Ginger Beer - Alcoholic Version





Introduction: Ginger Beer - Alcoholic Version

There are a lot of instructions available for making non-alcoholic versions of ginger beer, but for those who want to savor this beverage in its pure form you can try these instructions. Ginger beer was one of the most popular beverages in both America, Canada and Europe until 1920 (Prohibition) in America and 1950's in Europe.

I've always wanted to brew my own beer and or other drinks, but with the hop shortages that are going on I though that it would be fun to try a different style of beer/ale. The results were good.

The Beer/Ale that is produced is definitely alcoholic and I found it quite powerful which is partially due to the very high level of carbonation

Step 1: Ingredients

Since this is my first batch of ginger beer I'm going to keep it simple. I believe that you can add just about any spice you want to adjust the flavor, the most interesting that I've herd is adding mace or other peppery spices to bring out the zing a little more, but for the sake of simplicity I just going to use:

-Water --- Make sure that you use good quality water, and make sure that you have all of the chlorine out of it (either let it stand open to the atmosphere for about 24 hours or boil it)
-Ginger Powder --- I guess you could use real ginger root, but thats harder to use and ginger powered is not very expensive if you get if from the right place. - I got mine from the 'eastern store' its a small locally owned place under the local mosque. Have a look around your area I'm sure that you can find some international store. I bought about 2 cups of ginger powder for $2.50. (note the color of ginger degrades when exposed to sunlight, but according to the shop owner it retains it flavor.)
-Lemon Juice---from previous experience real lemons taste better, but I dont know how much real lemon juice vs bottled lemon juice will affect the final flavor - If you really want a lot of lemon flavor then use some lemon rind, the real 'lemon' flavor is in the oils in the skin
-Sugar --- regular stuff that comes in the bag, nothing special.
-Yeast--- I'm starting with bread making yeast, and seeing how that works....
-10 Rasins--- since they sit around for a while, while they dry they collect 'wild yeasts' which add a bit of uncertainty since you don't quite know what they'll do but I think that you gain a more robust set of yeasts......try it both ways...

Also needed is a teaspoon, a jar, a piece of cloth, quite a few ~12 - 20 oz soda bottles. Once you open a bottle you have to drink it all within about 24 hours or it will start to taste funny.

Step 2: Making the "PLANT"

The basic process of making ginger beer is to grow your yeast culture, called a plant. You then squeeze the juice of the plant into your sugary water, bottle it and let it ferment.

So... to make the plant: you'll need the jar (needs to be able to hold at least 600 ml ~ 20 oz) your ginger powder, some sugar and water and the lemon juice oh and also the yeast.

600 ml water - cold or room temp - if its hot you'll cook and kill your yeast.
1 tsp yeast
2 tsp Ginger powder
4 tsp Sugar - Provides food for the yeast to use and multiply
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons) - provides an acidic environment that helps prevent other bacteria from taking over.
10 Raisin - not sure what these do, they may provide a source of wild yeasts or they may provide a wider range of sugars to get the yeast started. Either way they're fun to watch because you know your yeast is working if they start floating in a day or two.

stir all of this in the jar, cover the jar with some fabric or a paper towel and place jar in a warm area 75-85 deg F is the best (if it's below 65 ish the yeast will pretty much stop growing, and if it's above 100 they will slow down and at a little hotter they will start to die). A good warm place in winter might be next to your fridge.

Everyday for the next week feed your 'plant' with 2 tsp ginger powder and 4 tsp sugar - stir in, and recover

Within about a week your plant should be ready to use.

Step 3: Mixing the Beer

Now that your plant has had plenty of time for the yeast to grow and for the flavor of the ginger to diffuse into the water it is time to dilute it and put it into bottles.
This set is based completely on your personal taste, and how long your plant has been growing - the longer you've been feeding it the more ginger flavor there is...the good news is that if you get it wrong you can fix it later.
The process is to take ~1-2 gallons of 'clean' water (boil tap water) add sugar until it is sweet - like juice, maybe a little sweeter.
Now using a paper towel strain the plant liquid out of the rest and add the plant fluid to the sweet water.
Bottle the mix in the 20 oz bottles - only fill them 2/3 full because a LOT of CO2 will be produced and the bottles will explode if they are too full (air compresses more than fluid).
Place all of your bottles in an opaque rubber maid tub and place it in a warm area. Check it every day, squeeze each bottle and if you cannot compress it crack the lid and let off the pressure - the soda bottles will take ~100 psi before they explode, but if they do explode you will be cleaning sticky ginger juice off the walls for ever. Alternately you can get a fancy carboy with a water lock and carbonate your beer later.

Step 4: Savoring

Leave your beer until you think it is done... which depends on you but it will take at least 2 weeks.

I tried a bottle every once in a while and liked it once it was completely done fermenting all the sugar - had a dry flavor that went well with the ginger. You know that your ginger beer has reached this 'dry point' when you dont have to release the pressure of the bottles any more - but make sure that you don't let all the carbonation escape (if you do add more sugar).

Remember that more sugar = more alcohol.
Alcohol is the bi-product of anaerobic propagation of yeast  so dont let oxygen into your bottles. But alcohol is also toxic to yeast so once the alcohol level gets too high the yeast will die off. Bread yeast is able to produce ~3-6% and the best yeast are able to survive in ~15% alcohol, with Ginger beer it is a toss up due to the introduction of wild yeasts.

I like my ginger beer chilled.

Step 5: References



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    Is this a tried and tested recipe? The instructions make it sound like the writer is trying it out for the first time..,not sure I want to waste time and ingredients on untested.p methods.

    You really don't even need a recipe. Just follow that general path, though I'd use wine yeast. Yeast is a living creature, so it doesn't care much if you get your recipe perfect.

    From what I am reading MANY have this all wrong.... 1st - I am in the Middle East so my 'supplies' are limited.

    Take about 2 big HEADs of fresh ginger, wash it, then grate it. Add this to a clean pot with 1 kg (2.2 pounds) sugar and a small jar of honey.

    Add clean water and heat to ALMOST a boil..... stirring.... then cover and let it sit for UP to 24 hours [at least 6]. This is the water extracting from the ginger...

    Now strain this mixture thru a cloth into your fermentation vessel. Add 2 tablespoons of baker's yeast. Bring the volume UP to 5 liters [I use NEW, fresh 5 L water bottles] .

    Cap and shake once!

    Sit in the warm, dark place and be certain to unscrew the cap some to just allow the gases to escape.

    Wait exactly 7 days..... now take this fermented beer and fill into 1 L fresh/clean water bottles. Cap tightly! Let sit for 1 or 2 days!

    Cool and drink!

    It is amazing that after only 7 days there are no "sugars" left! (I know as I make other brews that are very sweet) Why?? Ginger seems to act as an accentuate'r! And this STUFF has some kick!

    Plus I relish the fact that 'ginger root' is very healthy!!!


    I'm in the same kind of position as you, living in a country with limited supplies, except for fresh ginger, plentiful and cheap.

    Am happy to hear can make a fresh batch in as little as a couple of weeks as almost down to the bottom of the barrel, er, plastic tub.

    I was given a recipe from an Aussie friend, but takes 6 weeks, and this last batch decidedly 'un ginger' tasting. Believe you're right in NOT boiling the ginger but letting it sit, makes sense. Also could do with more of a 'kick' (fizzy, alcoholic but bland). How about black peppercorns? Mace very expensive from 'expat' supermarkets. And the raisins? Necessary? I'm in Thailand BTW :)

    For a bit of extra kick throw a couple of slices of chilli in during the "bug" stage.

    I made a higher quality alcoholic ginger beer.

    I used ginger root, champagne yeast fed with DAP (fertilizer) and Campden tablets to halt the growth of other yeasts and bacteria in my must.

    The real challenge is to make sure your yeast is "happy" and viable. Once you know that your yeast is viable, mix it with a little bit of your must and wait about 4 hours, then do it again and after that it should make for good alcohol production.

    I make mine a similar way to make 10 litres -

    6-800grams finely chopped fresh ginger (unpeeled). Boil in large saucepan/stockpot in 2.5 litres water for at least 30 minutes. I boil for 30 mins, then simmer for around an hour. Remove from heat & add 1kg granulated sugar. Stir until sugar completely dissolved. Sieve into fermenting vessel & add cold water to 10.5 litres. Wait until temperature of liquid is 27 degrees C or lower, then add 5 grams champagne yeast, stir well to aerate, cover (not airtight!) and leave for a week. inspect to see if fermentation has stopped - you can see small bubbles breaking the surface, if no bubbles can be bottled. Syphon into 500ml bottles containing 1 teaspoon sugar (I use sparkling water bottles), avoiding sucking up the sediment. leave approx 1inch air gap. Screw lids on & shake well to dissolve sugar. Store upright in at room temperature until bottles feel hard/difficult to squeeze, then refidgerate until beer is nice and clear. Unscrew bottle caps carefully to release the pressure slowly, otherwise sediment at the bottom of the bottle will rise with the gas bubbles and make the beer taste yeasty. Pour in one smooth motion, leaving any sediment in the bottle. Drink until refreshed. Fall over.

    So. Once I have a 600ml jar of plant.

    I strain the juice into a 1-2gallon jug with sugar to ferment until all the sugar is burned and no more gas is produced?? Then portion into containers with 1tsp sugar/500ml ??? Seal and ferment 24hrs serve cold????

    So. Then what with the strained plant?? Split into two and put back each portion into a 600ml jar with water,ginger and sugar and repeat??

    Sorry this is what I'm understanding. Please tell me if I'm wrong thank you. I am so interested and don't want to bunk this up

    This is how the last stages can also be done:

    Take a jug of 1 gallon of water and add enough "plant" to make the mix taste "gingery". Then, you add sugar to the jug (the following is approximate)

    2 lbs of sugar + 1 gallon of water = 12%-14% alcohol (very strong)

    1 lb of sugar + 1 gallon of water = 6%-7% alcohol (still pretty strong)

    1/2 lb of sugar + 1 gallon of water = 3% alcohol (like a low alcohol beer - use this).

    Keep the cap on loose until the bubbles stop.

    Then you filter the swill (you need to filter it, or it will be gross) and add 1/4 tsp sugar and screw the cap on tight and let sit under the kitchen sink for 2 weeks (this will carbonate it).

    The result will NOT be sweet, but you can keep it on a shelf for 6 months or more.

    If you want it sweet, add 2 Tbsp sugar instead of 1/4 tsp, and ferment until the bottles are firm (it may only take a few hours!!!)

    Then put the bottles in the fridge at 40 deg F or less (this stops the yeast).

    If you let the ferment happen and the bottles get too firm, they will blow up. You need to drink the juice within a few weeks, as the ferment will proceed slowly in the fridge and eventually blow up.

    That typo is just hilarious :D