A couple of months ago Iain and Elenor started brewing ginger beer in the cellar at Ethos. The idea had been tossed around before but it took a trip to the Tasmanian Home Brewing Supplies (www.thbs.intas.net/) shop on Liverpool Street in Hobart for some advice and a tiny sachet of brewers yeast to get us going.
The taste of brewed ginger beer and not fizzy ginger cordial (like you buy in the shops these days) will hold a lot of very fond childhood memories for many Tasmanians who would have been treated to a bottle of the fizzy drink in their formative years, possible made by a friend or relative.
The simple process of starting the brew is a mixture of yeast, sugar, ginger powder and water, you then simply have to wait and feed the brew or ‘plant’ every day with a little bit more ginger and a little bit more sugar, then once a week, strain off the water form your plant, dilute it with more water, lemon juice and a bit more sugar and bottle it up (keeping the solids from the plant to start next week’s batch all over again)! We label and date each bottle with the name of a famous ‘ginger’ i.e. Lucile Ball or Boris Becker (this is Elenor’s favorite part) so we can track the bottles and take notes on how changes and tweaks we’ve made to the brew effect the finished product. It then takes four weeks for the little yeasties to do their thing, and in the process of eating the sugar, produce fizz and a little bit of alcohol (exactly the same process as champagne) as well as a wonderful brewed dry flavor.
We had been told not to bottle our ginger beer in glass bottles and that PET would be better, it’s easy to see why. After the four weeks of fermentation PET bottles are swollen to bursting and once the liquid has been poured out you can see that contained pressure has actually stretched the plastic!
We then re-bottle the ginger beer into smaller glass bottles so it can be served to Ethos’ thirsty diners. Refreshing, dry and hand made we think it’s pretty special.
This is the recipe given to us by the good folks at Tasmanian Home Brewing Supplies and it works a treat so give it a go, or come on in to Ethos…
Start a ginger beer plant by placing 50g of fresh bakers yeast in a jar with about 300ml of water, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar
Feed the plant each day for the next 7 days by adding one teaspoon of ground ginger and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Make the ginger beer by straining the mixture through fine muslin (keeping the sediment) and reserving the liquid. Dissolve 450g of sugar in 600ml of boiling water. When cool add the juice of 2 lemons and the reserved liquid then make up the volume to 4½l. Bottle in p.e.t (coke or similar) bottles as you can keep an eye on the pressure forming and if it gets to great you can release some as required (slowly).
Restart the plant by dividing the sediment into 2 parts and placing each half into a jar with 300ml of water. You now have 2 plants to feed as above. If one plant is enough you can either give one away or throw it away.