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Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Great Ginger Beer Experiment - Bottling

15 brown bottles sitting on the sideboard

Looking at my ginger beer in its' bucket it looks as if the time has come to bottle it. Bubbles have stopped rising to the surface and it looks like fermentation has slowed almost to a stop. I'm slightly concerned that the mild disinfectant properties of the ginger haven't affected the brew too much. The reason I can't tell is that the sludge generated by the yeast coming out of suspension is almost identical in colour to the pureed ginger in the brew which has also sunk to the bottom of the fermenter.

Raw ginger beer

I disinfect my bottles and put the priming sugar in. Back in the UK I had a siphon with a tap, here all I have to get the beer from the fermenter to the bottles is a length of tubing which means I have to put my thumb over the end of it to stop the flow of liquid into the bottles. This results in a spray of sugary ginger beer all over the kitchen. Lovely, that's going to be sticky for weeks.

I managed to get most of the liquid into the bottles, eventually. As expected at the bottom of the fermenter is thick with a yeast and ginger suspension.

Funk at the bottom of the barrel

A small amount of this has gone into each bottle in the hope that I can keep the ginger flavour strong and that I might yet be able to make a more traditional cloudy ginger beer in place of a clear amber ginger ale. The next step is to see if I can squeeze the last two litres of ginger beer out of the funk at the bottom of the barrel. I don't have time or a filter good enough to deal with the quantity of yeast so I am going to have to seive the mixture and have a couple of bottles with more funk than I would actually like in.

Mmmmmm yes!

Seiving this causes a fantastic mess. By now the whole flat reeks of yeasty ginger and is covered in a thin film of syrupy ginger beer which is beginning to stick me to the floor. My shoes make a sucking noise and have to be released from the floor's grip with a sharp tug. Eventually I managed to squeeze an extra litre and a half from the ginger porridge at the bottom of the fermenter which I carefully poured into three extra bottles.

The funky three

There is so much solid matter in these three that they feel significantly heavier than the other bottles. If there is a candidate for bursting the bottle it will be one of these three.

I tried a little of the mixture that was going in to these three and in all honesty it wasn't bad. It's come out a little dryer than I would have liked but there isn't a hint of the dusty muddy flavour that has been the case with all previous attempts. I'm hoping that I've fermented the beer for long enough that there is no fermentable sugar other than the priming sugar left in the bottles otherwise the beer will cover the inside of the cupboard with broken glass and ginger beer. It's a bit hard to tell if this is actually the case as the lactose has sweetened the mixture so I can't tell by tasting it. It is now a matter of time. I have to wait probably another fortnight before I can open one of these bottles, presuming that they don't open themselves in the meantime.