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Herbal Fermentations: Ginger Coriander Ale

devon 6 Comments

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Herbal Fermentations: Ginger Coriander Ale

Devon 6 Comments

After reviewing the Herbal Academy’s Craft Herbal Fermentation course, I brewed a batch of delightfully sunny Ginger Coriander Ale. Now I’m sharing this homemade ale recipe with you so you can make your own. Cheers!

This is a sponsored post. This means I received product and/or monetary compensation from the company or organization mentioned in this post. This helps to support my blogging efforts and my family. I only partner with brands that I value and respect, and all thoughts and opinions share herein are my own.

Fermentation.  It is kinda big word.  And process that many people won’t try at home due to {mostly} irrational fears of exploding bottles, epic failures, and just plain lack of knowledge and comfort.  Truth is, folks, that it is pretty easy and a lot of fun.  A bit of science and a lot of creativity often result in some truly remarkable things.

Recently I was approached by the Herbal Academy to enroll in and review their brand new Craft of Herbal Fermentation course. Seeing as I have a background in winemaking and am a proficient home brewer (check out my hawthorn mead post here), I signed on immediately.  I was incredibly intrigued by the concept of the course – turning our favorite wild edibles and medicinals into cultured and fermented foods and beverages.  I had even once fancied writing a book on the subject myself – I still might, but life has other current priorities like this blog and the opening of my clinical practice.  And did I mention the farm and eight kids?  That too.  Furthermore, I had resolved this year to only consume libations that I had made myself – no purchased beer or wine (I am the only, albeit rare, drinker in my house).

So, this class was up my alley, y’all.

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

The Craft of Herbal Fermentation is divided into four units.  The first unit is dedicated to herbal ales/ beers and similarly modest alcohol content beverages.  The unit is then divided into five lessons (including a wonderfully informative video), followed by a super awesome quiz (you’ll have to check that out for yourself – I need more quizzes like that in my life).  These lessons take you through all the basics of fermentation from the supplies needed (wormwood for a sanitizing rinse, who knew?) to some inspiring recipe suggestions. It is a limited time work-as-you-go type course (you have four months to complete the units), with downloadable instructional PDFs, and super active Facebook community for additional peer support.

women in brewing history

Women in Brewing History

I will have to admit, I LOVE that the first instructional video stars a woman.  The brewing and wine industries are still quite male dominated, although more women are filling these roles now.  Strange truth of the matter is that brewing was once considered women’s work.  Ancient Sumerians worshiped Ninkasi, goddess of “beer”.  Early European cultures had their own “beer goddesses” and women served nutrient rich, low alcohol content brews to their families (which was likely far safer than the drinking water at that time).  It wasn’t until the mid 16th century with the introduction of hops and beer regulation that home and tavern production of ales started to transfer out of the hands of the lady brewsters to male dominated, official brewhouses.  Perhaps most sadly during these years was the association of witchcraft with brewsters.  Frothy cauldrons and a broom (hung above the door as an indication that a fresh batch of ale was ready) are tragically symbolic of witchcraft in literature and art. It does make one wonder how many poor souls suffered under the cries of witchcraft for only possessing and using the tools of their brewing trade.

I guess all this is to say that the relevance of a wise woman presenting this material did not escape me.

Ginger Coriander Ale

Ginger Coriander Ale

One of the things that I love about this course is that the provided recipes are just the jumping off point.  You are encouraged to develop blends based on preferred flavors and tastes.  The first unit included a recipe for a coriander ale.  I really enjoy a non-alcoholic ginger “beer” sold in our area (in which coriander is an ingredient), so I modified the recipe to include ginger.  I wanted this ginger coriander ale to be a bit light and “sunny” in color and taste, so I opted to use organic “raw” sugar, instead of brown sugar or honey.  The herbal infusion has delightful floral and fruity notes accompanied by the characteristic ginger heat.

Ginger Coriander Ale

Due to the unseasonably cold spring weather and my drafty farmhouse kitchen, my ginger coriander ale is still merrily bubbling along in its gallon jug, here 10 days in.  Typical ferments will be finished in 7-10 days for this gallon size and sugar content, but temperature is a big factor.  Too warm and your ferment can get incredibly active and even produce off odors; too cool and they are sluggish.  My house is just a little cool at the moment.  An obligatory taste test of the ginger coriander ale tells me that the ale is now almost dry, and the decreased volume of neck foam and slower bubbling rate in the airlock would support that.  After I can see (and taste) that the primary ferment is complete, I will then rack the ale to sanitized bottles, primed with a tiny bit of additional sugar, and allow it another 7-10 days for a second ferment to induce carbonation of the ale (for safety reasons, please take suggestions in instructions below under advisement).  Once I have determined that to be ready, I will store in the refrigerator until the mood strikes me.  Remember, unlike wine, beer is best consumed fairly fresh, so have at the ginger coriander ale!  Safely and responsibly!

Homemade Ale Recipe with Ginger & Coriander

Ginger Coriander Ale

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fresh ginger root chopped
  • 1 oz dried coriander seed lightly crushed
  • 2 tablespoon dried orange peel granules
  • 1 pound organic sugar
  • yeast per package directions
  • 1 gallon spring water

Instructions

  • In a large pot bring one gallon of water to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and add ginger, coriander, orange peel granules and sugar.  Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and allow to return to room temperature.
  • When the herbal infusion is cooled, prepare and sanitize a one gallon jug and airlock like this.  In approximately half a cup of slightly warm water, rehydrate the yeast in an amount according to package directions for about 15 minutes (I used this yeast).  Strain the herbal infusion and pour into the fermentation vessel. Add rehydrated yeast slurry.  Add additional spring water just to neck of the bottle if need. 
  • Place fermentation vessel in a safe, somewhat warm spot.  You should see some foaming and bubbling withing 18-24 hours.  (If the ferment is extremely active you may want to place the vessel in a bin to collect any foam over.)
  • In approximately 7-10 days, give or take, your ferment should be complete.  The ale should taste dry and beer like, and all foaming and bubbling in vessel and airlock should have ceased.  To bottle, wash and sanitize bottles like these.  Prime bottles at a rate of 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per 12 ounces of ale.  Siphon or careful pour ale into primed bottles, leaving adequate headspace in the neck of the bottle.  
  • Secure closure and allow approximately one week for secondary fermentation/carbonation. This is best done by placing bottles in a secure box in case of excessive pressure created by over priming or incomplete primary ferment causing the bottles to burst or become unstable. Increasing headspace is a sign of impending explosion.  Dispose of these bottles wearing safety gear. This is only added as a note of caution.  Sanitary equipment, complete primary ferment, and modest priming should keep you ale safe.
  • After secondary fermentation store bottles in the refrigerator or in a cool spot Enjoy within one year.

Ginger Coriander Ale Recipe

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, was published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen, will be published Fall 2019.

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6 Comments

  • Billy June 1, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    This looks so intriguing! I thoroughly enjoy making homemade ale of any sort, but I haven’t seen ginger coriander ale before! Its been a long while since I have made any alcohol at home, my last project was an IPA. I can’t wait to give this a try! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    • Devon June 1, 2017 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks, Billy! This turned out be the perfect summer, sipping whilst relaxing on the hammock type ale! Now I just need those summery, lingering on the hammock type days!

  • Kirsten June 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I made this recipe and really enjoyed it. I am not sure I let the fermentation complete all the way however. It was dry, and had a very slight champagne/cider fizz to it, and a strong ginger taste but it still tasted a bit watery almost, like it did not have the middle note I was looking for. Is that from not having a very high alcohol content? Or is that a characteristic of the coriander? I have never had a just coriander beer. Do you have any tips? I am looking forward to think playing around with it this summer.

    • Devon June 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Kirsten! About the carbonation — that will have a lot to do will how long you let the second bottle ferment go. It took me about 5-7 days to get the fizz I like. Which is to say more like a lighter soda or a kombucha — I don’t really like a frothy head like on a traditional ale. If you want more fizz, let it hang out a little bit longer. About the flavor — that is really going to depend entirely on the quality of the ingredients. Keep in mind that this is a really light summer-y ale, and won’t have all those big robust beer characteristics. I personally find it very floral and pleasingly light. If your coriander is a bit older, it might have lost some of its aromatic qualities – make sure it is pungent when you crush it. You can always adjust the flavorings to suit your preference. I might suggest adding a bit more orange in the way of actual orange peel with some pith. This would give your herbal ale just a bit more bitterness and structure. Herbal ales are pretty forgiving, and the ingredients are generally not too expensive, so I encourage you to experiment! I would love to hear back from you about future ferments!

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    About Me

    About Me

    Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

    I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More

    Devon

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