Classy Hootch (Une part des deux)


I’m making champagne! Or technically speaking, sparkling country wine. But let’s call it champagne and spit in the face of all my wine knowledge! Eat it France! I’m bootlegging!

Read on after the jump…


I was so pleased to come across Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation during my last trip to the library as I had been eyeing it at the co-op for a while. I quickly flipped past all the healthful krauts and kimchi till I found the makings for this: Ginger Champagne!

Here’s what you’ll need to make 5 gallons of champagne:

(What? You don’t want 5 gallons of champagne bubbling in your basement? You lie.)

  • Two pounds fresh ginger
  • 12 pounds sugar
  • Juice of 5 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 package champagne yeast
  • Various Brewing Supplies (5 gallon Carboy, funnel, airlock, or any macgyvered version of these items)

And a big old pot. I’ve got a big enamelware rig for canning, but even that wasn’t big enough for 5 gallons.

So here’s basically what I did, basically following the directions from the book:


Using a stubborn old food processor, chop up what seems like a endless amount of ginger and place it into a pot that should have been immediately recognizable as too small for the task at hand. Fill the pot with water (I used distilled to avoid city chlorine) and add three bags of sugar which will overflow the insubstantial pot, make you swear swears and create an infuriatingly sticky kitchen. After sorting out the pot situation (use a BIG pot, friends…) bring it to a boil, cover it and let it witch bubble for an hour. It will smell really good. Use this time to juice the lemons and eat leftover pizza.


After an hour, add the lemon juice and vanilla and let the brew cool to body temperature. Eye the giant pot warily and wonder when Andy is coming home so he can help you lift it so you can strain out any sediment thus preparing it for your shiny new carboy that you impulse bought today. Get antsy and do it yourself in the spillingist way imaginable. (Bonus points for using your bacon splatter sheild as a totally ineffective strainer.)


Reserve a cup of the strained brew and add to it the package of champagne yeast. Once this becomes exciting and bubbly you can reunite it with the rest which you have funneled into the carboy. Put in the airlock. Tuck out of sight. Feel accomplished but lament the general stickiness of your body and linoleum.

Now we wait 2-3 months till the mixture’s fermentation slows, at which point we can decant it into a clean carboy leaving behind any yeasty sediment. Then about six more months of fermenting and we’ll meet again for the second half of this thrilling installment. In the mean time start saving up for this champagne corker and saving your empties in breathless anticipation. C

(Oh Hello! It’s me from the future! Yes, yes, my hair has gotten very long and beautiful and I am looking thin! But what I came to tell you is that you can check out the second half of this thrilling project right over here… )


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