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”

  • Michael says:

    I’ve wondered the same as Chris — can you just use soda water for the carbonation instead of using still water? Soda Siphons don’t seem ideal and, as most everyone here can attest, the yeast is always hit-or-miss.

    Pete — How did the Soda Stream work out? The company warns against using anything but plain water (adding your flavorings afterward) and using anything but water voids the warranty. I was still thinking of trying it 🙂 so I’m wondering what your experience was.

  • Lana says:

    I have followed the recipe precisely, and when all ingredients except for yeast were mixed together, it turned pink. I thought it was because my juice was in a red bowl, but I see Kristy had the experience. I wonder why that is. Here’s what it looks like:[email protected]/5972571143/in/photostream

  • Lana says:

    I think figured it out! It must have turned pink because I mixed the ginger and lemon juice and left it sitting while the syrup was cooling down. Ginger naturally turns light pink when pickled, so lemon juice must have ‘pickled’ the ginger juice. Soon will see if it’s affected the taste.

  • Kipp says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I made the original and 2 variations one was sweetened with a lavender honey syrup and a crystalized ginger, lime zest, and clove syrup. The second variation was sweetened with a vanilla and cinnamon syrup and lavender honey syrup. I have had several friends and patrons say it the best dark and stormy they have ever had. Thanks again Jeffery for the great recipe.

  • Ricky says:

    Killer ginger beer. It has a really nice bite to it. Lana, my ginger beer turned pink as well, but after I siphoned and cooled it, the color corrected.

  • Betty Weiss says:

    Funny that you mention you’re in Oregon, where you have to make your own ginger beer. I just came from Corvallis, Oregon, where I enjoyed wonderful ginger beer (made like yours with champagne yeast) at a dinner catered by Intaba’s FireWorks Restaurant.

    I asked for her recipe and hope to try it soon at home. My usual bottled brew is Bundaberg Ginger Beer from Australia.

  • Jim says:

    I’ve made a number of batches and its been great. However, the last three batches have tasted and smelled of plastic and I’m not sure why.

    After boiling my water ginger and spices all is well, then a few hours after my yeast has been added, the batch has a plastic chemical smell to it. At first I thought it was the plastic pitcher I used hold the brew after boiling, or the plastic bottles I was using for botteling. This didn’t make sense because they were the same containers I had used to create good batches earlier. I ended up replacing both the pitcher and bottles with glass just in case, but to no avail.

    My current thought is that I began putting a cinnamon stick into my brew a few batches ago and that may be reacting poorly with the yeast.

    Any thoughts out there?

  • Zach says:

    I just made a batch of ginger beer at my house this last week and i boiled my ginger as well. However all of the containers I used were either stainless steel or glass.

    The reason for boiling the ginger is to pasteurize it and thus prevent wild yeast or fungus to enter the mix. If you can find some glass pop-top bottles those will work best, and make sure you use a good sterilizer. You can find that in a place that sells home brewing equipment.

  • Bill says:

    Finally got around to making this a couple of weeks ago. Was way, way, WAY too lemony for my taste. Carbonation was just right, and the ginger burn in my throat was absolutely magnificent.

  • kristin says:

    I made this tonight, and it is amazing! I used an iSi twist and sparkle to carbonate. The first batch was a little too lemony, so I added a few more oz of simple syrup to the second batch – perfect!

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