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Ginger beer

By July 05, 2019 ,

We've been brewing our own ginger beer chez Kitchen Exile for several years now. The process for ginger beer is a little different from that of normal beer, it is not as laborious and doesn't take as long because of the yeast being used. 

We use a ginger beer plant to make ours. The Ginger Beer Plant consists of two different organisms, a yeast; Saccharomyces florentinus and a bacterium Lactobacillus hilgardii . We've bought out particular culture from The ginger beer plant website, one of the few places you can purchase a genuine culture. 

The ginger beer plant that you use is a living thing, similar to a starter dough, you need to ensure it is hydrated and fed regularly. It's not something you use once and throw away, once you've finished your brew, you place it in a jar and top up with water, add some sugar and a few drops of lemon juice, place the lid loosely on. You then keep feeding and refreshing it every day or two days until you want to use it for your next brew. Our ginger beer plant or "Yeastie" as we call it, has been going strong for several years now. 

You're probably wondering why I'm referring to we in this particle as normally all of my recipes I make myself. This has become one of the rare activities that involves my other half in the kitchen. And it is nice to do one or two kitchen activities together. I occasionally draft him in on commis chef duties when I'm pretty busy. 

This is the process that we go through to brew our beer, but do refer to the Ginger Beer Plant website as that will take you though the initial processes. Brewing can often be hit and miss depending on conditions and ingredients used. It took a while before we got our brew down to how we liked it, from the amount of sugar, to flavour to carbonation, all part of the process and fun working it all out over numerous brews

You do need some kit for the brew process; a 5 litre demi john, an airlock cap, funnel, sieve and plastic bottles for bottling the brew. Why plastic for bottling, I hear you ask. The brew when bottled starts to carbonate, if you use glass, the bottles can unexpectedly explode if too much pressure builds up. At least with plastic there is no dangerous mess. It's also a good way of re-using any plastic bottles in your house too, you do have to make sure they are scrupulously clean. When using plastic bottles ensure they are ones that have been used for fizzy drinks or water as they will be strong enough to hold the liquid, normal plastic bottles will crack or split under pressure.
Same goes for all equipment and surfaces as well as the ingredients. so enough waffling, here is the recipe that is used chez Kitchen Exile.

500g fresh ginger or more if you like (ensure that the ginger is smooth and not wrinkly)
Juice of 1 lemon
100g of sugar for each litre of water (we normally brew about 4 litres, so 400g)
Ginger beer plant

I like to juice the ginger but you can also grate the ginger and then squeeze the juice out if you don't have a juicer
Mix the sugar in the water and ensure it is dissolved
Add the gonger beer plant to the water
Add the lemon juice and ginger juice and pour into the demi john
Place the airlock cap on and let brew for a minimum of 3-4 days
You will notice that it will start to bubble up after a couple of days, the activity in the airlock cap will indicate that it is starting to work
As it brews, its starts to convert the sugars
After 4 days it should be ready for bottling, I advise doing a taste test as depending on how vigorous the initial brew process was, it may need a little more sugar depending on your taste
The bottling process is where the carbonation starts and depending on how fizzy you like your beer depends on how long you leave it, we tend to go for two days
When bottling you will need to use a funnel and a sieve, as you want to keep the ginger beer plant for your next brew 
To preserve the plant, place it in a jar and top up with water, add some sugar and a few drops of lemon juice, place the lid loosely on and keep it until your next brew
Leave a couple of inches free in each bottle, it makes it easier to open if there is too much carbonation
Place the lid on the bottles and place in a cupboard for a couple of days for secondary fermentation and carbonation to take place
When you want the carbonation to stop just place the bottles in the fridge
All that's left to do is to enjoy

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