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I have an old ginger bug (my first) that I have had going for a few months and used a couple of times to make ginger beer with great results.

Last couple of months, though, I haven't been able to take proper care of it. It was in the refrigerator for a month without feeding. When I took it out a while back, it was flat with all the ginger settled at the bottom, but with a healthy accumulation of white stuff (yeast & bacteria) at the bottom of the jar.

I wanted to get the bubbling activity going again so I fed it a few times with no success. After that, it's been in and out of the refrigerator a few times, with some more attempts at reviving it (sometimes I have forgotten feeding it for a week while it's sitting on a shelf in the pantry), but nothing has happened.

It looks alright (there's no mold), it smells alcoholic and gingery, it has a hazy orange-brown colour and a white ring of microbes at the bottom. I'm not sure if the yeast and bacteria are still alive and capable of fermenting a new batch of ginger beer.

So my questions are:

  1. Is the bug safe? (Considering it was outside the refrigerator without feeding for over a week.) Should I just throw it out and start afresh?

  2. What happens if I leave an old/mature ginger bug outside the refrigerator without feeding for a few days?

If it's safe:

  1. Is the bug alive? Apart from the bubbling, is there any other way of knowing that it's alive?

  2. Is there something I can do to revive it, or is it incapable of reviving?

  3. If the bug is not bubbling, could it still be alive and capable of fermenting a new batch of ginger beer (considering the alcoholic smell and the presence of the white ring at the bottom)? Could I just take a chance and see if it works (provided it's safe)?

Thanks,

Aditya

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1) It should be safe, I would take the ginger bug and start a new batch to see if it starts up.

2) it should just continue and eat all the sugars or if its dormant, just sit and look pretty.

3) Its probably still alive, unless you boiled it, left in the sun, or froze it. or added something to stop fermentation.

4) decant or take most of the liquid out and make a new starter. this will tell you if it is viable.

5) try it our or make a starter

what probably happened is your bug went dormant when the alcohol level got too high. and putting in the fridge will also help it go dormant.

  • Thanks for your answer, J. Coincidentally, I made a new batch yesterday, adding some leftover ginger beer from the previous batch for good measure, and now it's bubbling away nicely with some foam on top. There was some brown residue/ film on top of the foam (not in contact with the liquid below). I'm wondering if this is normal, and if something needs to be done about it. Also, do you think just a splash of good leftover ginger beer would inoculate a new batch (without any of the ginger bug)? – Aditya Sharma Apr 5 at 12:57
  • Im not sure about the brown stuff it could be yeast or krausen, but yes a left over ginger beer (dregs) would inoculate a new batch. In beer brewing we do the same with bottle conditioned beer, and use the left over for creating a new starter of yeast. – jsolarski Apr 5 at 17:22
  • Is there any difference in taste/quality/strength of the beer/ginger beer made using yeast/bug vs leftover dregs? – Aditya Sharma Apr 11 at 20:46
  • maybe, if its a mixed culture it could change the ratio of bugs, for yeast only, there should not be too much difference. – jsolarski Apr 11 at 23:28

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