Ginger Beer

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:

The recipe

800g dark soft sugar
500g white sugar
450g honey
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
5 cloves
courtesy Keith1664 from thehomebrewforum.co.uk

Lyles:

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.

The process

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 result

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.