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

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

About: Jim. Nerd. Not very cool.

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

You'll need:
--1c sugar (or less)
--yeast
--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

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

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

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

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.

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149 Comments

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?

2 replies

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.

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.

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.

1 reply

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.

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.

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?

2 replies

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.

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.

Thanks!

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!

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

1 reply

Your prob is using bread yeast for a beverage....it 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.

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

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!

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!)

4 replies

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

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.

 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.

I've been using this method for years now (http://www.vurt.co.uk/Articles/GingerBeer.html) 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.