Newbie With Questions Making Ginger Beer

Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum

Help Support Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum:

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
G'day all,

absolute beginner here. My brother in law is pretty serious about brewing (he has 4 beers on tap in his garage) and he convinced me to get started by bribing me with 2 cases of ginger beer. He got me hooked on the stuff, and since he lives in another state, I have no choice but to make my own in order to feed my addiction.

Today I have been having a great time mixing up my first batch. I'll start with what I have done (I hope I got it right), then I have a few questions.

I had an old fridge that wasn't being used, so I bought one of those temperature controllers and managed to put it together right. Actually, that was the easy part for me because I have a background in electronics.

Then used a sanitiser to clean everything I would be using, even the tap handles.

I bought one of those cans of ginger beer and mixed it along with 2kg of fructose, and 1kg of lactose into 2 liters of hot water. 2kg of fructose because that's what the guy at the brew shop said to use when I said I wanted about 5%. The lactose should apparently make it sweet because the yeast can't convert it.

Then I added 20 liters of cold water and added the yeast.

The reading I got from the...I'm sorry, I forget what it's called, the floating thing that looks like a thermometer was 40. As I understand it, I should leave it fermenting until that reading stops changing, and it should take about 2 weeks. Is that right?

Can I leave that tester in there, or should I put it away between readings?

I'm not sure I am using the little gadget that allows the gas to escape properly, it has 2 chambers and they are both half full of water. Is that right?

when I bottle it, I should apparently put some more sugar in to carbonate it, but what kind of sugar?

I currently have my temp controller set to 18%. What would be the ideal temp?

have I missed anything, or messed anything up?

Thanks for your help, I'm really excited about this.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
oops, just found a few answers. I didn't see the faq at the top before.

So I shouldn't take the top off my fermentor at all. what should I use to test with the hydrometer? I'm going to need a fairly tall container.
 

RustyT

Active Member
Joined
7/1/12
Messages
33
Reaction score
2
No don't remove the lid of the fermenter. Use a test tube big enough to fit the hydrometer in and take the samples from the tap. I've only done the one ginger beer and my recipe was as follows:

Morgans Ginger beer Kit
1Kg of raw sugar
500g of light dry malt
kit yeast

Fermented at approx 22deg (haven't got my ferment fridge setup yet) for 6 days, in the bottle for 3 weeks before drinking. Was absolutely beautiful and was great over the xmas break!
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
No don't remove the lid of the fermenter. Use a test tube big enough to fit the hydrometer in and take the samples from the tap. I've only done the one ginger beer and my recipe was as follows:

Morgans Ginger beer Kit
1Kg of raw sugar
500g of light dry malt
kit yeast

Fermented at approx 22deg (haven't got my ferment fridge setup yet) for 6 days, in the bottle for 3 weeks before drinking. Was absolutely beautiful and was great over the xmas break!

Right, that's what I thought, but that's a pretty massive test tube. Seems to me that the hydrometer should be smaller.

I need to make a correction, the lactose was only 450 grams. It was one bag, so I just assumed. Malt? That sounds like a good idea. now I want another fermentor. Hmm. I should be taking note of dates and times as well as readings shouldn't I? I'll write it on the fridge with a whiteboard marker.

I had to check the can because I didn't pay any attention to it, but mine is morgans too. My yeast was one the guy at the brew shop suggested called Craft brewer american ale found here:
http://www.craftbrewer.com.au/shop/details.asp?PID=851

hmm. reading that page is would seem that the temp should be 17-24, so 20 sounds like a good temp. Although I didn't follow the instructions, I just sprinkled it on and stirred it vigorously.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
I'm sure this isn't news to anyone, but I just did some calculations for the fun of it.

23L into 375ml stubbies would make about 61
which is about 2.5 cartons

the ingredients I used (not counting water which would be what? .01 cents?) came to $31.45

That comes out at $0.51 per bottle
or $12.31 per carton

Compare that to a carton of Boag's Premium from Dan Murphey's (one of the cheaper places to buy alcohol) at $46.99 and it doesn't take long to pay the cost of investment on a home brew kit.

Once you take into account that with a bit of practice (I hope) the taste of the average home brew makes any commercial beer taste like water, then there is no denying that doing it yourself is the better option by far.
 

sp0rk

Mayor of Pooptown
Joined
14/2/11
Messages
4,295
Reaction score
1,125
Location
Muswellbrook
go to your local home brew shop, they should sell plastic test tubes specially for hydrometers (if they don't, tell them they're doing it wrong)
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
go to your local home brew shop, they should sell plastic test tubes specially for hydrometers (if they don't, tell them they're doing it wrong)
Oh yeah, I feel a bit stupid, I figured out that the bottle the hydrometer comes in is the test tube. It still seems bigger than it needs to be to me. On the other hand though, I guess you need a decent quantity to get a good reading.

The only trouble I have now is that the fermentor is too close to the ground to put the tube under the tap. I guess I'll either have to use a beaker or put the fermentor on bricks.
 

Impy

Well-Known Member
Joined
30/12/09
Messages
130
Reaction score
12
Oh yeah, I feel a bit stupid, I figured out that the bottle the hydrometer comes in is the test tube. It still seems bigger than it needs to be to me. On the other hand though, I guess you need a decent quantity to get a good reading.

The only trouble I have now is that the fermentor is too close to the ground to put the tube under the tap. I guess I'll either have to use a beaker or put the fermentor on bricks.

It seems like a lot to use the tube for readings but you should only fill it enough for the hydrometer to float. Also only take 3-4 readings over the course of the brew. One at the start before fermentation then after a couple of weeks 2-3 more readings to make sure the fermentation has stopped. So in totaly it's onyl a few hundred mL you're loosing (that's if you don't taste it.... you should taste the hydro reading before throwing it)

You don't have to worry too much about moving your fermenter to take hydrometer readings just lift it up onto a table or something.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
ok, so I guess I'm a little anal, but I measured the test tube, and it's only about 120ml, so I'm not bothered about it anymore. I guess it looks like more than it is because it's so tall.

I ended up putting the whole fridge onto an old coffee table, which is ideal because I don't have to bend over much, and it will make bottling easier, I'll just sit under it.

I guess I don't have a good seal on my fermenter because it only bubbled on the second day and doesn't seem to anymore. When I take a sample, it's still carbonating though, so I figure it's not done yet. Also, my reading was only at 1032.
 

Strange Dog

Well-Known Member
Joined
31/7/11
Messages
50
Reaction score
0
I'm also a new brewer, but my understanding is that people start to get angry when you mention your airlock is not bubbling. As you suspected, the gas is probably escaping from another part of the fermenter. As long as the gravity is changing, everything is going to plan (until it stops, at which point you bottle).
You can trust my advice, I have four brews worth of experience ;)
I hope your fridge is not at risk of falling on top of you.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
haha, yeah. I know that the airlock is the least reliable way to judge the fermentation, but it's not totally useless. I figure that if it's still bubbling, then there is not much use in taking a gravity reading, since it's obviously still fermenting.

My wort has actually started bubbling again, so I guess I still have a bit to go. I'm hoping that it will be ready by sunday so that I can bottle before going back to work, but it doesn't look promising.

As for a falling fridge, nah, the table is strong enough to hold my weight, and big enough to not tip over. Thanks for the concern though, it's nice to know that there are still good people in the world.
 

Impy

Well-Known Member
Joined
30/12/09
Messages
130
Reaction score
12
haha, yeah. I know that the airlock is the least reliable way to judge the fermentation, but it's not totally useless. I figure that if it's still bubbling, then there is not much use in taking a gravity reading, since it's obviously still fermenting.

My wort has actually started bubbling again, so I guess I still have a bit to go. I'm hoping that it will be ready by sunday so that I can bottle before going back to work, but it doesn't look promising.

As for a falling fridge, nah, the table is strong enough to hold my weight, and big enough to not tip over. Thanks for the concern though, it's nice to know that there are still good people in the world.

Not necessarily, If your fermenter has a perfect seal (thus the airlock is the only place for gas to escape) it can bubble intermittently for aaages after it's finished fermenting.

Just remember, the airlock is a shitty piece of plastic with some water in it, the hydrometer is a precisely calibrated scientific instrument. The airlock is a convenient, but completely unreliable "hint" at what's happening, it's behaviour should never be used in place of a hydrometer reading (I.e. "the airlock is still bubbling, because of that I won't bother doing a hydro reading")

Hope it all turns out well!
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
Your right of course, so I took another reading, and it's only at 1021. But then I didn't really expect it to be finished since I have a lot of sugar in it. Tastes great though. Can't wait for it to finish.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
I finally bottled today at 1.008. Higher than I had expected, but not surprising considering how much sugar and how long it took. Next time I think I will use more yeast. well, the time after next. I still have a packet to use.

Out of curiosity, I tried as many different kinds of sugars for carb as I had in the house in different bottles as an experiment.

So far I have learned that powders are the worst because they cause the most froth during filling, so dextrose is out. Sugar is pretty good, with raw being slightly better than white. Those drops are pretty good because they are easy to prime and don't froth at all if your careful. Liquids were pretty good too (as far as frothing goes), but I don't expect them to carbonate properly because they were not really sugar. Such as caramel icecream topping and maple syrup. I am curious to see whether they have an effect on the taste though. Also, they were the worst to prime because they are quite thick.

The list goes:
dextrose
white sugar
raw sugar
drops
chocolate drinking powder
caramel
maple syrup
honey
 

yum beer

Not in the house, you've got a shed..
Joined
12/3/11
Messages
2,239
Reaction score
422
Hey uzetaab,

please tell me you are not filling direct from the tap on your fermenter, because thats what it sounds like.



Do you have a 'little bottler', plastic tube with a spring loaded opening that goes into the bottles and fills nicely from the bottom.
Your beer shouldnt be frothing when filling bottles, well, only a tiny bit.
 

pmunny

Well-Known Member
Joined
30/8/11
Messages
72
Reaction score
1
The list goes:
dextrose
white sugar
raw sugar
drops
chocolate drinking powder
caramel
maple syrup
honey


Try reading Palmers "how to brew". The first edition is free online and has heaps of info including the fermentability
of different kinds of sugars.

Been waiting for the wifey to finish off the last batch of GB so i can knock out a chili ginger :icon_chickcheers:
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
yeah, I have a little bottler, but it still froths a bit, and much worse with powders. Like, the drops had almost no froth at all, and the dext had about an inch (because it was narrowed by the neck) by the time the bottle was full.

Ah yeah, I had a bit of a look at that book, but I've never been very good at reading non-fiction books. I will look up the bit about fermentability though.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
I started drinking these this weekend, since it's been about 2 weeks, and I'm not ecstatic with the results.

It has come out far sweeter and with much lower carb that I had wanted, so I am hoping that the carb will take a long time like the fermentation did. It's also an odd golden colour, I don't think it was so yellow before I bottled it. Hopefully another 2 weeks will improve it.

I think I put far too much fructose in it though, it probably would have been better had I only added 100 grams.

I also gave the bottles a little shake in the hope that it would kick start the yeast a bit.

So far I have tried raw sugar, caramel and honey. I didn't really notice much difference between the carb levels. I think the caramel was a bit sweeter, but it's hard to tell. The honey added a very nice flavour that suits the ginger spice quite well, so I expect I will make more with honey priming next time.

Going through the bottles (all PET) I noticed today that the one with the drinking chocolate powder is much firmer than the others, so I have one in the fridge and will try it tonight. Unfortunately I had the bottles in boxes, and the choc was not easily accessible, so I don't know how much quicker it carbed up.

Oh, also, they all had some sediment in the bottom, but I was easily able to pour without getting it in the glass.
 

manticle

Standing up for the Aussie Bottler
Joined
27/9/08
Messages
25,707
Reaction score
6,125
Location
Glenorchy, TAS
Sweetness + low carb suggests your priming sugar hasn't finished doing its job.

See if it's different in another couple of weeks.

Lots of the GB kits contain artificial sweetener too.
 

Uzetaab

Active Member
Joined
11/1/12
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
Well, I just opened the choc one. It was definitely much better carbed, as expected. What I didn't expect was how bland it was. I expected a hint of chocolatey taste, but I couldn't detect any chocolate at all. It also seems to have cancelled a lot of the initial ginger spice taste, but I still get the spicey hot after taste, along with something else that isn't so pleasant. But I can't put my finger on it. All in all, not a good priming medium, except that it's fast. Maybe it'll improve with age.
 
Top