Ginger Beer (alcoholic) Tips

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madelinez

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I've been making some (alcoholic) ginger beer after harvesting a huge amount of ginger from my parent's property. So far I've been using a mixture of ginger, glucose, lactose, Tahitian lime and champagne yeast. The idea being the yeast will convert most of the glucose into alcohol and CO2 (for carbonation) and the lactose will remain untouched and continue to sweeten the drink. This combination can offer a very high ABV given enough glucose and time due to the champagne yeast converting almost all glucose until it hits at least 15% or the ph goes out of balance.

I've been creating the ginger syrup by heating grated ginger, sugars, water and lime juice and letting them steep for an hour before straining. I then mix it with fresh water and champagne yeast straight into flip top beer bottles which I keep at room temperature (15-26 degrees) for a week (venting the CO2 every 2 days to prevent the bottles exploding). I'm still having problems getting the carbonation right as I keep venting until no further reaction is occurring (to prevent glass grenades). Once I feel the reaction has stopped I refrigerate (4 degrees Celsius) which should keep the bottles stable for a month I think. Other than the occasionally flat bottle this has been a really fun project though, I'd love to hear what tips people have, I know my current process is very basic.
 

Blerghle

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I've been making some (alcoholic) ginger beer after harvesting a huge amount of ginger from my parent's property. So far I've been using a mixture of ginger, glucose, lactose, Tahitian lime and champagne yeast. The idea being the yeast will convert most of the glucose into alcohol and CO2 (for carbonation) and the lactose will remain untouched and continue to sweeten the drink. This combination can offer a very high ABV given enough glucose and time due to the champagne yeast converting almost all glucose until it hits at least 15% or the ph goes out of balance.

I've been creating the ginger syrup by heating grated ginger, sugars, water and lime juice and letting them steep for an hour before straining. I then mix it with fresh water and champagne yeast straight into flip top beer bottles which I keep at room temperature (15-26 degrees) for a week (venting the CO2 every 2 days to prevent the bottles exploding). I'm still having problems getting the carbonation right as I keep venting until no further reaction is occurring (to prevent glass grenades). Once I feel the reaction has stopped I refrigerate (4 degrees Celsius) which should keep the bottles stable for a month I think. Other than the occasionally flat bottle this has been a really fun project though, I'd love to hear what tips people have, I know my current process is very basic.
Sounds awesome. I've been meaning to try making ginger beer after reading about the process in The Art of Fermentation a few years ago. I certainly understand your caution, having been in a kitchen where the chef had tightly sealed a growler with live vinegar leading to quite the explosion!

If this is just for your own consumption, maybe try using plastic bottles, since that would allow you to feel the pressure level and more confidently allow the carbonation to build up? (There are downsides to plastic, but it does have that practical benefit.)
 

LostHighway

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For hard apple cider Champagne yeast is fairly aggressive. The result tends to be quite dry and with not too much apple character left but I've never attempted to make ginger beer. You might try initially transferring into a fermentation vessel of some sort with a liquid (water) airlock (CO2 can get out but air can't get in) until the really aggressive fermentation subsides and then transferring into bottles. The airlock might even not be necessary if you have plenty of yeast activity the CO2 blanket alone is fairly effective in preventing contaminants from entering. Many old school European breweries used open fermenters and some still do. IME with beer brewing and cider making wild ferments yield the most complex flavor profiles but you may also get batches you have to dump because they developed the wrong microbial ecosystem.
 

madelinez

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It's primarily for my consumption but I do plan on sharing with work colleagues once the experimentation phase is over. I think at this stage PET bottles are probably my best bet until I fully understand the process, thanks for the advice @Blerghle.

The next thing I'm going to try is replacing half of the lactose with stevia (on a per sweetness factor, not weight). I want to try this for two reasons, firstly reduced calories, secondly the lactose adds a bit of body and it's not just sweet, there's something else there too. I'm hoping by mixing lactose and stevia I'll get closer to classic ginger beer without having to back sweeten with the bonus of reduced calories.

I'll also have to give open fermentation a go...
 

Michi

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PET bottles have the advantage that you can see when pressure builds up because, eventually, they start bulging. If that happens, I would loosen the cap very lightly with the bottle inside a plastic bag, otherwise you'll have a royal mess on your hands.
 
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