Friday, March 15, 2013

Brew Day - Ginger Beer

Another spring beer that I’ve been thinking about for a while is a Ginger Beer.  I’ve had a few ginger beers over the years, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.  They tend to be fairly one note with a sharp ginger bite and leaving your lips tingling for hours from drinking a pint.  Proper ginger beer is brewed using a ginger beer plant.  This is an organism that is a composite of yeast and bacteria.  In this case I’m more brewing a beer with prominent ginger flavour.
Ginger Beer
Batch Size: 10.25L           Type: Extract                    Boil Size: 7L                       Boil Time: 45min

Calculated OG: 1.046      Measured OG: 1.052       Calculated FG: 1.004         Bitterness : 17.3IBUs

Grain Bill
1.00 kg Amber Agave Syrup – Boil 45min
0.46 kg Ripe Bananas – Boil for 45min
0.25 kg Amber Belgian Candy Sugar – Boil for 45min

Getting prepped
 0.25 kg Milk Sugar – Boil for 30min

Hop Schedule
15.00 g Tradition [6.70 %] – Boil for 45min

200.0 g Ginger Root, chopped skin on – Boil for 45min
100.0 g Ginger Root, chopped skin on – Boil for 30min
100.0 g Ginger Root, chopped skin on – Boil for 15min
5.00 g Irish Moss – Boil 15min
10.00 g Lemon Grass, chopped – Boil 5min
10.00 g Lemon Zest, chopped – Boil 5min
5 whole Cloves – Boil 5min
5.00 g Nutmeg, fine grated – Boil 5min
2 whole Cinnamon Sticks, broken – Boil 5min

½ pkg SafBrew Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-33)
30 g Light Brown Sugar

100.0 g Ginger Root, chopped skin on, soaked in vodka 2 weeks – In secondary for 7 days

Everything boiling away, it looks like a lovely ginger soup ;)
 My plan here is to layer flavours, one over the other, like a well made meal.  Starting with the hops to provide a base canvas of bitterness, I then plan on three different additions of ginger.  By cooking the ginger for three different lengths of time, it will change the flavour that each provides.  The longer it cooks, the mellower the flavour will be, so in this case I will be adding a bit of sharpness a with each addition.  The final racking over the raw ginger soaked in vodka will provide that final layer of sharp aroma and taste.  The lemon grass, zest, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon should add mild flavours and significant aromatics to the beer.  The milk sugar should only be about 75% fermentable, leaving a little bit of sweetness and body in the beer.  I’ll taste at the first racking and then again at the bottling and if the body is thin I may add a little bit of Malto-Dextrin to improve the mouth feel.  This beer may come out a bit hot, meaning the alcohol taste may wind up being very prominent but as I understand aging will mellow this heat.  At this point I will plan on aging as is, though if this beer comes out well, I may try aging it over lightly toasted oak chips next time, to add a bit of vanilla to the flavour profile.  The banana here is really not adding much flavour, but is more there for the protein and texture it provides to mouth feel and head retention.

The brewing went really well for this beer, making the whole apartment smell wonderful.  Even the garbage pail smells great because of the left over ginger and banana.  When the cooled wort was transferred to the carboy, it was a medium dark brown, a little darker than Vernors.  After some of the sediment drops out it should be a nice, clear golden colour like Canada Dry.  The yeast I’m using here is a SafBrew S-33.  It is supposed to be fairly clean, without many esters and finish somewhat high on the gravity.  Leaving a little sweetness will be great.
Photos courtesy of Mrs. Thirsty