Tuesday, October 8, 2013


"I'm so sick of bottling little 12oz bottles! I only want to bottle bombers (22 oz bottles)." I said this at one of my home-brew club happy hours back in August and a friend replied, "Oh, did you just bottle your forth brew?" I replied, "Ha, yes. I just did!" Apparently it's common for those who quickly become avid home-brewers, to rid the little bottles by their forth brew. It seems agonizingly pointless to bottle 50 of these each week, it's so time consuming, takes up too much space, washing them over and over and removing labels seems daunting, and somehow you always end up sharing them with friends, so bombers just make way more sense. Other home-brewers also keg, but I have not gotten there yet. Also being a graphic designer by trade, I really love designing the labels almost as much as designing the beer.

Ginger Aw-Snap! is my forth brew. It's an organic pink grapefruit-ginger Belgian Wit. I was inspired by a beer that I had back in May during Chicago Craft Beer week at Owen&Engine. It was the most juicy citrus wit beer, I ever had, it was called Clementine by Clownshoes. I also love fresh ginger. I juice with it at home in various fruit and veggies combinations. I put ginger in drinks and dishes, it's so tasty and gives an extra fresh kick to your taste-buds. I knew I wanted to make a beer that was juicy sweet/tart citrus, but with spicy ginger twist. I love spice and interesting flavor combinations, so I was really excited about this brew.

Lessons learned:
  • Fresh is best! I recommend using fresh produce when flavoring a beer, and organic if you can. I had bought dried grapefruit and ginger as backup, but luckily I never had to use it. Fresh is the way to go. The flavors just pop!
  • I did two rounds of flavoring. First was at the kill of the boil and the second was a dry hop in the second fermentation. I wasn't initially loving the flavor after only using it in the brew, (it's OK, to taste your brew along the process, just remember to sanitize your utensils!), so I knew I wanted to introduce the grapefruit and ginger a second time.  
  • When you introduce something foreign to your beer during a second fermentation, you want to make sure you sterilize whatever your introducing into the brew. I steeped the grapefruit and ginger peels in the muslin sack in hot water, to sterilize the contents, before introducing it into the fermentation bucket. 
  • On bottling day: remember to stir your brew/beer as you are bottling after you add the priming sugar. Sugar tends to fall to the bottom of the bucket and if you don't stir the brew your bottles will have uneven sugar distributions. This is a problem because, the first two beers I went to open (which were the last two bottled) volcanically exploded, because they contained too much sugar.
  • Brewers Best Belgian Wit kit
  • (4) Organic Pink Grapefruits (zest and surface peels only, no rinds they do not carry the flavor of the fruit and will bitter your beer) Use only 2 at the kill of the boil and another 2 in Second Fermentation.
  • (2) large Organic Ginger Roots (approx. 10 oz total, sliced and peeled, after removing bark) Use only half at the kill of the boil and the remaining 5 oz. in Second Fermentation.
  • 1oz of coriander (added to the brew after the boil kill)
  • Upgraded/swapped out yeast from kit to: Wyeast 3944 Belgian Wit (Totally recommend assessing your kit yeast and upgrading, especially if your adding or altering the original ingredients.)
Final Brew notes:
This beer will bite you back. If you love ginger, then you'll love this beer. If your not a fan, then this isn't the brew for you, the snap will get ya. I would definitely make this beer again. It is so, crisp, juicy, and tingly from the ginger, just yum!

Special thanks to my sister Mary, for helping zest the grapefruit and ginger for the second fermentation. She happened to be visiting me that day, so I put her to work!

Ginger Aw-Snap  |  Organic Pink Grapefruit and Ginger Belgian Wit  | ABV 5.5%

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