Many have speculated that civilization dawned when man accidently discovered that beer could be made combining water and sugars from grains and fruit, wild yeast doing the rest. I never gave the theory much credence.
While I have long brewed mead, ales, stouts, and . . . . well, my small still is strictly for decorative purposes, I have always used store-bought yeast and I have never brewed with ginger as the primary ingredient.
At any rate, here is what happened. I made some candied ginger a week ago. Peel a pound of ginger, slice it very thin, put it in a pot with 4 cups of water, a cup of honey and 3 cups of sugar, bring it to a hard boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the ginger, sprinkle sugar on it and let it dry. The liquid becomes a ginger syrup. I usually boil it down even more to a thick syrup and use it on ice cream if I have company planned a few days after I candy the ginger, otherwise I just toss it. This time, on a whim, I decided to thin the syrup with a gallon of fresh brewed green tea to make something akin to ginger ale sans carbonation. I tried it - it was still too thick and cloyingly sweet. Rather than thin it further, I set it aside meaning to toss it - and forgot about it.
I found it a little while ago. Apparently, some wild yeast from the air got into the mix. I had left it in a plastic pitcher with a flip up top and noted that it had vented itself - its been fermenting for a week. I tasted it. Wow. And by that I mean WOW. Aqua Vitae indeed.
I haven't checked the alcohol level but I suspect it's at about 3 to 3.5%. The sweetness is just right and the ginger gives every sip a real bite. To call this stuff good is an understatement. Now I can understand why our progenitors decided to give up hunting and gathering and start farming after they tasted something like this.
I'd write more but I am going to the store to get a couple of pounds of ginger. This is going to be fun to experiment with. Am going to try a sweet mead yeast - not going to chance a wild yeast again. At any rate, cheers all.