Ginger Beer

Batch 2 of my ginger beer is almost done so I thought I’d do a bit of a write up on the recipe. Ginger beer is very cheap to make and requires very little equipment, at its cheapest you can brew it in bottles (With a bit of care taken to avoid an explosion) using bread yeast. I’v been brewing my ginger beer in a demijohn with an air lock, this gets rid of the possibility of an explosion due to pressure build up, it also allows me to lower the risk of bacteria and oxidation destroying the drink as well.

You may be wondering how can brewing ginger beer lead to an explosion? When brewing, yeast is used to convert Sugar to CO2 (Carbon-dioxide)  and Alcohol, if you brew in sealed environment like a bottle, the CO2 cannot escape this leads to a pressure build up and eventually explosion, if you’re using glass this can be very dangerous.

I looked at several recipes when designing my first batch, most of them are designed for people with no brewing equipment:

The recipe I eventually set on was one I found on a forum:

Two lemons
450gms sugar
8 pints (4.4litres) of water (enough to fill a demi-john)
Flat teaspoonful of Dried Yeast
100gm Fresh root ginger
Two heaped tea spoons of tartaric acid (Cream of Tartar)

A large pan that can boil four and a half litres of water
A jug
A glass
A coarse cheese grater
A wooden spoon
A 1 gallon demijohn
A bubble seal for the demijohn
A lemon juicer
A lemon zester
A fine sieve
9 glass or plastic bottles of 500ml volume with screw caps (eg plastic coke bottles)

1. Put 8 pints of water in the large pan and bring it to the boil
2. While the water is coming to the boil…
scrape the zest from one of the lemons
grate the ginger on the coarse cheese grater
add the sugar to the ginger and lemon zest in a bowl
cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the jug
add the tartaric acid to the lemon juice
put the yeast into some warm water with a little sugar in a glass
3. When the water has boiled ….
add the sugar, ginger and lemon zest to the water, turn off the heat and stir
allow the water to cool to roughly blood heat, stirring occasionally
add the lemon juice and tartaric acid to the water
add the yeast mixture
4. Use the jug to pour the mixture into the demi-john
5. Seal the demijohn with the bubble seal
6. Stand the demijohn in a warm place for 48 hrs at a bubble rate of 40/minute
7. After 48 hrs pour the mixture through the sieve into the jug and fill the bottles leaving an air gap for the pressure to build up in. Screw the caps tightly onto the bottles (8 pints (4.5l) should fill 9 bottles)
8. Leave the bottles at room temperature for 24 hrs
9. Put the bottles in the fridge for 2-3 days to allow the yeast to settle (failure to do this may result in an explosion!)

1. Open the bottles slowly to release the gas
2. Pour the whole of a bottle into glasses, as any gingerbeer remaining in the bottle will contain quite a lot of yeast.
3. Drink
The ginger beer made this way should be fizzy and fairly sweet.
If you ferment the mixture in the demijohn for longer than 48 hrs then the alcohol content will increase at the expense of the sweetness – try different times to suit your taste.

I slightly deviated from the method after bottling  by only leaving it 12hrs at room temp to make sure I was safe using glass.

For my second batch I decided to go a bit crazy and use a lot of ginger as I felt the last one was quiet weak:

For 1 Imperial Gallon (8 pints):
200g Dextrose (brewing sugar)
500g Lactose (milk sugar)
225g Ginger
1 lemon zest
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
1/4 tsp creme of tarter
wine yeast (Had no ale yeast in)
OG 1.060sg

I’m also allowing it to ferment for much longer (about a week) because of this I’ve used a lot more suger, I’ve also included lactose (a form of sugar found in milk) which does not ferment so it sweetens the drink unlike the dextrose which is eaten by the yeast; I used 500g as I was unsure how much I would need, it didn’t taste very sweet so I opted to use a lot and see how it turns out.

My recipe is obviously a work in progress; I’m going to alter it slowly after every batch and work towards a recipe that suits me. I’ll post an update once it’s ready to drink with my thoughts on it’s taste and what adjustments I think will be needed for batch 3.

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