If you haven’t seen my previous posts I have already attempted and failed to homebrew while travelling. I didn’t let this get the better of me though. I got back to Chiang Mai a couple of weeks ago eager to try again. This time I wasn’t going to waste my time on trying to propagate yeast from a beer that has travelled thousands of kilometres. I cheated and used baker’s yeast. I know those of you who brew are cringing, but I have to use what I’ve got.
So eager to have another crack at mason jar ginger beer, I headed to the supermarket for some of the ginger tea to use as my base. They didn’t have any. I returned daily for a few days and it never appeared to be in stock. With limited time in one destination being a factor, I made an executive decision and changed the recipe: Instead of ginger beer I would be making a roselle tea cider. Roselle tea, as far as I can tell, are dried rosella flowers that when soaked in hot water make a nice tea. I had enjoyed the tea and my grandmother used to make rosella jam, so Rosella cider it was.
Of course every jar and spoon I used were cleaned rinsed the soaked in boiling water twice (I can’t get sanitiser here) to guarantee sterility. The mix was simple: I dissolved sugar in boiling water and then steeped the flowers in that water. After the water was a deep red, I removed the flowers put the lid on the jar and allowed it to cool. Once at room temperature I pitched the yeast which I had started in a small jar a few days earlier (and was bubbling away nicely). Within a day the brew was fermenting nicely, yeast was bouncing on the bottom and bubbles were visible.
I thought being so small and with a lot of yeast that it’d stop fermenting pretty quickly. A week on and it was still going. I decided that rather than add more sugar for carbonation I would tighten the lid now to stop any more carbon dioxide escaping – hopefully it would carbonate nicely and maybe keep a little sweetness. A few hours later the top of the lid was bulging. I put it straight in the fridge to stop any more fermentation (and hopefully stop exploding jars). The CO2 must have gone into solution as it cooled and the bulging lid went away.
Three days later the yeast had flocculated nicely to the bottom and it was ready to try. I opened the jar – no hiss of CO2 – I was worried it would be flat. As I poured it though carbonation was evident. Now the taste: it retained the flavour of the roselle tea and had a very slight sweetness. It certainly smelt and tasted alcoholic and had a nice tartness that I would expect of a dry cider. There were no real flavour faults from the baker’s yeast either. All in all not bad for my first travel homebrew.
I’ll be looking for other local flavours as I travel and even want to try a gruit in place of hops at some point.
Does anybody else have a travel homebrew experience?