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”

  • Professr says:

    I’m trying this for the first time today – I’m using metal Klean bottles (they have decent threaded tops and a silicone o-ring). I tried to put around half of a 1/4th tsp of yeast in each, but it may be too much, as they are each only 530mL. I have a *giant* glass jug for wine fermenting, and I was wondering if there were any tips for making larger batches (maybe with some alcohol) in it with standard fast-rise bread yeast…

  • Professr says:

    My first batch came out pretty good, aside from the expected foam explosion! It smells nasty, but tastes amazing – is that because I used regular sugar instead of simple syrup? Also, I tried thyme, cinnamon, and cloves, which all had interesting effects, but then I tried Garam Masala (it has cloves and a bunch of other things in it). It was *perfect*, and removed all the bad smell and added so many flavor hints to the taste.

  • John McGovern says:

    Jeffrey, et al:

    Many many thanks for this easy, fun, and delicious recipe for ginger beer! Per the genesis of this concoction, I had my first taste of my brew on an island, minus the rain, just as the sun was setting (and the midges were descending…) mixed into a delightful Moscow Mule.
    The cocktail was pure [bracing] summer refreshment and so enjoyed by all that I relished it on three more occasions within the span of one weekend. The island tasting was the best, perhaps b/c of the crushed ice or perhaps because I was on an island! The imbibing post cob-oven construction was missing the ice, though notably, the ginger lime mixture cut right through the taste of clay that had made its way onto my face. Around the fire? awesome cocktail! Around the pool? awesome cocktail! I’d highly recommend crushed ice in the makings of an excellent Moscow Mule.
    Jeffrey’s recipe for ginger beer seems destined for mixing with spirits, rather than drinking straight, which is fine with me for the three months of remaining summer here, on Ohio’s north shore!

    I’ll definitely be making several more batches, perhaps infused with mint, thyme, or any number of summertime smells…. Also, I wonder about switching out the simple syrup w? Mapel syrup or honey?!? The professr may be onto something with the garam masala – will def give that a try.

    Thanks again for the recipe and for helping to make all the good folks out here just a little bit happier!


    Cleveland, O

  • Professr says:

    After finding that baker’s yeast leaves sediment and a taste I couldn’t really enjoy, I have spent the past week or so building a homemade carbonator ( I am carbonating my first batch now!

  • Adam says:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    I love ginger beer (just on its own) especially on a hot summer’s day. I have tried a few recipes of the net but none as well documented as yours. I shall definitely be giving your a try as the weather is starting to warm up here in the UK. I will keep the site bookmarked and give you an update once the first batch is finished!

  • Ginger Beer says:

    Hi Jeffrey,
    Adam here, all worked out fine and tastes great … just in time for this great weather we are having here in the UK. Fast running out though so i think its a bigger batch next time. Good luck and thanks for the info.

  • Matt B says:

    Hi Jeffrey…just wondering if you re-use the bottles – and if so, how do you wash them? I may be cheap, but $1.95 per bottle seems pretty steep to use just once (and I really want to try the recipe!)…thanks

  • John Merrill says:

    Slightly off topic, but of interest to us Dark and Stormy fans:

  • I have given homemade ginger beer a go now a couple of times, I think I have finally mastered something I am happy with. what alcohol content, if at all, do you find your finished product comes in at? also once opened how long do you find your mix holds its fizz and life?

  • Tom B says:

    Thanks for the recipie. I just mixed up three bottles which are fermenting under my sink as we speak. 48 hours later I hope to have a carbonated drink.

    I had some extra ginger and lemon juice left over so I made a non carbonated dark n stormy.

    Will let you know how it turned out.


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