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”

  • Usthen says:

    gonna try out with fruit kefir yeast and spice, ll let know

  • Siggy says:

    Started making ginger beer here in Costa Rica a couple weeks ago when I realized I had ginger growing on my property. I found a recipe very similar to this one on a different site. My fist batch I just peeled and cut the ginger into slices and put it in a blender with the lemon and sugar and filled with water and blended till the sugar dissolved filled this along with bakers yeast into cleaned 2.5 liter pop bottles ( almost impossible to explode) and the fermentation took 2 days till it got the bottles firm. After that refrigerated and strained the ginger out, added another Tsp of sugar to keep the yeast fed and left the bottles out another day til they firmed up and refrigerated again, turned out great. My observations are the yeasty flavor reduces considerably after refrigeration and open the bottles slowly to allow excess carbonation to escape (otherwise it’ll be all over the place). Brewing a batch now with some cloves thrown in and added the sediment from the last batch instead of yeast. Hoping it’ll work better than the dormant stuff.

  • Matthew says:

    I’ve made a few batches of this now, so first- thank you. Couple questions if you have a minute… First, I got tons of carbonation, so much that it takes several minutes of just cracking the seal and letting some out, then letting it settle, then repeat until I can open it without losing most of it. Is there some technique to get around this? I think the amount of sediment (including added spices) makes it fizz more and I’ve tried filtering through coffee filters, but the sediment clogs them up very quickly. Is filtering a good idea and if so is there a better way?

  • Chas says:

    I like this recipe. I used to make Ginger Beer 5 gallons at a time for a restaurant I ran. This recipe is very close to how I made it. A cheaper way to do it without the bottles is to use Mason Jars. The only real difference when I made it was we added a little citric acid. When I make it at home, I like to add a little brown sugar sometimes. Give it a neat, warm kind of flavor.

  • Siggy says:

    Well I’ve been making my own ginger beer for a few weeks now and here are my observations. Cloves round out the flavor and give it the “real” ginger ale flavor, about 1 clove per liter does it. Tried cinnamon, didn’t do much at all. Black pepper, I’m still undecided on it. Limes are better than lemons. Crushed allspice is interesting but weak flavored. Adding a few teaspoons of sediment from a recent batch instead of yeast seems to work better; Less yeasty flavor, quicker fermentation and you can still get fermentation with large amounts of ginger added. I think a sort of natural selection that favors strains that are tolerant of ginger takes place. The initial batch that I made I put a lot of ginger in (3″ of sediment in a 3 liter bottle) and had to dilute it into 2 bottles to get fermentation going, adjusting sugar and lemon juice back to original proportions. After a few batches using sediment from the previous batch instead of yeast I found I can use a lot of ginger and still have fermentation. I like it spicier than most though. It makes for an excellent Dark & Stormy with 7 year old Flor de Caña Rum from Nicaragua.

  • Farkas says:

    So I’ve been making ginger beer at my bar for two months now, or roughly six batches. I’ve been bottle fermenting with cuvee yeast, bread yeast, and champagne yeast. The recipe I follow or (screw with) call for steeping the liquid and such and putting in activated yeast. Is that whole process nessary? I patrons tell me it’s awesome, but I’m not satisfied with the amount of yeast/ setament in the bottom of the bottle when done carbonating. Any tips on how to filter?
    P.s. I have this on our drink list as the “Fark N’ Stormy” so perfection will never be achieved with my name attached. Thanks

  • MothyrGrimm says:

    Jeff, not sure if someone asked this already, that’s A LOT of posts to check… anywho, do you prefer to use the traditional way of fermentation, or the trustier soda siphon? I can’t wait to try this!

  • Mary H says:

    I wish I’d read this first.
    Here’s how I’ve made ginger beer so far:
    Read “Wild Fermentation” and go out an buy a crappy 1 quart bail top bottle from the Container Store…Wait for “ginger bug” to capture wild yeast for a week…get frustrated and add 1/4 tsp. of bread yeast to bug…follow the rest of the directions in the book, bottle the ginger beer and anticipate waiting two weeks for your beverage…discover crappy bottle exploded after three days, find Jeffrey’s website, panic, and put remaining bottles in the fridge to prevent further explosions in the mechanical room. Hopefully I’ll have some fizz, but I’m not opening the remaining bottles until they are WELL chilled (and outside)! Next time I’ll try it this way. And use a better bottle!

  • Cpt. Danger says:

    Just did a gallon in 8 flip-cap bottles. Added 1/2 tsp cream of tartar and I steeped 1oz of Spanish lavender in 16 oz of hot water and added that. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  • Cpt. Danger says:

    Tried the lavender ginger beer yesterday and today. One of them exploded, blowing the bottom off the bottle just minutes before I was going to refridgerate them.

    Once cold, they still foamed well over when opened but were delicious, although not as much ginger bite as I wanted.

    Today, the one that didn’t get drank or exploded yesterday was even tastier. It still foamed over, but not as much.

    Last night I bottled a gallon in a glass jug. I used:

    12 oz fresh ginger juice
    16 oz fresh lemon juice
    24 oz simple syrup
    80 oz warm water
    1 tsp cream of tartar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1/3 tsp champagne yeast

    Tomorrow evening I’ll bottle it in 16 oz flip-cap bottles.

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