Archive | Matt RSS feed for this section

VVP: Matt’s Authentic Ginger Brew

10 May
Matt's Authentic Ginger Brew It's definitely got some bite and tingle!

Matt’s Authentic Ginger Brew
It’s definitely got some bite and tingle!

My grandma Aggie first introduced me to home sodamaking.  With my help (but moreso my youthful curiosity), she prepared Root Beer for our midsummer family reunions.  I vividly remember the sight and smell of Ramblin’ root beer extract running down a pile of sugar at the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket where she mixed the brew. She bottled in green glass with old-school press-on steel caps (non-twist-off).  I helped haul the bottles out to the lawn to warm in the sun.  After a few days we’d sample one and then move them down to the fridge in the basement to wait for reunion day.

Grandma Aggie with our #1 in 2007, a week before losing her battle with cancer.

Grandma Aggie with our #1 in 2007, a week before losing her battle with cancer.

So, this recipe is a simpler ginger variant of that concept. Not too difficult but I hope you’ll find the results as refreshing and delightful as I do.

Matt’s Authentic Ginger Brew

Ingredients (per 2L bottle)

3 oz of Fresh ginger

1 to 1.5  Lemons (5-6 oz juice)

1 Cup Sugar (experience will help you tweak the sweetness, the yeast consumes a lot of it in the carbonation process)

Water – Approx. 2 liters, lukewarm (80-100 F)

¼ tsp Red Star Yeast (or equal – but not instant or rapid-rise yeast)


Lemon Juicer (any type should do)

Electric Juicer

Large funnel that fits into a 2L bottle

Measuring cups/spoons.

2L Plastic Bottle(s) (sanitized with Hydrogen Peroxide (or bleach) then triple-rinsed with hot water)

Gentle heat source (Hot water heater, Dehydrator)



  1. Juice the Ginger in the electric Juicer.  (Passing it through multiple times helps maximize the squeeze).
  2. Squeeze the lemons.
  3. Add ginger and lemon juices to 2 L Bottle.
  4. Insert funnel and add sugar, shaking if necessary.
  5. Fill the bottle with water (leaving about 1” of headspace).
  6. Add Yeast.
  7. Cap and Shake until all sugar is dissolved.
  8. Lay bottles down in a warm location (I put mine on the Hot Water Heater) but you can use a dehydrator set to about 95F.
  9. Check bottles at least daily (squeeze to test firmness) – usually it’s ready in 24-48 hours.
  10. Refrigerate until consumption when bottles are pressurized (firm to the squeeze). If left out, bottles will continue to pressurize and that’s not good. See Caution below.

NOTE: The heat helps the yeast get started and work faster.  I’ve achieved decent carbonation in as little as 18 hours.  Store in a cooler place if you don’t want the pressure to build too fast.

CAUTION: Beware of overpressurization & bursting bottles! Based on my previous Rocket Launch testing, these bottles can handle over 150 PSI. But if left for too long, the trapped carbon dioxide will exceed this.  The plastic can stretch slowly and possibly burst.  If the bottle gets taller or stretch marks appear in the plastic at the neck, be very careful in handling the bottles.  Pressure can be relieved by slowly opening the cap…but beware of the foam.

NOTE: When I mixed the lemon and ginger juice, the solution became slightly pink.  I am not sure if this affected the flavor but taste may be slightly different if the juices are added to the water separately.

Thanks for coming!!

VVP Go Back VVP Go Forward VVP Home

Other sources/info:

MAKING GINGER ALE AT HOME  by David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D.



Inspiration in Nashville

7 May

As we discover more fully what motivates and drives us, I find myself hyper-curious about what drives other people.  What makes successful people tick?  What makes happy people happy?  I’ve learned enough to know that happiness is not about what you’ve been given but what you make of it. Just because I know this, do I believe and apply it?

Volunteer String Band at Bootlegger's Inn. Check out the lights.

Volunteer String Band at Bootlegger’s Inn. Check out the lights.

While watching some fun and lively bluegrass (the Volunteer String Band) while in Nashville for the WEF Biosolids Conference, I marveled at the skills of these fine musicians picking their tunes during a humble, Monday-night performance.  Before they confirmed it, I suspected they were playing for tips only…to be split between the 4 of them.

I didn’t crunch the numbers but would guess that tips may nearly cover their transportation costs.  I sat there and I wondered how they mustered the strength to get up in the morning (or in the early afternoon?). How did they keep practicing? Did they have a day job? How did they not get discouraged? How would it be to have your skills and your passion underappreciated and mostly unnoticed? How would it be to work so hard for so little? How do they make a Banjo or a Mando sound so amazing?

In the dim light of the mason-jar chandeliers and through the glowing blue spotlight, I saw something in this backwoods-looking crew. They didn’t much care what I thought. They didn’t quit if the gig didn’t pay much. It was far more than a job or a gig to them. For them, it was an opportunity. They were going to do what they do it as well as they could and then practice more. And come back again next week better than before. And there they were. Playing because they loved to play and perhaps even lived to play.

Their strength and motivation was internal. Sure, they wanted some tips to cover some costs. But that wasn’t why they were there. Quite simply, it couldn’t have been. They were there because they loved doing what they were doing. And it showed. They had fun. Under ANY circumstance. It was as if they decided this and their approach would have been the same no matter what.

I don’t think it’s always bad to do things for external reasons. In part, that’s why this blog exists. We are social beings, after all. We are fueled and lifted to new heights by others. However, I am reminded that I could use a little more of that internal fire to help determine what I need to do to accomplish, grow and improve.

Perhaps I lie in wait for that perfect venue. That sublime moment where all of my efforts and talents are recognized and rewarded for what I feel they are worth. I wait for the stars to align instead of acting to align the things that I can actually move and control.

So, here’s a big step for me. I’m sure this post isn’t perfect. I’m sure there’s a typo. I could have expressed something better or worded it differently.  I could second-guess this thing to pure inaction…or just click the publish button. (Note to reader: If you are seeing this, I succeeded!)

Historical marker near the Ryman Auditorium. Bluegrass seems like it has been around longer.

Historical marker near the Ryman Auditorium. Bluegrass seems like it should be older than it’s December 1945 birthday makes it.

Lined with Restaurants, Bars, Dives, etc. filled to the brim with live music.

Broadway near the Ryman. Lined with Restaurants, Bars, Dives, etc. filled to the brim with live music.