Old Fashion Naturally Carbonated Ginger Beer

First a word of caution this recipe uses sugar and yeast and if you don't watch out you will make alcohol. The longer you let it get away from you the more alcohol that will be made.

Method

While bringing the gallon of water to boil make Lemon Zest from the two lemons and add it to the water. Lemon zest is made by grating the yellow part of the rind of the lemon with a fine grater, leave the white part of the rind. Grate the ginger and add it to the water. Squeeze the lemons and add to the water, about 1/2 cup of juice. Add the cinnamon stick or a few cloves to the water. When the water boils add 2 cups of sugar. Make sure the sugar dissolves and remove the cooking pot from the heat. Options for you to try is to change the amounts of ginger, sugar, and lemon juice, adjust to your taste. Let the brew cool for about one hour. I took about 1/3 of a cup from the brew and made sure the liquid was only luke warm to my touch and add the yeast to this liquid. Let the yeast sit in this liquid for about an hour and then pour it into the main pot of brew. Cover the brew and let it sit 12 hour/ over night in a warm place . Strain the solids from the brew and put the liquid in plastic bottles. I like the plastic sport drink bottles with wide mouths. Leave them in a warm place until the bottle get rock hard from the pressure inside of them. My batch was done in 36 hours after inoculation with the yeast. The yeast now needs to be deactivated and the fastest way to do this is to chill them, put them into the fridge. Check the bottles after they have chilled down to see if they are still rock hard. You can take them out and warm them up if they are soft. The yeast will become active again if it warms up. Drink one if it is still rock hard. Enjoy your fine drink. The Ginger Beer will turn clear if you leave it in the fridge for a while with the sediment collecting on the bottom of the bottle. Important notes: Yeast and sugar will make alcohol if the yeast is left to ferment long enough. Yeast likes a warm environment but not a hot one try not to go over 95°F or you will start to kill the yeast off. Don't use glass bottles for your brew they can blow up. :( The plastic bottles will hold 60 to 80 PSI. Here is a link for you to read if you want to know more. http://www.leeners.com/rootbeer.html I don't agree with his comment about alcohol being made because yeast doesn't always make alcohol when there is sugar present. It takes the yeast a while to "Grow Up" before it will make alcohol. I'm going to take some of my Ginger Beer to work and test it for alcohol.

10 comments

LeadDog

Two comments, if I may:

Suggest, if you are able, you substitute a non-fermentable sugar to prevent (or at least mitigate) the chances of bottle explosion. My own base recipe, making 8 litres, uses 100 grams of household white sugar and 400 grams of lactose. My experience is that this amount of sugar provides the required bottle conditioning and, so far, has not exploded any of the sturdy glass swing tops I conventionally use.

The PET bottle is useful, as you point out, to determine the status of bottle conditioning.

I am guessing that lactose is not readily available throughout the world; the prevalence of all sugar recipes controlled only by refrigeration is a bit of a worry. Stevia is an alternative which I have tried only once in a kit ginger beer.

Yes Leeners is an excellent site (delivery US to Oz is not cheap, but is prompt) and you night like to check out http://www.liquorcraft.com.au--- they sell me my lactose (among other things). 

Have a questiong on lactose. From the post abouve I figured that lactose is not fermentebale? did I understad that corectly. 

 

I make water kefir and need to see if that will work. 

 

http://www.ourwholesomehomes.com/2009/12/how-i-make-my-water-kefir.html

 Lactose is fermentable, just check with Google and you will see that it is.

Thanks for the pointer.

So much for relying on the homebrewing brigade; lots there once I dig through the top layer and even my S. cerevisiae may not be safe. Oh, well, a periodic renewal of brewing starter is not too expensive.

Now to dig out my old risk assessment skills.

Exploding bottles versus fermenting lactose and then exploding bottles? Cross-contamination with sourdough ferment? 

No matter, new knowledge is always valuable. Again, thanks LeadDog (and apologies to the list if more than one version comes through as I struggle with submission and remembering to log on and off)

Lactose is NOT fermentable, at least not by S. cerevisiae.  Lactose is used by brewers to maintain a sweetness in a beer even after all the other sugars have fermented out (ie. Milk Stouts).  Lactose doesn't taste the same as regular sugar though and will probably lend a certain creaminess to your soda.

 

Given a substance containing any form of fermentable sugar, yeast will eventually produce alcohol.  Alcohol, just like the CO2 you are trying to capture, is a waste product of fermentation. 

Then you will find this an interesting read.  http://aem.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/74/6/1748

So they've genetically engineered a strain of S. cerevisiae to consume lactose.  That's great.  They've also bred fruit flies that glow green when exposed to certain wavelengths of light.  For the purposes at hand though, S. cerevisiae doesn't ferment lactose, and fruit flies don't glow green.  I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just trying to give practical advice.  I don't feel like pulling sources to settle what shouldn't really be an argument, if it helps, I was at one time a professional brewer.

 

 

Ok for practical feedback lactose is fermented with bacteria.

 Now lets see if I can sum up some of the discussion so that people can make ginger beer.  I work at a winery and we stop fermentations before all the sugar is fermented, that is why I used the yeast that I did.  This yeast is easy to stop fermenting just by chilling the fermentation.  I like making ginger beer the way I have outlined it above.  I get a quick build up of CO2 pressure that is easy to control by chilling.  This leaves the rest of the sugar in the drink as unfermented and makes a nice soda for me.

I'm going to be making some sparkling wine soon and ran across these numbers about pressure.  Sparkling wine when fermented in the bottle starts off with about 24 grams of sugar per liter.  This will produce a pressure in the range of 75-90 PSI.  The plastic sport drink bottle will hold 60 to 80 PSI.

Can you use lactose in ginger beer? Yes.  Would I worry about bacteria fermenting it? No.  I recently heard a saying that sums up the chilling the ginger beer technique.  Life begins at 40, meaning that keeping food and drinks under 40°F stops the biological  activity of yeast/bacteria.  This is why we store food in a refrigerator.  Ginger beer is a simple drink don't try to make it to complicated.  Have some fun with it.

 I recently started brewing my own ginger beer from captured yeast.  I started with a 1Qt mason jar with 2 Tbs grated ginger, 2 tsp sugar, and enough water to reach 3 cups.  Stir in 2 tsp grated ginger and 2 tsp sugar daily for one week until active.  Pretty much same process as capturing sourdough but you don't dispose of any of the GBP (Ginger Beer Plant.)

Brewing is pretty much the same process.  I make a strong ginger tea with 1 cup grated ginger, 1 cup sugar, and 1 gallon bottled water.  If I only use 1 quart of the water to make the tea instead you can add it to the remaining 3 quarts to speed up cooling.  When temp is under 95°F I pitch a cup of the GBP (give it stir first and try to get equal amounts of liquid and ginger.)  Playing with the amount of GBP and sugar is how you control the sweetness and fizz.  

To refresh the remaining GBP I add enough water bring it back to 3 cups and again start feeding it 2 tsp ginger and 2 tsp sugar daily until it's time for the next batch.  I let my wort sit for longer and the bottles too, but that depends on the temperature, sugar, GBP amount, etc.   A full cycle takes me 4 to 6 days and am now to the point where I'm starting a new batch every 4 days or so I'm constantly supplied.  If you skip a feeding or two it can impart a more sour flavor which is fine if you like it.  If you don't like it you can go ahead and dispose of 1 cup or more of your GBP as if you've just made a batch and start it again.

I've added orange peel (no pith!), orange juice, and pulp when making the tea, filtering it out with the rest when bottling.  Other fruit additions could be pear and apple which match really well.  I can't wait until blood oranges are in season again for the extra color and different flavor they'll bring.

 

The one thing I've done different from the instructions I was given is that I use some caramelized sugar.  Using 1 1/2 cup sugar instead, I put half in with the tea and caramelize the other half in a separate sauce pan (start with enough water to dissolve the sugar) over medium heat.  I get as close to dark brown as I can without getting close to burnt, maybe 360°F.  I pour this into the tea also (stand back as it bubbles fiercely and make sure you make the tea in a large pot.)  This provides a darker color in the finished soda and gives the flavor more complexity.  Using more sugar makes up for the loss of sweetening power in the caramel.  [Note, I'm NOT talking about caramel sauce, so don't try using cream!]

 

I'm not sure about the chemistry involved though.  I know making simple syrup breaks the sucrose down into it's component fructose and glucose but how much further broken down is the caramel and how does this affect fermentation?  Can someone help out with this part?