As part of my journey into gluten free brewing, I'm experimenting with other types of alcoholic beverages that can be made at home. The first of these adventures is a ginger beer...a traditional, malt free, Jamaican style ginger beer. This is intended to be something of a Crabbies clone, but I'm sure it will end up quite unique. My goal with this brew is to begin to catalogue a list of relatively fail safe homebrews that anyone can do with only the basic equipment. I intend to keg this batch, but will also experiment with a bottled version. Without further ado, here it is:
800g dark soft sugar
500g white sugar
200g root ginger - grated
340g jar of stem ginger in syrup - syrup and all
juice and zest of 4 oranges and 2 lemons
3 cinnamon sticks
1 grated nutmeg
2 cardamon pods
3 star anise
courtesy Keith1664 from thehomebrewforum.co.uk
In terms of ingredients, most were readily available. For the dark sugar, I used a Muscovado sugar as I figured it would lend authenticity. The hard part to find was the stem ginger in syrup. In order to get that, I had to make my own. I took ~100g of ginger, grated it and left it to sit in a jar of Lyle's Golden Syrup for a couple of months. I think a few weeks would have been sufficient, but I'll just document it as it happened.
Making this was fairly simple. Basically you bung all the bits into a pot, add enough water to bring it to a boil. I simmered the whole mess for 30 minutes, cooled to 21°C. I then topped it up to 10L with room temperature distilled water and threw the whole lot into a carboy.
Once cooled and diluted, the OG roled in at a respectable 18.2 brix or 1.075. I anticipate that this will finish somewhere around 1.010 producing somwhere around 8% abv. I pitched a single smackpak of cider yeast (Wyeast 4766). The pak was relatively soft 24 hours after smacking so, there was likely a slow proliferation. Nonetheless, after a month in primary (with all the goodies in the carboy), the yeast had done some work. Racking into a clean carboy to finish, the refractometer measured a 12.8 brix, which according to BrewersFriend is an adjusted 10.16 or 1.041. A lot of work to do, but even if I stopped now, the residual sugar is nice the alcohol is a drinkable 5%.
The results will need to wait for another blog post as a month into the process, I still have nothing to drink. But the sample I've had suggests I've hit this one out of the park.