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Old 01-19-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
rhumbunctious
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Default Need advice about very first Ginger Ale brew

OK, I love Ginger Ale and decided to try brewing a batch from scratch, using only fresh ginger root, brown sugar, some cinnamon, lemons, and limes -- based on a recipe derived from numerous variants found online.

It's been in the fermenter 6 days now and the airlock has finally stopped bubbling, so I took an SG reading to check where it was at, etc.

As I normally do, I tasted the current results and overall am very very pleased. Great flavor, nothing off tasting, all in all very much in line with what I was expecting / hoping to get and very promising -- except no bite at all. Smooooth and richly flavorful, but rather disappointingly tame. Some folks may think that's as it should be, but I like my Ginger Ale with a bit of kick.

So I'm wondering whether to add a tablespoon or two of ground ginger, to spice it up, but not sure whether to do so now, or when I bottle.

I anyway plan to keep it in the FV for at least one more week, if not two.

Perhaps one tablespoon now, and one when bottling? Or would a teaspoon be sufficient?

I'm in unfamiliar waters here and very happy for experienced input.

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Old 01-19-2011, 03:53 PM   #2
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don't know about ginger ale, but a few years ago I started half fill a Corney half full of RO water and co2 it up to 20 psi
the water out of the the RO is very plain, but once it's carb'd it has a nice "mouth bite" to it

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Old 01-19-2011, 04:03 PM   #3
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For those who may want all the details, here's the recipe as brewed:

23 liter batch

OG before pitching 1.052

2 kg fresh ginger (no, that's not a typo)
2 lemons
3 limes
10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 kg brown sugar
1 kg dextrose (plus 250g to be added before bottling)
250 g lactose
1 tsp cream of tartar
11 g dry wine yeast + yeast nutrients packet

Washed and sliced ginger, leaving skin.
Peeled zest from lemons.
Combined sliced ginger, zest, cloves, cinnamon, tartar, into 3L water, boiled 45 minutes, strained into fermenter.
Juiced lemons and limes, straining out pulp.
Combined brown sugar, 1 kg dextrose, lactose, juice into 3L water, slowly brought to boil, added to fermenter, mixed well.
Added cold water to fermenter up to 23 liter mark, mixed well.
Allowed contents of fermenter to cool to 22C.
Reconstituted yeast per instructions and pitched.

Maintained FV at ~22C, now 6 days total.

SG after 6 days 1.004

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Old 01-19-2011, 04:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by certaut View Post
don't know about ginger ale, but a few years ago I started half fill a Corney half full of RO water and co2 it up to 20 psi
the water out of the the RO is very plain, but once it's carb'd it has a nice "mouth bite" to it
No, this is about the distinctive spicy bite that ginger ale typically has, especially Jamaican style ginger ale. Really spicy ginger ale can even make you cough if you drink it too fast.

What I've got has a very distinct and smooth ginger flavor, but without the desired spicy bite. I suspect this is due to boiling the ginger for the prolonged period of time, rather than just steeping it briefly. Or perhaps grating it would have produced a more spicy flavor. I'm just guessing, here.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:34 PM   #5
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When I've made ginger beer (the soft drink) I would put the peeled ginger into a blender or food processor before boiling it. I usually just boiled it until I decided it was spicy enough and then bottled with some yeast for a couple days and put in the fridge. Mine usually came out with plenty of bite. I'd guess that it's the pulverized ginger that gave it the bite, but I'm not sure. Do a search or two on ginger ale or beer. I'm sure you can find some helpful information to make a decision. Perhaps you could consider "dry hopping" it with ginger root?

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Old 01-19-2011, 04:38 PM   #6
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You boiled off all of the aroma of the ginger by adding it all at once. Next time I would add half at the beginning of your boil and the other half with 15 minutes left. That way you will have more spice. Think of it as a work in progress and if it tastes fine, I wouldn't mess with it. Next time just change it a bit and see how it works out.

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Old 01-19-2011, 04:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by storunner13 View Post
...Perhaps you could consider "dry hopping" it with ginger root?
That's basically what I was thinking of doing, but using the ginger powder rather than fresh ginger. Just unsure when in the process would be best, and how much.
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Old 01-19-2011, 04:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bknifefight View Post
You boiled off all of the aroma of the ginger by adding it all at once.
Well, yes and no. There is a very strong, excellent ginger flavor, so the boiling definitely extracted a substantial portion of the aroma or essence of the ginger. But yes, whatever gives ginger its bite apparently got boiled off.

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Next time I would add half at the beginning of your boil and the other half with 15 minutes left. That way you will have more spice. Think of it as a work in progress and if it tastes fine, I wouldn't mess with it. Next time just change it a bit and see how it works out.
I expect I will adjust the recipe and process next time, but also would like to "rescue" the current batch from being too tame, however flavorful.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:27 PM   #9
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Well I had a recipe for making Ginger beer in a brewing book I got for christmas and gave it a try. The recipe and methods were pretty simple, but I figured I would just give it a try anyways.

So the recipe instructions told me to get a jar and start a ginger 'plant', which consisted of yeast, 4 tsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of dried ginger. This is apparently the traditional way to make ginger beer. For the next week it says to add the same amount of sugar and dried ginger every day, and give it a little stir. I didn't boil the ginger whatsoever, but, as per the instructions, boiled up a kg of sugar, some lemon juice, and 6.5 litres of water, let it cool and added the top of my plant, leaving the solid portion behind. The batch size ended up being around 8 litres, so significantly smaller. The results were less than satisfactory to say the least .

But anyways, I'm not sure what your ginger flavor is like, but i'd suggest adding some dried ginger. Not sure how much though...probably just pull a sample and add until you get the taste right, and scale up from there. I'm not sure what the properties are that give the 'bite', but according the recipe I have, dried ginger could probably provide it. My recipe used 14 tsp of dried ginger for an 8 L batch, which was somewhat flavorful, but not overly impressive. So that might be something of a guideline.

Let me know how this turns out. I'd like to find a good recipe and yours looks delicious (minus the 'bite' problems).

Best,
Scott

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Old 01-19-2011, 05:48 PM   #10
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The last time I made ginger beer I followed the recipe here:
http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/2...n-ginger-beer/. I had trouble with the carbonation, but the flavor was spot on.

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