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”

  • Jesh M says:

    So I don’t have to make let the yeast begin workin for a week, like some recipes say?

    I can just add directly into the bottle of ginger beer, no culture needed?

  • metametagirl says:

    Thanks for the recipe! Made 32oz this week — my first time brewing something other than coffee and tea! It was a great success — not too sweet, and actually a bit bitter. I wouldn’t change anything about this recipe. Much better than the high fructose corn syrupy sweet stuff from the store! I used plastic soda & mineral water bottles placed under the kitchen sink inside a plastic tub, since I’m scared of the glass explosion that other people have had. I’m glad I used the plastic tub since there was a bit of leakage. I bought a Microplane grater for the occasion — well worth it because my wasabi grater is tiny. Still, juicing ginger by grating is a pretty time consuming task.

    Got a question: does the ginger beer contain any “beneficial bacteria” when brewing with the Red Star Premier Cuvee champagne yeast?

    I look forward to making another batch! Cheers!

  • Tom B says:

    So results: turned out great. everyone at work enjoyed the flavor.

    I let off pressure after 24 hours and it made a nice pop – the yeast didn’t die! for once. haha.

    The carbonation is good in the bottles. The taste is a little too lemony, probably my fault. the taste is also kind of flat, not too complex. I wonder if boiling the ginger in the simple syrup would help.

    I also want to try limes as my favorite bar – Apothecary, Phila – uses limes.


  • Lisa says:

    Wow, as a sailor who’s been around lots of people enjoying Dark ‘n Stormy’s after both hard and easy sails, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that your ginger beer recipe generated 123 responses! And how nice that you answered every person’s questions and concerns so thoughtfully. For someone who might not be up to the challenge of homemade ginger beer (please forgive me), is there a brand of ginger beer that you recommend?
    Thanks so much!

  • Daniel says:

    Jeffrey – quick question about the ginger juice…

    Can the pressed ginger juice be frozen for any length of time or do the oils go off?

    I have a twin-roller juicer that is excellent for getting the juice out of the ginger but is a pain to wash up for small batches. I was hoping to do, say three or four batches of juice and store them in portion-sized bags. Have any of you had experience of freezing the ginger juice?

    First batch of ginger beer comes out of the fridge this Thursday. The only variations were light muscovado in the simple syrup and the juice of a lime in with the lemons cos one lemon was all dry and icky inside.

  • Ted says:

    Good question, Lisa. In June, I was in a liquor store in Folsom, CA that had about ten different brands. It would have been great getting one bottle of each, but I don’t think Continental would have allowed me to carry them back to Colorado.

    When I used to buy it 30 years ago, I had a favorite brand, but since it hasn’t been available for a long time, I forgot what brand it was. In fact, I find it very seldom in any store. That’s why I’m making my own now, at least a liter each week.

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks so much for the reply. I’ve actually bought ginger beer (Reed’s?) at Trader Joe’s, but just didn’t know if it was one of the favorite brands of Dark ‘n Stormy lovers:

  • Daniel says:

    My first batch is complete today and it was quite a taste experience!

    Although I thought I had seated all the stoppers carefully, I noticed the rubber seal on one of the four bottles was bulging off-centre so I thought I would let off the top, re-seat it and let it finish its last three-and-a-half hours before putting it in the fridge.

    I *very* carefully let it off, expecting it to be pretty flat since there were very few visible bubbles but I was amazed by the incredible pressure that had built up. Through judicious pressure on the stopper I was able to get it calmed down without a geyser of foam. I guess that despite being in the shade, the sunny weather outside had done the business and so decided to cool the three remaining bottles in the fridge immediately.

    I am used to the pressure you get in commercial cans and bottles and I can say the wine yeast had certainly done the business. I was especially careful not to over-sugar the recipe, so I assume it was the little guys making all the fizz!

    Excellent taste, very gingery and a good lasting fizz in the glass. Now to wait for my Gosling’s to arrive in the post from the importer!

  • Matthew says:

    @Lisa 04 Aug 2009 at 5:12 pm

    I have most often used Barritt’s Ginger Beer – it has been prevalent in my preferred liquor stores. I have also used the Cock’n Bull brand as well. A lot depends on personal taste and what you enjoy. Officially, there is/was an “unofficial partnership” between Gosling’s and Barritt’s; however according to this article [] Gosling’s is producing their own brand of ginger beer.

  • The Meat says:

    my ginger beer has been sitting in its warm dark place for 36 hours, should it be carbonating yet?

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