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 1Β½ 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”

  • Ryan says:

    After having been through a hand full of bottles of this stuff, here are the modifications I’ve come to like:
    1 part ginger juice
    1 part lemon juice
    .5 parts lime juice
    3.5 parts simple syrup
    3 whole cloves (for 16oz)

    The cloves give it a nice touch, though can be easily overdone so careful with them. Also, if I had some rum on hand I would be able to test my theory on this, but I think the flavor the cloves add would make it meld with the rum even more better (or, mo’betta if you will) as it kind of rounds out the spice a bit.

  • Thanks to all who posted re: the yeast amount. I guess my measurements were pretty inaccurate as two of the four bottles I made geysered upon opening. Oh well, the ones that didn’t were pretty damn good. Re: the shelf life of the product, I got sick between mixing my batch and drinking some of it. The last bottle I drank had been sitting in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and still tasted dandy. Finally, a question to those in this thread with homebrewing experience. I sanitized my bottles (and only my bottles, none of the other implements) for this batch (washing with be-brite(sp?) and sanitizing with star-san). I realized after I was done that if I didn’t sanitize everything then sanitizing anything was probably pointless. What do you think? Is sanitizing even necessary for something with such a short fermentation period and that is drank so quickly? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    sd

  • Bill says:

    sd –

    I think you’re right about sanitizing and about the short fermentation time. Just make sure everything is clean. I personally just scrape off the big chunks and have at it. If you ever go to home brewing, though, sanitizing is back big-time.

    Ryan –

    I, too have changed the proportions, but the other way around, using 2 pts. ginger and 2 pts. lemon to 3 pts. syrup for 16 oz. I like my ginger, and it’s not for everybody.

    On the yeast amount question, those little beasties multiply like rabbits once they get a little sugar and warmth, so even if you start with 25 grains, you’ll have a lot more than that before you’re through. The amount and time and temperature restrictions are there so you’ll know when to refrigerate. (I use plastic 2-liter soda bottles, so just judge by feel.) If you change any of the numbers, you’re just guessing.

    Bill

  • Bill –

    Thanks for the advice. I’ve done a little bit of homebrewing (kits only, so far), hence my possession of the be-brite and star-san. As soon as I finish reading Papazian I’ll brave a more “free-style” approach.

    sd

  • John Merrill says:

    Interesting article in the NYTimes:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/dining/20ginger.html

    The article didn’t take comments so I couldn’t point readers here.

  • Bill says:

    Jeffrey –

    Ahead of your time once again.

    Bil

  • Chris says:

    Made this on Thursday for girlfriend’s birthday (who loves ginger beer). I followed Jeffrey’s recipe pretty closely, using the champagne yeast, and made 2 bottles of it. I allowed to ferment for about 48 hours, but I think I didn’t add enough yeast, as there was very little carbonation. But it turned out great! Both of us were very impressed with the result. FWIW, the NY Times recipe was pretty good too, but there’s something special about Jeff’s bottle conditioned version. I plan on repeating, but not until I get my hands on a juicer. Microplane grating 12 oz of ginger was not fun.

  • Matt says:

    Hey Jeffrey,

    I’ve done a bunch of beer brewing and I was wondering about increasing this recipe in a 5 or 6 gallon carboy. Would I use an airlock? Let it sit for 48 hrs, then bottle with priming sugar for fermentation? Any ideas for a larger batch? I figure I’ll try a few bottles to start.

    Matt

  • Oliver says:

    So. Just a small hint for anybody who couldn’t find the champagne yeast or is as dumb as myself:

    In austria (where i live) I couldn’t find the requested champagne yeast and looked for the regular baking one. As i wasn’t quite sure about the exact amount yeast ( gramm would be nice) needed I just took 1,5 packages for a 1 litre bottle.

    To keep it short. My Ginger Beer is perfecty carbonated. After 30 minutes.

    One exploded, but i could save the other three πŸ˜€ … now I have to paint the kitchen. Again.

  • Matt – You’re on your own, unfortunately. I’m not a homebrewer, just a guy who makes ginger beer for cocktails. Good luck, though, and let the rest of us know what you find out.

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