View Full Version : Not a question.. yet

09-07-2015, 03:15 PM
Hi everyone.

Not really a question, for NewBees, but a greetings and hello.
Pretty sure there will be MANY questions to follow ;)

I live in France and this summer after cleaning up the fridge I decided to make something from my childhood memories growing up in South Africa and did a quick google search on ginger beer. Since I do make my own cheese, I had what was needed to sterilise some 750ml flip top bottles... and the rest I guess is history.

The last 2 months have been quiet as I have been making my "ginger syrup" every Sunday, adding yeast and water to the bottles and then opening at least twice a day so they don't explode and then chilling and cracking open to drink on the weekend.. The flip top bottles I believe at least release some pressure, but I know it can go wrong. The first opening was very funny to my wife, as it sprayed everywhere after just 12 hours. I've now learnt to slowly release the pressure. Of course what started as 2 bottles has grown to 12 and is taking longer each day.

All in all its been issue free (Lucky...). The best batch I made, I was told it tasted like ginger champagne.... SO... of course I begun experimenting and adding some herbs (so far thyme and ginger are the family winner), and so it goes. The last batch this week was done with adding some honey. Now while I know about mead, etc.. I have NO CLUE about all the nitty gritty parts of brewing other than my father telling me how his bottles exploded back in the 70's. So when I suddenly got the really foamy head in the bottles.. I started searching more ... and found this site.

Already I know I am screwed as I am making a list of things I need to order and start tracking down suppliers in my region.

Thought a quick (and it's now a long) hello was in order though and thanks in advance for being a pain in the rear end

09-07-2015, 04:22 PM
Hi Kalvaer and welcome. And since you are not asking any questions this is not really an answer but what you might do rather than bottle straightaway or ferment your ginger wine in bottles is ferment the wine in either a food grade bucket or a carboy with a rubber bung and airlock. Here's why: half the weight of the sugars you are fermenting becomes carbon dioxide and that is a lot of gas. Fermenting in a bucket allows that gas to escape without you needing to be always on hand to release the pressure. Measure the specific gravity of the wine as the sugar converts to CO2 and alcohol the gravity (density) of the wine drops. An hydrometer is designed to measure the gravity and should cost only a few francs (here in the USA , less than $10). When the gravity gets close to where you want to bottle the "champagne" then you siphon the wine into bottles. It will till continue to ferment in bottles (and a trick is to fill one plastic soda bottle with your wine- as the CO2 builds up that bottle becomes more and more firm until it is as hard as a brick - at which point you know that the wine in the flip tops will be carbonated to the maximum it can safely hold. At which point you store the bottles in the fridge or drink the contents.... There are more ... um... sophisticated approaches to make the wine sparkling but the Brits use a similar method for making elderflower wine... Good luck and cheers! :occasion14:

09-08-2015, 03:05 AM
Thanks.. and that actually gives me a lot to work on for a question I never asked :)

There is a wealth of information on this site and I know its going to take a lot of time to go through and learn and find out what I want, but that really helps.
My main reason for bottling right away is because its what I have around. I also had no real intention of making it alcoholic, just wanted it fizzy. Of course I feel like the bug has bitten and I would really like to take it one step further.

There is just so much and I feel like I've dive into the deep end of the pool. First I want to find a local supplier, and thinking more a wine making starter kit than an beer brewing kit. This also seems to fit more in with making mead. I'm not really a big beer drinker anyway. I also have a local apiary about 50m from our house in the forest, so I know I have a fresh supply of honey.

Thanks again though, I really love the idea of fermenting first in a "bucket" and then bottling with plastic bottle to check the pressure, cant wait to get started.

09-09-2015, 11:41 PM
The "ferment in bottle in the door of the fridge" technique is a dangerous method usually suggested to giver bubbles and residual sugar.
This beverage is intended to be drunk whilst still fermenting, before it gets too dry.
It is a very amateur approach to winemaking. However it is about the only way to get a sweet carbonated brew at home if you have no equipment.

The way we recommend:

Ferment it dry in a bucket
bottle it, adding a measured amount of sugar.
let it ferment that sugar and carbonate to a measured (non-explosive dose)
Put it in the fridge and drink.

You will now have a dry ginger ale. Note the 'dry'

You can also do the following:
Ferment dry in a bucket
Stabilise with sulphites

Now you have a medium - sweet still ginger wine. Note, this will not be fizzy.

Alternatively, you can ferment it until you're happy with the sweetness
refrigerate at a very low temp -1C or 30F works for me. Or go outside and whack it in the snow if you live in such an area.
Stabilise with sulphites

Now you have a medium - sweet still ginger wine. Note, this will not be fizzy.

If you want any of the stabilise still mead/wine/ginger ale to be fizzy, get a kegging system and a counter pressure bottle filler, and force carbonate.

These are the only safe options open to you.
Do not try and bottle carbonate a sweet mead. It WILL EXPLODE.

09-09-2015, 11:43 PM
You can make the dry carbonated mead in the top technique a little less dry by adding non-fermentable sugars.
Pears have sorbitol, so maybe add a pear.
You can buy lactose, and also other non-fermentable sugars from your brew shop, these are typically not as sweet as grocery store sugar, so you'll not make a sweet drink like this.
You also have the option of adding artificial sweetener, but in my opinion, humble as it is: "uuurrrggh!!!"

09-10-2015, 07:04 AM
Thanks as well Kudapucat.

For now I have also adjusted the spring system on the flip top bottles I have so that they don't actually pull down too tight. When the pressure builds up, it appears to auto-release slowly. However I know this is still dangerous and will get some real equipment ASAP. I will for sure try your suggestions above.. other than the artificial sweetener. I think its fair to say I am of the same opinion.

I'm still trying to find a local brew shop and I have been looking around online. Found what appears to be a decent place in Belguim though still looking.
If anyone has any advice or if there is a suppliers list of sorts I can check out that would be great.

09-10-2015, 07:30 AM
Where do you live? FatBloke is in the UK and knows most of the European mail order supplies. There are a few other folk about too.
GntlKnigt1 is in the Netherlands.
There are a couple of polish ppl I can't recall the handles of.
Start a new thread asking this question, with your location in the title.
You'll get heaps of help. Meadhers love finding likeminded friends nearby.

09-10-2015, 12:44 PM
Thanks mate.. I'll surely do that

I stay in France, but work in Switzerland, and since today was a public holiday at work, I was able to go around shopping in France. I didn't find much in the means of a local supplier (One would think in the wine capital of the world I would of had more luck), though I did find the shop where I buy my materials for cheese making stocks some Brewferm, which I believe is from the supplier in Belgium I was looking at online (I won't mention it since I don't want to appear to be advertising so soon after joining the site, though they seem pretty well known.)

I also found a link here somewhere to a post about trying your first JOAM using a "1 gallon plastic water bottle". My local supermarket only had 8l "jugs" today, so I bought 3. I also got enough ingredients to make my first JOAM and its already been in the basement for ~4 hours. I checked on it before turning on my PC, and its already got some foamy head forming.
I don't have a proper air-stop though, so using a pin pricked balloon as I saw mentioned here over the spigot on the top and it appears to be filling up.
Used the same yeast that I used for my gingerbeer, so hope its ok... Guess we will see in two months. I did make sure to document everything as I believe is a requirement ;)

Also busy making 2l of ginger syrup to use in the other 2 jugs, and plan on making one normal, and one with honey and thyme... really going to have to find bottles soon to decant though.

09-10-2015, 01:49 PM
and.. oopps, I meant JAOM

09-10-2015, 07:22 PM
Where's the link to your brewlog then?
The key to using bread yeast is that it has a low tolerance for alcohol. What yeast do you use for your Ginger Beer?

09-11-2015, 03:59 PM
My logs are all excel spreadsheets. Haven't got any other idea of what to use otherwise and I haven't posted anything on line yet.
I've been using the same bread yeast for the Ginger Beer. Its how I remember my mother used to make as a kid and I've been doing the same.
Getting some decent yeast is the first thing I need do online since I can't find a local brew shop yet.

I don't think the ginger beer gets enough time to make it alcoholic though, my wife and I love it to much as its so refreshing on a hot evening after work.
Of the 6 bottles I made last week, only 1 is left ;) Once I get a Hydrometer I'll start checking.

There are 3 x 8l containers happily bubbling in the basement right now with filled up balloons. 1 x JAOM and 2 x Ginger Beer (1 with thyme and star anise & 1 with 375g of pine honey). The GB's are in the lead when it comes to balloon size, but the JOAM sounds like it is bubbling the best.

09-15-2015, 03:09 PM
Well not much response on my thread for the EU supplies.. So I went ahead and ordered a wine starter kit, some extra car boys, etc, from Brouwland in Belgium.
Just got the email that my goods had been shipped.. but not sure how long it will take. French Customs is either great.. or pathetic.

Only thing I did not really order is additional yeast. The brands available at brouwland did not seem like any mentioned here on these forums. So I thought I would use the starter kit as a basis to work out what I get and need, instead of wasting money on not knowing.
The next thing as I mentioned in my brewlog I posted today, is that I am a bit worried about the temps in the cellar.
We got our first sprinkling of snow the last couple of days on the top of the Alps, and my cellar has already dropped to 15˚C at night. So I think I might need to find a way to heat things a bit

09-15-2015, 03:45 PM
I typically regulate to 18░C
If your batch is big enough, you'll only need to start it warm, it will make its own heat.

09-15-2015, 04:09 PM
It was 18.2˚C this afternoon when I got home.. but around 15˚C this morning when I work up. I'm more just worried of a massive chill at night here that could cause everything to stall. Granted it shouldn't drop that quick inside overnight, though I have returned home after 3 weeks vacation in the middle of winter with all the heating turned off to find the entire house at -5˚C, and also seen it drop to -20˚C when the Swiss storms blow through badly.

Damn.. I feel like an over protective Parent!

09-16-2015, 04:16 PM
So my goodies arrived today and I felt like a kid on Christmas.
Only issue was that the 23L Carboys I had ordered, arrived as 11.4L
I have emailed the supplier though right away and will see what they say.

Since I finally got all my toys, I started playing. Of course I don't know any of the SG's.. I was wondering however if I work out a rough estimate if I know all the ingredients?

This is the longest I have left the ginger beers to ferment. Usually by now they are all drunk up.
The normal GB, came in at 0.995 and is REALLY dry.. but I actually like it.
The honey GB came in at 1.010
The JOAM is sitting at 1.090 Since I tasted this from the thief last.. it tastes SO SO SWEET.. But really good and cant wait.

I racked off all the GB now. Some into bottles and 10l in mini kegs.
Not to worried about letting it clear as I haven't ever before.. but might let let one bottle rest just to see how it turns out.
They have a pretty good strong after taste and feels like some kick to them
I wanted to back sweeten, but I have NO sugar in my house.. Considering that 2 sugar cubes used to last 2 years and I bought at least 3 KG's in the last month I would have thought we had... guess its all over.

My Wife has just been shaking her head at me and thinks I have turned into Breaking Bad ;)
She is away this week, and after talking to her on Skype.. all she wants to do is come home and try.

09-20-2015, 07:35 AM
The way we recommend: ...
After kegging 10L and bottling the rest I am totally blown away by the difference. The alcohol content is obviously much higher than what used to get.
The colour in the bottles is also hugely different. No more of that creamy white colour that ginger beer is known for, but it has turned into a clear golden liquid.
You can still taste the strong ginger though, but we had to backsweeten the batch that went to 0.995 (added maple syrup to try the effect).
48 hours later and it really tastes great with a lovely ginger burn that lingers for a while in your mouth.
Those that I have bottled I have tried to degas. But from the kegs its fizzy, but no where near anything like the champagne style I got before.

Going to have to make another 8L batch of GB this afternoon ;)

Currently brewing now is:
6l Cardonney
6l Cabernet Sauvignon
12l Abbey Dark beer.

My local apiary will be bucketing 15kg of honey which I will collect next week and plan to get a 23L BOMM started.
I also have everything for 23L of apple wine which I want to try flavour with honey and "quatre Úpices" for Christmas

10-05-2015, 03:08 PM
So my JOAM is still bubbling slowly.

I have bottled the Chardonnay and Cab Sav. Half of the Chardonnay has been primed and in champagne bottles.
The Abbey beer has been bottled and will be waiting for ~2 week, while another batch us under way.

My latest 12L batch of Ginger Beer, I have just tried to stop fermenting with Campden. I LOVE the carbonation, but the flavour is just really good and the bread yeast I have been using doesn't seem to want to stop at 13%. Think I need to get some yeast that has a much lower alcohol tolerance for the ginger beer.

I also now have 12 L of pomegranate mead going that I am trying to flavour to be like Turkish Delight. It has been fermenting for 12 days, and so far it smells great. Tastes are really incredible, but I Mght need to stop it as well though as it looks like it will go dry soon.. or do I add more honey and risk the higher alcohol level?

My 15KG of Jura mountain pine honey is now also bubbling away in a 23L carboy. I couldn't get the correct yeast for a BOMM, so its only got water, Champagne yeast and nutrients in. I'll let it go to the end and mature for a couple of months.

Reading all this now.. I don't know what I have gotten myself into... The bubbles are just so hypnotic!

EDIT: I forgot.. the apple wine went very dry today and it was at 0.902. I added another kg of sugar and its already bubbling like mad.

10-06-2015, 03:18 PM
You seem to like your libations on the sweet side. I would do a lot of research into "back sweetening" which will help you control the sweetness a lot easier than trying to make whatever you make sweet out of the primary.

Yeast will do whatever it wants to do. You have to let them do what they want first and then you can start intervening. If you don't, you will end up with high ABV almost all the time. Nothing wrong with that, but it's nice to make mead of which you can drink more than a glass and a half! [emoji12]

Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.

10-07-2015, 04:38 AM
I've been thinking about that as well, and all the wine yeast I have, have a tolerance of 15% or above.
I wanted to let the yeasts go to the end.. but yes.. the high ABV means its not very sociable, So I have realised that I have to start stabilising and stopping the fermentation or get some beer yeasts to try.

10-07-2015, 09:56 AM
You're going about it via a more difficult route. It's not wrong, just in my opinion, more difficult and more importantly, limiting. If you limit your yeast choices only to those that poop out at your desired ABV you are closing the door on a large variety of yeasts and on the wonderful flavor profiles they impart.

In my opinion, it's always better to add fermentables that, when completely consumed will yield the ABV you want.

This approach allows for two things I see as benefits. First is a more hands off ferment. The less I have to open up the vessel the better; from both sanitary and labor issues. Once the initial aeration and degassing and SNA is done, I don't have to mess with it anymore.

Second is that I believe less is more when it comes to adding chemicals. Stopping an active ferment requires heavier doses of everything. In contrast I sometimes forego any chems because my yeast pooped out and with a good cold crash and filter, nothing will start back up. Back sweetening also requires less chems in that situation, if any.

So there you go. Your method is still valid but I just wanted to show an alternate.

Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.

10-07-2015, 01:14 PM
Thanks, That actually really makes sense and I'd much rather prefer not having to add chemicals. Which is why most of my stuff has been very high alcohol and sweet because I just cant get the yeast to stop :D

The sweetness level I have liked so far is around 1.000 to 1.010. Though all the yeast I have will rip everything bone dry. Even the bread yeast I have been using has taken my ginger beer to 12% and 0.900. I'm sure if I add more sugar it will just keep on going again.
I didn't think about cold crashing everything, and I don't really have a fridge big enough. At least in a couple of weeks I'll be able to leave everything in the snow in the back yard.

Next is that I also like a bit of fizz, so not really sure how to get them to a lowish ABV, still being sweet, and possibly carbing (without pony kegs).
So how would you go about for example using a champagne yeast, to a low ABV, and still have it sweet?
Guessing here you let it go dry.. wait or cold crash for most of the yeast to drop, and then back sweeten? or...

10-10-2015, 11:59 AM
Took this advice to heart and I decided to try my previous recipe with only 5kg of honey to produce a much lower ABV mead for a new 23L batch.
Its started bubbling in ~3 hours and will see how this turns out compared to the 15KG batch.

10-11-2015, 02:43 PM
Cool! Curious to see if you like the end result.

Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.

10-12-2015, 03:31 PM
The low OG mead has a very sour smell to it?, And by sour, I mean almost bread like?, and its already ripped through all the sugar.
Added a brew log at http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php/25065-Jura-Traditional-Mead

Of course since I didn't' add the last 5kg to the first batch as intended, they are now 10kg and 5kg batches

10-12-2015, 04:19 PM
I'm guessing it's a "yeasty" smell. Is it clear? Have you racked off the lees?
It's not uncommon for small meads to be a bit boring or funky when they're born. Let him grow up a bit...

10-12-2015, 04:31 PM
I still haven't met a small mead I've liked. At least nine I have made. Thin, watery and lacking flavor has been most of my result. Maybe I need to add fruit to make them more interesting. B Nektar makes a mean small mead. They have that "it's so good it can't be real" taste but they are real.

Sent from my TARDIS at the restaurant at the end of the universe while eating Phil.

10-12-2015, 06:00 PM
I'm guessing it's a "yeasty" smell. Is it clear? Have you racked off the lees?
It's not uncommon for small meads to be a bit boring or funky when they're born. Let him grow up a bit...I haven't racked it off yet. I mean its only like 70 hours since it started. I really haven't seen anything go through that amount of honey so quickly, and its still bubbling... Granted at a much slower rate right now, but it does look much cleaner than its twin.

I also don't have something to rack off into ;) I have a batch of apple wine and some abbey beer in the other big fermenter's that I was planning on bottling and racking this weekend, but I might have to switch things around a bit.