Ginger champagne 2015

Another year has passed and with the previous night’s exuberance still ringing in our heads, the brothers Shanan got together to brew our annual ginger champagne. The 2014 batch turned out pretty well but we’re still seeing some inconsistencies in the bottles. Some were great but most were a little too sweet and not as carbonated as we’d expected – – both signs of incomplete fermentation in the bottle. It was perfect as a mixer for cocktails, though, and I’m keeping a couple bottles in the hopes that another month or two will be what they need.

Ingredients:

  • 2.2 lbs of ginger, peeled (2.3 lbs unpeeled)
  • 12 lbs sugar (we usually do six each of white and brown sugar but there was a slight mix up this year so we did ten lbs white and two lbs brown)
  • 5 lemons
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 packet Lalvin EC–1118 champagne yeast
  • Time
  • Brotherly love

Tools:

  • Thermometer
  • 8 gallon pot
  • Brew bag
  • Food processor or hand grater
  • Hand juicer (optional)
  • Strainer
  • Carboy
  • Airlock
  • Autosiphon
  • Cooling coil
  • Elbow brush (for cleaning your carboy)
  • Starsan or some other sanitizer.

Recipe:

  1. Start bringing 5 gallons of water to a boil.
  2. Peel and grate the ginger.  We started out using a microplane but oh my god that was taking forever so we switched to an old food processor.  That was a good idea, and one we should remember for next year.
  3. Once the water is boiling, put the ginger in the brew bag and add that to the water along with the sugar.  If you’re using brown sugar be careful adding it as it has a tendency to leave the bag in clumps that can cause boiling water to splash at you.  Not good.  Boil for one hour.
  4. While the ginger is going, sanitize the equipment you’ll need for transferring the brew into the carboy (the autosiphon, thermometer, airlock, the carboy itself, etc.).
  5. Juice the lemons. If you’re doing an infusion, zest the lemons first.
  6. When the ginger is done boiling, strain the lemon juice into the pot and add the vanilla extract.
  7. Cool the brew down to ~105-110°F and follow the instructions on the yeast packet for activating it, then pitch it into the pot.
  8. Use the autosiphon to transfer the brew into the carboy.  Pop the airlock on and you’re done!

2015 ginger champagne in the carboyWe’ll be getting together again at the end of March to rack the champagne.  We usually do our bottling in September, but this year we’re talking about bottling a week or two after we rack.  Apparently that’s closer to how real champagne is made and my brother thinks it will help with the fermentation issues we’ve been seeing.

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