I’m obsessed with ginger ale and ginger beer. Can’t get enough. I like the super gingery craft beer with the bite, I like the store brand ginger ale with it’s cloying sweetness. Ginger ale/beer is the perfect base for non-alcoholic beverages that are interesting.
So I decided to make my own. There are two ways to make ginger beer:
- Yeast method: uses fresh ginger, fresh lemon juice, sugar, water and yeast. Place ingredients in a plastic bottle (two liter seems to be the preferred vessel) and allow the yeast to ferment the sugar and create carbonation. Takes about 2 days.
- Starter method: this method is similar to brewing of kombucha, fermented black tea. You create a starter (a ginger bug) using ginger sugar and lemon, then “feed it” over the course of a few weeks, then mix your starter with more prepared ginger liquid which then ferments and creates carbonation.
Ginger Ale is an easier affair- it’s basically ginger soda and is made by mixing ginger syrup with carbonated water (ala Canada Dry).
I decided to try the yeast method first and make ginger beer. I am going to a dinner party on Saturday and I wanted to bring a little “somethin'” .
I am using Alton Brown’s (Food Network) recipe which is entiled Ginger Ale but is in fact Ginger Beer (because it’s fermented).
1 1/2 ounces finely grated fresh ginger
6 ounces sugar
7 1/2 cups filtered water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place the ginger, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the water into a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to steep for 1 hour.
Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing down to get all of the juice out of the mixture. Chill quickly by placing over and ice bath and stirring or set in the refrigerator, uncovered, until at least room temperature, 68 to 72 degrees F.
Using a funnel, pour the syrup into a clean 2-liter plastic bottle and add the yeast, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups of water. Place the cap on the bottle, gently shake to combine and leave the bottle at room temperature for 48 hours. Open and check for desired amount of carbonation. It is important that once you achieve your desired amount of carbonation that you refrigerate the ginger ale. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, opening the bottle at least once a day to let out excess carbonation.
Okay. So the first thing I did is NOT READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CORRECTLY, even though I read them about 50 times. So of course I added the lemon to the syrup. Big woo.
I started grating the ginger with the fine side of my cheese grater which became very tedious almost immediately. So I chopped the rest of the ginger up and threw it in my mini food processer. I put it in a pan with my lemon juice (NO!!) sugar and some lemon zest (because I thought “Why not??”)
The mixture simmered accordingly as I washed out a two-liter bottle.
After the sugar dissolved I removed it from the heat. Then I went to Office Depot to buy ink. Then I went out for dinner. So by the time I returned my syrup was gooood and gingery. I strained the mixture using this:
And also this (although I think the cheesecloth may be overkill). But it was easy to squeeze all the liquid out.
Then added the syrup to the bottle. I used filtered water from my fridge for the remaining 7 cups and also poured it into the bottle (and more lemon juice).
Now it was time to add the yeast: I had an bit of an issue, however. The recipe calls for 1/8 tsp and the smallest measuring spoon I possess is 1/4. So I had to wing it. Many of the recipes you will find online call for brewer’s yeast or champagne yeast. Apparently, if baking yeast is used, the final product can taste..well, yeasty. I’ll be finding out how much of an issue that is.
Okay! So now it’s lurking in my bottom cupboard (too cold in the garage) and should be carbonated in about two days. I will return in two days with results!