Tag Archives: ginger ale brew

To Error is Human…

Making cultured foods and beverages are not hard if one follows some basic rules, common sense, and of course safety factors. Our ancestors have been doing this all around the world for a 1000 years or more. Wild fermentation can produce some great ferments, however, the results can very from batch to batch depending on the types of wild yeast and bacteria
within the food stock.
fermented chili peppersHaving a traditional starter culture ensures the same results each time. An example is making beer with wild yeast vs. using a brewers yeast. The outcome could be close in taste and flavor to each other or very different, with the wild yeast sometimes making the beer unpalatable. Having a tried and true recipe helps to make sure the results are the same every time, too. Checking acidic levels and having the correct microorganisms, like lactobacillales, ensure cultured food safety.
Especially in wild fermentation.

Now For the Errors…

Being busy here in the lab sometimes it is easy to forget a step in a recipe or process (Why to double check and taste things). A resent example that I have done was when making a batch of ginger beer/brew. I have made this recipe so many times I don’t even refer to it anymore. Well being in a rush one day had all the steps completed…water heated, sugar dissolved, lemon added for a small batch of brew. Waiting for temperature to decrease to room temperature and then on to bottling. Batch was then bottled
and set out for 3 days for the ginger culture to
produce a fizzy beverage.

ginger beer starter
Old time ginger brew beer in clay bottle

After the waiting period is was time to try it out. A nice chilled ginger brew on a long hot day…yeah! The bottle is opened and to my surprise, no fizz. Then tasting it I knew what had went wrong…no ginger starter culture was added before bottling. No flavor and no fizz, just lemon sugar water. At that point nothing to do but uncap them all, dump it, and start over.

The lesson here is to taste and follow a recipe to get the results one wants. Don’t try to get to crazy with flavors and adding to many things at a time. A great example is people adding to much fruit or juice when bottling kombucha tea or water kefir and then wondering why the bottles explode all over. Another example is trying to make a crazy kimchi blend and it turning out ‘wrong’ or not having a good flavor. Hard to tell what went wrong with to many factors vs adding one or two things to the mix and waiting for the outcome. I hope this short post will help everyone to become a better fermenter and produce
great tasting fermented and cultured foods.
There are many tried and true recipes on our sister site here.
Happy Culturing!

A Summer Time Refresher – Ginger Brew & Beer

ginger beer starter
Old time ginger brew beer…refreshing!

A Summer Time Refresher –
Ginger Brew & Beer

It’s the middle of the summer season and the desire for a cool refreshing beverage to quench the thirst is a plus. Coming in from an afternoon of tending to the organic garden, I pop the top on a 12oz ginger brew and pour into a Champaign glass. I watch for a second as the bubbles turn into a lovely foaming head and the smells of ginger, lemons, and limes transcend the air. The sweet flavors collect on the tongue and fulfill my thirst. Nirinjan – Brew Master, Organic Cultures

Making your own soda beverages is fun, easy, and a much better alternative to commercial sodas loaded with HFCS and dyes! Before the coming of mass produce cola and the ‘soda jerk’, many people made their own beverages with natural effervescence. The process is simple and the final recipe take less than an hour to complete. You can make two different types of ginger beverage – A classic ginger ale (what we call ginger brew) or an alcohol version, which is ginger beer. Both follow a simple recipe, however, the processing is different for each type. The first thing you will need is a ginger beer plant or ginger brew/beer culture starter.

What’s a Ginger Culture Starter and Ginger Beer Plant?

To make ginger brew/beer you will need to obtain a starter or plant. There are three choices to get started:

  • First, a traditional ginger beer plant that comes from the UK and can cost a bit. This culture seems harder to find and maintain. We find that the taste is strong and sharp, not to our liking.
  • Second, buy a ginger brew starter. There are a few sources for this style of starter.  We sell a lot of this starter in our store. You can buy ginger beer starter here: http://store.organic-cultures.com/gibeplorgr.html. This ginger beer starter has been maintained since 2009 and has improved in flavor over time. We have stabilized this culture starter to produce the same results and taste again and again. It is a cross between the UK ginger beer plant and wild yeast strains. We think this starter is mellow while still holding an intense ginger flavor over the UK strain alone!
  • Lastly, you can try to make a ginger brew/beer starter with wild yeast and sugar. Making your own starter using wild yeast strains may produce good results or sometimes not. This depends on the yeast strains you capture and if they can stabilize. Just as in beer brewing, a stabilized yeast starter will produce a fermented beverage with the same results again and again. Some try to do a quick start using bread or Champaign yeast, we do NOT recommend using these as the taste will lose its balance and the traditional ginger ale flavor.
  • Fakes – There are sellers who claim to have a ‘real’ ginger beer plant. These are not true plants most being water kefir grains or bread yeast mixed with ginger.

Which to Do…Ginger Brew/Ale or Ginger Beer?

For a great ginger flavored beverage, there are two ways to go alcoholic (ginger beer) or non-alcoholic (ginger ale/brew). Again, the main recipe is the same only the process changes. For making ginger brew/ale you can just follow the standard recipe on our website: http://www.organic-cultures.com/instructions_sheets/ginger_brew

For ginger beer, make the final recipe for ginger brew/ale but instead of bottling it in beverage bottle it is placed into a fermentation vessel with an airlock (We have gallon size jars with lids and airlock at the store). Once the airlock stops releasing rapid bubbles, the beer is finished and now decanted into beverage style bottles. The volume of sugar used in the recipe determines the amount of alcohol.

Whether one wishes to make beer or brew ale, a ginger culture starter can provide a great refreshing summer time beverage. Not only will it save money over the cost of commercial soda, it is much healthier. Other benefits include the ability to flavor the drink as one wish. Ginger with limes, maybe fresh berries, or even ginger/lemongrass make it how you like!

So this summer, start making a pro-biotic thirst quenching ginger beverage to refresh during the heat. Ginger is known to aid in digestion and helps provide energy. Ginger brew is easy to make and a great replacement for the whole family vs. commercial soda. Buy or get a ginger brew starter today and
start making this wonderful summer time beverage.

Happy Culturing!
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