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”

  • Claire says:

    I make ginger beer or lacto fermented ginger soda and ginger kombucha. One has a starter of filtered water and chopped ginger and sugar that stays in the fridge and gets fed every so often like a sourdough starter. 1 Cup starter per gallon of soda whatever flavor you want to make. Ginger has wild yeast all over it. Never made this soda with store bought yeast. Too easy to make my own. Kombucha same thing 1 gallon white tea, 1 cup sugar 1 kombucha scoby. 5 days. strain into bottles. 1 oz simple syrup per 16oz kombucha. 2 days fizzy goodness. I’ve heard of but not tried simply adding candied ginger slices to the bottle.

  • Lizzie says:

    Thanks so much! We made a party of it and had 8 people grating, peeling and cheese-clothing the ginger. Had a taste 20 minutes after refrigeration and mmmmmmm…..

  • Lauren Mote says:

    Ok, so i totally made some crazy random soda with your recipe as the guideline, and it’s fermenting right now… i’m so excited to try it. here’s the combo:
    ginger juice
    lemon juice
    lavender & clover honey
    lavender & orange roiboos tea
    wickedness. come to vancouver soon for a visit Jeff! i want you to drink some soda! πŸ™‚
    no tales of the cocktail this past weekend for you? boo!

  • Chazz & Bam says:

    Stewarts stopped making Ginger Beer. Most other brands are wimpy. We were desperate. Found 2 things that let us know we were destined to make our own- Your recipe and our discovery yesterday that the local hardware store carries an impressive supply of home brew equipment. Bought 2 cases of flip top bottles yesterday. We’ll get started tonight. Bam (wife) used to work in a lab. Knows all about yeast, etc. Results will be published here in next 2 weeks.

  • Ken says:

    I’ve been making ginger beer with this article as a starting point for about 8 months now and have processed about 30 lbs of ginger root so far. My experience has lead to a few observations.

    I have two juicers, a 40 or so year old Braun MP50 and a Juiceman II. I usually process about 5 lbs at a time. The Juiceman has continuous pulp ejection, while the Braun does not.

    The Juiceman is a recent acquisition and I tried it with my last batch. The yield was about a half liter of juice and the pulp was very wet. I fed the pulp into the Braun and yielded an additional 1+ liters!

    With the Juiceman II, I get wet pulp which obviously has a lot of liquid left. With the old Braun, the “pulp” is like damp sawdust that I can’t squeeze anything out of. The problem with the Juiceman, I think, is that dense pulp accumulates on the slanted basket and clogs the mesh after a few pieces, so that most of the juice can’t get through and is thrown out with the pulp. This leads me to conclude that non-ejecting centrifugal juicers are the way to go if you can get one. The MP50 is long off the market, but Omega and Acme have machines that work on the same principle. It may be that there are ejecting juicers around that are more efficient than the Juiceman II that I have, so if anyone can get 1.5 liters juice, or close to it from 5 lbs of ginger, I’d like to know.

    I’ve also noted differences in ginger root. I find two “types” locally. One is big, thick, and broad while the other is thinner and more densely branched. I prefer the latter. It has so far been more potent and the juice has a lovely golden color, origin unknown.

    Freezing the root is another useful thing. Not only can you stock up on a good deal or particularly nice root, but the cell structure is broken down by a freeze/thaw and makes juicing somewhat easier.

    I don’t peal the ginger. It sounds like an incredible PIA with five pounds of densely branched roots and I’m perfectly satisfied with the results I’m getting.

    Thanks, Jeff! This page has been just as useful to me as your tonic water article, which is saying something!

  • Paul says:

    Hey ya’ll,

    I’ve made this recipe a few times using yeast but the carbonation always seems to be finicky thing…sometimes turning out just right and sometimes far from ideal. Adding 25 granules of yeast is rather difficult so the results are bound to be different. Has anyone tried mixing the yeast in water first and then adding it to the entire batch before bottling? I’m going to try that this weekend and thought you folks might have some pointers. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  • Alex says:

    Paul, I’ve had the same problems. Some bottles have been over carbonated and others have been completely flat. I’ve thought of trying the way you suggested, too. I did it today and (hopefully) will report back in a few days.

  • Professr says:

    I had trouble with inconsistent carbonation when using yeast, which is why i switched to forced carbonation πŸ˜€ It comes out perfect every time, and you can get the equipment from your local brewing shop

  • brandon says:

    For all of you with inconsistent carbonation, it is not due to the amount of yeast you are adding to the bottles. The important variable for carbonation is sugar, not really the amount of yeast (at least for this small volume of fermentable sugars). Yeast eats the sugar and poops alcohol and farts co2. The amount of carbonation you have is based on the amount of sugar available for the yeast to eat. You can add as much yeast as you want, but it only has 3 oz of sugar to eat. After it runs out of food the yeast goes to sleep. If you add too much yeast, the result will just be yeasty tasting ginger beer with the same amount of carbonation and tons of sediment. The reason you are most likely having inconsistent carbonation is because a sealed bottle can only handle so much carbonation before it gushes when you open it or it explodes. Sugar is highly fermentable and if you let the yeast eat it, it will eat all the sugar leaving you with zero sweetness and too much carbonation. That’s why the recipe tells you to refrigerate the ginger beer after 48 hours. In 48 hours time, the yeast can eat enough of the sugar to carbonate the bottles to the correct level. Adding it to the fridge makes the yeast go to sleep and fall to the bottom of the bottles leaving residual sweetness and also not overcarbonating your ginger beer. So if you don’t follow all parts of this recipe, make sure you at least observe the 48 hour rule to avoid gushers. Also, for those of you wanting to up the alcohol level by adding too much sugar, make sure that you don’t do that with a sealed bottle because it will explode. Also also, a bunch of fermented cane sugar will just taste like hot booze. Go to your local homebrew store and learn how to make beer and then add ginger to it. The starter homebrew kit also has a bottling bucket which will help you make regular ginger beer in one big batch that you can then split into bottles. Just make the full volume for every bottle, add a packet of dry yeast, one dose of sugar and then bottle it all off. All bottles will have equal amounts of sugar and yeast. Hope this helps.

  • Alex says:

    Reporting back…

    I mixed the batch (ginger juice, lime juice, agave nectar, warm (104F) water, and yeast) in a large pot before bottling. I stirred it all and let it sit in the pot for 15 or 20 minutes so that the yeast was distributed throughout and could start doing its thing before bottling. This has provided much more consistent results (though one out of five bottles did spew when it opened). I’ve also switched from 25.5 to 8.5 ounce bottles. Each bottle will contribute to two Moscow Mules, and if one spews, I don’t lose too much.

    Brandon, thanks for the post. Even following the recipe to a ‘T’, including refrigeration after 48 hours, resulted a crap shoot for each bottle in terms of carbonation. Perhaps, as you suggest, my sugar levels were inconsistent in each bottle.

    Making it all in a single batch and then bottling seems to be helping the issue.

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