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“Lucky Dogs” Get Private Tour of Flying Dog Brewery

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A few posts back I had written about the Hubster’s wins in our local Battle of the Bubbles homebrew competition.  First place won the chance to have their beer professionally brewed at the Barley & Hops brewpub.  But SECOND place (aka. the Hubster) won a private tour with 10 select beer buddies at the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland.

We have since cashed in on that prize, and he now has his sights set on winning second place again NEXT year!  We had a rare and fantastic opportunity to spend half a day on a personal guided tour with two of Flying Dog’s top brewing experts.  For almost 5 hours, we had access to the brewery, professional brewing information, and of course Flying Dog beers.

Breakfast of Champions

The tour started off with a brewer meet and greet and liquid breakfast in Flying Dog’s tap room.  We became fast friends with our two tour guides – the two Bens.   Ben C. came from the banking industry in PA and worked his way through the ranks to become one of Flying Dog’s top brewers.  Ben S. is FD’s science guy, tasting coordinator, quality control lead and scrabble guru.  He has the awesome responsibility of ensuring that Flying Dog’s beers are always top quality.  I can personally assure you they are both doing excellent work!

We also tried a very unique beer called Keith’s Gose.  Unique because it is a sour beer brewed with Old Bay seasoning, intended to pair with steamed crabs.  I guarantee you’ve never tasted a beer like this before.  The only thing missing were the crabs.

The “Have it Your Way” Tour

It was our tour, our way, whatever we wanted to see, ask, or taste.  We went outside, back inside, past the grains, around the brew tanks, down to the experimental brewing operations, back up to the fermenters, stopped for a refill (fresh Raging Bitch Belgian IPA straight from the tank…ahhhahh), into the boiler room, over to quality control, across to bottling, on to kegging, upstairs to storage, past the hot room, into the hop cooler, back over to bottling, and finishing in the tap room for a potty break and refills.  Shew!  The homebrewers were in heaven, soaking in the beer data, tips tricks, stories, and snagging some recipe ideas.  The two Bens seemed happy to share their knowledge with an enthusiastic and fairly knowledgeable group.

Behind the Scenes Tidbits

They can recycle their yeast up to 15 or 16 times, depending on the beer.  And each generation spawns better and better beer.

There’s a hot room used to store beer at garage temps.  Ben S. has to taste these beers to determine the shelf life and durability of any given 6-pack after it’s been sitting in the garage all summer.  It’s a tough job, but at the end of the day, it’s free beer!

Artwork is EVERYWHERE in that brewery.  But the best artwork is on the labels.  All label art is designed by Ralph Steadman.  But the brewery art and murals are painted by local artists who have studied Steadman’s style.  Their reflective work appears in the entrance hallway leading to the brewery and in numerous locations throughout the brewery.

Who Spiked the Beer???

After potty breaks and refills, the two Bens led us into a conference room and Ben C. poured 6 beer samples in  labeled cups.  These beers were intentionally spiked with contaminants that produce common off-flavors in beer.  The point is, in order to produce good beer, it is equally important to know how beer should and should NOT taste.  It should NOT taste like creamed corn, green apple, butter, or circus peanuts (banana – unless its a hefeweizen).  All good flavors for jelly bellies, but not so much for beer.

Some large brewers intentionally produce these flavors because they appeal to certain tastes.  For instance, creamed corn is a flavor produced by DMS that actually appeals to a wide audience, and which you will find prevalent in some select and very well known commercial brews.

All Good Things Come to an End

We ended on a huge high note as Ben S. pulled out some specialty beverages from the secret stash, including side by side comparisons of their current and vintage Horn Dog Barleywine; their special Secret Stash Harvest Ale; vintage Gonzo Barrel Aged Imperial Porter (my personal favorite); The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale (stellar!); and side by side tastings of the almost released Fever Chocolate IPA, as it was supposed to taste vs. the production version.  Both versions of The Fever were great beers, but the chocolate flavors dropped out of the final packaged version, which resulted in a very tasty non-chocolate IPA. The original version is absolutely delicious and completely different – a full hoppy IPA with a smooth blend of chocolate flavor that totally works.

By the end of it all, we had two new beer buds in the two Bens.  We found our way to the gift shop, purchased current and vintage beverages and lots of swag, then hugged it out and made our way safely home.

I would like to give a huge shout out and thank you to the two Ben’s.  We can’t thank you enough for your gracious hospitality and generous sharing of beer knowledge.

Your Chance to Tour Flying Dog Brewery

Visit Flying Dog’s website to sign up for a tour or attend one of their offbeat events.  It’s a great time to hang out with friends, sample some stellar brews, and learn how beer is made by one of America’s finest breweries.

Cheers Beers!

Specialty Beer Brings Home the Blue

September 25, 2011 5 comments

After his first taste of competition at Frederick Beer Week this past spring, the Hubster decided to enter two of his brews into the Frederick County Fair.  Mind you, the Frederick County Fair sounds like small potatoes, but Frederick actually has a well established homebrew community, and our Frederick’s Original Ale Maker’s (FOAM)  homebrew club includes a large membership and some highly regarded beer judges and brewers.  So the entries for this event were numerous and competitive, ranging in all types and styles of beer.

I can attest that the Hubster makes some darn good brews, and for this round, he entered his fresh hopped IPA in the IPA category (the largest with 24 entries), and his pumpkin ale in the specialty beer category (second largest with 20 entries).  Results were posted late Sunday eve and we awoke to victory – a first place win in the specialty beer category with his pumpkin ale!   Very exciting!  And let me tell you, award winning beer tastes so much sweeter.

 

Cheers Beers!

Peanut Butter Dog Cookies from Spent Grain

I’ve been itching to make dog cookies from spent grain since seeing a recipe in one of the hubster’s beer magazines.  Many breweries hand their spent grain over to local farmers for feed, so we know our four legged friends are fans.  After the hubster and his buddy brewed this weekend,  I asked him to set aside of few cups of grain for experimentation purposes.

Below is a basic recipe that seems popular among homebrewers and their canine sidekicks.  I actually halved the original recipe, and as I write this, our kitchen is filled with the yummy aroma of peanut butter dog cookies baking in the oven.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  Hops are toxic to animals, so do not feed any grain to animals if it has come into contact with hops of any kind.

Peanut Butter and Grain Dog Cookies

Makes 2-1/2 dozen medium sized dog cookies.

Ingredients

    • 2 cups grain
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Roll out dough and press shapes with cookies cutters, cut with knife, or drop cookies using two spoons.
  4. Bake for 30 at 350 degrees, then reduce temperature to 225 degrees and continue baking for 2 hours.  The cookies should be dried out at that point so they won’t spoil when left out.

Cool cookies and share w/ your four-legged friends.

These are rustic looking cookies.  But my dogs don’t seem to mind.  There’s not much they won’t eat and they seem to really enjoy these.

Soft or Hard Cookies.  Since I have older dogs, I prefer cookies that aren’t too hard, and still have some tenderness on the inside, so I don’t overbake them.  Test out times and temps in your oven to determine optimal baking time and texture.  Just keep in mind that if the cookies are soft, then their shelf life won’t be as long.  You can even refrigerate them so they won’t get moldy.

Storage.  I’d store these for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container, much like you would human cookies.  However, if you dry them out completely at a lower temperature for a longer period of time , then they should have a fairly long shelf life.

No Grain?  If you’re just looking for a good dog biscuit recipe but don’t have any spent grain on hand, then  visit SpiceGirlFl’s blog Savoring Every Bite and give her homemade peanut butter dog biscuits a try!

I’ll be testing and posting more recipes and ideas for using for spent grain, so stay tuned!

Cheers beers!

Coolin’ Off with Frozen Beersicles

We found Sean Paxton’s (aka. The Homebrew Chef) Beersicles recipes just in time for the 4th of July.  Easy to make, these popsicles will be the king of conversation at your next homebrew gathering or cookout. They’re also a great way to feature your homebrew or other favorite beers.  Use the recipes below as a guide for creating your own variations. Just don’t let the little kiddies get hold of these – they’re for big kids only.

Beersicles (from the Homebrew Chef)

Start with a basic simple syrup…

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups organic sugar

Simple Syrup Directions:

To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and boil for 3 minutes on high. Remove from the heat and chill. This can be made in advance and will hold in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Also perfect for cocktails and other desserts.

Union Jack IPA Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA
2 ounces simple syrup, recipe below

Midasicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Dogfish Head Midas Touch
2 ounces simple syrup, substitute 1/2 cup of honey for 3/4 cup sugar

Bastard Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale
2 ounces simple syrup

Kriek Popsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek
2 ounces simple syrup

Goose Island Bourbon County Stoutsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  • Choose your recipe and combine ingredients in a bowl with a whisk
  • Carefully pour (we used a funnel) the mixture into popsicle molds.  One recipe filled a set of 4 popsicle molds.
  • We used plastic molds, but you could probably use small plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks, and put a small piece of plastic through the stick and over the top of the cup.
  • Freeze overnight.

We made ours with Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch and Stone’s Old Arrogant Bastard.  Reminds me of ice beer.  The flavors are somewhat condensed and the primary flavors of the beer are really accentuated.  The honey of course was prominent in the Midas Touch, and the hoppy bitterness stood out in the Old Arrogant Bastard.  The taste of the beer is retained, but sweetly enhanced with the simple syrup.  Just a fun, interesting way to experience your favorite beer, especially in the heat of summer.

You’ll find tons of great beer recipes on Sean Paxton’s website at www.thehomebrewchef.com.  He also hosts a show on The Brewing Network where he talks all about cooking with beer.  He shares some amazing homebrew and food recipes (afterall, he is a homebrewer AND a chef), as well as comprehensive insights to food and beer pairings.

Cheers beers!

The Forefathers of Homebrewing

In honor of the 4th of July, I thought I’d do a little research and throw out some tidbits about our forefathers and their love of beer….

Thomas Jefferson – a Forefather of Homebrewing

According to The Jefferson Monticello website…

“At Monticello, beer [1] was a “table liquor” served during dinner, and Jefferson’s earliest designs for his plantation included spaces for brewing and the storage of beer.”

Bottles used at Monticello to bottle beer – made of clay and glass.

“In the early years of their marriage Jefferson’s wife Martha brewed fifteen-gallon batches of small beer (which has a relatively low alcoholic content) nearly every two weeks. Perhaps with a view toward expanding production, Jefferson’s early plans for Monticello’s offices (the rooms where household services were carried out) came to include both a brewing room and a beer cellar.”

Jefferson took to growing his own hops and malting his own grain.  “Once the malt had been ground, brewing needed to commence immediately. In the fall, Jefferson brewed three sixty-gallon casks of ale in succession.”

“As word spread of the brewing operations at Monticello, Jefferson’s neighbors began requesting his ale recipe, or asking to have their servants trained in beer making at Monticello. ”

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation collaborated with Virginia’s Starr Hill Brewing Company to create the Monticello Reserve Ale.  Tastings were served at Monticello this past President’s Day.  As described on Starr Hill’s website – “Monticello Reserve Ale is inspired by what was produced and consumed regularly at Monticello.  It is made from a combination of wheat and corn, lightly hopped. ”

George Washington’s Beer Recipe

As written by Max Reed, The Gawker, May 4, 2011 11:48 PM

George Washington’s beer, made from a recipe he wrote in his Notebook as a Virginia Colonel.

New York Public Library holds the recipe as part of its collection, and to celebrate the centennial of its Steven A. Schwartzman building, has commissioned the Shmaltz Brewing Company (which makes He’brew and Coney Island Lager) to recreate it. ”

Sam Adams – Namesake in Beer

According to Wikipedia…

“The brand name of Samuel Adams (often abbreviated to Sam Adams, even in advertisements), was chosen in honor of Samuel Adams, an American patriot famous for his role in the American Revolution and Boston Tea Party. According to tradition, he was also a brewer.[3]?

Ben Franklin – Hate to Love Relationship with Beer

From Gregg Smith’s article “Brewing in Colonial America” on BeerHistory.com

“The quintessential colonist Benjamin Franklin described his earliest job in a print shop with frequent reference to ale. As a young apprentice, tending to the needs of the journeymen was one of his foremost duties. A right to take a portion of one’s wages in ale was another custom these displaced Englishmen brought with them. Franklin’s diary repeatedly mentions the times his work was interrupted as he was dispatched to fetch rations of ale. Although this job resulted in his early disdain for the beverage he soon developed a fondness. Even John Adams, first United States ambassador to the court of St.James was a beer drinker.”


Colonial Life Revolved Around Beer

From Gregg Smith’s article “Brewing in Colonial America” on BeerHistory.com

“Early colonists of the North American continent had a fairly simple life. The typical immigrant from England had only three things on their mind: where to get food, how to secure shelter, and when would they get their next beer.”

“Nearly every citizen of the day knew that drinking water could make you deathly ill. Ale drinkers were somehow spared this affliction and therefore most people soon substituted a frequent imbibing of ale over the dreaded curse of water.”

“Most parties landing on American soil would bring with them the equipment and raw materials to begin immediate production of ale.”

“Ale and beer was a major dietary staple in the colonies. Literally everyone partook. It was the common item which spanned generations, from cradle to grave everyone drank beer. Infantswere fed beer and it was especially recommended for nursing mothers. Farmers, laborers, merchants, lawyers, and craftsman all drank beer. It was a common thread in all their lives and this democratic beverage would even play a role of mid-wife in the formation of government.”

“It was not uncommon for drinking to begin even before breakfast and it continued with every meal throughout the day.”

“This homebrewing even had its effect on colonial architecture. Most households added a small brew room onto their living quarters. ”


Beer Quotes from Our Forefathers

  • “Beer , if drank with moderation, softens the tempter, cheers the spirit, and promotes good health.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” – Benjamin Franklin
  • “I fear the man who drinks water and so remembers this morning what the rest of us said last night” –Benjamin Franklin
  • “Let no man thirst for good beer.” – Sam Adams
  • In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. –Benjamin Franklin
  • “There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.”-Benjamin Franklin


Happy 4th of July!  Cheer Beers!

Homemade Homebrew (Beer) Ice Cream

Ice cream can be made with some of the most unlikely ingredients, and oddly enough it works – garlic ice cream, green chili ice cream, green tea ice cream, and beer ice cream.  That’s right, beer in ice cream – hands down one of the simplest, most surprisingly delicious desserts you’ll ever try.

Our first beer ice cream experience was at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, PA.  Golden Monkey and Storm King Stout chocolate were the flavors I remember, and we practically planted our faces in the bowl to make sure none of it went to waste.  Of course, it helps to have connections with the local creamery – Victory just sends over the wort and magical ice cream is churned out exclusively for the brewpub.  It really doesn’t get much better…unless you make it at home with your own homebrew.

That’s right, you can make homebrew ice cream using just 4 simple ingredients and an inexpensive ice cream maker.  Even the kiddies can help make it and eat it too!  Before you know it, every kid in the neighborhood will be over for ice cream just so they tell their parents they had beer at your house.  Ok, that’s a little joke, but you’ll still be the talk of the neighborhood!

Here’s the recipe …

(Homebrew) Beer Ice Cream

(from Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2010)

Serves 2-4, and takes 20 minutes plus freezing time

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup homebrewed wort or finished beer
1 cup heavy cream

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and lemon colored. Bring the beer and the cream to a simmer in a heavy-bottom saucepan, then slowly pour over the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over low heat, whisking frequently, until it thickens.

2. Pour through a strainer into a mixing bowl set over ice and whisk until cool. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Each of 4 servings: 384 calories; 4 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 27 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 292 mg. cholesterol; 25 grams sugar; 34 mg. sodium.

Note:  Using wort vs finished beer is the homebrewer’s advantage for this recipe.  You still get the beer flavor without the hops and carbonation.

Voila!  That’s it.  The fun part is choosing the beer to use – less hoppy beers like belgians, stouts, or malty lagers taste best –  and maybe adding some extra ingredients.  Consider the flavors in the beer – chocolate, coffee, caramel, toffee, fruit – then match or compliment by adding chunks of chocolate, dried fruit, bits of toffee, fruit preserves, caramel or fudge toppings, chocolate syrup or nuts…whatever your inner homebrew chef conjures up.  Plain and simple is just as good, and you can always top it off later.  Just don’t forget to pair your bowl of ice cream with a matching glass of homebrew!

Cheers Beers!

(visit the recipes menu at http://www.cheersbeers.wordpress.com for more beer ice cream recipes)

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Part 3 All Grain Homebrewing 101: the Home “Brew” Movie

Instead of writing out the entire brewing process, we decided to capture our brew day on video!  It may not be perfect, but its our very first video, and we had fun making it.  So here we are brewing a beer called Oatmeal Cookie in a Glass, which we adapted from the book Radical Brewing, by Randy Mosher. So grab a quality beer, sit back and enjoy the show….

Oatmeal Cookie Brown Ale from Cheers Beers on Vimeo.

All Grain Homebrewing 101: Part 2 Five Step Brewing Prep

January 23, 2011 1 comment

Have your ingredients and your process "at the ready" on brew day.

Back for part 2?  Excellent!  I know you’re anxious to get to brew day (sorry, next blog I promise), but as a novice brewer looking to introduce other novices to the all grain method, we need to first discuss a few less exciting, but very important pre-brew tasks that can really improve your success.

Back in the beginning, when my husband first learned to homebrew, I witnessed some major “oh shit” moments.  Since then, he’s managed to get his process down to a science.  This takes time, but the point is, preparation, organization, and cleanliness are next to godliness when brewing beer. Don’t get me wrong, even the most seasoned brewers have “oh shit” moments – profanities streaming from the garage on brew days still send the dogs and I running for cover – but as you become more experienced, you’ll develop the uncanny ability to foresee and respond quickly to the unexpected.

So as a side spectator in the sport of brewing, here are what I’ve determined to be 5 key prep steps for brew day success:

Step 1. Know Your Recipe

This is not a last minute decision.  It’s not like soup where you just throw things together at the last minute using leftovers from the fridge.  Pick a recipe in advance, understand the recipe, make sure you have access to the ingredients for that recipe, and make sure you understand the process.   Best to start with a simple recipe with simple ingredients.

Step 2. Calculate Your Water Levels

There’s an online beer calculator for everything – calculate gravity, carbonation, IBUs, ABVs, water, yeast statistics.  Tools like Brew365, Beer Tools, Brew Calcs, and  Mr. Malty will help you determine exactly the characteristics you want to achieve in your beer.  However, the most important measurements that beginners must deal with is strike and sparge water levels.  Before your brew day, find a good online beer recipe calculator (give it a Google) and determine these measurements ahead of time.

A healthy yeast starter will boost your beer's fermentation.

 

3. Prepare the Yeast Starter

18-24 hours before you brew, prepare a yeast starter.  The yeast starter is a mini-brew concoction (wort) made of water, malt and yeast.  The idea is to activate the yeast by creating the perfect yeast environment.  A magnetic stir plate adds oxygen, and you want to keep it at an even temperature around 68°F.  The yeast feed on the mixture and, just like a real beer, they begin converting the sugars to alcohol. When added to the final brew, these active and healthy yeast will jump start fermentation and start the beer off on the right foot.

4.  Layout Your Ingredients

Have your recipe and ingredients laid out, weighed and measured.  Having your ingredients “at the ready” will streamline your process and help eliminate “oh shit” moments.

5.  Clean and Sanitize Your Equipment

Bacteria ruins beer, so this step alone can make or break an entire day’s worth of brewing.  You don’t want funky beer, so take the time to clean AND sanitize your equipment before you brew and throughout your brewing process.

Like I said, not as much fun, but equally important steps in the brewing process.  Groan if you must, but after all the bragging about making your own beer, it would suck if you don’t have something remotely drinkable to share with your friends.

Next blog…the fun stuff – Brew day!

Cheer beers!

All Grain Homebrewing 101 – Part 1 Introduction

My husband was recently bragging to his buddy about my beer blogs. “Nice,” I thought, until his buddy asked the question – “has she ever blogged about your homebrews?”.

First thing to my mind, “Doh!”.  Then he turned to me as if to say “you love everyone else’s beer more than you love mine”.  Oh geez, in the dog house again!   Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, and even as I write this blog, my beverage of choice is a glass of his Multiplication Belgian Quad – perfect for kicking the creative gears into action.

From Cook to Brewer. Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to learn to homebrew, but I’ve never once participated in a brew day.  You see, I’m a cook, not a brewer. Brewing is scientific, precise, sterilized, and perfectly timed with lots of beakers, tubes and gadgetry and not a lot of room for error.  I have creative ideas for recipes and I can talk about what I think tastes good.  I just don’t have the discipline or the attention span to be a brewer.  But that will soon change.

All Grain Homebrewing – the Series. As luck would have it, Donnie has planned a brew day this very weekend, and since my plans have fallen through, I guess it’s time for me to give brewing a try.  This blog is the first of a series that I’m calling “All Grain Homebrewing 101”.   Most beginners start with extract, but since Donnie uses the all grain method, then this series will document my interpretation of all grain brewing basics.

All Grain vs. Extract Brewing. The all grain method starts with actual grain rather than the condensed malt extract in a can.  Malt extract is a thick molasses type substance that’s designed to substantially reduce the time and equipment needed to brew.  However, the best beer is generally (not always) produced with all grain.  So follow along on our brewing adventure and maybe you’ll be inspired to start your own home brewing operation.

In Part 2 of this blog series, I’ll talk about some important rules and tips for getting started.

Cheers beers!

Putting “Beer” Back in Ginger Beer

Let’s talk about a beer whose tradition and integrity were pretty much eradicated by the effects of prohibition, not to mention today’s commercial soda industry.  The great thing about small craft brewers (commercial and home alike) is their desire to make beers that don’t necessarily please the masses, but are just fun to try.  For instance, Troeg’s Brewing Company is one who makes small batches of ginger beer; and from what I understand, this beer is exclusively produced for McGrath’s Pub in Harrisburg, PA, where they’re known for serving the old fashioned Moscow Mule.

Not often do we get a chance to try real ginger beer, which is drier and packs more ginger punch than today’s overly sweet, kid-friendly soft drink. Brought to us from England in the mid-1700s, Ginger Beer was originally alcoholic and was brewed much like regular beer. In fact, traditional ginger beer is made of 4 ingredients – ginger, sugar, water, and ginger beer plant – and flavorings like lemon, lime, and honey can also be added.  The ginger beer plant is actually more like a fungus that produces bacteria and yeast, which of course, ferments the beer and supposedly produces a product that’s highly effervescent and similar in flavor to champagne.  Although the ginger plant does produce a much higher alcohol content, up to 11%, baker’s or brewer’s yeasts are much easier to come by and are perfectly acceptable alternatives.

Now, up to this point, I’ve left the home brewing to my husband; however, the following recipe looks like a fun starting point for side liners like me, and it also offers seasoned brewers the chance to stir up something different in their brew pots, and perhaps even win over a few non-beer drinking fans.  Supposedly this brew is as strong as a regular beer – let’s assume about 5-6%.  I like it because the basic recipe lends itself well to experimentation, so you can really get creative with the flavors and make it your own original brew.  It’s also been tested quite a few times by the author, OzarkMtMan, and he’s provides great insight so you can avoid repeating his mistakes, like creating bottle bombs and other brewing fiascos.

If you decide to give this a try, come back and let us know how it goes!

Old-fashioned Ginger Beer Recipe

as Posted by OzarkMtMan on the iVillage GardenWeb site

This makes for about five gallons. Scale it down if you need to, and be aware that it is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to alter some of the ingredients to suit your own.

8 lbs of sugar
5-6 ozs of ginger root, sliced very thin
5 gallons of water
Any combination of lemons and limes equalling 10-12 total.

Notes:  More lemons than limes tastes better to me. The limes will give a bit of sparkle and body to the flavor. Try a combination of 3/4 lemons to 1/4 limes, or 2/3 to 1/3. Use a potato peeler or sharp knife to remove the outer skins from these while avoiding as much of the white rind as possible. The rind tends to make the brew bitter.

Directions:

  • Squeeze the lemons and limes. Remove any seeds from the juice.
  • Yeast I use a yeast suitable for a light beer such as a pilsner. I am sure that other yeast types would work but, I can’t vouch for the flavor or the readiness of the brew to be had very young.

————————————————

  • Heat about a gallon or so of the water to boiling and add the sugar.
  • When the sugar has completely dissolved then add the ginger and simmer for twenty minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Add the lemon/lime juice and peels after the water has cooled just a little, about ten minutes or so.
  • Place mixture in fermenting vessel with enough of the remaining water to make for 5 gallons. You may wish to use a mesh bag for the peels and ginger slices.
  • Allow the temperature to cool down to about 70 degrees, then add the yeast.
  • Attach the air lock to the fermentation vessel.
  • Depending on how warm the vessel is kept this will be ready to bottle in about two weeks.
  • Wait for the fermentation action to come to a slow ‘perk’. If you wait too long your finished beer will not have enough sugar left in it and it will be sour and rather flat. Too soon and you will have a ginger beer bombing strafe going on in your storage closet!

I wish I could be of more assistance to you as to timing suggestions but, I leave you to your own judgement on that. Just remember that one needs to find a happy medium between too flat, or explosive.

  • When you are either satisfied that it is time, or antsy to go to the next step, then proceed with bottling the brew.

I know that some folks will cringe here to what I am about to advise, but after a few exploding bottles I opted to try pint-sized screw top soda bottles. Yes, I know, plastic! I don’t like plastic either. Never the less I have never had a plastic bottle explode, and if I test one bottle out and find that it is overly effervescent I can go through the rest and very gently unscrew the caps a little to let off a bit of the pressure. That seems to me a much easier and safer solution to bottling the stuff than risking what could be dangerous glass bottles. Believe me this stuff can really bubble!

When you bottle the brew it will probably still be rather cloudy. Don’t worry about that. The brew will clear itself considerably inside the bottle while under compression. It will be ready to drink in no time at all after bottling, once you are satisfied with its clarity and fizz.

Also take it slow when opening the screw tops, as you would with a shaken soda, a little at a time and reclosing it if it’s about to foam over. This ginger beer can produce a real fountain of fizz at times even when unshaken. If you should add sugar to it after it has been bottled because the beer is too sour that can also cause a fountain effect, similar to what happens when you mix baking soda with vinegar, WOOSH! So please be aware of that, too. I once had a bottle almost entirely empty itself from my doing that! And there was no getting the cap back on to stop the deluge. I’ve never tried doing that again!

I enter these cautions here hoping that it does not put you off of trying to make a batch of ginger beer. I have had many successful batches. It is simply prudent to advise you all of what can go wrong, and what to avoid.

I hope that some of you find this recipe enjoyable, and that you will share your experiences of brewing it with me.

Feel free to experiment with the recipe, it is very forgiving.

Cheers beers!

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