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”

  • Dave C says:

    Siggy,
    That’s awesome you had the guts to take a swig after it sat for 6 months. Now I’m tempted to try it.

    Jeff, thanks for providing this recipe. I’ve been playing around with it now for a year and have enjoyed the challenge of brewing a unique, complex, stand-alone beverage.

  • Kevin says:

    anyone have any luck kegging this? The ginger juice sediment seems to sink to the bottom, so without constant agitation the taste varies greatly depending on when its pulled from the keg. Such a great taste fresh id love to be able to use it in my bar, any advice??

  • Patrick says:

    I am interested in kegging it too. I want to do 3 and 5 gal batches for personal use.

    For the record, Jeff’s recipe is the one being used at P.F. Changs. They make they syrup and use soda water when serving.

    The variations all seem interesting with the spices because I am working on a sparkling mulled cider (non-alcoholic) for kegging. That stuff is heavenly in small batches.

    I also want to work on preservation. How can I guarantee a 6-9 month shelf life on the stuff.

  • Chris says:

    For those of you wondering about ginger color –

    Ginger, especially young ginger, contains anthocyanins, which turn pink in acid solutions and bluish in alkaline ones. (Red cabbage juice has the same stuff in it, and using different foods and household chemicals to make it change colors is a popular science experiment.)

    Also, if you want a fiery ginger beer, DO NOT boil or otherwise cook your ginger; you’ll convert most of the gingerol to zingerone, which has a nice sweet-spicy fragrance but not much heat.

  • Portland to Tahoe says:

    It’s great to see people still following this page. I finally got the proper yeast to make this. And the herbs to make the tonic recipe you have. Can’t wait!

  • Logan Reeder says:

    I know this may seem like a silly question, but is this ginger beer alcoholic? I’ve had ginger beer before but it was non-alcoholic and I was wondering if this one was as well.

  • Morgan says:

    Hey Jeff,
    Quick question, I think I may have added the yeast to my bottles too early while it was still a bit warm. I wont know for certain til tomorrow night but in the event I did and there is no carbonation, and in turn alcohol, would it be safe to simply add the yeast granules again at that time and let them sit in a warm dark place for another two days? Or is the batch a total loss?

    Thanks,
    _m

  • William says:

    Jeff,

    I tried the ginger beer recipe with much excitement. After 48 hours, I put bottles in refridgerator and the next night opened the first bottle. Tasted great but absolutely no carbonation. I think my water was too hot when I added it to the bottles.

    Can I opened the bottles now and add more yeast?

    Also, your recipe calls for 25 granules of yeast per 16 oz., but later in a reply you recommended 1/8 tsp. per 32 oz. which is quite a bit more. What amount of yeast should I use and what temp should the warm water be?

    Thanks

    William

  • Tim H. says:

    My first stab at ginger beer went into a keg last night. It’s a 2 gallon batch with a starting gravity of 1.086. The goal isn’t necessarily an alcoholic brew, but I wanted to know. I used Redstar champagne yeast and its working away after 24 hrs. I’ll report back on what you can expect ABV wise… If it went all the way to 1.000, completely dry, we’d be looking at 11+%… I’ll chill it down far before then. Aiming for .5% ABV or less, still very sweet and fit for the kids.

  • Tim H. says:

    I would add that you may be surprised how much sugar is converted to alcohol in 2 days.
    Just checked it and by morning I expect my keg to be carbonated to about 3 volumes of CO2 (~35 psi @ 70*F), or a bit less than a German style wheat beer., I’ll be able to adjust that with my CO2 system and bottle or dispense at will.

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