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-   -   Real Ginger Beer, and how much alcohol can the plant tolerate? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f95/real-ginger-beer-how-much-alcohol-can-plant-tolerate-223086/)

dinnerstick 02-05-2011 10:31 AM

Real Ginger Beer, and how much alcohol can the plant tolerate?
i don't know if this is the right forum for this discussion but i am wondering if anyone knows how much alcohol a real ginger beer plant (Saccharomyces florentinus and Lactobacillus hilgardii) can tolerate. Most recipes i have seen aim for a percentage around 2%, and i appreciate that it's meant to be more of a soda than a boozy drink, but i want to try a stronger brew and i can't find any information on how far i can push it. Anyone?


FireDancer 02-05-2011 12:54 PM

I got curious and found this wiki page which suggests ABV up to 11%.
Sounds like fun. Let us know how it goes.

Rippt530 02-05-2011 04:26 PM

I just brewed some with real Ginger and I think the origional gravity was 1071 and it is primary now. I used us05 yeast. I have the recipe at home and will post it later today around 330 pm est

dinnerstick 02-05-2011 04:49 PM

i just got this strain of ginger beer plant and don't want to poison it off on the first brew, so i started with 1.038 which fermented dry can only give around 5%. assuming this stuff converts all the sugar to ethanol. my recipe was:
fresh ginger, about the size of my total thumb inventory, that being two thumbs of about average thumb size.
half a lemon, peeled
a few shakes cayenne pepper
100 g demerara sugar
juiced the ginger and lemon in my kitchen juicer. dissolved the sugar in some poor-man's-dechlorinated water (ie left out overnight). combined everything to a final volume of about 1L and added the ginger beer plant, which came dehydrated and had been revived by a few days dip in sugar water. after 24h it is starting to fizz a bit and the globby chunks of the plant are starting to bob around as they should. more details to follow

Rippt530 02-05-2011 07:53 PM

start with 2 gallon tap water in pot

added .5 pack of us-05 yeast to seperate vessel at 90F with 3 tsp sugar

lots of ginger sliced into 1/32 (1mm?) discs with a sharp knife
.5 packed cups of ginger
6.5 cups sugar
20 cloves
1 lemon juice
1 lemon zest

added 2 c. ginger before boil started
bring to boil
boil time 1 hr (like a wort)

@55 min: 1/2 c ginger + 5 cloves
@30 min: 1/2 c ginger + 1 lemon juice + 1 lemon zest
@10 min: 1/2 c ginger + 10 cloves

strained mixture
brought back to boil (sanitation)

gravity now 1092 @94F

brought down to 76F and diluted with tap water (we have hard water here) to 2 gallons @ 1070

Pitched yeast and into two 1-gallon bottles w/ blow off tubes

it lagged quite a bit as I think the yeast either:
1. don't like acid (lemon)
2. too little (it was really more like .3 pack of yeast
3. it's some high gravity stuff and they got distracted
4. something else (feel free to post a funny or useful comment)

so lag was about 16-24 hours (time I was at work)

Now at 70 hours and a whole bunch of activity 1 bubble per 5 seconds.

Updates to come.

So in short no idea about the plant but worst case scenario pitch some ale yeast and see what happens. I know it will ruin the plant but you will get activity. Also once you have the plant ready to go I need some :grin: !

Please don't duplicate what I did as I am new to brewing this is just a fun attempt and a reason to play with equipment. Unless it's good. Then we should all make a lot. Then drink it.

dinnerstick 02-06-2011 10:09 AM

when this batch is done and carbed up i will sample it blindfolded, then without the blindfold, and then in a dark and stormy with some havana club dark rum and some cubes of ice, until i feel blindfolded, and then (the next day) i will make two batches, one with the ginger beer plant, which is simply strained off the previous brew and added to the next, and one with some leftover safale04 yeast. then i can report on the differences between these, after i drink them. i can only make small batches since the plant is pretty small and i have a feeling it would take too long to ferment a large brew, opening the door for all kinds of nasties since nothing is sterile

Rippt530 02-06-2011 11:17 AM

I understand I was just using some safale us-05 to get it out of the fridge, and get acquainted with my hydrometer. At roughly 85 hours now and still have a lot of activity. Keep me updated and I will too.

On a side note I think I will be leaving the sugar content in the fermenter so that I can use the remaining for carbonation, and some sugar flavor.

dinnerstick 02-08-2011 06:57 AM

I just 'bottled' my first batch. since i am really shooting for a refreshing soda-type drink on my first batch i bottled at around 1.029, very sweet, low alc. the plant was still waking up from being dehydrated and was finally really starting to work. the little globs of stuff bob up and down in the brew looking freaky and ominous. strained them off and bottled to plastic carbonated water bottles. i am not going for anything classy on the first batch. the stuff tastes amazing. sweet, lively even though it's not carbed up, hot at the finish from the ginger, which has been nicely subdued by the ferment, sour notes from the lemon and presumably from the lacto? overnight the bottles are already getting pretty firm to the touch. very promising that fermentation carries on nicely after straining off the plant.

Rippt530 02-09-2011 08:47 PM

mine stalled at about 1.040 and I pitched some slurry from an IPA, it is still blubbing around now. I stole a bit from gallon jug number 1 and it seems perfect, yet a bit sweet. I added some seltzer and it was great. I will see how far it will go without it getting bitter or too alcoholic.

Now just pulled both gallons out at 1.037, no activity from the added yeast. Just bottled one gallon and pitched another slurry into the other and put in a warmer part of the house.

I placed the bottles in a pail in case they bomb on me.

dinnerstick 02-12-2011 02:08 PM

all right, i'm sold on this stuff. if you want to make real low alcohol ginger beer, get yourself a ginger beer plant. i don't think this will be the best way to make a knock-your-socks-off boozy version but for young fresh lively 1-2% ginger beer in a few days, get yourself a plant!! i bottled my first one after two or three days of fermenting (in a soda bottle), it carbed up very quickly, and it's excellent. spicy, sweet, tart and fizzy. the fizz and ginger bang gave me the hiccups. there is very little lees since the active yeast/bacteria stay together in the big lumpy conglomerates, so there's no clearing time. it ferments slowly so it's very easy to control sugar level. 2 or 3 days fermenting a liter or two, then transfer the plant to the next batch, on and on like that and you are bottling a few bottles every few days. or you can put it to rest in low % sugar water. i still don't know how vigorously it will ferment after removal of the plant, but it's still active enough to carb up in 2 days. so i have 1 more trial going where i got it to about 2% alcohol and removed the plant around 1.040, will monitor gravity for a few days. i got my plant from this place:
i have no connection to them or anything to gain by advertising them but they were very good, friendly and they ship worldwide, 20 pounds gbp not cheap but it's good stuff
i intend to post some recipes using the plant once i have experimented some more

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