Homebrewing around here has taken a back seat to general everyday survival. We’ve been making a lot of our food from scratch and trying to get our probiotics in. We’ve been brewing kombucha for a while, but I have really been missing soda. Enter naturally fermented sodas!
My intention is to work my way up to traditional root beer. But we’ve been enjoying making ginger beer. I recently started kegging it, we were going through it so quickly. My son LOVES this stuff! I just kicked a two gallon keg after two weeks.
This is a traditionally fermented lactobacillus bacteria ginger beer; also called a “ginger bug” ferment for those who get icked out thinking about bacterial ferments.
If you use yeast, you run the risk of alcohol. Lacto ferments will only go alcoholic after a long time.
You’ll need about a week to “step up” your lacto starter.
In a quart mason jar, add:
– 3 cups filtered water
– 3 Tbsp minced ginger with the peel on (organic preferably as conventional store-bought might have been irradiated and killed the bacteria we’re looking for)
– 3 Tbsp cane sugar or other fermentable. Not honey.
Cover with a paper towel or cheesecloth. Don’t seal it. We want to aerate frequently, so stir the heck out of it. If you have a stir plate, that’s even better.
Every day for a week, add another:
– 2 tsp minced ginger
– 2 tsp sugar
Stir whenever you walk past it or at least twice a day. Again, 15 minutes on a stir plate twice a day is what I do. My plate has a timer. I start it up when I leave the house and once again when I come home.
Now, you have three cups of liquid lactobacillus starter. You can keep this going indefinitely as long as you keep feeding and stirring. If you want to take a break, put it in the fridge with a top on. When you want to get going again, you’ll want a few days to warm it up and feed to get it “growing’ again.
For one gallon of ginger beer (scale up as necessary):
– Grate 2.5 oz of fresh, organic ginger with the peel on.
– Add to 1/2 gallon of filtered water and bring to a boil.
– Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
– You can add 2-3 tbsp of lemon or lime juice. ( I like lime myself)
– After a half hour, stir in 1.5 cups of cane sugar, palm sugar, succanat, etc. Just not honey, because that takes longer to ferment (anti-bacterial properties).
Strain into another 1/2 gallon of cold filtered water (cools faster)
Put an airlock or cheese cloth over the fermenter. I ferment directly in the keg I’ll serve from. For an airlock, I just put on a gas connector with an open tube and put the end in a jar of water or Star San. Open and stir maybe once a day, or shake the fermenter.
Takes about 2-3 days to ferment and eat some of the sugar. You can pull a sample to taste after that to see if it’s at the sweetness you prefer. Add some more lemon or lime juice if you want. This is free form, like Jazz.
When it’s at the desired sweetness, hook up the keg to your gas and chill. I put mine at 20 psi to start and went away for the weekend. It was a bit overly carbonated, so I’d say maybe 15 psi for 3-4 days and it’s ready!