Have I made a dangerous ginger beer??

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Pwntang

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Hi Guys,

Recently I thought I'd try making some ginger beer. I made a mix using ginger, honey, molasses, lemon juice and sugar and put it all into a 1 gallon demijohn.

The gravity before I added the yeast was 1.040. I've been busy lately and not done anything with it for 2 and a half weeks so it's been left to ferment. Fermentation was pretty vigorous to begin with, then it died down after about a week, now there is no activity at all.

Now, when I drop the hydrometer in, it sinks completely to the bottom of the demijohn and I can't take a reading as it's totally submerged. Does that mean I've produced a ginger beer with a lethal alcohol content??

Many thanks

Pwn.
 

PintOfBitter

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RAD. sounds like you have some floor wax remover.

just kidding. with an OG of 1.040 there is no way the alcohol could possibly go over a few percent. something is wrong with your equipment...
 

Revvy

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RAD. sounds like you have some floor wax remover.

just kidding. with an OG of 1.040 there is no way the alcohol could possibly go over a few percent. something is wrong with your equipment...
Yeah, rather than dropping your hydrometer in your fermenter why don't you draw a sample out of the demijohn and take a reading of that.
 

Tinga

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is there a crack in your hydrometer filling with your brew?
 
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Pwntang

Pwntang

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Thanks for all the replies. I'll try and answer each one...

1. I'm pretty confident my equipment is okay
2. I can try drawing a sample and testing that
3. It's totally submerged. The top of the hydrometer is about 2 inches under the surface
4. No, there is no crack.
 

Tinga

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alright here is what we do. get a lab rat and make him run on the wheel. observe. then make him drink some of your beer in question. then observe him running on the wheel again. if he gets pulled over no good.
 

turtleboy3737

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as I understand beer yeast will generally die before the beer gets alcoholic enough to harm a person
 

Malintent

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do you see liquid inside the bulb of the hydrometer?
what is the scale of the tool (how low WOULD it measure)?
what does the tool read on a glass of tap water?
 

TheWeeb

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very cool thread, inspired me to do a very unscientific test, so I dropped my hydrometer into the bottle of cheap vodka that I use in airlocks. It floated with about 1/4 inch of the tip above the level of the vodka. Off scale for sure; but even at 40% ABV was still visible. Two inches under the surface... wow!
 

FreeM80s

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Hi Guys,

Recently I thought I'd try making some ginger beer. I made a mix using ginger, honey, molasses, lemon juice and sugar and put it all into a 1 gallon demijohn.

The gravity before I added the yeast was 1.040. I've been busy lately and not done anything with it for 2 and a half weeks so it's been left to ferment. Fermentation was pretty vigorous to begin with, then it died down after about a week, now there is no activity at all.

Now, when I drop the hydrometer in, it sinks completely to the bottom of the demijohn and I can't take a reading as it's totally submerged. Does that mean I've produced a ginger beer with a lethal alcohol content??

Many thanks

Pwn.
only one way to find out now. drink some, then tell us if you die :mug:
 
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Pwntang

Pwntang

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Q. do you see liquid inside the bulb of the hydrometer?
A. None

Q. what is the scale of the tool (how low WOULD it measure)?
A. 0984

Q. what does the tool read on a glass of tap water?
A. 1000
 

TheWeeb

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a rip in the space-time continuum, the vortex, the dead zone, unobtainium. . ..
 

Tinga

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Q. do you see liquid inside the bulb of the hydrometer?
A. None

Q. what is the scale of the tool (how low WOULD it measure)?
A. 0984

Q. what does the tool read on a glass of tap water?
A. 1000
dayum. got me stumped. not that that is saying much but it's pretty bazaar. my only guess is that you got some sort of infection and it produced some other chemical that is throwing off your gravity. Although i think you would have noticed an infection. you should post pics for our amusement.
 

Malintent

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just had a thought. What temperature is the beer at? you need to add something like 2 points per 10 degrees (?? I forget exactly ??) If your FG is 1.001 and the beer is at 35 degrees, then it would measure 0.960 - significantly below your scale.
 

Ciliorozo

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dayum. got me stumped. not that that is saying much but it's pretty bazaar. my only guess is that you got some sort of infection and it produced some other chemical that is throwing off your gravity. Although i think you would have noticed an infection. you should post pics for our amusement.
+1 on posting of pics. I would like to see this submerged Hydrometer. :)
 

throwbookatface

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Did you have a target gravity in mind for your impromptu ginger beer? I feel like those one-off 1-gallon experimental batches aren't even worth getting gravity readings on, especially if you're having fun with a weirdo recipe.

I say bottle it soon and hope for the best! Be sure to take notes of the ingredients, though, as you may want to make it again!
 

malkore

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how's it taste?
with all that simple sugar, it doesn't surprise me its that dry.

if you have enough alcohol and no residual sugar, 0.999 or below isn't crazy. Wines start over 1.080 and often end around .995 and 12%

this was just sugar, water, sugar water, reduced sugar, and yeast. NOTHING to give any body, just alcohol and water.
 

oldmate

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Reminds me of my experimental cider. The OG and FG were not helpful AT ALL.
 

billc68

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Post the exact recipe... I have some yeast to use up , I'll see if I get the same results.

I am sur ethere is nothing in that can harm you, but curious, none the less.
See if it freezes, if it does even partially you know it is not Vodka strength.
 
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Pwntang

Pwntang

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Post the exact recipe... I have some yeast to use up , I'll see if I get the same results.

I am sur ethere is nothing in that can harm you, but curious, none the less.
See if it freezes, if it does even partially you know it is not Vodka strength.
Here's what I used:

4 Litres of boiling water
300g white sugar
100g honey
2 table spoons of molasses
76g ground ginger
3tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Nutmeg
150ml lemon juice
7g bakers yeast

Let us know how it goes! I'll bottle mine asap and post the results.
 

PintOfBitter

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this is completely bizarre... if the info you've given is correct, the density of your brew is below that of water, something that generally only happens with dry, high alcohol beverages. If your OG truly was 1.040, that simply cannot be the case.

If there was a large volume of CO2 suspended in the brew (as in bubbles, not dissolved into the liquid), that would drop the SG quite a bit. was it fizzy when you did this?

EDIT:

I'm in a beer frame of mind. Your recipe is all highly fermentable. Your FG probably has dropped below what your hydrometer can measure. You may want to get a hydro. with a different scale if you'll be brewing this kind of thing a lot.
 

Yooper

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this is completely bizarre... if the info you've given is correct, the density of your brew is below that of water, something that generally only happens with dry, high alcohol beverages. If your OG truly was 1.040, that simply cannot be the case.

If there was a large volume of CO2 suspended in the brew (as in bubbles, not dissolved into the liquid), that would drop the SG quite a bit. was it fizzy when you did this?

EDIT:

I'm in a beer frame of mind. Your recipe is all highly fermentable. Your FG probably has dropped below what your hydrometer can measure. You may want to get a hydro. with a different scale if you'll be brewing this kind of thing a lot.
You guys are thinking beer. Wines, meads, ciders, etc, all routinely finish at .990. Alcohol IS lighter than water.

With an OG of 1.040, and a FG of .990 (can't be lower- impossible) you have an ABV of 6.55%. I'm not sure why your hydromter is acting up, but I'm certain that your Fg is .990-.994 or so.

(OG-FG) x 131 = ABV. That's how I came up with 6.55%. Very common reading for cider.
 

TheWeeb

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+1 on Yooper. We are all probably using the same type of hydrometer; mine has a scale that goes down to .980 then about a half an inch of glass to the tip. As I posted before, I floated mine in Vodka @40% and the glass tip of the hydrometer was just above the surface. For his to be "two inches below" the surface has nothing to do with alcohol content.
 

gratefuldisc

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looking close at your picture, it looks like the stem of the hydrometer is sticking way up out of the carboy, and the paper tube with the scale on it inside has slid all the way down to the weight at the bottom of the hydrometer. However it is hard to see from the picture and your reading of water at 1.000 contradicts this. I'm thinking defective hydrometer.
 

Yooper

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looking close at your picture, it looks like the stem of the hydrometer is sticking way up out of the carboy, and the paper tube with the scale on it inside has slid all the way down to the weight at the bottom of the hydrometer. However it is hard to see from the picture and your reading of water at 1.000 contradicts this. I'm thinking defective hydrometer.
It looks like the hydrometer is encased in something. Does it have a case stuck to it?
 

TheWeeb

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I can't help but raise the bullsh1t flag on this one...
 

HodgsonsBrewer

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Test out your hydrometer in water. Then pull a sample of your beer and check it outside of the demijon. My money is on a busted hydrometer.
 
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