How alcoholic is my ginger beer going to be?

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Immocles

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Hey folks, my wife has enlisted me to mix up some ginger beer. I found a recipe that seems simple enough, utilizing a homemade ginger bug. She hasn't drank alcohol for a few years, and I'm curious what kind of abv to expect? Is it similar to kombucha in that there is a small, negligible amount, or will this produce an actual 3-5% beer level abv?
I'll be following a recipe we found in a magazine for both the bug and the beer itself.

About a quart of beer (starting small):
4.25cups water
sliced/grated ginger
.5C sugar
.25C ginger bug liquid
Lemon juices

I'm looking to make this as non alcoholic as possible, but I realize alcohol is a by-product. The process seems similar to what I do with kombucha. Mix, add culture, let it sit about a week, taste, bottle if satisfied, let it carb for 2-3 days, fridge, enjoy. Will that yield the same under 1% abv as kombucha?

Thanks folks!
 

bugdry

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The alcohol content using a ginger bug will be negligible. If you don't let it ferment for a week and instead just bottle it after you add the bug. I tested to see the alcohol content i could get by fermenting it. I could not get the alcohol content above 2.5%. Using the same yeast i have used to make beer, i could easily get 5.5% after fermentation.
 

PiXeLaTeD

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At your current sugar content, fermented dry with good yeast you could attain 5+% alcohol. I would add my ginger bug, allow it to carbonate and, if not drinking quickly, stabilize with pasteurization (if you're using a good bottle) or maintain at near freezing temperatures. I use this tool to calculate sugar concentration versus potential alcohol.
https://www.distilling-spirits.com/tools/calculations/sugar-alcohol-conversion/
Good luck!
 
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a.s.painters

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righto..I just finished making a batch that knocks your socks of..basically, i used a mxture of champagne yeast and red wine yeast, used all fresh ingredients, ginger of course, lemons, limes, a red chilli even a little pineapple and some green apple slice, fairly heavily spiced on 1 occasion with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove powder, and pure vanilla.. i used brown sugars and even some golden syrup..i fed all this into the bug(i use a 6litre glass keg) i fed the above nutrients in usually every second day..i fed it well...my benchmark is it must be bubbling really well an hour later i allowed this bug to do this for 13 days, i use thin ginger slices so i can usually just open the tap and let the "mead" run out into a big jug then into bottles in the jug i add more sugar until sweet like soda..then bottle..then i put all bottles in dark cupboard with lids not only loosely, then every second day i tasted it will be dry again..funnel in more sugar to all bottles..taste again next few days..yeast still working, tasted dry again, add more sugar..i continued this for 5 days..then the 5th day i tightened the lids of one and it gassed up overnight..i havent done a formal calculation for alcohol content, However, i had to ease the stuff out with lime soda water as it tasted like ginger rocket fuel..with half half soda it tasted the bomb..really nice spicey and warm and i fell asleep after 3 glasses. knocked me into lala land. I realise the yeast should die at around 18% so it either peaked or somehow the yeast combo fought each other..not sure im not a microbiologist..but i am a alcoholic ginger beer fan and this makes a cracker bew for the lovers of alcohol
 

PiXeLaTeD

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Dang. Sounds like you are one step away from building a recipe of your own. ;)
So it knocked you out with three servings...what did the wife think?

I've never made a ginger beer above ten percent, and my usual flavor additions are chocolate malted barley and/or anise. I find that both contrast the brightness of the ginger flavor.

That rocket fuel flavor, though...almost like someone put a few drops of gasoline in the glass(?) - I always get that when I ferment with cinnamon. I am more keen on doing a pga extract of cinnamon sticks and adding that at the end of fermentation. Cinnamon has volatiles that act as antibiotics, as well. I've often wondered what that does to the yeast, but it could kill many delicate microorganisms in the ginger bug, as can such high alcohol percentages.

From what I understand, the yeast won't 'fight', but one might grow faster, consuming the oxygen in the wort(?) and reducing the amount available to an other type of yeast. Usually, lower alcohol strains reproduce faster at pitch, meaning that less oxygen would be available to your champagne yeast. This would likely be helped in bottling, but if left to sit in primary would likely slow the ending of high alcohol fermentation.
 

a.s.painters

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Dang. Sounds like you are one step away from building a recipe of your own. ;)
So it knocked you out with three servings...what did the wife think?

I've never made a ginger beer above ten percent, and my usual flavor additions are chocolate malted barley and/or anise. I find that both contrast the brightness of the ginger flavor.

That rocket fuel flavor, though...almost like someone put a few drops of gasoline in the glass(?) - I always get that when I ferment with cinnamon. I am more keen on doing a pga extract of cinnamon sticks and adding that at the end of fermentation. Cinnamon has volatiles that act as antibiotics, as well. I've often wondered what that does to the yeast, but it could kill many delicate microorganisms in the ginger bug, as can such high alcohol percentages.

From what I understand, the yeast won't 'fight', but one might grow faster, consuming the oxygen in the wort(?) and reducing the amount available to an other type of yeast. Usually, lower alcohol strains reproduce faster at pitch, meaning that less oxygen would be available to your champagne yeast. This would likely be helped in bottling, but if left to sit in primary would likely slow the ending of high alcohol fermentation.
 

a.s.painters

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My wife said it was too strong &wouldnt drink it. The star anise sounds interesting i might give that whirl..cheers..The whole project for the batch i mentioned was too see how far i could take it & i did pretty well, it wasnt un unpleasant or odd alcoholic taste..but like the old moonshine we would distill from the golden gate cask wine..just pure spirit alcohol taste very warm lol...anyhow I have a good lemon squash going at the moment its been fermenting 9 days now ive drank some along the way so i just now topped it up with another half kilo of sugar and 2 more litres of lemon juice and some B vitamins. its pretty strong too. I have a 10L glass keg running the Lemon squash, the neighbour loves it too. and yes its got a kick also.
 
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Immocles

Immocles

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I'd been having a heck of a time keeping a bug alive and bubbling. It starts to show some signs of life and then sort of fizzles out a day or so later. I'm telling myself that it was problems with temperatures ( quite cold at that point of the year ) and hoping to restart this experiment later this spring.

Any bug life support tips?
 

a.s.painters

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I'd been having a heck of a time keeping a bug alive and bubbling. It starts to show some signs of life and then sort of fizzles out a day or so later. I'm telling myself that it was problems with temperatures ( quite cold at that point of the year ) and hoping to restart this experiment later this spring.

Any bug life support tips?
hi mate yes i see that happen sometimes whrre it slows down. Are you feeding plenty nutrients in? there needs to be nutrient as well as sugar for example with my ginger beer recipe i found adding a bit of fresh apple and sometimes pear the little yeasties love it when you add a bit more varietyIof fruit there is a broader nutrient base so keep the sugar up also i use heaps and be sure the temp is within preferred range or even better find out the sweet spot for the type of yeast you use. Some.yeasts do.seem slower than others. Also be sure.to keep the plant out of sunlight keep it in a cupboard and i leave a thermometer on top of mine. The plant needs air so make sure it can get air..i have a filter cloth over my plants secured with big rubber bands..mix the plant daily and.i.often pump in air with a clean bike pump that has an extension whip on it. the plants are hard to kill so at a guess your just needs some.troubleshooting it could be on aspect you attend.to and bang your bubbling hard again. ps. i have been using b vitamins and drop one or two of them in that seems to liven things up.
 
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Immocles

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Well I started a new one earlier this week. Had a bit better luck this time but it did start to slow way down on the 4th day. I ran out of ginger (doh!), so im going to try and slice up a bit of pear to give it some nutrient when I feed it next. I took a quick taste on the bug just recently and it tastes tart. Not sour/spoiled/bad, slightly sweet but sort of just a tart bite like lemon juice. Am I possibly underfeeding it? Im fairly certain my past failures tasted sweet with a syrup like consistency.
 
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a.s.painters

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Well I started a new one earlier this week. Had a bit better luck this time but it did start to slow way down on the 4th day. I ran out of ginger (doh!), so im going to try and slice up a bit of pear to give it some nutrient when I feed it next. I took a quick taste on the bug just recently and it tastes tart. Not sour/spoiled/bad, slightly sweet but sort of just a tart bite like lemon juice. Am I possibly underfeeding it? Im fairly certain my past failures tasted sweet with a syrup like consistency.
yes mate my advice would be if it tastes tart the yeasts are starving
 

draftvader

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Got to jump in here. I have regularly brewed to 6.5% with ginger bug. I live in Thailand but hibernate my bug between brews at 3c. I tend to bring it out the day before pitching and feed it once. I pitch about 10ml per litre of well mixed liquid to get the yeast up off the floor of my container. Once everything is together I brew at 18c in my temperature controlled fridge.

Right, so that's something but......I have been making some cider with it. Lovely stuff. I use a mix of Jazz and Granny Smith then flavour with either passionfruit, mango or peach (all ladies' favourites....though many men (secretly) love the stuff too).

All well and good....until right now. I have 2 batches of cider going. Batch 1 - Passionfruit. Batch 2 - Peach.

Batch 1 - Busy day, forget to take my OG and forgot to add sugar. No big deal, same blend of apples from the same supplier on the same day for Batch 2.

Batch 2 - Bought it up to 1.050 with added sugar from 1.035.

Knowing the Batch 1 (passionfruit and peach produce similar sugar levels in my experience) was around 1.035 I pitched sugar to raise to 1.050.

Fast forward a week.

Batch 1 - 1.000 (never see below this with ginger bug)
Batch 2 - 1.000

Perfect, I think. It's done it's job, that's the ceiling I've found. So I backsweeten with more sugar to bring around 3% sugar (about right sweetness for me). Check gravity 2 days later......

1.000 !!!!! Right, so it's happy.....hmmmm.....adds same sugar again to bring to 3% sugar.

2 days later...... yep, it's had that lot as well!!!!!! My calculations show that we are now near 8%. I have backsweetened again and will keep you posted. Unless anybody can see problems in my calculations then I'm really hoping we stop now because if it has that lot we are at 10%.

Now, I know, I can arrest the yeast (and will do in future) but I thought this was just too good an experiment to give up on.

Any bets? ;)
 
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draftvader

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So, handed my bug to a very talented, former commercial, brewer friend. He used it to make ginger bug moonshine. On the first stage he took it to 16%!!!!!! This is a very controlled environment but I was totally shocked.....as was he.
 

Vivalamia

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righto..I just finished making a batch that knocks your socks of..basically, i used a mxture of champagne yeast and red wine yeast, used all fresh ingredients, ginger of course, lemons, limes, a red chilli even a little pineapple and some green apple slice, fairly heavily spiced on 1 occasion with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove powder, and pure vanilla.. i used brown sugars and even some golden syrup..i fed all this into the bug(i use a 6litre glass keg) i fed the above nutrients in usually every second day..i fed it well...my benchmark is it must be bubbling really well an hour later i allowed this bug to do this for 13 days, i use thin ginger slices so i can usually just open the tap and let the "mead" run out into a big jug then into bottles in the jug i add more sugar until sweet like soda..then bottle..then i put all bottles in dark cupboard with lids not only loosely, then every second day i tasted it will be dry again..funnel in more sugar to all bottles..taste again next few days..yeast still working, tasted dry again, add more sugar..i continued this for 5 days..then the 5th day i tightened the lids of one and it gassed up overnight..i havent done a formal calculation for alcohol content, However, i had to ease the stuff out with lime soda water as it tasted like ginger rocket fuel..with half half soda it tasted the bomb..really nice spicey and warm and i fell asleep after 3 glasses. knocked me into lala land. I realise the yeast should die at around 18% so it either peaked or somehow the yeast combo fought each other..not sure im not a microbiologist..but i am a alcoholic ginger beer fan and this makes a cracker bew for the lovers of alcohol
Great method! Do you mean you put the bottles in a dark cupboard with lids on loose? As in not screwed on tightly? Thanks
 
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