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”

  • Isaac says:

    Pres, what I found caused my ginger beer to not have the fizz I was after was when I got too impatient to let it sit in the fridge at least overnight. I was brewing mine in 2-liter bottles instead of in the individual bottles, but what was happening was that the first time it was opened, there was a ton of CO2 released, and everything after that was flat. On my next batch, I let it sit in the fridge for the better part of 24 hours before opening it, and it stayed fizzy to the end.

  • John Papas says:

    Succeeded in making 32 oz. ginger bomb that detonated. Fortunately the glass was contained and no one was hurt. You may want to try this in a plastic bottle. Cleanup sucked but I was most disappointed that I didn’t get any Ginger Beer.

  • Daniel says:

    Started a batch of an alcoholic version over the weekend.
    My recipe uses the same ratios for lemon and ginger, while adding juice from 2 navel oranges, the skin from the oranges (no pith), lemon skin, lime skin, a cinnamon stick, whole dried thyme, a vanilla bean, cloves, juiced cherries, and simple syrup made from light brown sugar. Tasted a sample today (after 5 days) and I can already tell that it is going to be amazing. My projected ABV is going to be around 14-18% depending if I add any more sugars when I move it to the secondary fermentation chamber. Also I will point out that if you decide to go with the alcoholic version you need to have a refrigerated fermentation chamber of some sort so that you can keep the juices from spoiling. I will give you all an update when primary fermentation completes.

  • Tim H says:

    Daniel, Just so you know, refrigeration is not necessary at all, with a good yeast pitch the fruit will not spoil. Even without the yeast, unless the mixture is sterile, you’ll get a spontaneous (wild) fermentation not likely spoilage. That could be good, or bad in the finished product. Further, you can control the fermentation characteristics with a temperature controlled chamber, but at normal refrigerator temperatures your fermentation will be quite slow… literally months to reach your lofty ABV goal, if ever at the 38°F or 40°F range. I’ve wild fermented cider and cyser (and won awards with the same)to about 8% ABV with a few days head start at room temp, then 6+ months at 36°F where I stabilized it at the sweetness I wanted before kegging. The chill was strictly for a super clean, crisp lager type fermentation character. Ginger beer in the 3-5% ABV range sounds refreshing, 14-18%? Yikes!

  • Tim H says:

    John Papas, You make a really good point. Using glass bottles is at best unpredictable as to when the carbonation is right, and at worst downright DANGEROUS to anyone nearby when the bottle explodes… read that the possibility of glass shrapnel, and blood everywhere, serious injury or worse! That’s not accounting for the mess you discovered the hard way! On the other hand it’s a great reason to get the room where it happens repainted!

  • Daniel says:

    Because I live in Florida and the temperature in the house never goes below 75 degrees, even in the cooler months, the refrigerated fermentation chamber is rather necessary for myself. I should have added that bit. With that in mind, I’ve programmed my temp controller for the lower 60s.

    Yeah, the ABV is rather high on this one, but I wanted to try it.

    To update on the flavor-
    Just took a sample, and I’m almost finished. It’s pretty dry, but all the other flavors are adding depth to it and the high alcohol percentage is giving it some sweetness. I’m digging it.
    The flavor profile has tons of ginger and citrus up front, the alcohol sweetness/burn in the middle, and a dry finish with some cherry and spices.

  • Shane says:

    Hey Jeff,

    My wife and I were in Seattle last week and discovered Rachel’s Ginger Beer and couldn’t believe that Portland didn’t have places like Rachel’s. We brought home a bunch (over $100 worth) and just ran out…just in time to stumble across your post while searching for your Amaretto Sour recipe again (I told you at Pepe earlier this week that my first attempt was a FAIL). Anyway, I am super excited to try to make our own Ginger Beer. You are the best!!!

    One question: if we were to add flavors, would we add them to the recipe before bottling it, or would be add them after fermentation?


  • Charlie says:

    Hey Jeff,

    I found your blog after reading your recipe to make ginger beer. I enjoyed it so much I just bought your new book and it’s been better than I expected. I love the format and has been a huge help. I think my next step will be to buy the corny keg system to get more consistent carbonation results with. Thanks for all the great info.


  • karenKuisine says:

    Use your water amount blend the ginger amt. with it then strain …easy peasey yes use a fine strainer or a yogurt draining cloth etc.

  • Sebastian says:

    Hey, I’ve tried this recipe yesterday and I find it rather sweet – is there more sugar in it because of the yeast? Any recommendations on the sugar amout if you are carbonating it in a syphon?

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