April 14, 2011

Recipe 10 - Ginger Ale / Ginger Beer

This is a very easy brew, and a pleasure to make a beverage completely from raw ingredients. I'm not a fanatic about the health benefits of using natural ingredients nor am I at all concerned about knowing exactly what's in my food. I know some people are, so I won't bash those two schools of thought. I just really enjoy making things completely from scratch.

For the syrup:
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup white sugar
juice and zest from 1 lemon
ginger root roughly the size of your thumb.
2 cups water

Grate the ginger root and lemon zest into a saucepan in 1 cup of water. Simmer covered for 20 minutes and allow to steep while cooling for another 20 minutes. Strain this mixture to remove the pulp, then filter through a coffee filter. Replace the pulp in the sauce pan and repeat with the second cup of water. This is not extremely necessary, but I feel like I get the most flavor out of the mash this way. I could be crazy, though.
Add your ~2 cups of filtered liquid to the white and brown sugar in a clean saucepan. Bring this to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and add the lemon juice.
This amount of syrup is meant for 3 gallons of beverage, so add carbonated water accordingly.

Ginger Beer vs. Ginger Ale
While most are familiar with ginger ale, there conflicting opinions on what exactly ginger beer is. Jamaican style ginger beer is a soft drink similar to ginger ale, but very spicy with some strong ginger. English ginger beer is an alcoholic drink home brewed from a ginger beer plant, which is a combination of certain strains of yeast and bacteria, skimmed off from the drink and saved for subsequent batches. There's a company in the UK that will sell you a portion of ginger beer plant if that's what you want to do.
This recipe, as presented, is spicier, with more citrus notes and less sweet than a typical ginger ale, but milder than a Jamaican ginger beer. In my opinion, this is easily adjusted by the amount of ginger you add, less for ginger ale, and more for ginger beer.

April 5, 2011

Recipe 9 - Chocolate Twizzlers

This recipe was interesting to say the least. An experiment more than anything. I started out thinking, "Can I make a root beer without using a root beer extract?" As I put half of the ingredients in, I decided to switch mid-stream and try another round of chocolate and see how much sediment you get if you use actual cocoa powder. I knew it was haphazard, and that it could be very awful.
What it ended up being was reminiscent of Chocolate Twizzlers, strangely enough. Though, it's been a while since I've had them.

So here it is for 1/2 gallon:

1 cup sugar
1/8 cup Molasses
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp butter flavoring
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 quarts carbonated water

Heat the sugar, molasses and cocoa powder in the water until the sugar is dissolved and the cocoa dispersed, then remove from heat. When the syrup has cooled, add the butter and vanilla flavors. Top up with carbonated water.

With cocoa powder, there will be noticeable sediment, but a good swirl before opening and you should be fine unless you open the bottle warm... which resulted in a gusher. Oops.'
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