Cooper’s Dark Ale
The only reason I brewed this beer was to have a base to make my Christmas Pudding Dark Ale. I decided I didn’t want 40 pints of Christmas-y beer, so I kept half “untouched” to drink as normal.
The Cooper’s Dark Ale is described as starting “fresh and creamy, and leaves you with a lingering coffee flavour”. The beer itself does not appear to be as well known as it’s siblings, but it has positive reviews and the kit seems to be well-liked on various online forums.
Making the beer
I started this on 15 September 2021.
To make the beer, I deviated slightly from the instructions based on some recommendations and replaced the sugar with dark Dried Malt Extract and Muscovado sugar and brewed it short to 20 litres:
- Mix 500g dark Dried Malt Extract and 500g muscovado sugar with 2 litres of boiling water. Bring to the boil.
- Add the contents of the Cooper’s Dark Ale can to the DME/sugar mixture.
- Add the contents of the pan to the fermentation bucket.
- Top up to 20 litres with cold tap water.
- Wait until wort cooled to 20°C, take a gravity reading.
- Pitch the yeast.
The original gravity (OG) was 1.040. I left the fermentation bucket in a warmish place for 14 days. The final gravity (FG) after fermentation was 1.001.
Only half of the beer was going to be bottled now. The other half was going to be “fiddled with” and used as the base for my Christmas Pudding Dark Ale. I bottled on 30 September.
To bottle I decided to try out batch priming. Instead of adding carbonation drops or sugar to each bottle, a sugar solution is added to a bottling bucket and the beer siphoned on top before being added to each bottle.
I dissolved 58g caster sugar with 50ml water in a small sauce pan and brought to the boil. After boiling for a few minutes, I turned off the heat to let the solution cool for another few minutes before adding to a second fermentation bucket. I then siphoned approximately 10 litres of the Dark Ale onto the sugar solution, without creating any splashing (to reduce oxidation) but trying to create a whirlpool effect to mix the solution properly. I took another gravity reading at this point, approximately 1.005 (an increase of 4 points over the previous gravity reading after fermentation).
This primed beer was then added to 500ml bottles using a little bottler. I got 19x 500ml bottles out of the batch, about 9.5 litres.
The original gravity of the wort was 1.040. After fermentation this reduced to 1.001. However, after adding the sugar priming solution, the gravity was 1.005. This is a change by 4 points, which we can add to the original gravity to estimate the ABV:
(1.040 + 0.004) – 1.001 = 0.043 * 131.25 = 5.64% ABV.
The bottled beer was kept in a warm place for 3 weeks to carbonate. It was then moved to a garage to condition for another two weeks.
My initial tasting was on 01 December. I initially thought the beer was not carbonated enough, although it did pour with a good head it dissipated quickly. However, after comparing to commercial beers of the same style, it matched the carbonation levels. The taste was quite “twangy” and did not feel ready to drink.
I left the beer until the Christmas holidays and tried again. Now a much better, smoother beer. Very drinkable – be careful at this ABV!
Not sure I would bother brewing again – I’m sure there are probably better dark beer kits.