I just posted my new favorite drink – the Irish Mule. And to really take this drink over the top, I recommend trying a homemade ginger beer. Actually, my husband insisted that I try to make my own for the drink, so that’s why we tried it the first time. Turns out he was right (don’t tell him). So after some internet research, I pulled together what I thought was the best from several different methods and came up with Ginger Beer.
Ginger beer is really just a ginger simple syrup mixed with dry yeast and water. And get this – it carbonates. This was like the coolest – and tastiest – science experiment ever.
Here’s what you need:
You start with a simple syrup of water, equal parts white and brown sugar, and grated ginger. Lots of grated ginger. Most recipes called for white sugar, but I wanted some of the caramel color and flavor that I knew the molasses in the brown sugar would bring. It added a real rich flavor to the ginger beer.
Heat everything over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Then remove from the heat and allow it to steep for about an hour. The longer you let it sit the stronger the ginger flavor will get.
While that steeps, squeeze some lemons until you have about 3 T of lemon juice. I like to use this citrus juicer.
Now it’s time to put everything together. Add a little yeast into a 2 liter bottle.
Now strain the ginger simple syrup through a small mesh strainer and a funnel into the 2 liter bottle. You could also use a coffee filter or cheese cloth with the funnel. Add the lemon juice and filtered water. Make sure to leave a couple inches of room at the top.
Gently shake until the yeast dissolves. Let the bottle sit on the counter for about 24-36 hours. During this time the yeast will consume the sugar and carbonation will develop. You’ll be able to tell because the bottle will start to become hard. When the bottle becomes solid – you won’t be able to push in on the plastic at all – this means it should be ready. If you want to enjoy your ginger beer right away go-ahead. If you’re not ready, open the lid enough to release some of the pressure – be careful as it may fizz up like a pop bottle that’s been dropped (I know from personal experience) – and store in the fridge.
- I recommend storing it in the fridge if you have leftovers or are not ready to drink it right away because although the reaction caused by the yeast will not stop, it will slow down. In fact, you should treat ginger beer as a perishable food item and probably only keep it for a week or so.
- Because we are not pasteurizing the ginger beer it will become sour if not consumed (as well as continue to carbonate). I found the taste started to change and become unpleasant after about 5-6 days. This may differ for you depending on how active your yeast is and the environment in which you are storing it.
- Use a plastic container. If you use glass and aren’t careful, the pressure build up may cause the glass to rupture. Many other blogs will show ‘pretty’ pictures of ginger beer in glass bottles, but also somewhere include a disclaimer that you should use plastic for this reason.
- If you’re into making beer or other carbonated beverages and are comfortable with all the interworking of the bottling process – go for bottling it. I developed this recipe to be consumed more immediately. If you bottle it and have good results, please let me know.
- Although I did not scientifically measure this, ginger beer produced in this method will have a small alcohol content.
- Try ginger syrup. If you are looking for a less perishable alternative to buying ginger beer. Stop after making the syrup. Immediately before consuming mix together ginger syrup and club soda or sparkling water to get a carbonation beverage. The ginger syrup will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
- ½ c sugar
- ½ c brown sugar
- ½ c water
- 3-1/2 T grated garlic
- ¼ t active dry yeast
- 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 7 c filtered water
- Clean 2 liter plastic bottle
- Heat the sugars, water and ginger until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to steep for at least an hour.
- Add ¼ t active dry yeast to the plastic bottle.
- Using a funnel and mesh strainer (or cheese cloth or a coffee filter) pour in the ginger syrup, straining out the solids as you go.
- Add the lemon juice and filtered water, ensuring there are about two inches of room at the top.
- Gently shake until the yeast dissolves.
- Let sit on the counter for 24-36 hours. Periodically check the pressure on the bottle, it’s ready when the bottle is rock hard.
- If not consumed immediately, release the pressure and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.