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”

  • James B. U. says:

    Tried the Ginger Beer last night, and it was terrific. Fizzy, bursting with Ginger after-burn, and tart but not too lemony. Perfect! It reminded me of Vernor’s before they were bought out by Pepsi. It used to come in a brown bottle with sediment on the bottom, and it left a good burn behind when you drank it. Then they got bought out, and they turned it into really lame Ginger Ale. Sad, but now I can make my own! Next, I need to try the tonic water. Thanks!

  • James – Glad it worked out for you!

    Jeff

  • danny says:

    I find myself wishing Napoleon had conquered the US and introduced the metric system .

    with all your “ounces”, “teaspoons”
    and whatnot it gets tough for a European to comprehend …;)

  • Nathan says:

    Did it according to recipe. Works, tasty, cheers!

    Thanks Jeffery.

  • Tom says:

    I used to make beer in college. I was hitch-hiking back to school one cold winter day with a couple of quarts in my suitcase. Got a ride with a nice older couple who had the heat turned on extra high. You can guess what happened. The whole side of my suitcase blew open and made a hell of a mess. The gentleman driving almost had a heart attack. He swerved, ran off the road and got stuck. No body hurt buy the police stopped and …….what a day. I was arrested for being underage. I have never made any since but that was 40 years ago and I am ready to try some ginger beer.

  • Lee says:

    I have been looking at your recipes and although I think they are all great, I have one which is really simple and uses no fancy equipment nor fresh ginger.

    Recipe is for 1.5 L plastic bottle
    2 T warm water
    1/2 t sugar
    1/4 t dried yeast granules

    1 cup sugar
    juice of 2 lemons
    rind of 2 lemons
    1 t to 1 T dried ginger

    Put first measure of sugar in warm water to dissolve, add yeast and stir. Place in warm place to start working.

    Finely grate or slice rind from 2 lemons and place in a heatproof container with the 1 cup of sugar and the dried ginger. Pour over 1 cup of boiling water and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Strain into 1.5 L plastic bottle in which the ginger beer will be made (I used a flannel or wash cloth as you Americans call it – in a funnel to strain). Top up bottle with cool water to near top so that final temp is approx. body temp. Add yeast to bottle as soon as it shows signs of working, ie. it foams. Cap bottle tightly.

    It is usually ready to drink 24 -48 hours after bottling.

    I have also been experimenting with less sugar and using mixed spice or cinammon to boost the sweetness instead and using oranges instead of lemons. The uncarbonated mixture smells fantastic so it will be interesting to see what it tastes like.

  • Michelle says:

    Lisa,

    If you’re still on the hunt for the best Ginger beer, you have to try “Bundaberg Ginger Beer”. It’s available at Cost Plus World Market. It’s Australian and, since I am Australian, I may be a little biased but it’s THE best Ginger Beer in the world, especially for Dark & Stormy’s.

    Jeffrey,
    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I’m really hopeful that the taste will come close to my beloved Bundaberg variety, for a lot less money.

    Cheers,
    Michelle

  • nathan says:

    Bundaberg is good for a shelf variety, but this homemade recipe puts the wood to it. We did a taste off the other night over cards, Bundaberg had not a chance. Make your own folks, it is worth it.

  • Sue says:

    I’m getting ready to try this recipe tomorrow (Tues) so it will be ready for a Dark and Stormy party on Friday. I’m a bit concerned about this exploding bottle issue. If I follow the recipe to the letter, do you think there’ll be any chance of explosion? The thought of glass flying everywhere kind of scares me.

  • Ted says:

    I just came across the old English ginger beer recipe we used in Woodside, CA in 1974.

    1 oz Ginger
    1 oz Cream of Tarter
    1 or 2 lemons sliced
    3/4 lb sugar
    1 gal water
    1/2 package yeast

    Stir together and let stand overnight. Strain through cheesecloth and bottle in champagne bottles. Drinkable
    in two days.

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