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”

  • Dominik MJ says:

    Hey Jack, I think it is a not so good idea to sell this home brewed ginger beer in school (or to drink it in your age).

    Due to the usage of yeast, the fermentation process sets a certain amount of alcohol free. That is natural if you are using yeast (and I am sure, that the ginger beer plant before, didn’t produced alcohol or much less than the actual yeast).

    And you don’t want to have any problems, because you are selling alcohol to your classmates?


    Dominik MJ

  • ND says:

    He, I was going to ask whether the fermentation produces alcohol, so that answers my question… How alcoholic is it though, would you say? Like, maybe, a “lite” beer?

    I know a lot of people who keep a thing called “Kombucha”, which is supposedly some kind of ancient chinese medicine—it looks kind of like a revolting living pancake, floating in sour apple cider… very healthy I’m told, but if the thing goes off, it’s apparently also very poisonous.

  • ND

    I think that after only 48 hours, the official amount of alcohol created would be “trace”, but don’t take my word for it. I think I can safely assert that it is considerably less than a light beer, though.


  • Evelyn says:

    This recipe, and the one for tonic water, is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for to try with my new home carbonation system (tank, not ISI).


  • Keith says:

    Note for those people without a juicer: I just tried a makeshift solution using cheesecloth and my lime/lemon juicer (it’s one of the squeeze types where you put half a citrus in between the handles and press – like this one). Grate your ginger, wrap in cheesecloth, and press the whole thing in the juicer. Viola! Strained ginger juice! Works like a charm.

  • Matthew says:

    I just finished my small batch (3 bottles) of ginger beer; they were put into the fridge four hours ago to halt fermentation. I am very excited for a Moscow Mule & a Dark’n Stormy. I can see sediment in the bottom on the bottles – presumably cast off yeast and finer ginger particles that passed through the filter. Is this common? And – more importantly – harmless to drink?

    Love the site! My roommates (both bartenders) laugh at my note cards of drink recipes taped along the built-in of our bar, thanks for the great information Jeff!

  • Matthew – Glad I could help! Yes, you’ll see some sediment at the bottom of the bottles, but – here’s the tricky part – you need to shake the bottle gently to reincorporate the sediment into the ginger beer.

    Careful, though, you don’t want a geyser erupting when you pop that cap. I’ve found that gently rocking the bottle back and forth to stir it up and then letting it rest for a few seconds before slowly releasing the cap is the best way to accomplish this.

    Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

  • Craig says:

    A few comments about yeast … If you added yeast to your ginger beer, it will settle as you chill the liquid. That might explain your sediment. Yeast don’t die when chilled but instead, fall out of suspension and rest. High temps WILL kill yeast. I wouldn’t heat yeast over 100 degrees F. (That is lukewarm.) Yeast will contribute a bready/bitter kind of taste.

    Is OK to consume yeast? you ask. This has been an ongoing topic for years. To all you that believe that brewers yeast is the Candida albicans you have heard about. It is NOT. This is Saccharomyces cerevisiae I am referring to. Consuming the dead cells has been said to have health benefits (improving vitamin B uptake). Live cells appear to work as a laxative in large doses but have not been proven have negative health effects in healthy individuals that I am aware of. After all, there is live yeast on your garden produce. We have been consuming this fungus for thousands of years.

    Ordinary light will not kill yeast. In fact, the ‘ginger beer plant’ used for making ginger beer traditionally was stored on a warm window sill. That said, too much UV / direct sunlight will inhibit most any organism, so minimizing exposure to direct sunlight (or even fluorescent lights) might be a good idea.

  • Marcus says:

    Hey, so I gave this a go.

    I don’t have a juiceman or anything so i grated my ginger on my box grater with the side that has the fine grater and each hole has 4 little spikes sticking out. make any sense? heh anyway, I just did that onto a plate and squeezed out the juice through a seive and that seemed to work just fine for me.

    The rest was just as you said except I used regular, dried, baking yeast and plastic cola bottles. Couldn’t find any of the bottles you mentioned but you can feel the pressure with these and if they break, they won’t be so dangerous. The baking yeast worked just fine. The bottles felt as firm as they would if bought from a shop after 48 hours.

    When tasting I decided that it was too sour… Fixed easily with some extra simple syrup, for now, but next time I’ll use less lemon and i’ll probably grab some spring water because the tap water here is average (i couldn’t be bothered buying any last time). Overall, I’m pretty impressed with my first attempt at this though.

    I found some ‘Belvoir Organic Ginger Beer’ in the supermarket. A thousand times better than the supermarket’s own. Perfect for the dark and stormys for anyone who doesn’t have the time to make their own ginger beer… But I think I’ll have something just as good, if not better, on my second attempt!

    Thanks a lot for the easy to follow recipe jeff!

  • Jonathan says:

    I make beer pretty regularly at home, and 48 hours of fermentation is not going to produce much alcohol, probably less than 1%.

    Keeping active fermentations going in sealed glass bottles can be pretty dangerous though. I have a friend who was making Kvass (a Russian fermented drink) and forgot to refrigerate the bottles after two days; he was woken up by the sound of exploding bottles under his stairs one morning.

    Yeast will ferment faster (and produce more CO2) the warmer it is. I’m not sure how much this affects carbonation, but it’s something to keep in mind. Usually when I make ginger beer I only use 1 tsp. sugar per 12 ounce bottle so I don’t have to worry about refrigeration, but that produces a very dry ginger beer. Really looking forward to trying this out, though.

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