Repeatable At Last

I've just finished brewing my seventh batch of ginger beer. Honestly, there has been a lit of disappointment.



Of those seven batches, four tasted good. I'll go into detail.

Batch 1


This tasted good, but I suspect only because I hadn't had ginger beer in so long. The yeasty flavor was strong, the odor was strong, it actually LOOKED like beer in color, and as well as head. Honestly, in hindsight it was pretty bad. Lessons: Don't use too much yeast. Don't misread the recipe.

Batch 2


This tasted good, but not great. It tasted WAY less yeasty than the first batch, the odor was much more palatable. It looked like ginger beer in color, and fizzed like pop. Really it is still passable - I have three bottles left. Lessons: Using white sugar at bottling yields the right color.

Batches 4, 5, 6


Strong yeasty smell and flavor. These looked like batch 2, and tasted/smelled like batch 1.Lessons: Yeast is a tricky thing. You need to use the right amount, and sometimes it doesn't look like it is doing OK, but it really is. If you leave yeast to do its thing, it will build up a LOT of pressure in those bottles. When you try to take the cap off, you WILL lose some bottle tops.

Batch 7


This is the first batch I carbonated directly with CO2 using a Fizz Giz. It works very well, and since there was no yeast in those bottles, it had NO yeast flavor or smell. I also yeast carbonated some bottles. The result had no yeasty smell or taste, and great carbonation. This is the first batch that used fresh ginger instead of ginger powder. Lessons: Fresh ginger works really well, and lets "turbo brew" really get a STRONG ginger bite. Dialing in the perfect amount of yeast per water volume makes for a great tasting bottle of ginger beer.

Batch 8


My goal here was purely to repeat the success with Batch 7 (half batch) on a full scale. It worked.Lessons: Do the same thing, get the same results. To do the same thing all the time, keep really good notes on what you did!



Starting Yeast


I start my yeast in 1/2 cup of body-temperature water. It feels neither warm nor cold. I add 6-8 tsp of sugar to it and stir until disolved. I add 1/8th teaspoon of champagne yeast per 3 quarts of water I will be making up. It looks absolutely tiny amount for so much final liquid, but any more and you get too much yeast smell and flavor and it ruins the soda.



Straight up, I don't do it. Technically I do while the soda carbonates, but I do not have a ginger beer "plant". It serves no purpose other than to sustain yeast growth. Yeast costs me $0.75 per packet. Each packet lasts 4 batches. I don't mind buying dry yeast, and my kitchen smells better for it.



Here goes against traditional wisdom. I don't know if it is because I use champagne yeast instead of bread yeast... but my ginger beer carbonates in TWO DAYS. As a matter of course, I try a bottle after 36 hours and it is drinkable, but not quite carbonated. at about the 46 hour mark, it's perfect. If you wait until 56 hours, you will have noticable yeast flavor and smell. It's really that precise.

Turbo Brew


Turbo brew is actually a combination of the Fermentation and Carbonation notes. From the time I start peeling ginger to the time I can drink a chilled bottle is about 49 hours using natural yeast carbonation! And this is quality ginger beer - I would put it up against Bundaberg or Schweppe's Old Stoney in a heartbeat. I have never seen anyone claim that before.



A few small things...

  1. Fill your bottles evenly. Too much variance in how full your bottles are will mean unpredictable carbonation.
  2. Stir while you fill your bottles, or your yeast will settle yielding unpredictable carbonation and flavor.
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