Sunday, July 22, 2012

Homebrewed Ginger Beer

I started brewing kombucha at home several years ago now, and just recently became interested in expanding a bit further into other naturally fermented beverages (and foods!) Sourdough wasn't the biggest success for me, but a recent attempt at sauerkraut came out absolutely fantastic and has led me into a bit of an obsession. Oops.

I've been loving ginger beers for some time now, and the more I saw how simple the list of ingredients was the more I knew it was something I wanted to experiment with on my own. I recently picked up a copy of Wild Fermentation and the first recipe I found myself drawn to was of course- one for ginger beer.

I found this recipe unique, wherein most recipes for ginger beer that I've seen online rely on the addition of commercial yeast to create carbonation. This recipe has you first create a ginger "bug" a few days in advance that is added to the rest of your ingredients before bottling.

Homebrewed Ginger Beer (Gently adapted from Wild Fermentation)

Ingredients for Ginger Bug:
Several inches fresh ginger root
Pure cane sugar

Mix 2 tsp grated ginger root (skin is fine) with 2 tsp sugar, and 1 cup of water in a small jar. Stir well and store in a warm spot, covered by cheesecloth or paper towel. Continue adding 2 tsp of grated ginger and sugar daily, until ginger bug begins to look frothy or bubbly- 2 days to a week, depending. Once ginger bug is bubbling, you're ready to start your brew. If you decide to wait to brew- continuing adding sugar and ginger to your bug daily.

Ginger bug- pre-bubbles

Ingredients for Ginger Beer:
2-6 inches fresh ginger root, grated (depending on how gingery you'd like it to be)
1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar
Juice from 2 lemons

Boil 2 quarts of water. Add grated ginger root (I went for the full amount), and sugar. Boil mixture for 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely. Once mixture is cool- strain out ginger, then combine with lemon juice, and strained ginger bug. Add enough water to total 1 gallon (4 liters). Stir well, then carefully bottle. Store in a warm place for 2 weeks. Refrigerate at least several hours before opening- and open very carefully as carbonation may be very strong.

Tips on bottling: I used two 1/2 gallon growlers with screw-on lids from a local homebrew supply shop. You can also use recycled plastic soda or juice bottles, flip-top beer bottles with rubber seals, or standard beer bottles if you have a capper. Basically anything that you can safely seal. Large canning jars would also work.


Brittany @ Pro-Soup Propaganda said...

Did you ever happen to see when I was brewing ginger beer? There was a SCOBY ("ginger beer plant") that was used to create the fermented goodness. Is the ginger "bug" you're talking about just from the ginger breaking down and then the acids somehow using the sugars for fuel? (Does that make sense?) I'm just curious how this would work without the ginger beer plant. I got mine from Jim: who is the guy to go to for GBP. Just never seen a recipe without the GBP. Interesting! What does your ginger beer taste like? Is it fairly carbonated?

Renai said...

I did! I actually was reading through your post yesterday because I was trying to remember how yours was made.

The "bug" is from the natural fermentation that occurs with the sugar and ginger sitting at room temperature. The book actually compares it to sourdough starter (and you can actually use it as one!) You can start sourdough with just water and flour as well. It's sort of like anything that ferments- sauerkraut being similar also- just cabbage, salt, water, and spices.

I haven't tried mine yet- I expect it'll be similar in carbonation to homebrewed kombucha, although with the lids being sealed I think it'll get quite a bit fizzier. How was yours?

Brittany @ Pro-Soup Propaganda said...

That makes sense! I'd had a couple drinks in me and was then trying to explain what I thought was happening, which it is, lol. ;o) I'm curious to find out how it works! Mine was really good. I would do more ginger next time. If yours works that would be awesome because I killed my GBP because I didn't do good at keeping up on feeding it. :o/

P.S. "otoclue" is one of my capsha words and I wish it were a real word. "GET AN OTOCLUE, GEEZ!"

Amanda Lyn said...

Very exciting! I've wanted to try recipes from that book.

I would add a note that because your brew is carbonating itself with a cap on, a finite amount of time in a warm room should be considered as there's a slight worry of over-carbonation. Most ginger beer recipes call for the bottles to be stored in the fridge after just a few days to halt sugar conversion but those have a higher sugar content. I've made 3 or 4 batches of ginger beer now (fermented for 2 weeks in a glass carboy for alcohol production, then more sugar added and bottled, similar to traditional beer brewing) and twice I've had bottles explode. The first time was a real surprise but it was a *very* sweet brew. The second time was even more surpising as it was a *very* dry brew. There are a few posts about it on my blog, but here's the one describing the explosion.

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