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Old 06-01-2011, 12:14 PM   #1
WillKirk
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Default Ginger Beer = Gag!

Hi All, I'm completely new to brewing/fermenting any kind of drink so if I sound like a noob, then so be it haha!

I've been itching to try and make my own Ginger Ale/Ginger Beer for a long time and recently got up the guts to try to do it.

Well I've gotten a few different recipes and they all seem to be pretty similar, so I gave it a go with this recipe here...

1 Gallon of spring water
2 Cups of Sucanat (unrefined brown sugar, very tasty)
1 whole lemon worth of juice
lots of Ginger (I don't recall the exact amount, it was alot as I like very spicy ginger ale)
1/2 Tablespoon of Yeast (Baker's yeast)

I followed all the normal steps in making it, I boiled my ginger for about 4 minutes and let it simmer for about 3 or 4. after it cooled I put it in the jug that I got my water in (I'm poor) along with my sucanat and then my yeast. I shook it up nicely and it took on this nice sort of dark beer/malt look to it. It certainly LOOKED tasty (looked being the key word here).

I punched a little hole in the lid to let the CO2 out and put a cheesecloth under the lid and screwed it back on. It smelled ok at this point, it actually kind of had a nice lemony/ginger smell to it.

But here's the fun bit. I was told to watch it until there was a steady stream of bubbles inside the jug (about 2 1/2 hours is all it took). Well bubbles started fizzing and I felt it was time to bottle them. I got some of the plastic kind of Sprite style bottles and got about 8 bottles worth of the stuff.

Well I let the bottles build up a good bit of pressure (they were about rock hard) and put them in the fridge before I went to work. I came back from work and they were nice and cold.

And then..... taste testing time! The batch I finished today was my second attempt but the first time I did it I had the same result.

The taste was.... less than stellar, there was no sweetness whatsoever, the ginger was non-existent, and there was this really weird sort of Ammonia/Sulfur/alcohol/yeast taste to it. It wasn't rancid tasting, but it was pretty darn hard to get down, I gagged every time I tried it. Although the fizziness was great! everything else...... wasn't.

I've tried twice and each time I get the same results, any help?

If it helps at all, the kind of taste I'm going to try to go for is Blenheim/Reeds. Not quite as spicy as Blenheim's number 3 but not quite as sweet as Reeds Extra ginger brew.

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Old 06-01-2011, 04:10 PM   #2
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So you let it ferment 2.5 hours, then bottled it?
That's a great way to make bottle bombs.

There will be no sweetness because all the sugar would be converted.

I wouldn't use Baker's yeast.
That much lemon juice would severely alter the pH.

I've never had a ginger beer, but judging by your recipe I'm not to surprised it wasn't that great.

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Old 06-01-2011, 04:17 PM   #3
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Did the lemon juice contain potasium sorbate (preservative)? If so, that can hinder fermentation and create a gross sulfury aroma. You said it had good carbonation so it appeared that it did ferment somewhat. I would try again with water, sugar, ginger and fresh lemon juice (squeezed). Try and use a 2 liter bottle with the cap on tight, once the bottles are hard put them in the fridge.

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Old 06-01-2011, 04:25 PM   #4
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and if you're looking for some 'sweetness', then you'll have to back-sweeten with an artificial sweetener --or-- kill the yeast with potassium sorbate, let it sit 24 hours and add sugar.

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Old 06-01-2011, 04:59 PM   #5
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When you say ginger beer, you mean like ginger ale (soda), or a ginger flavored beer? I'm assuming you mean a non-alcoholic ginger ale, since this recipe sounds very much like something I made once, a couple years back.

First, yeah, baker's yeast isn't the best thing to use. I used it too, when I made mine, and it definitely gives it a strong flavor.

If I remember correctly, when I did mine, I put it in a plastic soda bottle which I left out until the bottle was rock hard from carbonation. This took around 24 hours, but you have to watch it very carefully, because it can easily explode if you forget about it.

Then I refrigerated it. I remember it tasting okay. Not disgusting. Just like a very fresh, somewhat yeasty, ginger ale.

I think I used regular sugar in mine too. Could have been brown sugar.

When did you put the lemon juice in? If you boiled it, it may have caused it to taste off. Oh, and also, you may want to dissolve the sugar better in the boiling water.

Here's another recipe from food network for ginger ale: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/a...ipe/index.html

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Old 06-01-2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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If you were trying to make an alcoholic ginger beer, then you should have fermented more like 2-3 weeks, not 2.5 hours.

Brewing and conditioning takes mutliple weeks, if not months. It sounds like you gave this batch just a few hours or days, then tasted it. Of course it sucked....you didn't let anything happen!

You need to follow your same recepie as above, but let it ferment for 2-3 weeks at room temp. THEN, add about a quart of actual ginger ale to the overall mixture to backsweeten, THEN bottle. Let it condition in the bottle at room temperature for about 2-4 weeks to build carbonation. THEN refridgerate.

THEN you will have a good product. The whole process could take you as long as 6-8 weeks if you want a good ginger beer.

Go check out the cider forum if you have any questions. The process to make ginger beer would be the same as making hard cider, just with different ingredients.

Good luck!

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Old 06-01-2011, 05:25 PM   #7
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I'm pretty sure he was trying to make soda and not beer. Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer are usually non-alcoholic soda beverages. The "beer" being stronger (think imperial) in ginger/bite compared to the ale. I would recommend the soda forums and check out some recipes or look for insight there http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f95/. If you are in fact making beer (alcohol) then I apologize.

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Old 06-01-2011, 06:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drathbone View Post
I'm pretty sure he was trying to make soda and not beer. Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer are usually non-alcoholic soda beverages. The "beer" being stronger (think imperial) in ginger/bite compared to the ale. I would recommend the soda forums and check out some recipes or look for insight there http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f95/. If you are in fact making beer (alcohol) then I apologize.

I think you are right. This looks much more like a soda recipe. The OP is also using the yeast to carb, not ferment. But it sounds like he's simply not stopping the fermentation.
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Old 06-01-2011, 06:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IXVolt View Post
But it sounds like he's simply not stopping the fermentation.
With these soda recipes, putting it in the fridge is pretty much all you have to do to stop fermentation, though like you said, it's really more about carbonation than fermentation here. If anything, it actually sounds like he didn't give it enough carb time, as most recipes I've read say 24-48 hours.

I'm also quite sure he's making a soda. We're all just confused because it was in the beer section, and some of us never heard "ginger beer" in terms of soda before.

As for his off flavors, I'm really not sure. In my last post a gave a couple suggestions and questions. Not sure if any of it will help.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:21 AM   #10
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Hey guys, yes you are correct in the sense that I was not trying to make it alcoholic. I was attempting to make a soda esque ginger ale, I mentioned in the post that I'm trying to find a good recipe that reminiscent of Reeds Extra Ginger brew (not sure if you've tried it) and Blenheim Ginger Ale. Sorry for the confusion

Now to answer the questions....

I used squeezed lemon juice, I don't like the bottled kind as it has a weird sort of "plastic" flavor to it. So I don't think it contained Potassium sorbate.

As for what I'm trying to make I'm trying to make just straight out strong Ginger Ale, in the future I might go for Ginger flavored beer, but in this case specifically I was trying to avoid making it any sort of alcoholic, that's one reason I didn't let it sit for too long. Drathbone is correct, I'm not trying to make hooch just yet haha!

I put the lemon juice in when I boiled my ginger, from your responses it sounds like that might've been part of the reason it tasted off.

Since it seems like Baker's yeast isn't the best plan, what do you guys suggest I try to get my hands on for the carbonation? Or is there a better way to carbonate my brew?

Onipar, I'll try your suggestions and see what happens, I really want to get this recipe down and move on to other ones, I'm always up for exploring new elements.

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