It is incredibly easy to brew your own healthy beer, in whatever flavor you want, that will be loaded with probiotics and enzymes. Since I'm basically a very lazy person, I did a lot of research and experimentation and simplified the basic technique to make it even simpler. My technique follows. Enjoy!!
I again want to state that I do NOT condone the consumption of alcohol and encourage everyone to use moderation in all things. I "approve" of this beer simply due to the probiotics and healthy enzymes it contains. In spite of its healthy ingredients, it should only be consumed in small quantities.
Please see my previous post, Starting Your Own Ginger Beer Adventure for a summary of the ingredients and supplies you will need. This post assumes you are already familiar with the supplies you will need.
There are three simple steps involved in brewing healthy beer. They are:
1) Making a starter culture
2) Making a flavoring syrup
3) Brewing the beer
Each of these steps is incredibly simple. The entire process takes a little over two weeks, although the start culture only needs to be made once. You can also choose to allow the beer to brew longer to create a higher alcohol content, but that is optional.
STEP 1: Making the Starter Culture
The starter culture is a fermented liquid that is brewed to create a high level of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria then spur the fermentation and production of alcohol in the beer. To make a starter culture, follow these steps:
1. Fill a quart Mason jar 3/4 full with purified water.
2. Add 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped ginger and 2 teaspoons sweetening agent. Stir well, cover jar with a breathable material (a coffee filter or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band works well) and allow to sit out, unrefrigerated, for 24 hours. (Note: I put a lid on my starter culture, but I open the lid several times a day to release the gasses produced during the fermentation process.)
Note about sweeteners: The sweetening agent will be consumed during the fermentation process, which means it’s technically fine to use white sugar. I never use white sugar in anything, so I have experimented with a variety of sweetening agents. If white sugar isn’t appealing to you, you may substitute agave nectar, Sucanat, palm sugar, honey (not raw), molasses, maple syrup, etc. Note that the flavor of the sweetener will slightly affect the taste of the starter culture and the beer it's used to create. Organic Black Strap Molasses creates a "malty" flavored brew; agave nectar produces less of a flavor. Sucanat or palm sugar add no flavor at all.
3. On a daily basis for the next 7 days, add 2 tsp grated ginger and 2 tsp sweetening agent every day, stirring well. (If possible, stir 2-3 times during the day to hasten the fermentation process.)
4. When ready, the Soda Starter will be “cloudy” and slightly bubbly. If mold forms on the surface during the initial week, skim it off. If mold is persistent, start over.
STEP 2: Making a Flavoring Syrup
The flavoring syrup provides sugars to feed the fermentation process during the brewing process. The flavoring options are limitless. The following instructions are for making a Ginger Beer. I've experimented with fruit beers, but the Ginger Beer is simple and tastes great, so I recommend starting with it as a first batch. I currently have a batch of Pumpkin Ginger Beer brewing. Only time will tell how it will turn out, but I have high hopes! Follow these steps to make a flavoring syrup:
1 Gallon Purified Water
1 1/2 cups sweetening agent
4 tablespoons grated/chopped ginger (more or less can be used based on preference; don't bother peeling it)
Juice of one organic lemon or lime (1-2 tablespoons)
1, Heat half of the water until boiling, add the ginger and sweetening agent, and boil for about 15 minutes. (Note that you may want to boil the syrup longer if you're making a fruit beer.)
2. Remove from heat, pour into a gallon glass jar which already contains the other half of the purified water. You may want to add a metal spoon to absorb the heat and prevent the jar from cracking. (If you don't have a gallon glass jar and will be brewing in a plastic container, remove the pot from the stove, add the remaining water, and allow to sit in the pot until completely cooled after following the remaining steps.)
3. Add lemon or lime juice. This step is very important. Lemon and lime juice maintain an acidity in the brew that helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
4. Allow to cool completely.
STEP 3: Brewing the Beer
Now the fun starts!!
Flavoring Syrup made in Step 2
1 cup of Starter Culture made in Step 1
1/2 teaspoon baker's yeast (champagne yeast will produce a finer flavor, but plain ol' Fleischman's bread yeast works well.)
1. Add one cup of Starter Culture to the cooled Flavoring Syrup. (The remaining Starter Culture can be saved for up to six months or you can continue making more by adding 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp ginger every time you use some top make more beer.)
2. Pour about an ounce of the liquid from the jar into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and allow to sit until it's thoroughly absorbed. Blend well, then add back to jar. Swirl jar to blend.
3. Cover jar with a breathable cover such as a coffee filter/cheesecloth secured with a rubber band
4. Allow jar to sit on the counter, unrefrigerated, for 3-21 days. After at least two days, the sugar in the brew will be consumed and the brew will no longer have a sweet taste. Most brews develop a definite beer flavor after around 3-5 days. Taste your brew every few days to judge the taste and decide when you want to stop the brewing process. The longer you allow the beer to brew, the higher the alcohol content will be.
5. When the brew process is complete, put a lid on the jar. Putting a lid on the jar creates a carbonated beer. Most beers become bubbly but don't develop the carbonation we've come to expect from mainstream beers.
6. CHECK THE JAR EVERY 12 HOURS AND RELEASE CAP TO RELEASE GAS BUILD-UP. I've heard horror stories of glass jars exploding, but I've never had it happen. Making your first batch in a 2-liter plastic bottle makes things a little easier. When the pressure on the bottle builds until you can't compress the bottle, place the bottle in the fridge.
7. If desired, pour the brew into individual bottles, cap them tightly and allow them to sit for 12-24 hours to re-build the carbonation. Refrigerate after that.
YOU MUST REFRIGERATE THE BREW TO STOP THE BUILD UP OF GAS. IF YOU DON'T REFRIGERATE IT, YOUR BOTTLE(S) WILL EXPLODE.
That's it!! Please let me know if you try it. Maybe we should schedule a home-brew tweetup!! :)
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @IndyHealer