Introduction: Ginger Beer - Alcoholic Version

Picture of 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

Picture of 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"

Picture of 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


AdrianaG (author)2016-07-02

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.

Mr.Brownstone (author)AdrianaG2016-09-12

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.

OzWizard (author)2011-04-08

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!!!


tamsinstead (author)OzWizard2011-09-30

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 :)

Brentley (author)tamsinstead2015-12-12

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

DanB54 (author)2015-08-31

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.

GrahamB16 (author)DanB542015-10-28

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.

sbastarrd (author)2013-08-04

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

stoobers (author)sbastarrd2014-08-18

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.

etywoniak (author)2013-12-26

That typo is just hilarious :D

christine111p (author)2012-12-27

Hey I just finished my process but there is no carbonation any in the bottles

rsuttor (author)2012-07-25

hi would i be able to just double the batch like put double the water and double everything and just do the same process???

if i did would i have to leave it for longer

feastham (author)rsuttor2012-09-13

The yeast population double every eight hours, and it takes almost the same amount of time to ferment twice as much. You can pick up some yeast nutrient super cheap from a brew store and it'll keep it fermenting quickly.

ChrisVincent (author)rsuttor2012-07-27

I haven't tried it, but I'm sure it would work. Timing isn't exact... it's more of a wait and see when it looks done. But doubling the recipe shouldn't change things too much.

dcmtnbkr (author)2012-08-23

The raisons are a Nutrient for the yeast. Yeast eat sugar like crazy, but they need other nutrients to keep them healthy. They are often used in beer and wine making as well.

G-sus-c (author)2012-04-29

I made this recipe and I'm pretty impressed with the result. I modified it slightly and infused some fresh ginger root (approx 2tbs) in the initial 600ml of water before adding the other ingredients. The end result had a great kick; both alcoholic and spicyness.
I only had one mishap throughout the whole process (apart from some mongrel fly deciding to take a swim in my mixture). When I was releasing the gas from a bottle one day I released the cap too slowly and the pressure built up so much that it blew that cap right off and 3/4 of the contents spurted out (mentos in a coke bottle style).
From that day on I made sure that I twisted the cap off much more in order to release the gas. But be aware that, when you do this, the ginger beer fizzes up a lot and you will need to be ready to close the lid very quickly after you release it. I usually opened mine a second time (immediately after) to let some more gas out, but only once the first lot of fizziness settled down.
Anyway, from here on in I'm going to experiment a little with the original recipe and make some slight alterations to see to what extent it improves the flavour, ie. substituting raw sugar for the plain sugar and substituting brewers yeast for bakers yeast.
Happy brewing. :)

Jordan Dyck (author)2012-02-29

i am going to guess your in the U.S. and i dont know if you have them there but i found brewers yeast at a bulk Barn store for really cheep!

alwaysbrewing (author)2012-02-19

put a sachet of wine teast in a clean bottle ,add fruit juice lemon juice sugar and warm water your yeast will grow,use only three quarters of the bixture for your brew.add marmite(yeast extract)sugar lemon fruit juice and water to fill up bottle and your yeast will grow never have to buy yeast again

tthomas10 (author)2011-08-15

do you know what percent alcohol your recipe is. could it be made in a a big pot and stored and decantered out of a big pot?

klillywhite (author)2011-06-08

Hi, i'm about to start making, but i am going to use fresh grated ginger. What differences will this make to the brewing process and taste of my ginger beer? And is it possible to use a mixture of both ginger powder and the fresh root? Thanks

ChrisVincent (author)klillywhite2011-06-08

Either fresh or powdered will work, and you could use them together, but there is no need to have both - I would just use what you have on hand.

I've become a fan of fresh ginger since writing this - I now eat it straight, just gnaw on the root - I bet that using fresh ginger will make it taste a little better simply because fresh ingredients almost always taste better. Just make sure that you shred or blend the ginger root to get the maximum ginger flavor extraction.

Trid (author)2011-05-22

I finished up a batch this weekend, and thought it was pretty tasty. Can't really taste any alcohol in it, but my tolerance is pretty high anyway. The only thing I have to say is that 2 gallons of water for this recipe seems a bit too dilute. Next time I'll do the same, but use only one gallon instead.

By using 12 oz bottles filled up to the bottom of the neck, I used 22

saramc (author)2011-02-22

FYI--you actually made GINGER WINE, not beer & using bread yeast may yield a 12% total alcohol honestly would not be able to tell unless you used a hydrometer before/after your brewing. At some point in time, even if you keep adding sugar your yeast will stop working and no additional sugar will be "eaten" by the yeast and no additional alcohol produced. You can also store your ginger beer--it is just what it is called--in the refrigerator or a cool place once the plastic soda bottoms firm up. If you remove them and allow them to warm up you risk fermentation restarting. And you are right about the raisins, they are just another sugar source for the yeast to feed on. Now, to challenge you--visit a local homebrew store and buy some wine yeast (perhaps Champagne or Montrachet or Cuvee) and make this recipe... the action of the yeast in the fermentation process will impart a different flavor as opposed to your icky bread yeast. And all the stuff that formed on the bottom of your brewing container, you call it PLANT, but in winemaking we call it LEES. Use your search engine and look up SKEETER PEE...a way to reuse your LEES. Congratulations--you are a beginning winemaker.

David97 (author)2010-11-16

I think that the raisens are to test if the yeast is ready or working, if the raisens float to the top it means that the mixture is working or ready.

joeymaceda (author)2010-09-03

what does this taste like? i need alcohol. :P

jimmik (author)2009-11-16

This recipe sounds really good. What is the best type of yeast to use?

kazzarry (author)jimmik2010-08-23

Brewers yeast is the best for flavor and alcoholic content but you need to keep the temp pretty constant bread can have more variation

czestmyr (author)jimmik2010-07-07

After reading a few articles on the Internet, I decided to use wine yeast, because it can withstand higher alcohol content in its environment. Not sure how it's in your place, but in Czech Republic, you can buy wine yeast at the chemist's (but not those where half of the shop is filled with deodorants and the other half with shampoos). Plus they sell a thing called "breeding salt", which is important (though not necessary) for the yeast as they use it to grow their cell walls. As I understand it, virtually all of the yeast used in the food industry is the same species - saccharomyces cerevisiae. For different uses, you need a little bit different properties of the yeast, so different strains are cultivated to suit the given application.

ChrisVincent (author)jimmik2009-11-16

I've always used bread yeast, but some kind of brewing yeast might give better results and probably have less chance of getting off flavors.
You might try some basic beer yeast or maybe a wine yeast - wine or champagne yeast is usually capable of reaching higher alcohol content.

kazzarry (author)2010-08-16

Hey good recipe just wondering how much plant juice i should ad to my batch i have a Carboy and a water lock Whats a good ratio? Also if i use all my plant do i need to make another plant to make another batch? This is my first time brewing and i was just a little confused at this point Thanks

cunobelinusX31 (author)2010-03-25

I follow much the same recipe as you except I start by using a 2X1inch of root ginger finally grated (with the skin) and a small cup of raisins finely chopped. I put both these in a saucepan with the zest/rind and juice of 2 lemons and boil in about 200ml of water with 4 tsp of sugar. About 5mins then leave to seap with the lid on. I then strain this through a course strainer into my baby jar and keep adding pre boiled water until I hit the 600ml mark. Then do as you do! The reason for the raisins is they contain fructose which helps give a better kick start for the yeast and maybe a bit of colour? Also the skin of ginger root contains something that is used in Chinese medecine! The lemons are to reduce the Ph level which yeast likes! Try different types of sugar for different flavours and colours. Fructose, Glucose and Lactose are all commercially available either from chemists or home brew supplies.

czestmyr (author)cunobelinusX312010-07-07

And I forgot - boiling the ginger changes its taste because the chemical compound gingerol transforms into other chemicals when boiled. Also, boiled ginger is less spicy, which could be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your tastes.

czestmyr (author)cunobelinusX312010-07-07

As for the sugars, I use d-glucose, also called just glucose, dextrose or grape sugar, if I have it. I read on some homebrewing forums that yeast produce alcohol and multiply more effectively on dextrose. Adding lemon is important not just to make the environment more yeast-friendly, but to avoid unwanted bacterial growth as well.

Luuz (author)2010-03-12

Thanks, I made a batch of ginger beer and tasted it for the first time last night.  It reminded me of sparking wine (my batch was fairly dry) except it was very spicy- different but enjoyable.  I used glass bottles with the lightning toggle closures and for a warm place I used my food dehydrator turned on low.  I'm pretty sure I'll make more, especially since I bought a huge amount of ginger.

wenpherd (author)2010-01-11

Is it possible to get powdered ginger at say, Walmart, or any other common store.

ChrisVincent (author)wenpherd2010-01-11

You should be able to find it in the spice section. Or you could use fresh ginger which is usually in the vegetable section some where. Just peal the ginger slice it thinly and macerate in a pestle and mortar.

HappyToBeAlive (author)2009-07-19

to get a 'proper' fizz, ferment it till it slows, then put it in the plastic soda bottles ( washed and sterilized of course...) and add 1tsp of normal sugar per pint.or 500ml. 1 litre or 100ml, 2tsp, a 1.5L would take 3 and a 2 litre would take 4tsp, a 3 litre would also take 4tsp. this will induce a secondary fermentation. it makes it fizzy if you do not release it. PET or plastic soda bottles WILL NOT burst with fermenting. I have been brewing since 1991 and havent broke a PET ( Soda) bottle yet!

bauble (author)HappyToBeAlive2010-01-06

What is the result of not releasing the pressure by loosening the lid each day? If plastic bottles don't pop their top then does that mean that when it's time to drink it there's so much fizz that ginger beer gushes out of the bottle? What happens to that pressure if not released according to the guidelines in this instructable?

ChrisVincent (author)bauble2010-01-06

Not releasing the pressure will cause the bottles to explode violently coating everything with ginger ale. I had some bottles get so pressurized that if you taped them they would ring a little - like a bell. You dont need much pressure to make it very fizzy.

Jesse G (author)2009-03-28

This sounds like an awesome recipe and I can't wait to try it. I have a glass carboy with a fermentation lock and I want to bottle it in those glass beer bottles with ceramic flip tops, what is the best way to do it with this equipment ? Should I just do it like you did, but bottle it at the 'dry' stage, or ferment until it's done completely and add sugar to each bottle?

ChrisVincent (author)Jesse G2009-03-30

I've only ever done it the way that I described it above - let me know how yours turns out. If you ferment it and then bottle it you could have greater control over the flavor and add additional sugar or ginger to it when bottling. If you want a sweet flavor you can add lactose (milk sugar) it is unfermentable.

Jesse G (author)ChrisVincent2009-04-05

Cool, thanks. I put the mix in the carboy and it is fermenting. When would you think I should bottle and how would I carbonate it? Adding some sugar to each bottle maybe?

wolfe.chris (author)Jesse G2009-09-28

Wait until the bubbling in the airlock stops, then it's time to bottle it. Bring about two cups of water to a boil and add about 1/8 cup of sugar per gallon of ginger beer to the water. Allow it to boil for about ten minutes and then let it cool. Add the cooled sugar/water solution to the carboy and gently mix it (don't disturb the yeast cake too much). Let the yeast settle back down and then bottle it. Leave about 1/2 inch of head space in each bottle before capping and wait about seven days for the ginger beer to carbonate.

mizunakat (author)2009-09-01

I started my plant on Sunday. I used a 24 oz. jar, and it's filled almost to the top. I've got it covered with a few layers of cheesecloth and secured with a rubber band. After it's been sitting for a while, everything appears to settle at the bottom. I'm hoping that this is okay. When I give it a stir after adding the 2 tsp of ginger powder and 4 tsp of sugar, it's got something like a fizz/lots of tiny bubbles, so I'm assuming that this is cool. I'll take a picture on Wednesday to show progress after 3 full days of feeding/growing.

ChrisVincent (author)mizunakat2009-09-01

That sounds right. When you stir it you release carbon dioxide gas that the yeast have produce and that has been absorbed into the water.

SCF336 (author)2009-08-03

I left my plant on the counter in my kitchen for the last three days and now Im not sure if my plant got too cold or what- can I jump-start the yeast if it seems like they've stopped producing CO2?

Mtalus (author)2009-07-20

Excellent. I sure am thirsty. Home brewing is dangerous and addictive. It may lead to a career so be warned. I use soda bottles all the time and have never had problems save one: Use un-flavored selzer bottles for anything that wouldn't be improved by the flavor and aroma of the previous contents. Lemon lime and ginger yes, grape soda and lager no. The lids can handle many on off cycles before the seal goes bad. One more thing, I would suggest always making a simple syrup to use for priming. Boil the priming sugar with some water so that it is sterile, cool and then prime with it, otherwise the sugar may have some "guests" that crash your party and spoil it.

kielia (author)2009-06-03

I just bottled my first batch of ginger beer . I hope it turns out as there was not nearly as much scum on the top as is pictured above. Thanks so much for putting this recipie out. If my first try fails I can blame it on my sprained wrist. Ha!

SG1Oniell (author)2009-04-20

do you know how to make the non-alcoholic version too?

megahurts (author)SG1Oniell2009-05-29

If I remember rightly from doing this with my kids a few years ago, once you've bottled it and the bottles have become hard, release the pressure and then store in the 'fridge, the lower temp slows the yeast down = lower alcohol content, but it'll have a more yeasty flavour, and even then it still contains a small amount of alcohol.

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