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I need something to sweeten my alcoholic ginger beer. Im currently at the last fermentation stage before bottling.

I was thinking of using Honey as the primer since not all of it will ferment in the bottles. I could also use sweetener but i want to avoid the chemical after taste.

Can anyone recommend anything better?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Honey will pretty much ferment out completely. Between that and the small amount you use, you won't get much, if any, flavor or sweetness from it. Maybe try some lactose.

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Unfortunately, lactose isn't all that sweet. –  brewchez Oct 29 '11 at 21:05
    
How about Stevia? A lot of the natural sodas use it for sweetening and it's apparently not fermentable. –  steveax Oct 30 '11 at 19:15
    
Honey does have more flavor than priming sugar. But given the small amount you'd use for priming, you wouldn't notice much of a difference. –  Adam Kalnas Nov 3 '11 at 0:53

I use 250 gr of Lactose to one container of ginger beer brewing mix and I get a sweet drink of ginger beer with no aftertaste, but I don't know if lactose is suitable for diabetics.

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Xylitol is widely used as a sweetener for ciders, as it is an unfermentable sugar that will retain sweetness in your beverage and allow you to carbonate naturally using regular priming sugar. However, there are reports that drinking too much of the stuff can give you stomach problems. As always YMMV.

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You could add a sweetener when you serve it. Simple syrup and agave nectar would be good choices because they are very sweet and water soluble, so they dissolve easily when you stir them in. You could use honey too if you prefer that flavor, but it doesn't dissolve well in cold liquid.

I don't see any good reason you need it in there before bottling, and doing so will make your life more difficult, requiring you to resort to (somewhat) exotic ingredients that won't ferment, potentially resulting in bottle bombs, and it still might not work.

I've been having the same problem in my fermented non-alcoholic ginger beer (very low alcohol soda) - it's not sweet enough. I'm planning to try three things with mine next - sweeten at serving as I said here; shorter fermentation (was doing 48 hr, going to do 24 next); and making it without fermentation (mixing seltzer and a concentrated concoction). I don't have a keg setup otherwise I'd force carbonate.

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You have a few options. No matter what option you choose, you main goals are:

  • To backsweeten
  • To avoid bottle bombs!

As per priming with honey vs priming sugar.. Honey has more flavor than sugar. However, if you are only adding enough to do the priming, then you will not increase the sweetness. Another popular ingredient to sweeten ciders is apple juice concentrate.

So here's your options

  • Option #1 & Best Option Stabilize/Back Sweeten/Force Carbonate. This is the safest & most controlled bet. It requires kegging equipment. Got a friend that has kegs? Ask them to force carb your cider after you back sweeten, then bottle.

  • Option #2 & Dangerous Option- Aim for the top range ABV tolerance of the yeast. Sweeten beyond this point. Measure S.G., and bottle when fermentation is on it's last leg. This is a roll of the dice strategy, and I wouldn't recommend it.

  • Option #3 & artificial tasting option - Use and artifical sweetener such as stevia, liquid splenda, or lactose. I've had unsuccessful attempts with this, as it's always left me with an aftertaste I did not like.

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When I made my last batch of ginger beer, I used dark brown sugar as the priming sugar. It pairs well with the ginger and adds a little more "sweet" than simple white sugar. But Denny's right, you don't get much of a sweetening effect because of the relatively low amount.

I've also used sucralose in the past to sweeten ciders without the danger of bottle bombs, and didn't have the aftertaste like other artificials. But I have been told on this forum that it can cause a strange taste for some folk. This hasn't been a problem for the 20+ folk that I served my raspberry and cactus pear ciders to.

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"raspberry and cactus pear ciders" YUM. I expect an invitation to the next party. –  Graham Oct 31 '11 at 12:27
    
Sadly, this season wasn't good for cactus pears. They are an unusual fruit that has blood red pulp and are similar to taste to a kiwi. I'm told that they have been used to make something similar to tequila and mesqual. –  drj Nov 1 '11 at 0:54

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