How To Make Your Own Ginger Beer

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Ginger Beer

As far as I’m concerned, springtime is Dark and Stormy season. As the rain pummels the ground here in the Pacific Northwest, a little window of blue sky nestled between two dark clouds in the neighboring distance makes me wish I were watching the rain fall from across a dark ocean, my little Caribbean fishing boat safe and sound under that warm patch of sunlight.

I’d fill a tall glass with ice and a generous dose of Gosling’s Black Seal rum from Bermuda, then reach into a wooden crate and withdraw a chilly little bottle of homemade ginger beer. I’d sip the cloudy mixture of liquid sunshine and sweet, dark nectar while I mindlessly squeezed a fresh lime into the glass. Feet: Up.

The problem with living in Oregon when this mood strikes is the absence of little wooden shacks that sell cases of fresh ginger beer stacked on back porches. But with some readily-available ingredients, a recipe I’ve been revising for several years – and a few free minutes – I can easily transport myself to that little fishing boat on the sea.

You’re going to need a little bit of equipment to make ginger beer. It’s nothing too tricky (save for one tool) and most of it will last you a lifetime. So follow along, and remember: I promise you that this will be easy.

You have two options for carbonating your ginger beer: you can ferment it in the bottle, or you can carbonate on-the-fly with an iSi soda siphon. While the soda siphon is easier to use, for the sake of authenticity you might want your ginger beer fermented in the bottle.

If you’re going to go the iSi route, pick up a soda siphon and meet me at the next step. The rest of you, follow me.

The first thing on your list if you’re going to be brewing in the bottle is any number of 16-ounce “EZ” flip-top bottles. You can find these on the internet, at a craft store, or at any homebrewing supply place. Pick up a few to start.

Next, find some wine yeast. I use Red Star Premier Cuvee champagne yeast. It’s sturdy, it hasn’t failed me yet, and it’s inexpensive. I pay about a buck for a packet that will make five gallons of this stuff.

Okay, on to making the actual ginger beer.

The only tricky piece of equipment I’m going to suggest is a juice extractor. Pick up the Juiceman Juice Extractor if you’re just going to be making this stuff at home, or the Breville Juicer if you plan on making a lot of it. Sure, you can use a grater, but you’re going to need to fine-strain your grated ginger to avoid any chunks in the final product. For the occasional home user, a Microplaner and some cheesecloth will be fine. But when making this by the case at work, I always turn to my juice extractor. The money is worth it if you want to make a lot of this stuff.

Raw ginger

Peel and juice your ginger. I find that 1½ ounces of fresh ginger tends to work out to roughly an ounce of ginger juice.

This base recipe will make one 16-ounce bottle of ginger beer, so multiply the proportions by the number of bottles you will be using. If you’re going the siphon route, note that the canister will hold 32 ounces of ginger beer. So double the batch, duh.

1 ounce ginger juice
2 ounces fresh lemon juice, finely strained
2 ounces simple syrup
11 ounces warm water (cold if using the soda siphon)

Mix ingredients together. If using a soda siphon, pour ingredients into canister, screw on lid, charge with CO2, shake once, and refrigerate. You’re done.

If you’re using bottles, fill each bottle with 16 ounces of your mixture and add roughly 25 granules of champagne yeast. Seal the cap securely, shake well, and store for 48 hours – no more, no less – in a warm, dark place. After 48 hours have passed, refrigerate immediately to halt the process.

After your bottled ginger beer is well chilled, mix up a Dark and Stormy, sit back, and imagine you’re drifting along with me on that creaky little boat.

UPDATE: An easier and more consistent method for carbonating your ginger beer can be found here.

Cheers, friends. Have a beautiful weekend.

336 Replies to “How To Make Your Own Ginger Beer”

  • TimH says:

    @ Blue Iguana – It’s safer to use plastic because you are able to judge where your at in the fermentation process. Soft bottle you need more time. Hard bottle, it’s ready to slow the fermentation with refrigeration and use.

    Don’t be fooled “bottle bombs” are called that for a reason! Exploding glass bottles will cause serious injury and epic messes!

  • Ethan says:

    So I thought I was following this recipe from memory and it turns out I wasn’t even a little bit close.
    Instead of following these directions, I decided to use 352grams of ginger, 176 grams of demerara sugar, 179 grams of cold water and 7.06 grams of citric acid. I tossed all of this in a blender and blended thoroughly for five minutes. Then I fine strained through steadily decreasing strainers and cheesecloth. The resulting mixture had a nice slightly acidic twang with bright ginger spice and a touch of sweetness. I am currently chilling it in my fridge while allowing the ginger starch to settle out of solution. I am wondering if I should further dilute with cold water before force carbonating

  • Ethan says:

    Turns out I am not patient, so I decided to pull out my centrifuge and see how thirty minutes at 4000 rpm works for clarifying. Next time around I think I will see how various fining agents help clarify. I’m curious if Ultra Pectinex SPL will help. I realize it is all but ineffective against starches, but I’ll have to experiment and see if some parts of the ginger are affected.

    If anyone has any experience with any fining agents or enzymes in conjunction with ginger, please let me know.

  • J Dizzle says:

    I’ve made this a few times, and it’s always fantastic. I use the yeast, but I just got an ISI siphon so I’m gonna try that way soon. As noted, a plastic soda bottle works well, but anymore I use a glass growler(got it for free from Goose Island on a mail-in promo) and a cheap plastic airlock and rubber stopper which cost less than $2.

    I recently got some D&G Jamaican Pineapple Ginger Soda, and I feel like a fresh version with real pineapple would be much better. Anybody got any ideas on how to integrate fresh pineapple juice? Should I sub in pineapple for some of the citrus? Maybe make it as usual and add the pineapple after?

    Also, my house cocktail with ginger beer is the Dank and Stormy, with Smith & Cross and a squeeze of lime.

  • J Dizzle says:

    One more thing–I juice my ginger with a Jack Lalanne power juicer that I got for $10 at my local Goodwill store. Decent juicers are pretty easy to find used and dirt cheap, just clean them very thoroughly and you’re good to go.

  • Jonathan says:

    @J Dizzle – The introduction of pineapple juice could be a great idea. Not sure what method you’re using? (yeast or CO2) If you’re using yeast I’d just be careful as pineapple juice is around 10% sugar and lemon juice only around 2.5% so if you substitute and are using yeast you will just want to be careful of the extra sugar. But you’re using plastic bottles so you should be fine.

    I just say this as my method is heavy glass flip top bottles with yeast and a 72 hour sit. I can’t really suggest this to anyone as you can get some bottles that go boom if you’re not careful. I only had it happen once with a bottle that had too much sugar though.

    I’ve used lemon juice and that was nice. Tried lime juice but for some reason that killed my yeast. I’ve also done a dash of vanilla extract into the mix and that made for a very nice creamy ginger ale.

    There’s not really a wrong way you can do it, just experiment and have fun.

    One note about yeast, I typically use Redstar Pasteur Champagne yeast but this summer I was at my parents and made them some and they only had a wine yeast. Carbonation was different, stronger and nicer bubbles. There’s little differences with every ingredient you use.

  • James says:

    @Ethan I was thinking about using Pectinex SPL as well to clarify. Have you had a chance to test this yet? I’d be really interested in your results or if you’ve had any luck with other fining agents.. also.. how’d things hold up in the centrifuge? thanks!

    I’ve found that once you’ve juiced the ginger, let the juice rest over night before mixing as a good % of the starch will settle out

  • Irwin says:

    The yeast granules are of different sizes. Is it basically 1/8 teaspoon of yeast or less?

  • Jonathan says:

    @irwin imo 1/8 is a bit much. I’m probably using 1/16 max. It’s not going to hurt anything but if you add too much you could have faster fermentation and issues if you use glass. Otherwise 1/8 could be ok.

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