Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ginger Ale & The Dawn Of Civilization

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.

1 comment:

Right Truth said...

That's a lot of sugar, wouldn't be good for a diabetic and might not be good for us gals trying to keep our girlish figures, but ...

It sounds YUMMY. I used to love ginger ale, but had not had any in years. I saw some "sugar free", sweetened with Splenda, so I bought one pack. Ewwwwahhhh! Entirely too sweet.

I do love candied ginger, but don't eat it because of all the sugar.

The green tea in your mixture is healthy for you, ginger is very healthy. I might give it a try using Splenda rather than sugar.

Many years ago I made some wine at home, and it turned out great. My parents grew Concord grapes, so I had a plentiful supply.

Right Truth