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”

  • Siggy says:

    If you use pop bottles you’ll be safe from having them explode. The yeast can only build so much pressure and bottles made for carbonated beverages can handle that. Putting them in the fridge only drastically slows down the yeast. But the do continue to work at a very slow rate.

  • Atalanta says:

    Finally got around to this one. Bought the ginger (it’s cheaper at the ethnic markets than the mainstream) and brought it home. The grater we thought we had was MIA. Don’t have a juicer. Fortunately we did just a small batch and used…. A GARLIC PRESS. We inherited this ancient press (all metal, doesn’t “self clean”) and squeezed the bejeebers out of ginger until we had a quarter cup of juice and little bits of ginger all over the kitchen LOL

    We’re getting a grater before we do the next batch and doing the lemon squeezer/cheesecloth trick.

    It was just a tetch too gingery (may be the strain of ginger from the Indian market?) but other than that, the dark and stormy was good.

  • Siggy says:

    I find it easier to just throw it in the blender with the sugar and some water. Strain off the solids if you don’t want it to strong.

  • Nick says:

    When I was at my brew supply store, they recommend that I rehydrate the yeast first. What are your thoughts and experience for that?

  • Sam says:

    I have a sodastream so I made the base and added carbonated water to it. First batch didn’t have enough bite so I doubled the ginger juice. Came out perfect. Also, you don’t need an expensive juicer. I bought a black&decker for 33 bucks off of amazon and it works great. I’ve already gone through two liters the first night ( I had company over) and there are more to come. Thanks again for the recipie!

  • otys says:

    just tried a 400 gallon batch ,turned out beautifully(400 g is the smallest primary I have )at the 48 hour point we were at .0015% alcohol by weight you would have to drink 16 gallons in 3.5 minutes to catch a buzz good luck with that .on storage ,if you use amber glass bottles the favor will last much longer also adding ,just a pinch of cream of tartar will help to preserve your brew ,for my batch I added 2 pounds after a premix with some of the wort .also sweetening with honey instead of sucrose(store bought sugar)helps preserve it .on yeast if you propagate the yeast prior to pitching you will have better results ,in my big batch I ferment in a pressure regulated primary fermenter and keep the pressure at or below 16.5 psi then bottle it and add 5 cc of priming sugar per bottle and cap immediately store cool(68-70 degrees ) for about a week then crack the first jug and enjoy the recipe is about the same one Ive been using for the past seven years I also make a ginger mead that comes out quite well and this has alcohol content around 23 to 27 % ,more info will come at a later writing

  • Benjamin says:

    I love this recipe and have been trying variations. I did a batch that used grapefruit and apples and it has turned out great so far. Thinking about cardamom and coriander. maybe cloves too. We’ll see.
    Thanks Jeff!

  • avont says:

    What’s the shelf life of this ginger beer??

  • Siggy says:

    I’ve had the fermented stuff (carbonated with yeast)in a fridge for 6 months to see what would happen. It was still good, but the flavor changes. The ginger’s bite had mellowed out and it lost most of it’s sweetness. I almost prefer it, but I don’t have enough refrigerated space to age it before I drink it.

  • Exploding Bottles says:

    Note: the 48hr carbonation time will vary based on the temperature they are stored at during this period. If they are stored very warm, there is the possibility of bottle bombs.

    This is why most people recommend using emptied 2L plastic soda bottles (so you can feel the carbonation level, and they would be less dangerous if they would explode).

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