Ginger Beer Won't Ferment

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Just a Hoe
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Hi folks,

First time ginger beer maker. Problem is 24 hours in and no fermentation action whatsoever.

This is the recipe for 25 litres;

4kg sugar
500g fresh ginger root
50g dried ginger.
6 lemons
handful of chopped raisins
2tsp tartaric acid
3packets dried yeast 1 x Coopers and 2 x Tooheys kit

Boiled the lot (excluding yeast :p ) Cooled to 25c and added the yeast. 24 hours later no airlock activity and no drop in SG.

This is the first time I've produced an all-(cane)sugar wort. Would this retard yeast activity in any way at all?

Warren - :(

How old is the dried yeast you used and how was it stored ?

I would have thought that three packs of dried yeast should have taken in 24 hours.

Hiya Doc, :)

Yeast wasn't very old. Probably 3 months at worst. 2 x Tooheys packs were stored at ambient (garage cupboard temps) and the 1 packet of Coopers has been stored in the fridge. You'd think there'd be enough active cells there to start something.

My thinking was maybe an all-sugar wort doesn't provide enough nutrients for good fermentation???

Warren -
As ever, the rule is DO NOT pour it down the sink until you are sure you need to!

If you can get hold of some more yeast today & rehydrate it into a big fat starter before pitching it this afternoon or tonight you can probably save this brew.
My experience with ginger beer is that they ferment slow. I put that down to lack of nutrients. So assuming the yeast was viable (healthy even) then give it a chance - also if you any yeast nutrient kicking around, boil it in a small amount of water and add it.

If have you have some malt you could try boiling that and adding it, although watch your gravity, much more and the yeast will think they are swimming in molasses.

All the other stuff you need to do like aerating are even more important for ginger beer.

One other thing - did the dried ginger you add contain preservatives? I only use fresh root.
The dried ginger was Hoyts the common or garden stuff you see on the supermarket shelves. The other 500g was fresh root ground up in the food processor.

Didn't think to check if there were any preservatives ??? Dont' think so though.

I thought of boiling up some dried yeast with the wort for yeast hulls/nutrients.

Oh well, worst case scenario I've learnt some valuable lessons.

Thanks guys -
Got any way of checking the pH? The lemons plus tartaric might make it quite low. I had a similar problem getting an all fresh lemon lemonade to start. Checked the pH which was a bit less than 3. Pulled some lemonade out, brought the pH up with bicarb of soda, started yeast, chucked back in, which worked. Still dont know if it was that or the several yeasts I had chucked in but might be worth a go.
Hi Guest Lurker,

Unfortunatley no. I've got no real way of checking the pH. You actually reminded me one ingredient I forgot to list was that I added 2 teaspoons (or so) ;) of CaCO3 (calc carbonate) to the boil in some sort of anticipation of this.

Dunno why I even used the tartaric acid. This was just listed on most of the recipes that I Googled.

Update I just tore up to the local HB store and bought a sachet of Saflager. I rehydrated this as per normal procedure and dumped it into the wort. When I added the yeast I noticed a bit of CO2 escaping on the surface via bubbles. Hopefully this means that the fermentation is getting around to starting.

See I'm used to beer. Add your starter. Wait predetermined amount of time and get a krausen. Not even sure if an all sugar ginger beer will even happen this way.

I might put a few drops on the refractometer later today and see if it's dropped. OG was 14 degrees Brix (about 1.055 SG)

Warren -
(Think I'll stick with beer. Better the devil you know) :D

The Saflager seems to have got things going. I put a few drops on the refractometer last night and it had dropped from 14 brix to 13. Just took another sample a few mins. ago and it's down to 12. :)

Think in future I've just got to treat ginger beers as a different beast. There's still a perfectly flat head on top of the brew and none of the crazy actvity within the fermenter. A total antithesis to a Stout or Wheat that's for sure. <_<

Warren -
Using nutrient will definitely speed up the fermentation. I'm on my second ginger beer batch since the qld summer started and things are going fine. I usually use a packet of nutrient and for good measure I toss a packet of bakers yeast in during the boil, lysing the cells. This puts more nutrient for the live yeast (added after cooling) to use, and the lysed hulls act as a yeast energiser (after all, this is just what 'yeast energiser' sold in the brew shops usually is). Before I came to Oz I had a couple years of making mead under my belt and this technique works well for those fermentations too (4-6 months to clear mead as opposed to 4-6 years!). I've got a mead batch going upstairs now and its chugging away like there's no tomorrow.
My Ginger Beer took forever to get started too. I ended up pitching a new Safale sachet, most-likely a premature move.

It's been in the fermenter for 18 days but it looks like the krausen/foam won't clear. OG 1043 FG 1005. Tastes like it's going to be fire water! The ladies better watch out with this one.

Here's a pic of the inside - I'm about to bottle. I'm thinking of using Buderim Ginger Refresher as my priming sugar; it has 32g sugars/50mL of liquid...

Has anyone used it as sole priming sugar? What do you think the chances of success would be? I'm considering a combo of sugar/refresher but am fairly keen on solely refresher idea to increase the "gingerness".

If you check out the "Insane FIzzy Cordial Beer" thread you will see that Weizguy & I are thinking of doing the same thing, ie bulk priming with a flavoured soft drink.
We can't see any reason why it won't work. You have the advantage over us though, in that you are adding ginger refresher to ginger beer, as opposed to Pasito to wheat beer!
If the Refresher is 60% sugar I'd say you need to bulk prime with 250-300mls of it for a 23l batch. May be easier if you let it go flat first.

Let us know how it goes!

Does yours have malt extract in it? Mine is virtually flat as a tack on top. (All cane sugar). Yours looks more like a regular beer from the top. Mine just appears like a glass of ginger soft drink. :blink:

I was thinking of the going down the ginger refresher (Buderim cordial) path myself. I was going to wait for the whole thing to ferment to completion. Then add the cordial (probably whole bottle or so depends on taste) to the keg. Chill the keg down to about 3-4c and force carbonate. Then keep the keg cold and consume fairly quickly.

Hopefully the cold temps "should" inhibit further fermentation for a couple of weeks so there's some residual sweetness. Don't want it too dry IMO flavour would be too hot and unpleasant.

My vision is to have an alcoholic 5-6 ABV version of Bundaberg Ginger Beer.

Warren -
Are you planning to add the refresher as priming, or just to give the brew some oomph? It will act as primer, so you may find force carbonating as well makes it too fizzy. :(
For sweeter non-beer brews, you can stop fermentation with Campden tablets- think they are basically sodium met.
All subjective to final gravity. If the fermentation poops out with some residual sweetness I probably won't bother and I'll just force carbonate as is. I don't want to add saccharin because I don't care for the flavour. That's why I steered away from a Ginger Beer kit.

Lactose is not really an option either. I've found that it doesn't add all that much in terms of sweetness anyway.

Sort of want it acloholic with some residual (but not overly so) sweetness. My idea would be keeping the keg cold (say 3-4c) would slow residual fermentation down to a crawl. My plans would be to consume the keg in a 3-4 week period (usual story) :p so unfermented cordial shouldn't ferment too quickly at that rate.

All that said being stored in a keg allows excess carbonation to be bled off. Also no danger of excessive carbonation. Kegs can withstand pressures up to 150psi anyway. Don't really want to resort to Campden tablets (leaves an unplesant odour, not good for asthmatics). Potassium Sorbate also stops fermentation too from memory.

Warren -
Regarding adding cordial..........Last year sometime I had a pizza delivered and was presented with a free Coke. Well, nobody in this house drinks the stuff and it sat on the garage bench for three months. Was cleaning out a primary ferment recently and threw a great dollop of yeast into the coke to see what would happen. The answer is...nothing. This was standard coke, not Diet, so I dont know what they used for sweetner. I belatedly did an SG and it was 1.000, so before you throw in your soft drink, check the gravity and see if there is real sugar in it.
I daresay the pH of the coke would have killed the yeast before they had a chance to even look for sugars!

- Snow
warrenlw63 said:
Does yours have malt extract in it? Mine is virtually flat as a tack on top.[snip]

My vision is to have an alcoholic 5-6 ABV version of Bundaberg Ginger Beer.
Mine does contain a fair bit of malt - check out the thread here about my brew.

My only concerns with the addition of cordial as primer are:
1. It may have an overpowering ginger taste
2. Cordial contains preservatives etc which could kill my yeasts.

I too am looking for something along the lines of Bundaberg GB but with 5-6ABV... this brew is looking like it'll be 5.8% Tastes great but not in the same vain as Bundaberg. Still haven't bottled it yet as I'm waiting for advice from the pros here :p

I'm using Sodim metabisulphite as sanitiser for the first time with this batch - is rinsing necessary? If some liquid remains in the bottle, will it be a problem? (I don't have a bottle drainer)
has anyone tried grumpys ginger beer kit??

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