Fermenting Ginger Beer to Dry vs. Stopping Early

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New Member
Sep 3, 2023
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Hello, beginner here.

Is there a significant difference between allowing a ginger beer to ferment until dry and then adding more sugar for bottle conditioning and sweetening, versus simply adding enough sugar at the start to accommodate the fermentation and the carbonation through bottle conditioning, whilst still leaving enough for sweetness after it has been cold-crashed?

I made my first batch in this latter way and it was fine, but everyone seems to advise the former. If I'd allowed my brew to ferment to dry I think I'd have had something like 13% ABV, but instead I stopped it at around 6.5% when it still had a nice level of sweetness.

This is in the context of a small and very amateur homebrew set up of course. Presumably it makes more sense for several reasons at scale. My batches are/will be small enough to keep refrigerated and will be consumed all too promptly, so I'm not overly concerned about fermentation restarting.

There is a significant risk of bottle bombs with the latter method. This is no hyperbole. Explosions with glass shrapnel.

Cold crashing does slow yeast down, but it does not stop not to mention kill the yeast.

Fermenting to dry then adding a non-fermentable sugar for sweetening plus a fermentable sugar for carbonating is the safe way to go about it.

You can dial back the sugar in the recipe to arrive at your preferred ABV. For example, I make both ~6% carbed mead with 1#/G and ~13% still mead with 3#/G. Both are fermented dry before bottling.