Batch #8-09: real Ginger Beer

Style Ginger Beer
  1. 2 Lemons
  2. 1 Lime
  3. 8oz Ginger Root (about enough to match your fist in size)
  4. 1 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  5. 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  6. pinch of Allspice
  7. 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  8. 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (can subsitute with a pinch of cinnamon bark)
  9. 2 whole cloves
Brewing Date: Saturday, July 25, 09
Primary Fermentation: Saturday, July 25, 09
Original Gravity: 1.020
Secondary Fermentation: n/a
Bottling Date: Monday, August 3, 09
Final Gravity: 1.001
Release Date: Friday, August 14, 09
Alcohol by volume: 2.5% ABV


This is a second attempt at making Ginger Beer using a slight variation of the recipe for batch #02-09.  Rather than try to let the yeast make a non-alcoholic version of Ginger Beer, I increased the amount of cane sugar, diluted the mixture with 1.5 gallons of water to make 2.5 gallons, and I am allowing the mixture to fully ferment.  Whether or not this will eliminate the horrible yeast smell in the original batch is unknown, but the diluted mixture has a very good, smooth, light taste.  If the fermenting process fails to yield a drinkable batch, at least I know I have good recipe for non-carbonated ginger beer.

The mixture was 83deg F when I pitched the yeast (an ale yeast), and it is also being fermented using the swamp method (which appears to have worked well in the last batch of American Light).  OG: 1.020

29 Jul 2009:: the yeast shows no signs of activity, although it appears to have been doing something at some point.  I will be bottling this sometime on Saturday.  The aroma is good, with the yeast odor nowhere near as strong as the first try.  Fingers are crossed.

03 Aug 2009 8:30PM :: Because this is an experimental batch, I bottled the batch into 12 recycled Pelligrino water bottles, using 1/4 tsp of corn sugar in each for a little priming.  The taste of the ginger beer has a very light yeasty sting, but it is nowhere near overpowering.  It also very, very dry on the palate.  It is drinkable, but definitely an acquired taste.  There is virtually no sweetness which you would find in a non-alcoholic ginger beer.  I’m going to let it condition in the bottles for about 10 days to see what improvements, if any, occur.

23 Aug 2009 5:30PM :: The bottles have developed quite a bit of carbonation.  I accidentally jostled the plastic bin containing the bottles, and knocked one over inside the bin.  It was following by a very loud pop!  One of the bottles actually shot the cap off so hard, it bent on impact.  At least it didn’t break.  Another bottle, after I took the cap off, shot a stream of fluid up like a geyser.  It looked just like a shaken bottle of champagne popping open on New Years (or after a NASCAR race).

The taste is still very dry, almost Gin like.  I discovered that if I add a bit of lemon, the remaining yeast odor almost completely disappears, and the taste improves quite a bit.

So overall, I rate this batch a marginal success.  I will revisit it later, with another recipe.  I guess I really like Ginger Beer that much.

Maintenance note: Because I am not sure what effect this batch, and previous batches have had on the fermentation bucket and the bottling bucket, I decided to fill them with 3 gallons of water injected with 5 tablespoons of bleach, and store them sealed with the airlocks as if I was brewing.  Normally, I would just store the buckets open after washing them, and sanitizing them before use.  I am hoping this way of storing the buckets will eliminate any residual yeast odors and flavors that may be trying to become part of the plastic itself.