I’ve been trying to get my homemade ginger beer to have a bit more kick over the last couple of summers. This summer, since I have recently purchased my own home brew equipment I decided to make good use of the 21 litre fermenting bucket and get the lemon to brew. I’m such a novice at home brewing. I don’t pretend to know anything about the calculus and all the terminology that goes with it. I just get in there and give it a try, even though on some occasions I know it’ll be a struggle to drink it. At least with a ginger beer, regardless of how dry or sweet it turns out to be, adding it to something like Pimms will always make it nicer to drink.
I try to keep brewing notes as detailed as I can, but even as I read over them now I struggle to remember some of the last minute changes I made. So I will do my best to describe what I did for this one. I developed the recipe from several different recipes on the Homebrew Talk forums, there’s plenty of useful information to be found there.
I started by filling my largest pot with water, up to about the 3/4 full mark. This is approximately 10L in my case.
Once it got to boiling point, I added approximately 1kg mix of different sugars; Golden Syrup, set honey, Agave, plus an extra 200g of granulated sugar. This is my 0 minute reference time, any times I mention henceforth are from this time.
After boiling for 10 minutes I added 160g of fresh ginger that I’d grated finely in a food processor.
At 20 minutes I added the juice of 3 lemons. At 35 minutes I added 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for a little bit of a spicy kick.
At 45 minutes I added a further 60 grams of freshly grated ginger root and the juice and zest of 2 lemons.
At 55 minutes I took the mixture off the boil, added the juice of one lemon and left it cool for nearly an hour. I then added it into my 21 litre brew bucket and topped it up to the 5 gallon (19 litre) mark with water.
At this point I made the highly scientific test of tasting the brew and decided it wasn’t sweet enough. I dissolved a cup of granulated sugar in hot water and added this to the mix. The specific gravity at this point was 1.023.
I prepared the yeast by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water, sprinkling the yeast on top and leaving for 15 minutes. After adding this to the brew bucket I put the lid on and left it to sit, keeping it at a constant warmth of about 24°C with the help of a heating belt. It bubbled away happily for a few days, first smelling of oranges, then lemons and then ginger. After six days the brew had pretty much stopped bubbling and I measured a final gravity reading of 0.999, giving it an alcohol content of 3%. I siphoned off the ginger beer and added 1/2 a cup of sugar to give the bottles some fizz. During bottling I added a small amount of freshly grated ginger to each bottle.
I put the bottles in the garden shed and left them for a few weeks. The finished ginger beer drink was the perfect amount of fizz but a little bit dry for my taste. Still good though and not the disaster I thought it might be. I think on my next batch I need to find a way of sweetening the ginger beer nearer to the end of the fermentation process so that it retains the sweetness in the bottle. The experiment to brew the perfect alcoholic ginger beer continues…