Introduction: Homemade Ginger Beer (like Ale, Except Brewed Yourself!)

Picture of Homemade Ginger Beer (like Ale, Except Brewed Yourself!)

While there is a similar instructable on how to make your own root beer, there isn't one for ginger ale. I've made my own ginger ale for years, and here's how.

Step 1: Ingredients/tools

Picture of Ingredients/tools

You'll need:
--1c sugar (or less)
--small piece of ginger root
--a lemon
--a grater (microplane or fine holes) or food processor/chopper
--an empty 2L plastic (important) bottle
--around 2L of fresh water

Step 2: Ginger Root Preparation

Picture of Ginger Root Preparation

Peel and finely grate a small piece of ginger. How much is up to you; it depends on how strong you want the final ginger ale to be. Try for 1T or so in the beginning, and if you want it stronger, add another half tablespoon; weaker, add less. I didn't measure the amount I used here but I like it spicy, and it came out fairly strong.

Step 3: Squeeze Lemon

Picture of Squeeze Lemon

I generally add a full lemon's worth of juice to this. If, like me, you don't have a juicer, roll the lemon between your hand and a hard surface a few times; this will help you get the juice out more quickly once it's cut.

Step 4: Put Ingredients in Bottle

Picture of Put Ingredients in Bottle

To the empty 2L bottle, add:
--1c sugar (Again, taste comes into play. I like it less sweet, so I add ~ 3/4c. You may wish to add more or less depending on your personal taste. Add a full cup the first time you make it, and go from there).
--1/4 tsp yeast
--lemon juice
--grated ginger

If you're having difficulty with the sugar and juice, make a funnel out of a paper plate to pour everything in. Once everything's together, shake it around a little to distribute things.

If you're really paranoid about germs, you could prepare a weak bleach solution and rinse everything with it, but I don't see the point since you'll likely drink this before anything goes wrong. Just be sure to wash your hands before you touch stuff and you'll be fine (nothing adds tang like Clostridium!).

Step 5: Biological Carbonation

Picture of Biological Carbonation

Fill your 2L bottle to an inch or two below the top with fresh water. Screw the cap on tightly, and shake until everything is dispersed. Be certain to flush the sugar from the nooks at the bottom of the bottle. The picture below shows everything in the bottle before it's been shaken.

Once you're finished, place the bottle in a warm-ish place (I set mine on top of the fridge, towards the back) and let it steep. Check on it every few hours by squeezing the bottle. When you can no longer push in on the bottle (i.e., it's become pressurized), take the bottle and put it in the fridge. This will slow down the fermentation and keep things from exploding. It never takes more than a day or so for me, but depending on how you vary the ingredients, things make take a little longer.

Note: I am quite serious about the exploding bit. If you leave the bottle just sitting in a warm place for a few days, it will likely explode and send sugary water all over the room. So keep an eye on it!

Step 6: Enjoy!

This stuff is best really cold. As with any yeast-based product, this will yield a tiny amount of alcohol in the final product. Really, I think it's less than a percent. You could easily drink the entire bottle and not have any issues. Those with allergies to alcohol, however, may want to be careful.


pimpdaddybling (author)2011-06-13

Hey, How do think this would turn out if I used an airlock to let out the co2 instead of keeping the cap on? Acohol percent?

samando (author)pimpdaddybling2012-06-28

If you let the co2 out, the final product won't be carbonated, but I can't imagine there would be any other differences. You couldn't use the pressure test to see if it's ready, though, so you'd have to try it, I guess.

ChadS106 (author)samando2017-02-12

I have done ginger beer with an airlock. Once all activity stops I use corn sugar and bottle it like regular beer, I calculated sugar needed per 12oz bottle. It carbonated just fine.

IanM23 made it! (author)2015-08-04

Not bad; I just need something to filter out the ginger once it's ready to pour.

MarieCanada (author)IanM232017-01-22

Cheese cloth or a big coffee filter work well.

EricaC51 (author)2016-11-22

Thought I followed the directions perfectly. I refrigerated it after
it fermented for 2 days and it blew up when I opened it, I also spent
the better part of 10 minutes opening it and closing it to keep it from
overflowing again. Now I can finally drink it and it tastes really
yeasty. What did I do wrong.

MarieCanada (author)EricaC512017-01-22

I personally use only 1/8 tsp yeast but I add 1/2 tsp cream of tartar for more fizz. As for the explosion, the minute your bottle is hard enough that you cannot squeeze it, refrigerate at least 12 hours before opening.

If you intend to leave it ferment for more than 24 hours for a less sweet drink, be sure to release some pressure about twice a day to prevent explosion. After 48 hours, refrigerate overnight before opening again.

I made 2 liters with about 1/8tsp of yeast and it still tasted yeasty. Uhg.

refrigerate first, and decant. Most of the yeast should settle to the bottom. Are you using brewer's yeast, or baking yeast? The brewer's yeast might settle better.

goicoechea (author)2010-08-09

Hi, I did the recipe two days ago - 48 hours. Nothing seems to be happening. I'm wondering if I put too little yeast in. Did you mean 1/4 teaspoon? It says tsp...but it seems like very little. Should it be tablespoon? Is there different kinds of yeast? I used Red Star Active Dry Yeast. I put three lemons in - could the acidity kill the yeast. It is 70 F inside. What did I do wrong?

Jodex (author)goicoechea2011-03-21

Yes, it really is 1/4 teaspoon. It is not much, but otherwise it would taste yeasty. Are you sure that your water was warm enough when you added the yeast? It should be a bit warmer than your hand.

goicoechea (author)Jodex2011-03-25

Huh! You know I think perhaps you forgot to mention that. It just says fresh water.

But that makes sense, the yeast we have here in Sweden has to be in about 40C to activate.


anahatabalance (author)2011-02-06

Better to use a beer or champagne yeast over a bread yeast or you can make your own...

Better to make a starter first with wild yeast. This is simple as adding a teaspoon of sugar and a 1 tsp grated ginger to 500 ml of water. Add both to the water each day for 7 days. Now you have a concentrated bubbly starter. Use this in your favorite recipe.

I'll do an instructable soon on RAW vegan giner brew!

pyro-jim (author)2010-09-14

Ive made this a couple of times but the last time it had a nasty sort of bitter alnost alcoholic taste. I put around 16 smallish tablespoons of sugar which i thought was alot and i tried to make it very gingery. I also used around half a packet of bread yeast and left it for a day. Could it have produced enough alcohol to leave a bad taste or what else could the taste have been? :S

anahatabalance (author)pyro-jim2011-02-06

Your prob is using bread yeast for a will taste bad. Better to make a starter first with wild yeast. This is simple as adding a teaspoon of sugar and a 1 tsp grated ginger to 500 ml of water. Add this to the water each day for 7 days. Now you have a concentrated starter. Use this in your favorite recipe.

h3idi (author)2010-08-25

Amazing tip for getting more lemon outta that lemon? Microwave it 10 seconds first, it'll be warm, and the juice will release easily. :)

Grimarr (author)2010-06-06

Nice 'ible, I'll have to try this soon. Alternatively, for those not wanting to use biological carbonation, it is possible to use dry ice, but you have to be VERY CAREFUL!

tradergordo (author)2007-06-27

To answer some questions - the yeast only need about 4 oz of sugar per 5 GALLONS to fully carbonate the drink. Also, if you use an ale yeast, the bottles are less likely to explode if you forget about them (the ale yeast dies as the pressure builds up). But it actually takes a lot to explose a good 2 liter plastic bottle (or a good glass bottle) - more likely the problem you will experience with an over carbonated bottle is that the contents will completely empty onto your floor when you go to open it (this is kind of fun the first time, but do it outside and wear clothes you don't care about!)

poonanii (author)tradergordo2007-07-03

Use a fermentation lock replacing the cap. They are cheap at beer making suppliers.

sabetts (author)poonanii2010-05-30

The goal is to carbonate it with some of the sugar, then chill to stop the fermentation so you get a bit of sweetness as well. An airlock would just make a relatively flat, dry drink.

bedwere (author)tradergordo2010-03-05

 I do like this: I lay the bottle almost horizontally over a glass on a table. Then I slowly unscrew the cap. Liquid (ginger ale, actually) starts to flow out of the bottle but it falls into the glass. By the time I remove the cap, my glass is half full (or half empty, for the pessimist ;-), but nothing falls on the floor. Then it's easy to continue to fill the glass or to straighten back the bottle.

gpaterson (author)tradergordo2007-07-03

I've been using this method for years now ( and have only had one explosion. It occurred after around 18 hours and wasn't because the bottle failed but rather the cap - the pressure became too much for it and the threads gave way.

ANDY! (author)2010-04-05

 do you think the lemon could kill yeast? perghaps my water is too cold

rattyrain (author)2009-12-20

Since I don't drink soda regularly, I didn't have any 2-litre bottles, so I used something from sparkling grape juice.  Since I removed the label and didn't take the time to check the volume manually, I had to guess on the time and amounts of everything.  The first time it was too sweet; the second time it wasn't sweet enough and tasted like alcohol; the third time it didn't have enough ginger flavor or sugar, so I opened it and added some home-dried ginger pieces and sugar, and it turned out with a good taste but not enough carbonation; the fourth time I added some blackberries, honey, and orange zest, and it turned out pretty good.  I finally decided to actually get a two-litre bottle (ironically from ginger ale) and measured everything, so hopefully this batch turns out well.

maxpower49 (author)2009-02-03

is this alcoholic

Noodle93 (author)maxpower492009-02-14

Technically yes because it contains yeast which reacts with the sugar to create alcohol and C02, but in reality, the alcohol content is very very very low. Made this last weekend, absolutely brilliant! I'm doing another today in a plastic fermenter with a airlock and going to see what it's like.

maxpower49 (author)Noodle932009-02-15

so you could drink a couple glasses and feel perfectly fine

jrnelson (author)maxpower492009-02-15

You could drink six bottles of it and feel fine, honestly.

Noodle93 (author)jrnelson2009-02-15

Mine's sitting in the fermenter atm. But we used juiced ginger instead of the grated, because last time, it took a week to get the ginger shreds out of the grater! Should be done soon. Well, I have no idea really. We'll see :D

rattyrain (author)Noodle932009-12-13

try using kind of large holes; it's ok if it isn't fully ground up (i.e., some strings) because you can strain it.

mg0930mg (author)Noodle932009-05-21

How was it?

Noodle93 (author)mg0930mg2009-05-21

Um tasted tainted. But I think it was because it was a new keg. But I think the ginger has seeped in so it should taste like plastic. However, I'm more than sure that all of the sugar was used up (it stopped fermenting). Still adding sugar tasted ok, but a hint of something not so great. I'll try again eventually when i have time. But feel free to try it yourself.

danlab (author)jrnelson2009-05-29

I think that if you drank six bottles of this you wouldn't feel fine, but it wouldn't be because of the alcohol, it would be from drinking ridiculous amounts of amazing ginger ale.

CrazeexGood (author)maxpower492009-05-25

all soda technically has alcohol, non alcoholic beer has a higher content than this though. Actually bread has alcohol in it too.

zhenpenthaye (author)2007-07-03

I think you'll find it's more like 2 - 3% alcohol.

adnimo (author)zhenpenthaye2009-09-13

Generally yes ~4.5% should be about right for ginger-ale. I'm not sure about the lemon part, it's supposed to kill bacteria and leave the natural yeast, however I hear it also kills the natural yeast (so people use beer or champagne yeast for example) ... I'm uncertain about this.

froggy (author)2007-07-04

Greetings. the old glass bottles would burst when there was too much gas pressure. I made blueberry champaigne using 2 liter plastic soda bottles. put them in the overhead in the cabin and forgot about them till one fell out and landed on the floor. There was so much pressure in it that it was hard as a rock. Were about a dozen of the plastic bottles up there all totally solid and the bottom indentations totally rounded out. not one of the leaked or burst. Don't see why they would with ginger ale. I even used champaigne yeast that is noted for producing extreme gases under pressure. No problem.

adnimo (author)froggy2009-09-13

Up to ~100 PSI for most plastic bottles! So yes, your comments are valid. I could only burst those bottles with dry ice....

borat007 (author)2009-08-16

would fermenting it longer make it have a higher alchol content?

AutoItKing (author)2007-12-11

Would this be safe for a kid to drink? Like a teen maybe? Also, could I use dried Ginger powder instead of Ginger root? I'm really looking forward to making some of this stuff.

becauseican (author)AutoItKing2009-08-01

this is just soda it has such a miniscule amount of alchohol you would go into a sugar coma before the alchohol had any effect.

Bartboy (author)becauseican2009-08-03

Non-alchoholic beer has .5% alchohol, and one of my local high schools was giving it out one day last year.

themastercheif (author)2009-05-22

what about 3 year old child

this fermented 4 a day. wine ferments for months. a 3 year old can have small quantities of wine without problems. this has such little alcohol you woiuld need many gallons for noticible effects.

lukeyj15 (author)2009-07-26

could you use ground ginger?

madwilliamflint (author)2009-07-25

Love it! I'm on a serious "home made ginger ____" binge but have somehow skipped ginger ale. Is the lemon there for anything other than flavor?

thebeef2 (author)2009-07-17

do you have to strain it first? just wondering cause there is a lot of pulp.

AnimattersInc (author)2009-07-08

Thanks for the Instructable! I come here every week and dream of the things I "could" do if I had the time & motivation but this one stopped me in my tracks. I immediately got a bottle going (I LOVE ginger and we ALWAYS have it in the house). I'm now enjoying a cool cup of it and it's fantastic! Not as spicy as I've had in other ginger beverages and I used 2.5T of ginger....I'll try more next time (there will DEF be a next time). Couple things - there is a slight tonic taste to it that I don't care for but it's a minor taste compared to the warmth of the ginger. Any idea where the tonic taste comes from? (There is no yeast taste at all but a subtle yeast smell.)

Goodhart (author)2009-05-29

The kind I buy has capsicum in it, and I am wondering if steeping some chillie peppers and using the juice to enhance this would be good....I will have to try

Goodhart (author)2009-05-29

One of the steps of digestion actually turn simple sugars into alcohol....the amount would be miniscuel

About This Instructable




Bio: Nerd. Not that cool. Wish I were cooler.
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