Homemade ginger beer recipe; it's easy!

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

June 1st, 2010

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I like ginger ale, but I love ginger beer. Ginger beer has more body, more zippy ginger flavour, and less fizz than most ginger ales. And, even better, it’s easy to make yourself! Save $$$! Consume natural ingredients, not chemicals! Use more exclamation marks!

Last summer, I saw a blog post on Dispensing Happiness with a method for making ginger beer, using 2-litre plastic soft drink bottles, that struck me as genius. The bottles are easy to come by, won’t explode if there’s more carbonation than expected, and tell you exactly when the beer is ready. I modified the blog’s recipe, reducing the sugar and adding some cream of tartar, a traditional ingredient that provides acidity and improves the drink’s mouthfeel.

Because you make it yourself, you can control how sweet and spicy it is. This recipe is not too sweet, and mildly gingery (so add more to taste). You can also play with infusing other flavours into the syrup: I’ve tried lime zest and spices, but there must be lots of possibilities.

Do you have other flavouring ideas for ginger beer?

Ginger Beer

1/2 cup fresh ginger (see Tips below) (125 ml)
1 1/2 cups water (375 ml)
1 1/4 cups sugar (310 ml)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (2 ml)
1 pinch yeast

1. Purée ginger with a little of the water in a food processor or blender. (Don’t bother peeling the ginger first.) Transfer to a  medium pan with remaining water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover and let cool.

2. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Using a funnel, pour liquid into a 2-litre plastic soft drink bottle.

3. Add cream of tartar and yeast, then pour in more room-temperature water to fill bottle, leaving a gap of about 2″ (5 cm) at the top. Cap the bottle tightly and place in a warm spot.

4. Squeeze the bottle every 8 hours or so. At first, the bottle will be soft, but after 1-2 days the bottle will become hard and rigid. When it does, crack open the cap to release some pressure. Reseal, refrigerate, and serve cold.

Tips

  • You can just estimate the amount of ginger, but it’s worth measuring accurately–then you can be more consistent when you adjust it to taste in your next bottle. To measure fresh ginger precisely, use the displacement method: Fill a 1 cup (250 ml) measure with 1/2 cup (125 ml) water, then add ginger until the water reaches the 1-cup (250-ml) level. Eureka!
  • Instead of straining the ginger-sugar mixture directly into the pop bottle, it’s a lot easier to strain it into a bowl, and then pour from the bowl into the bottle. It’s just too fiddly and slow to strain and funnel into the bottle in one step. (Voice of experience.)
  • Brewer’s yeast or ordinary baking yeast works well. Don’t use nutritional yeast flakes; they’re inactive.
  • The sediment in the bottle is mostly bits of puréed ginger and yeast. It’s not harmful, but as with wine, just pour carefully so it stays in the bottle.

Variations

Lime Ginger Beer
Add the zest of 1 lime to the ginger-sugar mixture before heating. Replace the cream of tartar with the juice of 1/2 a lime in Step 3.

Spiced Ginger Beer
Add 5 whole cloves and 1/2 tsp (2 ml) grated nutmeg to the ginger-sugar mixture before heating.


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