Cooper’s All-in-One Micro-Brewery Kit Review

Coopers All in One Brew Kit
Cooper’s Microbrew Kit Is Available at Amazon

Out of the several home beer making kits I’ve tried so far, the Cooper Microbrewery Kit is easily my favorite. It’s a quality product from a great company that makes it easy to brew your own beer at home. Everything was straight forward and I was happy with beer it brewed. Cooper refill kits are readily available and there’s a wide variety of ingredient packs to choose from so you always have something new to try. I was hoping to have some better photos of the kit for this post but I’m still without a camera. I’ll try to add some pictures soon so you can get a better look at all these components that are included in the box:

(1) Plastic 30 liter fermenter jug & lid with 0-ring
(1) Hydrometer for checking fermentation
(1) Sediment Reducer
(1) Plastic Spoon
(1) Bottling tube and bottling valve
(1) Tap
(1) Airlock
(1) Airlock grommet
(1) Thermometer
(30) 740ml PET plastic bottles and screw caps
(1) Instructional booklet
(1) Instructional DVD
(1) 1.7kg Coopers Lager Beer Kit Concentrate with yeast
(1) 1 kg Coopers Brewing Sugar
(1) Bag of Carbonation drops

This kit will brew approximately 6 gallons (or about 2.6 cases) of beer and the entire process takes about 3 weeks. Once you have everything out of the box and ready to go, you’re just three easy steps away from enjoying your homemade beer. The included instructions do a great job of guiding you through step by step but continue reading for a quick overview of what’s involved.

1. Mixing the Ingredients:

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you must sterilize the fermenter, jug and spoon. Once the cleaning is taken care of, you can combine the malt, water and yeast. If your tap water is not the greatest, you may want to boil it first and let it cool before adding it to the mix. I normally buy spring water at the grocery store and it’s worked well so far. Before adding the yeast to the water and malt mixture, ensure that the temperature is between 21 and 27 degrees Celsius (70-80F). There’s an adhesive thermometer on the side of the fermenter that makes this easy to check. Once all the ingredients are in, attach the lid and air-lock assembly to the fermenter and make sure it’s tight. Poor some water in the airlock to create a seal and you’re finished with the first step. Here’s video from the people te MakeBeer.net showing most of step 1:

2. Brewing the Beer:

This is the easiest and hardest part of the process. Easiest because about all you have to do is wait. Hardest because you have to wait! You’ll let the wort ferment for 4-6 days before transferring your beer to the bottles. I recommend putting the fermenter in a location where it will not have to be moved. If you can leave it one location that will let you check it with the included hydrometer and transfer the beer to the bottles without having to move the fermenter, you’ll have less of a problem with sediment. As mentioned above, you’ll also want a location that is between 21 and 27 degrees celcius (70-80F) for optimal fermentation.

3. Bottling the Beer:

We’re getting closer. This is also an easy step the first time you do it. The bottles will come already sterilized from Cooper so you don’t have to worry about that step for your first brew. If you reuse the bottles, you will definitely want to sterilize them before doing this step. Being that they are plastic, be cautious with using boiling hot water as you may damage the bottles. Sterilizing solution would be a better option. Check the baby food aisle at your local grocery store and you should find something suitable. If you can find some glass bottles locally, I would recommend going that route for your subsequent batches as you’ll be much better off in the long run. The Coopers kit includes what they call “carbonation drops”. These drops are composed of priming sugar and they are used for secondary fermentation. Depending on the bottle size, you’ll place one or two of these drops in the bottle before filling it with beer. The bottles included in this kit require two drops.

Then you just fill the bottles with the beer from the fermenter leaving about 2 inches of air at the top. You’ll want to stop bottling when you get to roughly within an inch or of the bottom of the fermenter to avoid getting sediment in the bottles. After you’ve capped the bottles with the included screw caps, turn them upside down and right side up a few times to help mix the carbonation drops and the beer before you set them aside to start the secondary fermentation process. Try to store the bottles at the previously recommended fermenting temperature of 21 to 27 degrees C for at least 4 days. They can then be stored at room temperature and after another 10 days or so they will be ready for consumption. Keep in mind that the bottles could potentially burst and store them accordingly. It doesn’t happen often and if you follow the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems but the possibility always exists. Some people use the tub in their spare bathroom but a large plastic storage tote also works very well.

As noted above, this kit comes with the “Cooper’s Lager Mix” and it’s quite good in my opinion. Of course they also offer several other flavors from Draught to Dark Ale to Stout and more. Check the product listing on their site for a complete list. If you end up wanting to try a different mix, I recommend you buy the ingredient “kits” instead of purchasing them separately. That way you’ll get the carbonation drops and fermentables along with the malt, hops and yeast. It’s also cheaper than buying them separately. The basic ingredients run around $18 while the complete ingredient kits are about $27. Check their website for current prices. Buying the kits has been pretty convenient for me as I don’t have to worry about not having an ingredient on hand.

Overall, I’ve been very satisfied with the Cooper’s Microbrewery Kit. My only real complaint is the fact that it comes with plastic bottles. I really prefer glass but when you consider the added cost of including glass bottles (and added weight which would most likely increase shipping charges), this is a negative that’s pretty easy to overlook. It’s also easily remedied by picking up some glass bottles of your choice locally. I have no problem recommending this kit to a novice home brewer and I’ve already done so to several friends and family members who have been happy with their purchase. It’s a really solid product and once you get past the initial investment of $100 or so for the kit, you’ll be able to brew your own home beer for around $10 a case by just purchasing the ingredient packs. As with most home brewers, I don’t make my own beer to save money but the question of “How much does it end up costing per case?” is what I get asked the most. If you’ve never brewed your own beer before, this kit is pretty much fool-proof if you follow the simple instructions, paying special attention to the sterilization steps and brewing temperature requirements. As far as off the shelf starter kits go, I’ll give the Cooper’s Microbrewery Kit a “5 out of 5″ as I think it’s the best product currently available.

Posted on December 17, 2009 in Beer Brewing Kits