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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ka-Boom! Flunking "Beer-ology"

To translate French Polynesia prices... The gin
would be roughly $64 USD.
Booze - be it beer, wine, gin, rum, whatever your favorite you-name-it hooch.... It gets very expensive once you leave Panama South Pacific bound.

So when F I our Choices crew guy Henry shared his boat-brewed "ginger beer" I was intrigued.  When Henry shared his "recipe*" I had to try it.  Four cheap, readily available ingredients and a three day fermentation... what did I have to lose?

*Henry's "Ginger Beer" Recipe
(scaled to 1.5 liter bottles)
3/4 cup sugar**
3/4 cup boiling water**
1 1/2 t dry ginger or fresh (Henry gave no quantity - this is what I used)
3/4 t yeast, either regular or quick rise
water as needed to fill 1.5 liter bottle

  • Mix the sugar and boiling water.  Boil a few minutes until sugar is dissolved to form a simple syrup and until it's reduced to 1 cup.
  • Pour the simple syrup into a larger container that can easily be poured into a 1/5 liter carbonated bottle (through a funnel!).
  • Add water enough water to fill the 1.5 liter bottle, at ~110 degrees F.
  • Whisk in the yeast and ginger.
  • Pour liquid via funnel into the 1.5 liter bottle and cap it off.
  • Store at room temperature.
  • Twice a day, slowly unscrew the cap and release gas -- about 5 minutes each time.
  • After the third day (or fourth, if you want to give it an extra day), do not release the gas, wait 8-12 hours, then chill for drinking.  
  • Open slowly when serving.
  • Optional - add additional sugar or lime juice to taste to the fermented "ginger beer" if desired.
**Henry noted an alternative to simple syrup was to use honey.  In that case, he suggested using 1 1/2 cups for a 2 liter bottle.  Also, to make a stronger brew, he suggested adding additional sugar.

Former Coke Zero bottle; it's bottom exploded from my "beer."
So I made a couple batches.  "They're not real beer," hubby Wayne and cruiser friend Steve of Armagh chided, nicely.  "No hops," Wayne added. more specifically.  Patty, Steve's wife, simply smiled diplomatically and said nothing.  

But I was happy.  It was cheap, cold, easy to make aboard and refreshing.  Ok, it tasted like one of those seasonal holiday beers, but I like those "beers."  

Then creativity kicked in, and, well, you KNOW what they say about creativity and the cat....

Why not use the raspberry pulp for flavor instead of ginger?  And why not add a 50/50 mix of simple syrup and molasses (maybe giving a more porter-like flavor) with a little more of the sweet mix than the simple syrup to give it a bit more kick?  Oh, and I'd been under-filling my bottles, so this time I filled them more.  I made my batch in the morning, figuring the first gas release would be that eve.

My galley, post "beer" explosion, pre-clean-up.
That eve, Wayne were peacefully sitting in the cockpit (I was drinking my ginger beer), and heard a "Ka-Boom!" 

"What was that?!?" Wayne exclaimed.  "My beer, I'm guessing," I replied.

Indeed, the galley floor, ceiling slider panels and counter were oozing a delicious raspberry and molasses scented liquid.  In the sink was the brewing bottle, its bottom exploded.  I cleaned it up quickly.

Was it too much sugar?  A defective bottle? An overfill with too long a delay of gas release?  Don't know, but I will try making the rasberry-molasses "beer" again using one of our robust soda stream bottles, less sugar, less fill and quicker wait between brewing and release.  

Wish me luck!

And, cheers!

Kitten we came across in Ua Poa today.  We wanted
to make him and his brother a boat kitty, badly.
Location Location
The "Ka-Boom" occurred and this post was written while we were anchored in Hakahau Bay, Ua Poa, Marquesas, French Polynesia (S9.21.537 W140.02.867).  Tomorrow, Monday May 25th, 2015, we should be in our fifth and last Marquesas island, Nuka Hiva.