GINGERED ALE - a home-brew fable

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Dec 19, 2015
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I wandered into the supermarket, looking for a little thumb-size piece of ginger to use in the dinner recipe. They were all out of the bulk ginger, so I had to buy a pound of the organic ginger in the clamshell box. I thought to myself, “I’ll NEVER use all of this .... wait a minute....” Ninkasi slapped me upside the head and I went to my LHBS. It was an unscheduled, unplanned brew, so I decided to keep it simple and work with extract. I did what I used to do when I first started brewing: preboiled, cooled and froze 2 gallons of water in gallon pitchers, boiled 4 gallons of wort down to 3, then added the ice blocks & let them melt. It finished cooling overnight & I pitched the yeast the next day.

Decided to go for a wheat-wit-kinda-thing so I settled on 3lbs of Briess Bavarian Wheat DME & 2 lbs of Briess Golden Light DME (threw the third pound from the 3 lb bag of Golden Light in my supply for making yeast starters). Since the Bavarian Wheat DME is 35% barley malt, that puts me pretty close to 50/50. I added ½ lb of corn sugar the last 10 minutes of the boil to boost the alcohol & dry it out a little.

I looked at the grab-bag of hops in the freezer, and settled on some Lemondrop and a little Apollo for a citrusy kick I thought would play well with the wheat & the ginger. I boiled the hops for 30 min. If my guesstimate was correct and they’d been in the freezer (previously opened, original bag re-sealed and stored in a plastic freezer bag) long enough to lose around 25% of their potency, I should have ended up with 30 to 40 IBUs.

I peeled & chopped the nearly-1 pound of ginger (which was a bit laborious – I was glad not to be grinding & mashing too) and ended up with about 9.5 ounces. I pressure cooked the ginger in a couple cups of water for 2 minutes in the Instant Pot and held warm for 2 hours while the boiling & initial cooling took place. I strained the ginger extract into the carboy & added the mostly-cooled wort.

I didn’t want to fuss with liquid yeast either, so I decided to try K-97 for this one, which promised “subtle” fermentation character. I didn’t want squeaky-clean, but didn’t want bananas & cloves either. Fermentation took place at around 68°, cool enough that this yeast would not get too “expressive.”

Guess what .... it’s heeellllaaa good. Smooth & creamy, lemony and - GINGERY! May try this again all-grain when I have time.
Good call on the yeast. K-97 can sometimes throw some tartness, but that would be no problem in this beer. And it takes forever to clear, but I bet ginger does too.

Whole Foods seems to sell both minced ginger and ginger juice. I'm tempted to try one of those, because there's just no way I'm willing to peel and chop a pound of ginger.

For all grain I'm thinking 40/40/20 Vienna, white wheat, and flaked something-or-other. Citrus hops in my freezer are Lotus and Bergamot.

Might try this tomorrow.