Ginger Sweet Stout – 4.22.17 update

I know I’m breaking some cardinal rule of homebrewing by using malt extract. However, I can’t give up the convenience factor. This is especially the case given the fact that I want to do a double-batch of a high ABV beer. And that’s just not possible with all grain because I lack the equipment.

could a single batch of a high ABV beer (i.e. one gallon). But for me, I’m over doing all that work for just one batch of beer. Ideally, I’d do even more than that. But for now, it’s two gallons.

OK. Enough of that. Let’s talk about the ingredients/recipe for the tw0-gallon batch of high ABV Christmas beer.


I grabbed a a 5 gallon kit for a 4% porter. Since I’ll be using ingredients for five gallons worth of beer to produce just two gallons of beer, the ABV will move from 4% to 10%. That’s a little thing called math.

There’s nothing particularly Christmas-esque about this brew kit. So, I’ll be adding ginger and milk sugar to create a gingerbread sweet stout. Sounds good, right?

If I take a photo of beer in front of Christmas tree, it automatically becomes Christmas beer.

The ingredients for the kit is below. I’ve added 4 oz of malted barely because I have it sitting around and I want to use it. Click here to download the recipe.

I’ll also be skipping the maltodextrin that comes with the kit. Between the milk sugar, flaked barely, and the volume of extract I’ll be using, I think the beer will have sufficient body. The beer will be rocking a FG 40. That’s going to be very high. This is going to be a thick beer. So, it looks like I’ll be using lots of 12 oz bottles –  because a 22 oz bomber would be too much of a commitment.


I’ll be using dried ginger. I probably would have been a million fold cheaper to get fresh ginger from the market (as opposed to dried ginger from the homebrew store) – but a theme of this brew is convenience. Since I’m doing two gallons, I have options for experimentation. So, here’s what I’ll be doing:

1 oz dried ginger – Jack-a-bee for scale

One ounce of dried ginger is going into the boil with five minutes left to go. I was surprised at just how pungent the dried ginger was. I’m thinking about adding fresh ginger into the secondary. But perhaps I’ll try some of the beer before I do. It may have enough ginger in it as is.

OG – Original Gravity

It’s off the charts.

This original gravity is off the charts!
This original gravity is off the charts!

I hope that it ferments correctly. I’ll be bottling likely either today or tomorrow. But I’ll obviously need to measure FG before I do. If FG is exceptionally high, then I’ll likely give it another week to ferment.

It will be. It’s the sugar content right now. It’s the sugar that turns into alcohol. Specifically, it’s the sugar (carbohydrates) from the barley. The yeast will turn the barley sugar into alcohol.
That process – the yeast turning the sugar into alcohol is called fermentation. The more barely sugar, the more alcohol. (And the more barley used, the more barely sugar that ends up in the wort.) In the above I’m measuring the (barley) sugar content in the wort. Wort is essentially barely sugar water.
I used a ton of barley sugar for this batch. So much so, that’s it off the charts. The device above is a bouy. The more it floats, the more barley sugar is in the wort. This means more alcohol in the final product (assuming that the sugar is fermentable, which most of it is.)

Bottling Day – 4.23.17

After procrastinating/forgetting entirely about this project, I finally got about to bottling it. Before bottling, I sample the beer – and I must say that it turned out pretty gross.

How gross you ask? Cough medicine gross.

The bad news: The high ABV mixed with way too much ginger results in a cough-medicine like brew. What a bummer!

The good news: high ABV is a natural preservative. The beer sat for months in moderate temperature. (We haven’t gotten to the super hot months yet.) And it’s still beer. High alcohol kills any would-be contaminants.

The take-away is this: use ginger sparingly and in a product that lends itself well to. Naturally, a good application of ginger would in a moderate amount to a beer with lightly-roasted malt and relatively thinner body. Pairing a ton of ginger (1 oz of dried ginger per 2 gallons of beer) does not work well.


FG was around 1.06. That means the ABV is roughly 13 or 14%. However, the beer didn’t drink like a 13% beer. It was exceptionally smooth given the ABV.

Milk Sugar

In an effort to salvage a product that had what was a very potent ginger flavor, I added roughly a quarter of a gallon of water – as well as a quarter pound of sugar. We’ll see what it’s like a week into bottle conditioning.