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”

  • Edgar says:

    Yeast will ferment faster at a warmer temperature up to a point. Then it will die and impart the most foul stench you have ever experienced. For ale yeasts ( a type of beer yeast) and wine yeasts (like we’re using here) the prime temperature range is 65-85 degrees, below 65 the yeast will hibernate and not ferment (this is why you refrigerate to stop things). Above 85 degrees and to some temperature where the yeast dies (this is the greatest variable) the yeast still ferments but the byproducts are no longer ethanol and can impart nasty flavour.

    Also, be sure you use boiled simple syrup, it has glucose and fructose instead of sucrose (table sugar), which the yeast find easier to digest and don’t leave behind a nasty byproduct when digesting.

    I made up a 196 oz batch, which was enough to fill a case of 12 oz bottles with room to carbonate, I put vanilla bean in 4, cloves in 4, and couldn’t find any lime leaves for another test 4. They’ll be ready friday and I’ll be back with results, though tasting the warm, uncarbonated pre-mixture I think it will be a good batch.

  • Edgar – I’m looking forward to hearing about your results!

  • Mark says:

    Excellent drink.I increased all the ingredients by 50 % and left for 3 weeks with daily release of pressure. then store in fridge.
    Mark Jreland

  • Jarrid says:

    Im excited to try this out, although I was wondering if I could complete the fermentation in my 6 gallon glass carboy to produce a higher ABV. Maybe 4 to 7 days.

  • Jarrid – I can’t say I recommend this as an alcoholic beverage, but you’re of course free to try.

  • Jarrid says:

    I tried your recipe without the separate carboy fermenting. I also boiled the water down with 15 cloves and a star anise inside a stainless steel seeping ball. I also used “Safale” beer yeast. Turned out great. I need to save more Grolsch flip cap bottles!!!

  • Sammy J says:

    So I’m thinking about doing this with splenda simple syrup or honey simple syrup. I tend to like my carbonated bevs a bit on the dry side, so I might even do a weaker simple syrup. I’ll post on my results, thanks for the recipe Jeff!

  • Heather says:

    I’ve been on a big dark and stormy kick lately, I plan on trying the recipe this week! Sammy J, I can’t wait to see how your results turn out with a splenda version…I was thinking of trying the same thing!

  • Bill says:

    Sammy J –

    I’m sure you already know this, but just in case – if you use only Splenda, you won’t be able to carbonate with yeast (the CO2 will still work). If you just sweeten with Splenda, though, add yeast and real sugar (1 tsp/12 oz. liquid) just before bottling and you should get perfect carbonation and no exploding bottles. Works good for beer, anyway. Except for the Splenda.

  • Matt Lanning says:

    been using this recipe quite a bit this summer… first batch (in 32oz bottles) turned out great. second batch, I think I put a few (hundred) too many granules of yeast in, and three of five bottles chain-reaction exploded after about 24 hours of fermentation (resulting in ginger beer all over my kitchen and down into my basement). third batch, I went conservative on yeast, and ended up with little or no carbonation. kept the temps at/below 80 degrees, so perhaps just too little yeast…

    making batch #4 later this week, and this time in 16oz bottles, so perhaps I’ll get back to where I started and get it dialed this time.

    thanks again, Jeff!

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