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I've made tons of ginger beer (often just like this http://ieatfood.net/2009/12/18/real-ginger-ale/ ), I've tried various different recipes, and they all come out quite nicely. Unfortunately. I want a ginger beer that's SHARP. Everything I make has a nice ground gingery mouth feel, where as ginger beer I buy (like Fentimans, Bundaberg) tends to be a lot sharper for a better "Dark and Stormy" taste.

It's not lemon. It's not pineapple.

How do I make it /sharp/?

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If you use fresh ginger, it might depend on the individual ginger root you're using. I know when cooking, some ginger roots are stronger than others and the amount used has to be varied accordingly. FWIW, I once did a ginger mead (batch of only ~2.25 litres) with a whole shredded ginger root slightly larger than my fist. It had a good bit of kick to it, but it was a pretty potent ginger root. I spent 5 minutes sniffing ginger roots in the store before finding one I liked. ;) –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Sep 20 '12 at 4:46
    
@FrustratedWithFormsDesigner - upvoted for the mental image of you sniffing ginger in a store. –  Mark McDonald Sep 23 '12 at 2:35
    
@Felix - great question, I'd love to reproduce the Bundaberg GB flavour. Please post your results when you find what does / doesn't work. –  Mark McDonald Sep 23 '12 at 2:40

4 Answers 4

Up front sharpness comes from acidity and to some degree, the level of carbonation. Most soft drinks have citric acid, and some phosphoric acid to create a sharpness to balance the sugar, and have a high level of carbonation (>3 vols CO2)

Getting that sharpness is a balance thing - if you have too much sugar compared to the acid the drink will not be sharp, but of course too much acid and it will not be pleasant.

You can also try using pickled ginger pieces, rather than fresh or ground ginger, along with the pickling juice that'll give a great spicy aroma and some spicy warmth when you drink. I used about 250g of pickled ginger in my last 5 gallon batch and it was almost firey! I carbonated in a keg, to 3.5 volumes CO2 - the high carbonation also creates a pleasant sharpness to the drink.

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I've had success using 3-5 lbs of fresh ginger in a 5 gallon batch of ginger soda. I find it's important to very finely cut the ginger (I use a strong blender/food processor). Once I've simmered the ginger for about 15-30 minutes, I strain the pulp into a grain sock and squeeze as much liquid as possible from it. I use my hands to do the pressing (warning: wear gloves), so it's probably not the most sanitary or efficient method, but it gives my soda that Reed's ginger ale burn.

I'm sure there's a better way...

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A recipe that a friend of mine and I have been playing with includes some cayenne pepper. I really like the taste, and I think it can actually have the effect of making the ginger beer taste more like ginger.

http://48bottles.com/?s=ginger+beer

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That kick of ginger typically gets stronger with longer steeping time.

After some experimentation, I'm convinced that the "bundenburg" flavor comes from long steeping and pear juice.

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