Deliciously carbonated with a hint of citrus and kick of ginger, this recipe for homemade ginger beer is a refreshing way to make a natural soda at home. Inspired by one of my favorite books, Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter, I developed this beverage to create a fun, gluten-free alternative to a traditional beer. Not only is it easy to make, it’s also quite interesting: by letting a little team of yeast minions work their magic – in layman’s terms, by eating sugar and burping CO2 gas – you’ll be rewarded with an amazingly light, sweet and tangy soda with a warm, bubbly finish. With this age-old technique of fermentation, you can witness the power of science right from the comfort of your own home!
To help you create some truly authentic looking bottles of homebrew, I’m also excited to tell you that my fabulous friend, Lia Griffith, created some customized labels just to go with this recipe. So once you’ve match a batch of this homemade ginger beer, don’t forget to visit Lia’s site to download these adorable freebies as well (and while you’re there, drop her a line to say hello!). Whether you’re celebrating special occasions like St. Patrick’s Day to Father’s Day (or even just because it’s a Wednesday), a bottle of homemade ginger beer dressed up in this label would make a very impressive food gift or party favor.
Homemade Ginger Beer
Yield: Approximately 4 cups.
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 24 hours
1 c. + 3 c. water, separated
4 oz / 115 g. fresh ginger, peeled and grated (it should translate to about a 1/2 c. grated ginger)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. lemon juice (from about 4 medium sized lemons)
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 clean and empty half-gallon / 2-liter capacity plastic bottle (i.e. a recycled soda bottle)*
1) In a small pot, combine 1 c. water with the grated ginger and brown sugar, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
2) Strain the solution to remove the ginger and allow the syrup to cool for a few minutes (so that it is warm to the touch but no longer hot). Pour the syrup and remaining 3 c. water, lemon juice and yeast into a plastic bottle, seal tight and shake.
3) Allow the mixture to sit, undisturbed, between 24-48 hours at room temperature in a dark place.
4) The batch should be ready once enough carbon dioxide has built up to carbonate the drink. The easiest way to test this is by seeing if the plastic bottle feels firm when pressed, but you can also taste it to see if it’s fit to your liking. If doing the taste test, pay heed to the warning in step 5.
5) CAREFULLY and SLOWLY unscrew the bottle open IN THE SINK, as the pressure from the carbonation may be strong and cause spillage. Gently pour into a new (or set of individual serving sized) bottle(s), and discard any sediments at the bottom. Seal tightly and refrigerate immediately. While best if consumed within the first few days, this drink will stay fresh for up to 1 week in the fridge.
* Chef’s Tip: Although the yield of this recipe will produce approximately 4 cups, it is important to allow the beverage to ferment in a larger sized bottle due to a slight pressure buildup from the carbon dioxide. In addition, by using a recycled plastic bottle, you will be able to gauge when the drink is ready based on how hard it feels when squeezed (due to the pressure). Do not allow it to sit at room temperature for any longer than 48 hours however, as by that point there may be too much pressure and the bottle could explode. During this fermentation period, as long as clean equipment and fresh ingredients are used, the yeast and acidic environment will work together to make a tasty beverage that is safe for consumption.
This ginger beer will make a great gift when packaged up in a set of single-serving sized bottles. Ideally a flip-top bottle is recommended to keep the carbonation from escaping, but as long as the lid is tightly closed, the soda should remain bubbly. Once bottled, apply these gorgeous, custom labels by Lia Griffith to add the perfect final touch to this gift. Simply download, cut and paste to each bottle, and then admire the smiles from your friends as they marvel over your artisan talents!