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”

  • John Merrill says:

    How much tartar would you add per batch?

  • Brian says:

    Thanks for the great recipe. I’m on my 5th case now. I had to go back and buy more bottles, as I couldn’t keep up.

    I’ve experimented with the recipe, and my current favorite is a reduction of lemon juice by .5 oz and addition of an extra .5 oz syrup. Still tastes a little lemony, and decreasing lemon/increasing water made it too watery. Any ideas on tempering the lemonyness would be great.

    I think honey might be a good addition, maybe substituting .5 oz of syrup?

    I’m also interested in whether anybody’s tested the tartar. I can’t even say I know what flavor tartar has, or how much to add.

    Finally, to everybody struggling with the yeast… I’ve just used a 1/8 tsp measuring spoon and eyeballed a half of that per 16 oz bottle. It’s been perfect since the start, and it’s nowhere near precise (it’s also a lot more than 25 granules I think).

  • Everyone – You know, I posted this when I was still in early ginger beer production mode. Basically once we got rolling we would do what Brian does here and eyeball a half of a one-eighth teaspoon measure. The “25 granules” thing came from the folks at the homebrew shop where I was buying my yeast – sorry for the confusion.

  • Benjamin says:

    Thanks again for the recipe Jeff. I’ve made several dozen batches now and have had good success from them all. I have used 1 liter flip top bottles for all of it and it’s worked great! I started right away with using creme of tartar, about 1/4 tsp. per 16oz and the 25 grains of yeast per 16oz has worked out fine. Basically 50 grains just covers the bottom of my 1/8 tsp. I’ve found I get almost the same ginger affect from only 1/2 ounce per 16oz, and I’ve really reduced the lemon juice. I’ve been brewing them in my utility closet (about a constant 80 degrees) and it’s worked great. I suggest tho anyone who is going to do this consistently to get flip tops as they tend to release the pressure when it gets too great. Hope this helps.

  • Ryan says:

    I’ve been eager to try making my own ever since I went to Grenada two and a half years ago and came back only to realize you can’t get this stuff in the local markets.

    Last night reading this inspired me to go find a local brew store, bought a case of 750ml champagne bottles, bag of caps, the red star premier cuvee yeast, and do a test run with a gallon (5 bottles) of some root beer mix I picked up there for my fiance.

    So excited to start making ginger brew though, will stop at target on my way home, get a cheese cloth, and try making a couple bottles of this stuff.

    Thanks for posting this, will let you know how it turns out.

  • Ryan says:

    Couldn’t find cheesecloth at target so I buckled and got the Juiceman Juicer instead, after making some wacky juice of 8 things for my fiance I ran a bit of ginger through the thing, the resulting juice being full of colors and tiny bits of juice from the other fruits, upon tasting it I was ensured it was definitely pretty pure ginger juice though.

    I bottled up two 750ml champagne bottles with this stuff per your instructions (just doing 1.5 times your ratios for 16 oz). Hopefully the little bits of other fruit juices will add a touch more flavor.

    I had one question for you though, how much honey would I use in place of simple syrup as I love honey, but if I used too much or too little it could affect the carbonation right?

  • Jonathan says:

    Hey Jeffrey!

    First of all let me say congrats on the Playboy nod!

    Secondly…. I am a HUGE fan of ginger anything… I am also a big DIY-er, so this recipe was a must for me to try.

    Bought the Juiceman Jr… love it. Using the french press… (bought a Nespresso system a while back… and stopped drinking coffee, the quality and ease of use of this little Swiss gizmo is phenomenal) And started my first batch using 32 ounce bottles, Agave nectar and Red Star yeast (Thanks FH Steinbarts!)…

    Hopeless night sleep last night as around 1 a.m. I was thrown out of bed top the sound of breaking glass as one of my 32 ounce bottles exploded violently in the kitchen covering everything withing 15 feet in a fine layer of gingerale. instead of measuring the yeast…. I guestimated and used a pinch. BAD IDEA… I used either too much sugar/agave or too much yeast or it was too warm… I then proceeded to try to open the other bottles from that batch (there were three) to release some pressure and they did a wonderful job mimicking those toy plastic rockets that used water and air to achieve altitude.
    I have never been so sticky in my life.

    i spent about an hour mopping up the 96 ounces of deliciousness. Now I get to swiffer it.
    It was really very tasty though!
    I am pouring out my other two batches as I used the pinch method with them too….

    I am so used to cooking by intuition and not using measurements… I think I am also gonna go back to the FH Steinbarts here in Portland and buy smaller bottles so I can experiment with smaller and less dangerous batches….

    Anyhow… just wanted to add my two cents….

    Do you serve your ginger brew at the Common…? I’d love to try some while waiting for my next batch to mature.


    I’ll let y’all know what comes of the next batch… I LOVE the idea of adding thyme to the mix. Genius! I was thinking about Thai Basil… but think I will simply muddle some in a glass before adding the ginger beer.

  • Brian says:

    Here’s a couple more comments as I pass my 100th bottle brewed:

    1. On the juicer… at first I didn’t strain the ginger juice (I’m using a Champion juicer), and the result was “firewater.” I love ginger, but the burning went from throat to belly and stayed for a day. Since then, I strain the juice. Still lots of bite, but without the lingering burn. Also, my juicer produces juice from the bottom and the pulp from the end. I run the pulp through a second time, and get a lot more juice out.

    2. On the Cream of Tartar… I took a bunch of old time ginger beer recipes and did the math to convert the COT to this recipe. I came up with 1/8 TSP per bottle. I found that it made ZERO difference in taste or head (which is the purpose of the COT). The bottle-conditioning creates plenty of head on its own, and I won’t bother again with it if it doesn’t help.

    3. The honey, on the other hand, was a nice addition. I substituted .5 OZ of syrup with honey. It was nice, though next time I’ll cut back a little (maybe half of that) to cut the honey sweetness.

    Here are the variations I like best. This is for 16 OZ portions:

    1 OZ ginger juice (strained)
    1.5 OZ lemon juice
    3.5 OZ simple syrup
    10 OZ warm water

    I multiply by number of bottles (usually 16/batch), mix and bottle, then add (ROUGHLY) a half of a 1/8 TSP measuring spoon of the Premier Cuvee yeast (I ordered the bottles for about $2 each and the yeast for 60 cents a pack from Jeffrey’s link above). Cap and shake. Put in a kitchen cabinet for 48 hours and refrigerate.

    Here’s the honey version:

    1 OZ ginger juice (strained)
    1.5 OZ lemon juice
    3 OZ simple syrup
    .5 OZ honey
    10 OZ warm water

    One last thing… Costco sells 1 liter bottles of 100% organic lemon juice (not from concentrate) for about $3. That’s the juice of 40 organic lemons! It’s really good, ready to use, and WAY cheaper than alternatives. Now, if they sold ginger root…

  • Ted says:

    Personally, I prefer using fresh lime juice instead of the lemon juice. However, I spent the winter in south Texas where key limes were about two cents each.

  • Ellen says:

    I’m planning to make some easy ginger beer without the fermentation, because I have a sodastream carbonator. But before I got to this site, my plan was to make a ginger simple syrup by cutting up fresh ginger and boiling it with the water and sugar. I make a jalapeno-mint syrup this way for some kick-ass spicy margaritas. So now I wonder if boiling might make the ginger flavor too strong, or change it entirely? Any idea?

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