Ginger Beer: Step-by-Step Guide to Making Perfect Ginger Beer

Sunday, February 5, 2023
Ginger beer is an alcoholic beverage made from ginger, sugar, water, and sometimes lemon or lime juice. 

It's a great refreshing drink, a merry alternative to home beer!

Here's a comprehensive recipe and guide for making homemade ginger beer:

  1. Fresh ginger root (1 pound)
  2. Granulated sugar (2 cups)
  3. Water (12 cups)
  4. Active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
  5. Lemon juice (optional, to taste)
  6. Additional sugar (for bottling)
Suggested equipment to use:
  • large pot or kettle
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Large glass jar or fermenting vessel / drum
  • Bottles or containers for bottling
  • Airtight bottle caps 
ginger root for beer

Instructions for making ginger beer:

  1. Grate the ginger root using a box grater or food processor. You should have about 1 cup of grated ginger.
  2. Combine the grated ginger, 2 cups of sugar, and 12 cups of water in a large pot. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. This will extract the ginger flavor and create a ginger syrup.
  4. Strain the ginger syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a large glass jar or fermenting vessel. Discard the ginger solids.
  5. Let the ginger syrup cool to room temperature.
  6. Once cooled, add 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast to the ginger syrup and stir to combine.
  7. Optional: add lemon juice to taste.
  8. Cover the jar or fermenting vessel with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Let the mixture ferment in a warm place for 2-3 days, or until it has reached the desired level of carbonation.
It's now the apt time to bottle your brew. You will have approximately one gallen of beer to bottle based on this recipe.

You can experiment with different spices and flavorings to customize the flavor of your ginger beer. Some popular additions include lemon or lime juice, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

It's also important to maintain a consistent temperature during the brewing process to ensure that the yeast ferments correctly. Optimal temperature for yeast fermentation is between 68-72°F (20-22°C). Higher temperatures can cause the yeast to produce off-flavors, while lower temperatures can slow down or stop fermentation entirely. In our experience it's better to allow fermantation to take place in an area that's cooler rather than hotter. 

How to bottle ginger beer

It's a straightforward process, similar to bottling beer.
  • Wash and sterilize the bottles: Thoroughly wash and sterilize the bottles you'll be using to store the ginger beer.
  • Add the sugar: Once the ginger beer has fermented, add additional sugar to each bottle, about 1 teaspoon per 16-ounce bottle. This will create a secondary fermentation in the bottle and add extra carbonation to the ginger beer.
  • Fill bottles: Pour the ginger beer into the bottles, leaving about 1 inch of headspace at the top.
  • Seal the bottles with airtight bottle caps. A bottle capper can be used to crimp the caps onto the bottles, ensuring a tight seal.
  • Store the bottles at room temperature for 2-3 days to allow the secondary fermentation to complete.
  • Chill: Once the secondary fermentation is complete, transfer the bottles to the refrigerator to chill. Your homemade ginger beer is now ready to drink!

How long does the ginger beer take to condition?

The time it takes for ginger beer to condition depends on several factors, including the temperature, the amount of yeast used, and the level of carbonation desired. In general, ginger beer will take 2-3 days to condition at room temperature.

During the conditioning period, yeast consumes the added sugar and produces carbon dioxide, which carbonates ginger beer. The longer you let the ginger beer condition, the more carbonated it will become.

Once the desired level of carbonation has been reached, you should transfer the bottles to the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity and prevent over-carbonation. This will also chill the ginger beer, making it ready to drink.

It's important to monitor the ginger beer bottles during the conditioning process, as over-carbonation can cause the bottles to burst. Open them slowly and release the pressure gradually to avoid overflowing.

Notice this note: Be careful when opening the bottles as the carbonation may have increased during the secondary fermentation. Open slowly and release the pressure gradually to avoid a fizzy ginger beer gush. Maybe open the first one over the kitchen sink?

What is the best yeast to use when making ginger beer?

The best type of yeast to use for brewing ginger beer is a fast-acting yeast that ferments well at warm temperatures.

A few popular yeast brands that work well for ginger beer brewing include:
  • Safale US-05: The classic brewer's yeast, this is a fast-acting, highly attenuative yeast that ferments well in warm temperatures.
  • Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast: This is a high-performing yeast that ferments quickly and produces a clean, neutral flavor.
  • Red Star Premier Classique: This yeast is known for its quick fermentation and clean flavor profile, making it a popular choice for ginger beer brewing.
  • Lallemand BRY-97 West Coast Ale Yeast: This yeast is highly flocculent, meaning it settles out of solution quickly, making it easy to bottle the ginger beer without having to filter the yeast out.

What is the ABV content of ginger beer?

The alcohol by volume (ABV) of the ginger beer recipe above should come out to around 4-5%.

This is based on the amount of sugar used in the recipe, the yeast strain used, and the conditions of the brewing process.

It's important to keep in mind that this is just an estimate and the actual ABV may vary depending on a number of factors, including temperature, yeast activity, and the specific brewing conditions.

To get a more accurate measurement, you can use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity before and after fermentation (final gravity), which will give you a rough estimate of the alcohol content.

The alcohol by volume (ABV) of homemade ginger beer will depend on several factors, including the amount of sugar used, the yeast strain used, and the fermentation time. Typically, the ABV of homemade ginger beer ranges from 2-6%, although it can be higher or lower depending on the specifics of the brewing process.

It's important to note that the higher the sugar content, the higher the potential alcohol content will be. The yeast will consume the sugar and produce alcohol as a byproduct. To control the alcohol content, you can adjust the amount of sugar used in the recipe.

What foods pair well with ginger beer?

Ginger beer is a versatile beverage that pairs well with a variety of foods, both sweet and savory. Some popular food pairings include:
  1. Seafood: Ginger beer's crisp and refreshing flavor makes it a great match for seafood dishes like crab, lobster, or grilled shrimp.
  2. Indian and Asian cuisine: Ginger beer's strong ginger flavor complements the spices and flavors used in Indian and Asian cuisine, making it a popular choice for dishes like chicken tikka masala, pad thai, or stir-fried vegetables.
  3. Spicy foods: The carbonation and sweetness of ginger beer can help to balance the heat from spicy foods, making it a good choice for dishes like buffalo wings, chili, or spicy tacos.
  4. Barbecue: The bold flavor of ginger beer is a good match for barbecue dishes like pulled pork, brisket, or grilled chicken.
  5. Sweets: Ginger beer can also be paired with sweet dishes like dessert, fruit salads, or ice cream for a fun and refreshing treat.
If the ginger beer falls flat, you can always have a go at making prison hooch

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