Introduction: Best Ginger Beer

There's nothing more refreshing than an ice cold ginger beer. That spicy and tart bite that ginger has is perfect for quenching thirst on a hot day.

However, no matter how many different types of ginger beer I try, I find all store-bought ginger beer to be more sweet than tart, and none of them are spicy enough for my tastes - even the ones that are labelled "extra spicy". There's a serious gap in the market for spice-heads like me for ginger beer that has great bite, but also tart and refreshing.

Taking matters into my own hands, I made what my taste buds consider the best ginger beer around. And, it was easy enough to make in large batches so I never have to run out!

Step 1: Recipes

There are recipes that involve fermenting in the bottle to achieve carbonation, but I wanted more control over the potency of my ginger beer, both in terms of flavor intensity and carbonation. For these reasons, the easiest way to make ginger beer is to first make a syrup and then simply add soda water to make the drink to your liking.

The ingredients are very simple for ginger beer, and you can modify them to suit your tastes.

Essential ingredients:

  • Lots of ginger root
  • Lemons
  • Sugar (about 2 cups)
  • Water

For a tastier beverage, add:

The kitchen equipment you'll need is also fairly basic:

An alternative to adding canned soda water is to use a home soda water maker, which allows you to mix all the ingredients together in the bottle and then carbonate it. If you're serious about homemade drinks a sodastream is a must!

Step 2: Shred Ginger

To maximize the ginger taste we'll need to shred the ginger root, this will increase the surface area of the ginger and impart the most potent taste.

I used a cheese grater, as they are easy to use and everyone has one. Feel free to use a food processor or just a kitchen knife to prepare your ginger. The smaller the bits, the more surface area your ginger will have.

I very rough estimate is 1 root for every liter of syrup you'll make. You really can't go wrong with more ginger, so don't worry about overdoing it. Also, the ginger isn't what makes it spicy, so it'll never be too "hot" if you add more ginger.

Step 3: Combine Ingredients

Transfer the grated ginger into a saucepan and squeeze in the juice of a large lemon. It won't matter if the seeds fall into the pot, since it'll all be strained through a cheesecloth later.

Add in 2 cups of water to the saucepan. We're looking for enough water to cover the ginger completely, too much water will make the syrup more diluted.

Add 1½ cups of white sugar to the saucepan. This will make a modified simple syrup, if you prefer a sweeter drink feel free to add more sugar, or substitute brown sugar for white sugar.

Add in 1 teaspoon of cream of Tartar. Adding cream of tartar to simple syrup inhibits the natural tendency for granular sugar to recrystallize, there's also a side benefit that the cream of Tartar gives a smooth mouth-feel finish to the drink. While not required, it's an ingredient that once you use you'll understand why.

Adding peppers is an optional step, but it's what takes regular ginger beer into the most intense flavor you've ever had. If you're not satisfied with store-bought ginger beer and think the flavor is lacking, this is the cure.

Cinch the spice bags closed and place both bags into the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.

Give the mixture a good stir to ensure ingredients are mixed well, then turn on the heat.

Step 4: Boil + Rest

Heat the mixture to a boil and then turn off the heat.

Stir by hand to ensure even distribution and allow to sit undisturbed for an hour to cool and steep.

Step 5: Strain

After an hour the mixture should be cool and the ingredients thoroughly steeped.

Gather a large mixing bowl, a strainer, and cheesecloth to strain the cooled mixture.

Place the strainer into your large bowl and then place a double layer of cheesecloth into the strainer. Pour the cooled ginger mixture into the cheesecloth strainer and completely empty the saucepan.

Allow the ginger mixture to drain for a few minutes, then gather the edges of the cheesecloth and pull together, tightening around the grated ginger.

Gently squeeze the cheesecloth to remove as much liquid from the grated ginger as possible, then discard the cheesecloth and grated ginger bundle.

Step 6: Bottle Syrup

Clean the glass bottles with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

Using a funnel, fill each glass bottle. Make sure to stir the syrup between pours to ensure an even mix, as the syrup may settle.

I like using glass bottles to store my syrup as it looks very smart, and there's no carbonation which would be unsuitable for sealed glassware. These resealable glass bottles are great for keeping the syrup fresh and tightly sealed.

Once all bottles are filled, store in the refrigerator. Syrup will keep for about 3 months.

Step 7: Mix Yourself a Drink

Add syrup to your favorite glassware, then top off with soda water.

Start with about an ounce of ginger syrup and increase dosage to suit your liking after diluting with soda water.

This tart, spicy, gingery syrup is a great refresher. By having it in syrup form you can easily modify the intensity to suit your tastes.

This recipe can be easily modified to suit your tastes. Try brown sugar for a darker and more sweet syrup. Or, try a few other twists to make this syrup your own signature drink.

I'd love to know what you come up with, so share your results in the comments below. If you include a picture of your version of this ginger beer recipe I'll award you with a free Pro Membership to Instructables!

Happy making!

Comments

author
mjengineer1 made it! (author)2017-07-14

I decided to give this recipe a go - I do love ginger.

I used a LOT of ginger (~6 hand-sized roots, ~10 cups water), and made sure it was really fresh. I didn't add any bulk sugar, but I did add about a half a cup of chopped crystallized ginger, which has some sugar in it. Because of this, I didn't add cream of tartar.

I also steeped grated ginger in the fridge for 48 hours prior to boiling, and I boiled and simmered the mix for about an hour total, since there aren't any tannins to speak of in ginger - makes it tough to overboil it.

For additions, I went with a little lemon and lime juice. Adding spices (or simple syrup) after the syrup is finished isn't too hard to manage.

I finished up the extraction by throwing the whole deal in the Vitamix for a minute before straining in a dish towel.

It turned out beautifully: not too sweet, has a hot mouth feel even when cold, and mighty ginger-spicey. It burns quite well! Perhaps from the blending, it has a rather creamy taste that follows the initial burn.

When I make this again, I think I'll forgo the citrus and see if it makes a difference for how it tastes to me.

ALSO: I don't like the fiber waste, so I've laid out the remaining gingerstuff/pulp and am going to dry it for bulk addition to a pie or sweet bread. :)

P.S. I've been adding this to my coffee for a phenomenal kick.

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author
mikeasaurus (author)mjengineer12017-07-17

WOW!

Great process pictures and story, thanks for sharing! I like the idea of blending the entire mash to extract maximum gingerness. I like the notion of using the fiber leftover, please let me know how that worked out.

Thanks for sharing a picture of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
mjengineer1 (author)mikeasaurus2017-07-17

Thanks for the Pro Membership!

We used a bit of the pulp to make a joconde sponge Swiss roll, to thin out a few burgers we fried up (mixed in with the ground beef), threw some into smoothies and made some simple English biscuits with it - I added a bit of the ginger extraction to the biscuits for some more flavor, rather than just texture.

Highly recommend re-purposing that pulp!

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Mickleblade made it! (author)2017-06-30

here's mine, tastes great. Next time I'll use a little less cream of tartar and I'm not convinced that the spices did much. Also, there's not a lot of point in using the spice bags when it's getting filtered anyway. Thumbs up from me.

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mikeasaurus (author)Mickleblade2017-07-17

Looking great! This recipe is simple enough to be tweaked however you like it best!

Thanks for sharing a picture of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
smirnoff46 (author)2017-06-06

To all those commenting about the name of the post: Ginger "ale" and Ginger "beer" are the same thing for the most part in the U.S., although in my experience usually the spicier ones tend to be called Ginger beer...perhaps why the author chose that name (Btw those are my favorite). If you think of it, ale and beer can both be considered alcoholic beverages when taken out of context, but nobody would ever think you meant an alcoholic beverage when you say root beer. So I don't think the title is misleading at all. Perhaps it depends what part of the English speaking world you're in that determines how you think of beer and ale. English is a crazy language and meanings change over time. I will try this recipe this weekend Mike. Have that pro membership ready lol ;)

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QazW2 (author)smirnoff462017-06-07

might also be an alcoholic with wishful thinking :/ ... I never think that root beer or ginger beer could be alcoholic. Nor cider. All are marked as HARD if alcohol is present. .... .... Vernors is my favorite and despite being brewed and then aged for 5, 8, and 10 years the blended syrup has zero alcohol.

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stierney2 (author)QazW22017-07-07

I have a recipe for an alcoholic ginger ale (ale as in ale = beer) that tastes a whole lot like Vernor's. It's for a 5 gallon batch, it's not my own but I may write it up as an Instructables... it is about a 6.25% abv ale and carbonated...

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AramE made it! (author)2017-06-11

Thanks for the hook up. This was amazing! I just added the chili and pepper loose to the ginger since it was all getting strained together. I also made sure to cover the pot while it steeped for the hour. Flavor was intense but not overwhelming and tasted fantastic in the mules..... I'm definitely going to heat it up a bit more in the next batch....

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mikeasaurus (author)AramE2017-06-19

Ooh, I see a jalapeño in your last picture. Yum!

Glad you liked it, and you can never have too much heat :) Thanks for sharing pictures, enjoy the Pro Membership!

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AramE (author)mikeasaurus2017-06-19

Yup... I add a few slices to my Moscow Mules for a little extra spice in the bottom of the cup....

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DamianB3 (author)2017-06-18

Made this on the weekend with a couple of substitutions:

Juice of 2 Limes instead of Lemon - Fresher taste

A big handful of fresh mint leaves - cut back the sugar sweetness

I've been drinking it mixed with cold green tea and it's great.

I think next time I make it I'll reduce the sugar content, up the ginger & add some cinnamon.

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mikeasaurus (author)DamianB32017-06-19

Ooh, mint is a good idea!

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Amelia1983 made it! (author)2017-06-17

I wanted to make this recipe as soon as i saw it, and 2 weeks later i finally accomplished! Planning on giving my dad a bottle for Fathers Day, with the intention of refilling as needed! Taste is great, i stuck to chili glakes and peppercorns for spice, and 2 very large ginger roots for a double batch. Definitely reccomend making a double batch (at least ) as this only filled 2.5 500 ml bottles. So good, thanks for sharing!! Also, very easy and straight forward to make. Dod not use spice bags for chili and peppercorns as i didnt have any/couldnt find any, but the cheesecloth was absolutely necessary.

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mikeasaurus (author)Amelia19832017-06-19

Looking tasty, I'm sure your father will love it!

Thanks for sharing pictures of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
bloodyldr made it! (author)2017-06-16

I made it yesterday. Really refreshing and tasty...Thanks for the recipe.
Here is the spice list I used:
Black pepper, Chili flakes, cinnamon, star anis, cloves and cardamom. One coffee spoon for all exept Chili (half coffee spoon).

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mikeasaurus (author)bloodyldr2017-06-16

Love your spice additions. Thanks for sharing a picture, enjoy the Pro Membership!

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MichaelS382 (author)2017-06-12

I made it too Mike. I decided to mix 1 liter syrup with 8 liters water and force carb in a keg. I called it "Farmhouse Ale" for my guests coming for the 4th of July party. I will be testing once carbonated and make any adjustments with 2 liters of syrup in reserve. Thanks for sharing.

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mikeasaurus (author)MichaelS3822017-06-16

This is the ULTIMATE way to make a large batch, good idea! I'd have some of the syrup ready just in case someone like me shows up to your party and wants it a little more potent :)

Thanks for sharing, I hope your 4th party is a blast! Enjoy the Pro Membership!

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sciborg made it! (author)2017-06-11

That was so delicious. Thanks, Mike! I loved the spice. I think the ginger cleared up some of my nausea, too. :)

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mikeasaurus (author)sciborg2017-06-12

Ginger beer is my cure-all. Glad it help you, too!

Thanks for sharing a picture of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
Mage and the machine made it! (author)2017-06-11

Mikasaurus, made this yesterday, the first taste was great. But I don't think it has enough bite for me. What with all the warnings I used about 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper and maybe 1/8 teaspoon of chilli flakes (or even less). Please give us a hint at what you use for you brew...

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author

Chili and peppercorns, 1 tablespoon of each. Prepare for fiery satisfaction :)

Thanks for sharing a picture of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
chellebust made it! (author)2017-06-11

OMG!!! Thank you Sir!!
Finally I (you) cracked the code :) As a lover of spicy Ginger Ale, and a beer brewer, I have tried all kinds of things, without much luck. I will make batches of this to bring on my hikes in the woods and mountains. I believe this will work perfect as a warming tea too. I had a hard time finding Creme de Tartar here in Norway, but found it in the pharmacy called "Kremotartari"
Thank you again Mikeasaurus!

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mikeasaurus (author)chellebust2017-06-12

There's few things as refreshing after a hot hike than ginger beer. Good luck keeping the batches small, since it's always consumed so fast :)

Thanks for sharing a picture of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
smirnoff46 made it! (author)2017-06-09

Finished it just tonight. Threw in a sprig of rosemary just after I took it off the boil since it didn't occur to me sooner. I would add more next time, or mint would probably be nice. Don't have any carbonation right now so I diluted it as a hot tea. Wonderful! ..and good for calming the stomach :) Thanks for the recipe!

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smirnoff46 (author)smirnoff462017-06-09

Neglected to mention... the pic of the glass is before I heated it back up as a "tea". Made it up and took the picture but then tasted it and without carbonation I didn't care for it. I might try the Mormon method of carbonation tomorrow. I think that's a great idea!

author
mikeasaurus (author)smirnoff462017-06-12

Glad you liked the recipe! Natural carbonation is another level to this recipe, and is very tasty. I like the idea of dialing in the flavor first before taking it to carbonation.

Thanks for sharing a picture of your ginger beer, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
Gadget93 made it! (author)2017-06-06

I've been wanting to do this for a while. Thankyou for giving me the excuse as the instructable to do it.
I added some turmeric root because i like turmeric.

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mikeasaurus (author)Gadget932017-06-08

Wow! That turmeric really gives it a pop of color. I love it!

Thanks for sharing your brew, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author
Gadget93 (author)mikeasaurus2017-06-10

Thankyou very much for the compliment and the pro membership. The turmeric also added a certain unique yet tasty flavor to it. So very yummy.

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RudeBwoy (author)2017-06-09

Hey Mike, thanks for sharing this recipe, I've never prepared any kind of beer, but it is something that I'm terribly curious about. Even though this is not an alcoholic beer, I say I'm loving this recipe. Gonna have to try it!

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DouglasE16 (author)2017-06-09

Is not an alcoholic, how sad!

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Oncer (author)2017-06-09

Well as far as I am aware, in the UK at least, ginger beer has always been non-alcoholic and suitable for kids - lashings of ginger beer anybody? Ginger ale is a slightly more grown up version (still non-alcohol) and is sold as a mixer for alcoholic drinks.

Ginger beer is called ginger beer because it is (or can be) a yeast process involving fermentation. This will produce a small amount of alcohol but not enough to be a problem unless you must avoid alcohol for cultural or religious reasons, such as the mormon guy and his dry ice to avoid the fermentation.

When I was a kid we once made ginger beer at home via fermentation and very good it was too. However we did not take into account the secondary fermentation in the bottle, which all exploded bar one or two, including one that blew up in my sister's handbag (purse)! Be warned.

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BonesRobinson made it! (author)2017-06-07

Picked up the ingredients and made it last night. For the most part, I just followed the recipe as if it was for for 1 litre, filled a large Dunkin Donuts iced coffee travelers mug with syrup, then the next morning I did a rough 5:1 ratio for seltzer water to syrup. Really good, sweet at first, then rushes in with tart and spiciness. Definitely would recommend making a small batch, then adapting to taste before going large scale. I used a small flask I got at the NJ renaissance faire for the final product, just for aesthetics.

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author

That flask is a great container for this ginger beer. Thanks for sharing a picture of your brew, enjoy the Pro Membership!

author

Thanks! Perhaps the best part about this project would be the carbonation building up, then once I open the flask, it causes a loud "pop!" Gets me every time lol

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david.danyi92 made it! (author)2017-06-07

I made it, nice recipe! Tastes quite good. I used a little less sugar because I didn't want it to be too sweet.

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author

Less sugar, more spice :) That's how I like it, anyway.

Thanks for sharing a picture of your brew, looks tasty. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

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Robotrix (author)2017-06-06

Thanks for posting this - I have been trying for weeks to get a ginger beer going from a ginger bug and I get nothing. This is fail-proof and just in time for my camping trip this weekend!

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Robotrix (author)Robotrix2017-06-08

I'm making this right now and realizing that there aren't really enough measurements given to scale this. The only indications are: 1/2 a root per litre finished syrup; 1.5 cups sugar; and 2 cups water in the sauce pan. How do you scale this recipe? My intuition would be to keep the 2c water and sugar the same and add more spice, diluting with water later to make more finished syrup. What's your experience with larger batches?

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mikeasaurus (author)Robotrix2017-06-08

This can easily scale up, but I've left some measurements vague since people like different levels of spice (I prefer things very spicy, so didn't want to blast out the taste buds of someone sensitive).

Your intuition for scaling will work, doubling ingredients and adding water to dilute until your desired taste is achieved.

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explosivemaker (author)2017-06-08

so it's ginger syrup, not beer

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ChrisA1 (author)2017-06-08

Looks like a great recipe.... I like the idea of using champagne yeast as well

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NikyN2 (author)2017-06-07

as a non-native english speaker, I thought this was gonna be about ginger-flavored beer

as it is, I'm not disappointed, I recently fell in love with ginger (works great for hay fever and I got used to the taste, lol), so having a recipe for a ginger drink is nice, even if it's not actual beer :)

will try the recipe later, this looks better than my "just mix grated ginger and honey" recipe.

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QazW2 (author)2017-06-07

A Mormon friend of mine makes root beer with dry ice as carbonization. I can't think why it wouldn't work for this recipe also (put syrup and water in a pressure cooker and seal after adding piece of dry ice)

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caitlinsdad (author)2017-06-05

There is no warning that this is the non-alcoholic version.

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dalegmoore (author)caitlinsdad2017-06-06

Ginger beer as sold here in Canada is often label Jamaican Ginger Beer non-alcoholic - think Root Beer. A ginger extract (called syrup here) is also excellent for upset stomach and nausea.

Would not the addition of yeast make it carbonate like the old home root beer recipes used?

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QazW2 (author)dalegmoore2017-06-07

all natural carbonation uses yeast (this recipe uses "injection" whether you use soda water or actually do the injection yourself) .... So adding yeast will give alcohol and carbonation. From my mead making experience, if you want to add a yeast I suggest avoiding normal "beer" yeasts as they likely will overpower flavors. (Do you want GINGER beer or do you want beer flavored with ginger). ... A champagne yeast will give better flavor with a side effect of possible higher alcohol content. (Champagne yeasts are cultivated to allow 2% or 3% more alcohol before yeast dies)

Face it, if you are going yeast route you want more if you can.

author
caitlinsdad (author)dalegmoore2017-06-06

My comment was more in jest considering how products are labelled or product names taking on a new meaning through the years. Here in NYC we have the more or less potent Canada Dry Ginger "ale" to the authentic "hard" brewed in Jamaica beers.

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