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Old 03-10-2011, 11:19 AM   #1
JezzaUK
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Default Alcoholic Ginger Beer - input request

This is a link to a recipe that I've used before (when I started playing the home brew game) - http://www.netcooks.com/recipes/Beverages/Dave's.Ginger.Beer.html

Anyway, I tried it twice, and did chop and change certain things here and there. First batch basically came out Dry (I left fermenting too long), and very strong, and I needed to sweeten when serving. Second batch, I kept an eye on, and bottled when I hit my target FG to keep the sweetness, which was much better - but did result in bottle bombs

Anyway, I've been looking at ways to adapt the recipe, as I think it is in the right sort of place in principle, and wondered if anyone had any thoughts/tips/pointers. I'm looking at knocking up a trial batch this weekend, and was thinking about the following (measurements in metric to avoid confusion):

4.5 litres of water
150g ginger root, coarsley chopped
350g sugar
1 lemon
1/5 tsp. cream of tartar
1 packet champagne yeast
½ Habenero Pepper

Boil water.
Squeeze and add lemons.
Add ginger and cream of tartar.
Add sugar & Pepper.
Simmer for 20 minutes.

Pour everything (including the bits) in to fermenting bucket.

Allow to cool to pitching temperature

Dissolve yeast as per pack instructions, then pitch.

Leave to ferment dry in bucket with lid on (no airlock), giving it a good stir to degas regularly given that the PH is likely to already be fairly low with the ginger and lemon.

Rack to secondary (4.5 litre demijohn with airlock), regularly checking for 7 days to ensure that all sugar has fermented out.

Plan is to then back-sweeten with an unfermentable sugar. I was thinking Splenda, as have heard that you need a lot of lactose to get a decent sweetness. Obviously I'll be looking to do this in small measured batches before scaling up. Then give it another 7 days to ensure that everything has mixed well, and sweetness is about right (not a lot that I can do if over-sweetened at this point though).

Bottling & carbonation:

You'll notice that I went for a low amount of sugar for fermentation - reason being that for 4.5 litres, calculations give the potential ABV for this amount of circa 4.6% - I don't want to go too strong, but is also does not take in to account the volume of sugars in the ginger, lemons and pepper (Googling says that ginger root has 1.7g of sugar per 100g and 2-3g sugar per lemon, but can't find anything for the pepper, but would guess next to none), so 4.6% should be fairly on the nose. I'll obviously be taking SG readings to confirm though.

Given that the champagne yeast should have an alcohol tolerance way above target, I was planning on priming the brew with 30g of sugar for the full 4.5 litres for carbonation before bottling in Grolsch style bottles.

Mature in cool and dark place for minimum 2 weeks.

Anyway, this would only be my 5th brew ever, so I'm still fairly new in the world of home brew, so as I say, thoughts/tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated to try and perfect.

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Old 03-10-2011, 12:11 PM   #2
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have you considered using a ginger beer plant (GBP) instead of yeast? it's far tastier, easier to control fermentation, does not need clearing, is infinitely reusable.
i recommend this place in the uk for purchasing a strain for 16 quid (i got mine from them and i love it):
http://www.retro-culture.com/ginger-beer-plant.html
you buy it once and use it for years, plus it grows and you can give it out to friends.

my personal taste is for ginger beer in the 5% sugar range (final product) for medium-dry or around 7% for medium-sweet. for 5% final i start with 7% sugar, and for 7% final i start with 10% sugar. also i never cook my ginger or lemon, but juice them both and in they go, that way the ginger really keeps its bite.
both ferment to around 1.5 % alcohol in 2 days, which is almost impossible to notice if you are a regular old boozer like myself. i then strain off the GBP, bottle carb and leave the bottles in the fridge, since i continuously make small batches (the beauty of the GBP!). if you want higher alcohol you strain off the GBP and then leave the brew to keep fermenting, it will carry on slowly to your desired gravity.

an alternative if you don't like fake sugars (i hate the taste of all i have tried) would be to ferment down to just above desired sugar level and then heat pasteurize the bottles when they are done carbing; i sometimes do this with ciders but haven't yet with ginger beer. i am planning to try it next week and can report back, and there is a sticky on the cider page all about the pros and cons of this method.

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Old 03-10-2011, 02:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinnerstick View Post
have you considered using a ginger beer plant (GBP) instead of yeast?

ferment down to just above desired sugar level and then heat pasteurize the bottles when they are done carbing; i sometimes do this with ciders but haven't yet with ginger beer. i am planning to try it next week and can report back, and there is a sticky on the cider page all about the pros and cons of this method.
Two methods which I am very unfamiliar with given my limited experience thus far, but both do make complete sense.

Certainly something which I think that I will have a look in to for the future for sure.

However, the GBP plant method does pose slight issues for my needs; I have previously knocked up Alcoholic Ginger Beer for for BBQ's and the like, and I have generally needed to produce fairly decent size batches for them, rather than continuously making small batches - plus the girlfriend is likely to see it in the fridge and decide to throw it out!

That being said, once I've read up a bit on it, I might become otherwise convince

Heat Pasteurizing sounds very good though, and certainly something which I think I will have a go at. I just want to try to get comfortable with the recipe first and foremost before necessarily looking to tweak methods to this degree. Perhaps something for me to read up about and try for my next batch.

Thanks for the input on not cooking up the ginger and lemon. Once again, something that I will look at for test variations. I've not had issues with the bite after boiling with the ginger before, but it may certainly negate the need to add a Pepper in to the mix to ensure that there is a good kick.

Will get back to you after reading up on GBP and pasteurizing.
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Old 03-13-2011, 08:01 AM   #4
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Update:
Knocked the first bit up yesterday

OG reading was 1.036, so very low, but I am planning on taking this batch dry, then backsweetening with Splenda

Will keep you all posted

Oh, and yeast gervin wine yeast - GV10

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Old 03-20-2011, 09:42 AM   #5
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Update:
SG 1.004
Taken out all the lemon, ginger and chilli.
Put in to 4.5 litre demijohn with airlock after adding 35 grams of Splenda to the mix. Dissolved Splenda in warm water before adding to mix.
Tasted trial batch to upscale the amount of Splenda.

Suspect that there is a little more fermenting to be done - hence airlocking.

Planning on giving it another week to let fermentation fininsh then prime with 30 gram sugar in mix then bottle.

Stupidly I forgot to take SG reading after adding Splenda, so just need to keep an eye on SG movements to make sure all fermenting done.

Taste was pretty good in line with a fiery Jamaican ginger beer. Alcohol not too strong. Should be in line with my target of around 5% ABV in the end. Should be great when fizzy and nice and cold!

Roll on BBQs!

Think will knock up a 25 litre batch in a couple of weeks if all turns out well, but will have to leave in fermenting bin then as not got enough empty demijohns.

Oh, and I gave the must a good stir a couple of times a day until co2 production died down in 25l fermenting bin with lid (no airlock).

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Old 03-20-2011, 09:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinnerstick
an alternative if you don't like fake sugars (i hate the taste of all i have tried) would be to ferment down to just above desired sugar level and then heat pasteurize the bottles when they are done carbing; i sometimes do this with ciders but haven't yet with ginger beer. i am planning to try it next week and can report back, and there is a sticky on the cider page all about the pros and cons of this method.
how did the heat pasteurising work out by the way?
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Old 03-20-2011, 11:39 AM   #7
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haven't opened the cooked bottles yet. i wanted to do a side-by-side tasting with the unpasteurized vs cooked but i drank all the fresh stuff! oops. thing is, it was my tastiest batch ever. the only problem was that there is so much gunk in my ginger beer (bits of ginger, lemon, whatnot), that normally just settle out, these conglomerated in the necks of the bottles while pasteurizing, so they look pretty weird, but i don't mind about that. were i entering it in a beauty contest i would filter out the larger bits before pasteurizing. anyways i will report back as soon as i've tried them, but i think they will be fine

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Old 03-20-2011, 11:54 AM   #8
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Take it that you used the plant again?

Good drinks never hang about long!

I poured mine out of the fermenting bin in to a big pan through a fine mesh bag, so have removed all the "bits". I'm contemplating letting mine settle to rack off any excess lees - bit like you would for mead/wine, but suspect could lose some of the normal cloudiness... Any thoughts on that?

Sounds like pasteurising doesn't make it look it's best, but it's how it tastes at the end of the day though!

What sort of bottles did you use for pasteurising anyway?

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Old 03-20-2011, 12:58 PM   #9
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the bits in mine are really tiny, residue from the juicer, i think i would need to filter through paper. which almost always results in a giant mess so i don't think i will go for that.
i bottle in regular beer bottles with crown caps, i know from trial and error the temp and time needed to kill an ale yeast in these bottles. i still don't know if these conditions kill all of the stuff in the gbp, but it's a few days later and the bottles are still intact.
a nice thing about the gbp is that there isn't a large amount of yeast in suspension, so you don't get the characteristic lees as with brewing yeast. there is a bit of cloudy stuff, some of which settles in the fridge, but i always mix it back in before pouring, more for aesthetics as i don't think it really affects the taste.
i bet even if you rack off the lees and it is pretty clear at bottling you will probably generate enough lees from the bottle fermentation to keep it a little cloudy.

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Old 03-20-2011, 02:59 PM   #10
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whoops- hold the phone, i just opened a bottle and it was a total gusher. i didn't quite let it get cold enough, i normally leave things in the firdge at least overnight, but when i opened this guy (smartly over the sink just in case) it was everywhere. so i conclude that something in the mix of organisms that make up the gbp can handle my pasteurization conditions. instead of killing it off i gave it a nice warm bath. also it doesn't taste as nice as the raw stuff, which may be in part from a few days fermenting in the bottle, and it is really really cloudy, actually more murky than cloudy. it's not bad, perfectly drinkable, what's left after half of it gushed out, just not quite as good now. maybe i killed off the yeast and allowed something else to take its place. don't know
so i won't call this a huge success. on the other hand, pasteurizing ale or champagne yeast is tried and tested so that will work fine, i just don't know how it will affect the taste

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