Coopers “Amber” IPA
After being less than impressed with the Brewer’s Best IPA’s I’ve made, I decided to check out the Coopers IPA. If you haven’t checked out Coopers products, they’re cans of pre-hopped extract. It’s kind of like the 5 gallon version of a Mr. Beer kit. It’s a much simpler process than a Brewer’s Best kit, and can be great when you’re short on time.
The instructions suggest adding additional sugars to raise the alcohol content and make the beer a little bit more enjoyable. A 5 gallon batch from one can of LME is going to be pretty weak. They say to use 500g Light Dry Malt & 300g Dextrose. I have been loving darker IPA’s lately, so I wanted to get weird and use Amber Dry Malt to increase the fermentable sugars. I didn’t bother with dextrose at all, and added about a pound of DME.
- 1 can Coopers IPA, pre-hopped LME & yeast
- Approx 1lb. Briess Dry Malt, Amber
- LATER – Dry Hopped with approx. 1oz. Willamette Hops.
Brew date: September 06, 2010 – Original Gravity – 1.026
Secondary: September 21, 2010
Kegged: September 30, 2010 – Final Gravity – 1.002
Dry Hopped: November 9, 2010
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 3.15%
Brewing the Coopers IPA
Like I mentioned before, the Coopers kits make brewing really easy. Start by dissolving the can and other sugars in 2 quarts of boiling water. Be careful to use a big enough pot for your boil! I figured small boil, small pot. Well it foams… you’ve been warned.
Combine this mixture with cold water in your fermenter to reach 5 gallons. Pitch yeast at around 70° – 80°. No idea what kind of yeast comes with this kit, I don’t think they specify that anywhere. One thing that makes these Coopers kits a little less cool.
The instructions say to bottle your beer after about 6 days. I prefer to go longer than that in the primary, then rack to a secondary for a couple of weeks, too. Your beer would probably be fine after the 6 days, but I like to let everything finish fermenting and have the chance to settle out.
After some time in the primary, I moved the beer along to the secondary. Then it came time for bottling, or in my case kegging. It’s awesome having the ability to siphon the beer from secondary to keg. This was only my second beer to go to the keg, but things went a lot better than my wit. I did kind of a combo force-carbonate / wait. I pressurized the keg to about 30psi, then waited a couple of days, reupped the pressure to 30psi, etc. for about a week.
Drinking & Dry Hopping
Once my Amber IPA was carbonated I got to finally try it out. I won’t say it was BAD, but nothing about the beer related at all to an IPA. The Amber Malt I had used had pretty much overpowered all the hops, turning it in to a very malty beer similar to a brown. I let it age another week or two before I decided I wanted to try dry hopping the batch to see if I could turn it more to my liking.
I rolled down to my LBHS and asked what kind of hops I might want. I ended up going with one that would impart more spice than citrus, choosing a Willamette hop. I purchased a hop bag and a couple ounces of hops.
Within a day, the beer is WAY better. I’m calling it my Frankenbeer. It’s such a bizarre combination of flavors, but in a way they’re kind of tasty. The high maltiness is still a factor, but it finishes really hoppy. There’s a massive hop flavor, but the hop bitterness that would normally come from the boil isn’t there. I warn people before they drink it that it’s WEIRD, but for the most part it’s fun enough that people kind of dig it.
Drinking the Frankenbeer, Misc. Thoughts
Judging by the alcohol content, I needed to add a lot of additional sugar to be fermented. As the Amber DME completely overpowered the flavors of the Coopers pre-hopped extract, I would definitely listen to them the next time and use dextrose and a light DME. It’s hard to really judge this as a Coopers product, as I messed around and added Amber and then dry hopped it.
As far as a super basic kit goes, you can’t go wrong with a Coopers. It’s easily the quickest way to make a 5 gallon batch of beer. The boil is very basic, and there are no grains to steep or hops to add. It’s just a matter of dissolving sugars and adding yeast. Also, if you want to make it as it was intended to be made, you can buy a full kit from MakeBeer.net.
As far as my personal thoughts… It’s not the best beer I’ve ever made, but it’s not the worst, either. While not my favorite, I have had one person comment that it was one of their favorite beers that I’ve made. All about what you’re in to, I guess.
If you’re ever curious to check out any of the Coopers Brews, you can buy all of them online from MakeBeer.net.