Should you read the Instructions?
“First, throw away the Instructions”.
This is a common refrain in brewing literature when working with
packaged hopped malt concentrate, typically referred to as Beer
Kits. Because the instructions in Coopers Brewery Beer Kits part
from the orthodoxy of amateur beermaking, it is not surprising that
even many proprietors who swear by the quality of Coopers Brewery
products will recommend methodology that is different from what
is recommended by the Coopers Brewery. I find that this advice usually
comes from “experts” who haven’t actually made
beer from a beer kit in a very long time, if ever. The “Throw
away the Instructions” orthodoxy stems from two things. The
first is the ingrained, mistaken belief that “malt concentrate
is malt concentrate is malt concentrate” and there is but
one way to work with malt concentrate. The second is an honest difference
of opinion about what particular styles of beer should look and
Let’s examine the specifics of why there is a belief that
you should throw away the instructions that come with your Coopers
Brewery Beer Kit.
“Contrary to the instructions, you must boil malt concentrates”.
Not all malt concentrates are made equal. Are there some malt
concentrates available in the amateur beermaking market which
should be boiled? Absolutely. I wouldn’t NOT boil just
about anything that came out of a 55 gallon industrial drum,
or came from a plastic jar that came from ???. You not only
don’t have to boil malt concentrates that come from the
Coopers Brewery, I highly recommend against it. The Coopers
Brewery is just that, a brewery. When they produce home beermaking
products they are using the exact same procedures as they use
in producing their well-regarded ales and stouts. This means
in part that Coopers Brewery malt concentrates have already
been boiled. And centrifuged. And filtered. And sterile packaged.
Boiling Coopers Brewery malt concentrates can only detract from
the quality of the product, not add to it.
“Contrary to the instructions, don’t add sugar…only
add more malt concentrate”. Well, that depends. When you
make a Coopers Brewery Lager Beer Kit, are you trying to replicate
a West Coast style pale ale (ala Red Hook), or a North American
style light lager (ala Budweiser)? How light in body and character
do you want your beer to be? What color do you want your beer
to be? Want it to look like the beer on the label? Follow the
“Contrary to the instructions, you must do a two-stage
fermentation, and then transfer the beer a third time when it
is time to bottle”. Sure. If you are a glutton for punishment.
Every time you transfer beer to another vessel there is the
additional expense of the vessel, there is cleaning, sanitizing,
time spent and increased risk of contamination. As long as your
fermentation went without a hitch (follow the instructions and
it will!), there is no reason why you have to transfer your
beer anywhere but from the primary fermenter into the bottles.
Some reasons why you may not want to follow the instructions:
if you can’t bottle relatively soon after fermentation
is finished it is best to transfer your beer off the sediment;
if you aren’t using Coopers Brewery Carbonation Drops
you will have to “batch prime” to get carbonation;
or, you are just naturally masochistic.
“Contrary to the instructions, throw away the yeast,
and buy a ‘fresh’ package”. We at the Coopers
Brewery pride ourselves on ensuring that every time you brew
beer with a Coopers Brewery Beer Kit it will ferment the way
it is supposed to and it will taste the way it is supposed to.
For this reason we date-stamp each of our yeast sachets with
a “Best Before” date. And that date roughly corresponds
with the “Best Before” date on the bottom of the
can. Is the date on the can still within the “Best Before”?
Then so is the yeast, and it will work just fine. Unfortunately
not everyone date stamps their yeast, so yes, if you buy a brand
of beer kit that doesn’t date stamp their can or their
yeast, you are taking a chance. We sell tens of thousands of
sachets of yeast separately every year. But not because of people
throwing away the yeast that comes with Coopers Brewery beer
And finally, “Contrary to the instructions, you can’t
just sprinkle the yeast on top of the unfermented beer. You
must ‘proof’ it first”. This is suggested
for two reasons. One, is to ensure that your yeast is still
alive. Because of our quality control and date-stamping, this
is not an issue with Coopers Brewery Beer Kits. Second is because
of the belief that the yeast will acclimatize to the environment
and work better if “proofed”. While this is true
of some yeasts used, and is certainly true of the bread yeast
that your great-granddad used to make beer, the Coopers Brewery
uses a special proprietary strain of beer yeast that not only
ferments out consistently and makes flavorful beers, it also
works great without being proofed. So, Sprinkle On!