

Tart and bitter.

In an apple, this is delicious.

In a beer, this probably means you have a fair amount of acetaldehyde present. This chemical forms at the beginning of the fermentation process. The yeast will eventually convert it to ethanol (alcohol).

This is why it's good to let primary fermentation continue for a fair time and to let your beer condition for at least three weeks. The longer you condition your beer, the greater the reduction in acetaldehyde that will occur and the beer your beer will take.

It will also help to ensure that you correct a fair amount of yeast. If there is not enough yeast present in the beer, it will take longer for the acetaldehyde to be converted.

how do hops cause off flavors in beer

Who cut the cheese?


If your beer has a cheesy taste, you're probably getting a sample of isolaveric acid. Often described as tasting like old socks, the acid occurs naturally all over the place, including, funnily enough, in the sweat of socks. 

In the case of beer brewing this acid develops when the alpha acids in hops oxide. 

The fix is too use fresh hops - both in leaf and pellet form and ensure they have been stored properly. 

If you do find it in your beer, once again, let the beer condition further and this will mellow it somewhat. 

Another way isolaveric acid can get into beer is when you are using fruit. If you get a 'Brettanomyces' infection from the skin, you'll run into trouble.

What we do in the shadows


Ever heard of skunked beer?

This is when a chemical reaction happens in the bottled beer due to over exposure to direct sunlight.

So named after the smell a skunk can release, 'lightstruck' beer is caused by the UV radiation in light from the sun and retailer's lights.

The so-alpha acids in the beer (which come from hops) are broken down and form a new compound in the beer by joining with any proteins floating around.

This compound stinks!

The solution is to condition and then store your beer out of sunlight or from under UV Light (why you would be doing that anyway?).

Brown glass bottles are can preventing this from occurring as they can mute the effects of the light but not so many green bottles or clear glass. I have no idea why this occurs.

Refraction maybe?

So, the trick to avoiding skunked smelling beer is clearly to store your beer in the dark.
Funny how that's a solution to many of these flavoring issues eh?


This is why your beer tastes like wet cardboard


If your brew tastes a bit like cardboard or wet paper or simply feels stale, you've let in too much oxygen and your beer was over oxygenated. 

Here's the rule of thumb and oxygen when making beer. 

Before primary fermentation, it's encouraged. During fermentation and after it's discouraged. 

If this happens to you, you can't fix the beer. It is what it is. Drink it with some lime? 

The only way to prevent oxidized beer from occurring is preventing it from getting into your fermenter. Ensure the drum or carboy is tightly sealed and that your bubble airlock / airvent has water in it. 

When preparing the wort, oxygen is good because the yeast uses it before fermentation. When the yeast is doing its job, it doesn't need it.



why does beer taste like cardboard



Rotten eggs !!


I once went to bottle a brew. The moment the beer came out out of the tap, a rank smell began to permeate throughout my man shed. It was disgusting, like some kind of vile stink bomb had been let off or I had dropped a case of rotten eggs on the floor.

My brew was somehow contaminated. That rotten egg smell can most likely be identified as the gas hydrogen sulfide  - which was the by-product of fermentation gone wrong.

It is the by-product of the yeast strain or bacteria that have snuck into your brew (did we ever mention you've got to sanitize your equipment?).

The thing about lagers and rotten smells is that all is not necessarily lost.

You can fix this problem if the sulfide was produced by the yeast and not bad bacteria.

Lager yeast strains are quite prone to producing sulfide odors. This is quite normal. If you properly condition your bottled beer (the lagering process) by letting in stand for a few weeks, the smell should go away before it's time to drink. 

Let your beer sit and be patient about it!

The news is not so good if you have a bacterial infection


I didn't tell you the whole story above. I was a very novice home brewer and I decided to bottle the batch anyway. I left them for a fair time and then cracked one open.

Did you ever make a volcano for a school experiment when you add baking soda to vinegar? You get an explosion of foam and that's what happened to my beer. 

They were giant gushers

This was most likely caused by the unwanted bacteria continuing to work its own fermenting magic on the malt in the beer.

What a waste of time, energy and money!

So to prevent the smell of rotten eggs, you have to stop the infection from occurring in the first place. You must ensure that you have clean equipment and that you've done your best to sanitize it, and kept it clean during the beer brewing process.

Why does my beer taste like chlorine?

Or more rather, are you asking why your beer tastes like plastic or iodine? 

If you used chlorine to sanitize your brewing equipment, you may have over done things, especially if you didn't rinse properly afterward (which is why we recommend using sodium percarbonate instead of bleach products).

You may also have a water supply that is overly chlorinated. If you used this to rinse equipment of brew with, that's most likely the cause. 

The simple solution is to not use such water, however, it may be that kind of water is your only source. What can do then is either filter it or boil it for 15 minutes, leave to cool (we don't want you burning yourself or killing the yeast!) and then using it. 

If you do need to use a chlorine-based bleach, then use no more than half an ounce per gallon of water and rinse with said filtered or boiled water.

Or move town. 

Why does my beer taste like grass?


You could be forgiven for thinking we are just naming every kind of flavor there can be and say that it can be found in beer.

So forgive us when we say that beer can taste like grass.

This can be caused by using old ingredients like malt and grains that have been exposed to moisture. The best way to prevent this grass flavor is to use fresh ingredients and to store them in dry but dark places.

Or it could be that if you've used fresh hops, you've added too much leaf and stem material. It should be obvious what to do.

Grass taste should not be confused with some of the qualities that certain hops impart into beer. Cascade hops are often commented on by brewers as having this effect.

What could be the case here is that the beer has been hopped too long. It depends on what you are going for off course but a lot of home brewers dry hop shortly before bottling to try and capture as much hop flavour as they can. A beer that has aged for a longer time with hops may lose some of its zesty-ness and be construed as being more grassy than hops. It possibly depends on how bitter the hops are as well.


Why does my beer taste like cider?


This one is a classic result.

One of the reasons home brewing in the 'bad old days' was because beer tasted too sugary sweet like cider.

And what was the cause of this?

Too much sugar.

If you make your beer with too much corn or cane sugar, cider like flavours will develop.

Brewers looking to increase the ABV of their beer will often add extra fermentables (extra as in more than the beer recipe required). Sugar is cheap and fermentable so they will add an extra kilo or pound of it and get the cider result as a bi-product.

What you can do is off course reduce the sugar and supplement with other fermentables like honey or more malt extract (DME) - basically use more beer enhancer!

what causes fruit smells in beer

Help! My beer has nice fruity smells!


First of all, check that you aren't making a nice stout with raspberry because that would just be awkward....

Brewers often report that their beer smells like fruit - banana, strawberry,  pear and even raspberry.

This fruity smell is quite likely to be an ester called isoamyl acetate. The occurrence of it in beer is extremely common. Like many of the flavours and smells in this guide, they are a by-product of fermentation where the temperature was too high for the yeast, or there was too little yeast pitched.

Generally speaking, the higher the temperature of the beer, the more ester that is produced during fermentation. They are caused by acids in the wort combining with alcohol.

The concentration level of ester will also depend on the kind of beer that is being made. German style wheat beers and Belgian ales tend to possess theses as a deliberate beer aesthetic. Go Bavaria!

One way to reduce the production of esters in your beer is to use a tall and narrow fermenter than shallower vessels. According to the American Homebrewers Association "this is because high hydrostatic pressure and levels of CO2 in the tall, narrow vessels inhibit ester formation."

We did say beer was a science!

To remove your unwanted esters the solution you have to prevent them from occurring in the first place so try and brew your beer at the recommended temperature for your yeast, favoring the colder side of the spectrum. This is especially so if you are brewing a lager because esters to nod add to the drinking experience of a lager.

The other option is to overpitch your yeast to ensure that there is no deficiency >> a low amount of yeast tends to make the yeast work harder and produce more esters.

Finally, ensuring your wort is properly oxygenated prior to primary fermentation will help the yeast function as intended.

A final amusing point on isoamyl acetate is that it is actually used as an artificial flavoring for things like banana milkshakes!


That delicious paint thinner taste is a fusel alcohol


Now I've never drunk paint thinner but I've sure smelled them! They are strong and pungent.

'Paint thinner' is a term for solvents that are used to thin oil based paint or for cleaning up paint brushes and maintaining equipment like chainsaws. They are usually referred to as white spirits , turpentine or acetone. Either way, you recognize them as smelling quite harsh - and you can imagine the taste.

While most people do not drink solvents, many brewers often report that their beer has a 'paint thinner' taste.

What is most likely the cause of this flavor are fusel alcohols. They are sometimes referred to as fusel oils.

These occur naturally in home brewing and will occur at noticeable levels to the palate when the beer is fermented at too high a temperature of the beer is left in contact with the trub for too long.

The way to prevent fusel alcohols occurring in your beer is to ferment at the recommended temperature for the beer you are making.

Most certainly do not leave your beer to ferment for a week in a closed shed at the height of summer! It will surely be too hot.

Ensuring you use the correct amount of yeast can help. If you have difficulty controlling the temperature of your brewing situation you could try using yeasts known for their ability to handle higher temperatures, such as Belgian yeasts.

Letting the bottle beer condition for a good length of time will also give the fusels a chance to break down.

Here's some other common flavors and what they mean:

  • Tart tastes can be caused by polyphenols which are caused by over milled grains that are steeped too long.
  • Butterscotch or buttery flavors can be diacetyl and is naturally occuring. Affected by temperature and over oxygenation post pitching of the yeast.
  • Cough Syrup - possibly phenol which can be caused by a variety of things including improper sparging and mashing techniques, temperature ranges, and sanitizers and cleaning products that utilize iodine or chlorine.
  • Metal, pennies - a contaminant from nonstainless metal kettles and poor water. 
  • Salt - you probably added salt to your beer. WTF?
  • Soap - you probably added soap to your beer (again WTF) or you left it to soak too long in the primary fermenter and your beer is literally turning into a form of soap. No, you can't shower with it.

Final words


If you've made it this far, you will appreciate there are many factors and processes which can contribute to off flavors in your home brew (and of course ciders and wine). We haven't even covered them all!

Some of them occur naturally and will fade away as part of the normal practice of brewing is followed. Others will be fatal to you beer (such as a bacteria infected or skunked beer). 

Using well-established brewing practices will help alleviate many of these problems from occurring.

So yes, clean and santize your equipment, use fresh hops, brew at correct temperatures and let your beer condition properly and you will have a good tasting beer. 

Best oxygenation kit with aeration wand for home brewing

Making beer is a curious process.

You have to have the right ingredients. Your boil needs to be at the right temperature and your hop additions done at the right time.

You also need your wort to be properly oxygenated.

The yeast loves oxygen during fermentation. So, if you want your yeast to have the best chances of doing a great job, efficiently and effectively, then using an oxygen kit with an aeration wand is a great way to get some air in your beer!

This is especially true if your beer is going to be a high gravity beer - these brews will usually have a lower oxygen concentration in the wort when compared to standard beers. Adding extra oxygen will improve the effectiveness of the yeast.

This then begs the question:

What is the best kit to make wort oxygen rich?



aeration wand for oxygenation


Improve the flavor of your homebrew with less effort and impress your friends and family with better results with the Northern Brewer aeration kit. Its use will reduce the 'lag phase' of fermentation and off-flavor-producing fermentation by-products.

It will take less than a minute to infuse the wort with the wand. The kit comes with a valve to attach to an oxygen tank, tubing, aeration want, 0.5 micron air stone, herbie clamp to secure the tubing to the wand.

To be clear, this kit does not come with an oxygen tank, you'll need to source your own.

Here's some reviews and comments from actual user's of Nothern Brewer's kit:

"I sterilized the wand and tubing, put it in my carboy, turned it on and it bubbled up from bottom to the top. I pitched my yeast around 5pm. By 8pm I saw a couple bubbles, by the next morning, it was bubbling like crazy!! I am very glad that I used a blow off tube on my primary!"

"Great starting oxygenation kit! if you're like me and you don't like shaking your carboy for upwards of 20 minutes then you need something like this"

"Used it to oxygenated a chocolate cherry porter and following the instructions for creating more of a "simmer" than a "rolling boil" for 40 seconds I have a healthy fermentation going in under 12 hours.

How long do you oxygenate wort for?


Regardless if you are using a kit or a stone, the total amount of time needed to oxygenate wort can be pretty short - from 30 seconds to a minute for a 20 litre batch. Double the time if you are doing double the volume. 

If you making a higher ABV beer, then you may wish to give it a bit longer. In reality, a standard brew will benefit from a saturation level of 8 - 10pp and a higher ABV brew will benefit from a level closer to 12pp (though as usual with brewers, there's some debate that 15pp is the goal). 

Before you add the wand to the wort, make sure it is properly sanitized.

Can I make my own oxygenation kit?


You sure can, it's a pretty simple process to make your own. You only need a few parts:
All you then need to do is connect the diffusion stone to the tubing, the tubing to the regulator and the regulator to the oxygen bottle.

Pretty easy set up eh?

Final worn on aeration:

While it is very important to ensure your wort is aerated before you pitch your yeast to start fermentation, you do not want to add oxygen post-fermentation completion. This means you should take particular care when moving your fermentation drum and especially when bottling or kegging your beer. 

How to reduce & remove beer sediment from bottles

how to reduce sediment from beer bottles

How to reduce the amount of sediment in beer bottles


Once you've bottled your beer and let it condition a little bit, you may notice that some sediment or sludge has formed at the bottom of the beer bottle, kind of like it did in your initial fermentation (that's called the trub)

This is very normal and is not an indication of there being anything wrong with your beer.

The sediment occurs as a result of fermentation. It is the residue of yeast and proteins and maybe some hops.

During the secondary fermentation round, the yeast has eaten the sugars, fermented and dropped to the bottom of the bottle.

Does it affect the beer in any way?

Not really.

The key thing is that when you pour beer, you'll want to ensure that you pour the beer out fully but halt the pour just when the sediment is about to exit the bottle neck.

You're aiming to leave about the last quarter to half inch of beer in the bottle. Make sure your glass or stein is big enough to take the whole pour.

If you have to stop and start the pour, there's a good chance you'll stir up the sediment.

While the residue is quite drinkable, it will make the color of your beer go cloudy. Given a good beer color is part of the drinking experience, many drinkers will avoid pouring the sediment in.

In my experience, it does not affect the taste of the beer and it will most certainly not make you sick.

If you are keen to ensure you have 'clear beer' there are some tips and tricks you can do to reduce the amount of sediment.

You're not likely to remove it all but by using the cold crash technique before you bottle, you'll remove some of the post-primary proteins.

Cold crashing is when you place your fermentation drum or carboy inside a fridge for a minimum period of 24 hours AFTER primary fermentation has occurred. The chill causes the proteins and yeast to fall out of the beer solution and to the bottom of the fermenter.

Many brewers will have a fridge in their shed which they have connected to a brewing thermostat which regulated the temperature of the beer. This is a very handy trick for when you are trying to properly regulate the temperature of your brew (and it is so very important to ensure your beer is brewed at the correct temperature! Heat has an amazing influence on beer at various stages).

When you bottle you have two choices, you can bottle straight from the fermenter or you can transfer the beer into a secondary container by way of siphoning from one drum to another. In this manner, you are leaving the sediment caused by the cold crashing in the first vessel, meaning there will be less sediment in the bottles.

Commercial breweries, including craft brewers, will actually use a filtration system on their brew to remove the sediment. This process removes the yeast so they will then repitch so that the beer will carbonate. Sediment can also be removed by use of a centrifuge.

You can also add what are called beer finings, which can improve the clarity of beer.

If you are brewing a Belgian style beer, it's important to recognize that Belgian beers usually use special yeasts and wheat so haze and sediment are normal for that style.

Here's a list of things you can do in the brewing process to help reduce sediment:


  • Do your boil 'harder' so as to maximize the "hot break" – the coagulated proteins that float around during the boil.
  • Add whirlfloc or Irish moss a day or two before bottling to help with flocculation (yeast clumping together and then falling out).
  • Before transferring to primary, whirlpool your kettle and give it a few minutes to settle.
  • Don't try to transfer everything from the kettle. Minimize the amount of hops and hot break you transfer. You can filter at this stage; splashing a bit will help with aeration.
  • Delaying bottling as long as possible to give the yeast a lot of time to fully ferment. 
  • Do cold crash
  • Add gelatin to improve clarity.
  • Use a separate bottling bucket – transfer from the primary using a beer siphon. The intake is not quite at the bottom of the beer cake, so it helps to leave the yeast cake behind.
  • After bottle-conditioning for a week or two, cold-crash the bottles at least 24 hours before opening, that or leave them in the fridge a few days before opening,

Does Bar Keeper's Friend really work?

bar keepers friend cleanerWe often talk about how imperative it is that your brewing equipment is kept clean and sanitized, we've recently discovered the wonders of Bar Keepers Friend, a wonderful cleaning product that will clean your brewing kettles and keep them bright and shiny!

The beauty of Bar Keepers Friend is that while its name may refer to its use in keeping a bar clean (it began as a polish for brass rails in turn of the century taverns), it's an all-purpose product that is used to clean all kinds of stainless steel products such as pots and pans, acrylics like bathtubs and counters and cooktops.

It will literally clean the shit stains out of toilets and it can fix those bathroom tiles so they look good as new.

Barkeeper's friend users the original 1882 formula to deliver cleaning power for any stain on any non-porous surface. It's a bleach-free product that easily removes rust, tarnish, mineral deposits, and tough stains.

It's used by homeowners, hobbyists, musicians (such as drum cymbals), and professional cleaners worldwide and of course, bar keepers whose bars need their brass shined!

For beer brewing, you can use it to clean all your stainless steel gear like taps but its major use comes from cleaning your brewing kettles. 

Check out this before and after picture when used in a kettle:


Looks like this cleaner is the real deal eh?
Here's some Amazon reviews from actual users of this wonder cleaner:

"This stuff is amazing! It removes shower/faucet/commode scale and deposits like nothing else I have ever used. If used for the right cleaning jobs, this is a product that will surpass your expectations and have you thinking of new applications, such as cleaning tools and equipment that have gained a little rust. It restored luster to old faucets that I had given up on ever looking decent again.

As a retired PhD chemist, I am always interested in great home cleaning products and how they work. One active ingredient in Bar Keepers Friend is oxalic acid, an extremely strong chelating agent that I am familiar with from the laboratory. Without getting too technical, a chelating agent binds super strongly to metals (magnesium, calcium, iron, etc.). Since bathroom scale is mainly magnesium carbonate with some calcium carbonate, oxalic acid reacts with the scale, sucking out the metal and turning the carbonate to carbon dioxide (a gas), making the scale magically disappear. If you are interested, the chemical reaction for oxalic acid reacting with magnesium carbonate is HOOCCOOH + MgCO3 --> MgOOCCOO + CO2 + H2O. Similarly, rust is iron oxide, and the oxalic acid binds to the iron, breaking up the rust and making it disappear when rinsed away."

"I had got some gunk on the outside of a Cuisinart stainless steel pan which I was very fond of, and could NOT get the crap off. Not soaking, not detergent, not soaking in detergent, not scrubbers nor steel wool, not even painting it with ketchup and leaving it for several hours. Then the housekeeper put it in the dishwasher and the gunk turned into something like thick, permanent enamel.

So I went on Google and looked up gunk on stainless steel pans, got recommendations from real people, and ordered three things from Amazon. The first to arrive was Bar Keepers Friend, and I used it, and it worked. I’m sure I will enjoy Goof-Off and Goo Gone when they get here, but I don’t need them for this pan. I made a paste, painted it on half the pan, left it for an hour, came back, scrubbed with a no-scratch scrubber, and it came off. It did take some strength and real scrubbing, but that’s good for me. And it’s gone."


"This stuff is like magic! Straight up wizardry. I love it! I initially bought it to clean my sink, which is porcelain and even though it's not even a year old, is just holding on to all the coffee and tea staining. I'd say it took less than a minute after making a paste with Bar Keepers Friend to clean the sink up to a nearly new shine.

Taking a look at the can its easy to find bunches of ways to use this stuff and each application is better than the last. Stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, copper, brass, fiberglass, corian, chrome and aluminum. See? Magic!

Anyhow, I've used it in the sink, in the bathroom, to clean stainless steel pots and pans on a 17 year old Revereware tea kettle (which I thought would never be restored to its former loveliness, btw). This is a product that I will buy again and again and will happily recommend to anyone."

How does Bar Keepers Friend Work?


Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser & Polish has become the premium house-hold cleanser used by many a home brewer. Using a non-bleach, plant based cleanser plus mineral scrubbing micro particles, BKF attacks tough stains from two directions. 

The oxalic acid, found in plants such as rhubarb, attacks hard rust and lime stains at the molecular level, breaking up the bonds that hold them together. Once those bonds are broken down, the mineral micro scrubbing particles move in to finish the job, polishing as they remove dirty brewing deposits. 

How to use Bar Keeper's friend on a brewing kettle

  • Wet surface to be cleaned, perhaps give the brewing kettle a rinse out with a hose so any debris is soaked.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of the cleanser on the dampened surface.
  • Rub with a wet cloth or sponge. You can add more BKF as you need and don't be afraid to use some elbow grease.
  • Rinse thoroughly with water within one minute of application.
  • Then wipe the surface dry.

↣ How long can beer be left in the primary fermenter?


What is the risk of leaving a beer in the primary fermenter too long?


As a general rule of thumb, one can leave the beer in the primary fermenter as long as one needs.

There is no set maximum time limit, though there are a couple of risks to keep in mind.

Many brewers simply follow the beer recipe or instructions on the malt kit and leave their wort to ferment for around a week to ten days. This usually allows enough time for fermentation to have completed.

And technically that's OK, and it's time to bottle.

But the mystery and muscle of brewing beer are that there is a whole range of chemical processes happening in that wort you're fermenting.

Sure the yeast may have produced enough alcohol to make a good drop of beer but there are still a few things that happen.

The longer you leave your beer, the more chance the yeast has to get rid of smells and other leftovers from the fermentation process.

A great example of this is the presence of acetaldehyde in the wort. This chemicals forms at the beginning of the fermentation process. It tastes like sour green apple and is not really conducive to a good brew.

What's the best way to get rid of  'apple taste' from beer?


Let the yeast take the time to convert it into ethanol (alcohol).

So leaving your beer for longer than the recommended instructions on the tin of the beer kit is pretty much a smart move. Frankly, given the benefit to the beer and thus the kit manufacturer's reputation, I do not know why they don't frame the time as a minimum.

That said, when I followed Te Aro's brewing instructions for their Obligatory ale, I made damn good beer.

Exceptions aside, the longer you condition your beer, the greater reduction in acetaldehyde that will occur and the beer your beer will take.

Stout beers have even more to work through so they can happily take longer in the primary.

Another benefit of leaving the beer in the primary for longer is that there is a greater chance that your beer will clear more sediment, thus giving you clear beer

Many a brewer likes to see their lager look like a lager - that classic light yellow / orange combo. Sure, some wheat beers can be a bit hazy.

At the end of the day this comes down to personal preference as the beer taste is not generally affected.

What about leaving beer in for extra long times like 3 months?

Many brewers have reported leaving batches for months and suffered no issues.

I'd reason though that the beer was stored in a cool place - a beer wort left in a hot environment is sure to fail as the yeast would probably get cooked.

The lid was probably screwed on very tightly as well. 

There is an issue that can happen called autolysis.

This is when the yeast cells die, giving off some potentially 'off flavours'. These could be hydrolytic enzymes, lipids, and metal cations that can contribute to off flavour.

If you've made a healthy batch with a quality yeast, pitched at a good temperature and brewed in a stable environment, then the risks of autolysis are quite low. 

If you are quite concerned about this, you could counter by racking your beer to a secondary, thus removing the yeast cake from the equation.

It's important to note, the same process begins again when the beer is bottle conditioned - more sugar is added to the beer for the yeast to eat - this is because CO2 is the by-product of fermentation and is trapped in the beer.

Most beers strongly benefit from being bottle conditioned for three weeks before consumption and even then they usually start to become pretty drinkable at the 5 week mark.