I love all things ginger, but I’m a particular sucker for ginger beer. As a part of my “40 before 41” journey, I wanted to learn to make what seemed to be a fairly easy non-alcoholic drink.
A friend of mine who concocts the ginger beer (of which I’m quite fond) for a local bar agreed to show me the ropes (and pass along his basic recipe), and so last fall I spent a morning helping him with a fresh batch — which mostly meant chopping and squeezing a whole lotta citrus, and watching him stir a humongous vat of the stuff.
A few weeks ago I finally got around to making a gallon of my own. It was an easy process and so I’m here to share the details of what I did with those of you who might also be aspiring ginger-beer-makers.
325 grams of ginger juice, or 1.5 lbs whole ginger
1 lb. raw or white cane sugar
1/4 lb. of honey
Champagne yeast (I used Red Star Pasteur Champagne Active Dry Wine Yeast, purchased at a local homebrew shop for about $1.50)
Bottles: Reusable flip-top cap style — I used four 34 oz. ones from IKEA, but eight 16 oz. ones would work too
1. Juice your ginger, or peel and chop the whole pieces.
2. Boil ginger, sugar, honey and lime with a 1/2 gallon of water (for an hour if ginger pieces, 5 minutes if ginger juice).
3. Fine strain liquid, add water up to 1 gallon and shake to mix.
4. Fill each bottle, making sure to leave some room at the top. For each 16 oz. of liquid, add about 25 granules of champagne yeast.
5. Seal securely, shake well, and store in a warm, dark place for 48 hours.
6. After 48 hours have passed, refrigerate immediately to stop the carbonation process.
Drink, and smile. Or mix 4 ounces of ginger beer with 1.5 ounces of rum, pour over some ice, garnish with lime, and smile even more through your first housemade Dark ‘N’ Stormy.
A few additional notes:
• I used a juice extractor to juice my ginger. I’m not sure whether the bother of the machine was more or less work than peeling, chopping and then using cheesecloth to fine strain would have been, but I’d probably stick with the juicing process if I did it again.
• My bottles did not explode, but I hear that they can, so store your bottles carefully with this potential in mind.
• My ginger beer had quite the kick to it. At times, so much so, it made me cough. There are all sorts of possible reasons for that — from the ginger itself, to the type of honey, to things I’m sure I know nothing about. Next time, I’ll probably try lowering the amount of ginger just a wee bit, and maybe play with limes and lemons, but it is a bit of a crapshoot.