[Tastebridge] suggestions for alcoholic ginger beer experiments

Frantisek Apfelbeck algoldor at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 5 08:14:20 UTC 2013

Hi Michael,
Many thanks for tips! I will get back to your email most likely tomorrow. Just for now I've relocated to South Korea, specifically to the island called Jeju. Beautiful location but I have not found a brewing shop here yet so I have to be minimalistic. 

Anyway talk to you more tomorrow and once more thanks for your tips.

Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck

biotechnologist&kvasir and hacker


"There is no way to peace, peace is the way." Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

 From: Michael Lyons <cprmichael at yahoo.com>
To: Frantisek Apfelbeck <algoldor at yahoo.com> 
Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 3:46 PM
Subject: Re: [Tastebridge] suggestions for alcoholic ginger beer experiments

Thanks for asking. I've have quite a bit of experience brewing though hardly consider myself to be an expert. I applaud you for brewing an alcoholic drink that is not beer. Personally, I stopped brewing beer a few years ago when the price of ingredients doubled and it became cost prohibitive for me.

First of all, there are many reasons to not use baking yeast, and many types of yeast to choose from which have different qualities  you can take advantage of. One of these qualities is the alcohol concentration at which the yeast attenuates ie. stops functioning. Another quality  is how well the dead yeast flocculate and settle out of the liquid.

Another substance you might want to consider is Yeast Nutrient, which is inexpensive. I have used it when I have brewed hard cider, which doesn't have the natural nutrients that beer wort does.
The quantity of yeast you use is not particularly relevant since the yeasties multiply and theoretically one yeast cell could (eventually) ferment any amount of beverage. Asking at brew shop is a good idea. 
Also keep in mind that yeast are reusable, so you can save some of the used yeast in a suitable, airlocked bottle. A really fun thing to do is to have a fresh batch ready for ferment when you siphon off the finished brew off the old yeast. Dump the fresh batch on top of the old yeast and it will take off full bore in an couple of hours.

As for adjusting the sweetness, I suggest using a non-fermenting sweetener, like stevia or lactose. I remember having a problem with a cider I made that would not stop fermenting. I had let it ferment until the yeast stopped, but it ended up tasting incredibly dry. When I added more sugar to get the right  sweetness, the yeast would re-activate and within a week or two the sugar would be gone and the cider would be too dry again.

If you are using brown sugar for flavor, remember that it is white sugar mixed with molasses, and you might as well use white sugar and add molasses for flavor.

Speaking of flavorings, it is often best to add them after the fermentation. When I tried making a cherry cider, all of my great cherry flavor I'd added before fermenting went up in the bubbles my yeast gave off while it was working on the sugar during fermentation.

As for water, remember that Anchor brewery and I think speakeasy too, use straight SF tap water. Fine product from Hetch Hetchy. Great taste and fine to brew with. Chlorine & flouride and inconsequential no need to filter, sanitize or mess with the water from the tap; "they" already do that.

As for fermentation vessels, most people I know use either 5 gallon food grade plastic buckets with lids or glass carboys.  Fermentation locks are necessary to keep out bacteria and  errant yeast, especially during the later stages of the fermentation when the yeast is not throwing off so much CO2. Many of us rig up a blow off tube for the first part of the fermentation because ordinary locks can get clogged with vigorously bubbling yeast and blow out..
Fyi, we have all this gear at Noisebridge.

I have no idea what temperature 25C is, but the nice thing about living where we do is that yeast like it too. 60-70F. I would be leery of using a submersible pump, since the brew is not circulating  and you're likely to get part of the batch too hot. Traditionally we keep blankets around the  brewing vessel and they make electrically heated wraps for fermentation containers.

Well that's my two cents. Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions or would like any other help.


 From: Frantisek Apfelbeck <algoldor at yahoo.com>
To: "foodhackingbase at lists.hackerspaces.org" <foodhackingbase at lists.hackerspaces.org>; tastebridge tastebridge <tastebridge at lists.noisebridge.net>; 091 Foods <091-food at googlegroups.com> 
Sent: Monday, March 4, 2013 5:06 PM
Subject: [Tastebridge] suggestions for alcoholic ginger beer experiments

Hi to all and to alcoholic brewers especially,
I just started a new experiment aiming to brew nice alcoholic ginger beer and I have some questions below. My first batch will be most likely too sweet,  but it is the max end of the screening which I want to do (on the sweet side), the details for the first experiment are below. I would like to ask for recommendations for the next experiments, I put some ideas below at the end. It is possible that I may be able to sell the final product, of course I plan to share the technology, recopies etc. 

The final volume of the brew = 5 l; Specifications:

0.1% (w/v; 5 g) of bakers dried instant yeast (primed/activated in warm water with bit of light brown sugar for +-30 min)
20% (w/v; 1000 g) of light brown sugar (dissolved in hot water)
4%(w/v; 200 g) of ginger (fresh, cleaned by brush and blended in mixer, added to the brew at the beginning of fermentation)
95% of used water is commercial purified water (I shake it a bit to get some oxygen in it)
fermentation vessel is 5 l plastic container, narrow mouth, closed by lid, no air lock at the momment
the brew is fermenting at +-25C in my "aquarium heater" based incubator

It started to go on within few hours and it is fermenting really strongly, anaerobic fermentation as mentioned. I tasted it yesterday (two days after starting) and it is quite sweet still and bit alcoholic. I am thinking about starting another brews under same conditions changing just the sugar concentration to 15% and 10%(w/v). What do you think about that? Below are more ideas, please do remember that I do not have too much experience with alcoholic fermentations. Also I ferment in the same environment all my probiotics but I am using the clean newly bought plastic vessels for the alcoholic ginger beer. 

THE NEXT EXPERIMENTS - Ideas and suggestions
- decreasing the level of sugar concentrations to 10 and 15% (w/v; 500 and 750 g respectively)
- changing the type of sugar for completely white sugar (which may be an issue concerning the nutrition for the yeast) resulting in more clear gingery flavour
-  changing the type of sugar for dark rich brown sugar resulting in more heavy complex flavour because of molasses
- changing the amount of yeast added to a lower concentration to decrease the possibly off flavour 
- increasing the concentration of ginger and maybe processing it with heat, which would result in more "spicy flavour" due to the transformation of gingerol to more pungent zingerone 
- more ideas?

I should mention that I do not have access to any specific yeast now, I'm bit low on cash, otherwise what strains would you recommend? I heard nice thinks about California Ale yeast but I'm not sure if it would be suitable. Maybe some more "cider" style yeast would be better?

Many thanks for any ideas, I will be in touch within next few days with few news :-)



PS I have made another batch of kimchi yesterday from Chinese cabbage, miso, fish souse, ginger and garlic so I'm really looking forward for the results.

Frantisek Algoldor Apfelbeck

biotechnologist&kvasir and hacker


"There is no way to peace, peace is the way." Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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