Introduction: Making a Probiotic Ginger Beer

Picture of Making a Probiotic Ginger Beer

Incorporate probiotic bacterial into ginger-based beverages!  Yum.  

Some simple ingredients, a few items from around the kitchen and within 2-3 weeks you can have your own DIY probiotic ginger beer.

Step 1: Starting the Ginger Bug

Picture of Starting the Ginger Bug

Place 1 cup of filtered water in a pint jar
Add 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger root (skin and all)
Stir in 2 teaspoons of evaporated cane sugar, tighten lid and shake.  

Cover* and Store in a warm place, add 2 teaspoons of cane sugar and ginger root each day.  In 2-7 days, when it starts bubbling, it is active and ready for the next step.  

Use right away for best results.

* I use a coffee filter and rubber-band to cover the pint jar.

Step 2: Making the Ginger Beer

Picture of Making the Ginger Beer

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil
Add about 2 inches of ginger root, grated, for a mild flavor (up to 6 inches of ginger for a more intense flavor)
Add 1-1/2 cups of sugar.
Boil the mixture for about 15 minutes.  
Let mixture come to room temperature
When cool strain the ginger out.

Add the juice of two lemons

Add the strained ginger bug

And  now add enough water to make a 1 gallon.  - Ginger beer plant does not tolerate chlorinated water.  Tap water left out overnight or mineral water should be fine. 

Step 3: Bottle Your Ginger Beer

Picture of Bottle Your Ginger Beer

When bottling use sealable bottles.  Screw-top recycled plastic bottles, rubber gasket  style or gallon jug jars can be used.

Transfer from mason jar to sealable bottle using a funnel.  Leave to ferment in a warm place for about two weeks

Refrigerate before opening.  Carbonation. The force is strong.


natere21 (author)2017-03-28

Do you add the whole strained bug?

farazjz (author)2015-07-23

wonderful recipe but is that alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink? :)

Mr.Brownstone (author)farazjz2016-09-16

It's got so little alcohol that it's not considered alcoholic by the U.S. government. Depending how it's made, it's usually like .5% alcohol by volume.

AdriM made it! (author)2016-01-19

Hi guys. I made this récipe but the beverage has some weird black thing floating. I'll post a picture if it. Is it normal or something went wrong?

NadiaS16 (author)AdriM2016-06-02

Hi there ArdiM!

I know this reply may be 5 months too late, but maybe someone else may have the same problem.

That looks like spent yeast, simply remove the blob by pouring your ginger beer through a sieve when serving.

cantharis (author)2014-02-22

I recently made this ginger beer - and it was brilliant! Flavour, colour, smell, fizz - all like the stuff I had as a kid.

And I bottled it in screw-top glass beer bottles - with plenty of headspace (Boyle´s Law !!!). I relieved the pressure every couple of days, refrigerated after about 10 days, and have had no problems.

PaulE4 (author)cantharis2015-05-18

I use the same method but refrigerate mine after 3 days. I have had no problems.

bob.haavisto.1 (author)2015-01-18

I have been brewing home beer for a couple of years. If you try to ferment in the bottle they are going to explode. You should do the fermenting in a sanitary car boy or food grade bucket with an air lock to relieve the pressure. when ready to bottle boil about 1 cup of water and add a small amount of sugar to it (for 5 gallons of beer I add 3/4 cup of sugar).then bottle and cap it. Let it sit for about 2 weeks and give it a try, I think it will come out just right.

BrianW9 (author)2014-12-06

I am making this post at 3 am because my bottles just burst in the kitchen and woke me up. I'm glad it didn't happen when one of the kids was on their way to the bathroom. There is glass all over the kitchen (and sticky soda). I'm going to to suggest that two weeks is far too long to leave the bottles at room temperature. It has been less than one week for me and two bottles blew up form the pressure, knocking some of the other bottles to the floor.

I homebrew beer and carbonate bottles like this all the time. I have been doing that for years and never had this problem until now. Do not wait 2 weeks. I just opened the rest of the bottles and they are very highly carbonated. To be constructive I am telling you, your bottles have a high chance of blowing after a few days at room temperature.

ionbogdanvasile (author)2014-11-02

Does anybody know what pro biotic families are found in Home made Ginger Ale??(Probably Lactobacillus and??)

kids.dig.unwound (author)2014-10-30

So I've made ginger beer with forced carbonation before and I just put the ginger through a juicer, strained it, and mixed that with the water, sugar, etc. instead of boiling the pulp in water. Would this technique work just as well when I add my ginger bug or do I need to use the method featured here? May seem like a dumb question but I've never used fermentation and don't know the various things that may cause it to fail. Thanks!

sbastarrd (author)2013-08-06

Is there any way to screw this up and make poison?? What if I leave my brew to eat all the sugar and turn booze... Are there any risks to drinking something unsafe??? Personally I don't mind but I would hate to serve it to someone and give them sick lol

jrossetti (author)2011-04-06

You allow it to ferment in a sealed container? Where did you find those clear swing-top bottles?

Ivriniel (author)jrossetti2012-11-18

Ikea sells them. Also there is a type of French sparkling lemonade that comes in swingtop bottles.

dreadengineer (author)jrossetti2011-04-07

Some commercial beer comes in swing-top bottles; you can reuse those. I'm also surprised that this step implies all the fermentation is done in a sealed bottle. Is that right? Usually you ferment in something that isn't sealed, then after 2 weeks or so the fermentation stops, so you add a little more sugar and then seal it to make it ferment a bit more to carbonate it.

rattyrain (author)dreadengineer2011-04-07

Step 1 describes the initial culture fermentation, and the rest is the sealed fermentation for carbonation.

PearlZenith (author)rattyrain2011-04-07

Usually there are three stages when I've made Ginger Beer.

#1 is making the bug, as described.
#2 is boiling the water-ginger mixture, adding the lemons, letting it cool and adding the bug, then letting it ferment in a vat of some sort for a week or two.
#3 is transferring the Ginger Beer into individual bottles and letting them sit another week or two to finish up fermentation.

It looks like this recipe combines the last two stages. I don't how it would affect the taste of the brew, but it seems like less work.

jrossetti (author)dreadengineer2011-04-07

Yeah I was just wondering about those particular bottles.  Clear (non-green, non-brown) swing tops aren't exactly common.  

HellfireJack (author)jrossetti2011-04-07

You can buy ceramic swing tops and bottles at most homebrew stores.

Marticus_ (author)HellfireJack2011-04-07

Or drink a lot of Grolsch.

dross2 (author)jrossetti2011-04-07

I've bought some of those in Ikea

mikeltv1 (author)2011-11-21

Is it okay to use limes instead of lemons? Does it even make a difference?

Also I used a glass gallon jug with a screw top lid. Will it help ferment?

Ivriniel (author)mikeltv12012-11-18

As far as their acid content goes, limes are functionally the same as lemons. It might make a slight difference in taste.

insomniaSAH (author)2011-04-05

I've heard that sealing 'active' brewing items - that is, brews where something is still alive and can create carbonation, like some forms of mead brewing - in a tightly sealed container (eg a swingtop) can result in explosions from the pressure that builds up - have you had any issues with this in the past?

Great 'ible, I look forward to trying this :)

AltonB (author)insomniaSAH2011-04-08

Leave plenty of space in the bottle for the air/pressure build-up and there should not be a problem - I have filled my bottle too close to the top and had the container burst.That stuff needs somewhere to go.

jjaeger1 (author)AltonB2011-04-15

Is that really you Alton Brown?? If so, you are my favorite.

Ivriniel (author)jjaeger12012-09-23

Alas, Alton B's profile says his name is Alton B. Johnson, so not Alton Brown.

No offense intended to Mr. Johnson of course. :)

Alton Brown does have a recipe for Ginger Beer, but he uses Yeast in his.

Bindlestiff (author)AltonB2011-04-19

Actually, "headspace" (the amount of air at the top of the container) is counterintuitive. The more airspace, the greater the chance of explosions. Not enough airspace will prevent your drink from carbonating. For a twelve ounce bottle, 1 to 1.5 inches of space is about right.

Glass bottles are certainly more dangerous, but also more elegant and allow better flavor. Use heavy antique bottles ("refillables") and use a capper, because they will withstand tremendous pressure before exploding. Do not use twist-offs, jars, jugs, growlers, or anything other glass containers. They explode very easily.

AltonB (author)Bindlestiff2011-04-20

I am familiar with "headspace" and the only time I have had bottles fracture was when there was not enough of it. I have bottled beer in everything from plastic to mason jars, and currently I use grolsch bottles (because they are reusable-not because of fear of fracture). The end product was basically the same regardless of what it was bottled in. To say a glass bottle is "dangerous" is a little melodramatic - if they burst - it is not likley to cause any more harm than a pain in the a.. cleanup. As much as we would like to make beer making a science - it ain't - all your doing is mixing soup on a diffirent level - and using rot to make alcohol. The rest is about how it tastes. :)

Bindlestiff (author)AltonB2011-04-20

Actually, beer making IS a science, but you're right that it can be just a hobby. I appreciate that not everyone wants to get so involved, and I certainly don't want to tell anyone what brewing should be to them. However I do want to explain why and how soda can explode, and why it can be dangerous.

I think you and I have had different experiences because you bottle beer while I do soda. Bottling soda is different in some important ways. Explosions are much more common as soda has much higher potential for carbonation after bottling because of its higher sugar content. Bottling beer in mason jars might work fine (I don't know; I have never done it) but bottling soda in them will cause explosions. For more explanation on this (and for more good soda information in general), I recommend Stephen Cresswell's "Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop". In fact, check any published literature about soda brewing and they all contain warnings about both using thin glass and about too much headspace.

I won't argue the point that beverages taste better from glass than from plastic. They do to me, but if you have no preference, then go on doing what you're doing.

Finally, exploding bottles ARE dangerous. Maybe your explosions have not been violent, but some of mine have. I once wanted to bottle in a growler to save time and bottle caps, and the growler exploded while it was in the fridge when the door was opened. I had used the recommended amount of fermentation time, sugar and headspace. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but there were bits of glass in the next room. Flying glass is dangerous and can cause eye injuries. In fact, read the comment below this from Pattus, who had an exploding bottle of soda destroy a refrigerator. If it can do that, I'd call it dangerous.

Maybe you are a better brewer than I am and have had fewer explosions, but I certainly don't want to be responsible for anyone who reads these threads to be injured.

FoolishSage (author)insomniaSAH2011-04-06

I have made beer at home before and this seems to be an analogous process. It essentially has two fermentation steps: First in an 'open' container (usually a 1 way valve) to convert sugar to alcohol (letting all the CO2 escape) and then in a closed container (such as the final bottle) to carbonate the beverage.
If the first fermentation consumes most of the sugars (a week or two) and you only add like a tea spoon per bottle, then the container should be capable of handling the secondary fermentation without a problem.

menahunie (author)FoolishSage2011-04-07

I agree with you 100 percent.
The thing is and many posters have pointed out is the glass container exploding.
Just think if your office as mentioned in one post container explodes and the boss or some one walking by is hit?
Beer making is done most of the time the way you mentioned. First stage you make "wort". Then it is done in a sealed metal container with it totally sterilized. The sugar already in it it the sole source of food for the yeast. Then when the fermentation gets to a point or stops you drain the "mung" sentiment from the bottom; while keeping things clean. This "mung" is the yeast culture or in this case the bacteria culture. Brewers keep this "mung" for future brewing. Then "bottled" and then letting the fermentation to complete. The process is more involved than I mentioned; but for simplicity sakes I just mentioned the two minimum stages.
One post let it ferment with what ever critters are on the Ginger. Not a real good idea since these "critters" ARE NOT YEAST BUT BACTERIA INSTEAD. Since Ginger grows in the ground the bacteria most likely would be Staphylococcus at a minimum.
The first "beer" was mead. Made similarly as this post but it was a sweet mushy mixture like wort. Set to ferment and hope they got it right to get alcohol instead of food poisoning.

CapnChkn (author)menahunie2011-04-08

There are no known pathogens that can live in the environment you are describing. If you were to ferment meat you might get that result, but the only recipe I know of that uses an animal product to make an alcoholic beverage is fermented Mare's milk from Mongolia.

Jobar007 (author)insomniaSAH2011-04-06

I've made this similarly in the past, and it might. That is a lot of sugar and they could turn into glass grenades. I kept mine in a box and lost one to pressure.

There are several ways to stopping the microbes from processing more sugar. The best way is to chill it to 34 degrees Fahrenheit (around 1 degree Celsius). That would either drop the microbes out of suspension or stop them from processing the sugar.

I would recommend instead of using a mystery culture to carbonate like in the steps above (and possibly skunk your drink) is to use something more reliable. Two good options are yeast for beer or whey from yogurt. The yeast can create alcohol and the whey will add a tang to the brew.

xanxer82 (author)Jobar0072011-04-08

Using some potassium metabisulfite and potasium sorbate as stabilizing agents may help.

Pattus (author)insomniaSAH2011-04-06

When I was a kid in a small town my parents had a grocery store. One year, one of the locals sold home made ginger beer in glass bottles in our shop. We had a couple of explosions in the shop and one customer had a bottle explode in her fridge and a sliver of glass pierce the refigerant coil. She had to replace the fridge.

It may not look as nice but when I make ginger beer I use the PET plastic bottles, either old softdrink bottles cleaned or ones Ive bought new from the home brew store. They take a lot of pressure and if they do burst are more likely to tear then explode.

If you wanted to gift them in the swing top glass bottles, I guess you could carefully decant it from plastic to glass with a tiny bit of sugar a day or two before.

CapnChkn (author)insomniaSAH2011-04-06

You are correct!  Yeast takes the sugar molecule, strips oxygen from it, and releases alcohol.  It starts in an aerobic environment, then scrubs the environment of oxygen utilizing the oxygen in the sugar for metabolism.

If carefully controlled the amount of sugar in the sealed container will allow the yeast to produce just the right amount of carbonation.  Too much the pressure goes beyond the breaking point.

I found out the hard way when I tried to keep outside organisms from invading my primary fermentation by screwing the top down and releasing it when I went by.  I didn't have the experience or equipment at the time.  The jug blew up, embedding glass into a solid oak desk, scaring the crap out of the dog who wouldn't come back in for days, and leaving sugar water flavored with sunflower petals all over the floor. 

Ivriniel (author)2012-08-23

So am I right in thinking you strained the ginger bug out before pouring the ginger beer into the bottles? Your mason jars appear to have the bug in it, while the final bottles do not.

If so, how long do you need to leave the bug in before straining it out?

mankros_dakren (author)2012-07-22

I have a (possibly stupid) question. Is this an alcoholic ginger beer, or is it a soft drink?

Ivriniel (author)mankros_dakren2012-08-23

Because it is being fermented, there will be some alcohol in it. Probably not much.

Editor_adp (author)2011-07-26

I just found a couple of swing-top bottles like these at a store called Tuesday Morning. It's a secong-hand store like Ross, TJ Max, etc. that sells miscellaneous stuff other department stores couldn't sell. So the best part is, they were about $2 each. With shipping the same are about $8 ea on Amazon.

Jhmdean (author)2011-06-22

Just finished the second batch of this. This stuff is delicious. I like a little lime juice as well to give it a little more kick. Thanks for sharing!

marccase (author)Jhmdean2011-07-08

Can you use pure lime juice? Also, is this drink alcoholic or is the "beer" in the name just a monicker? Thank you for your time.

Jhmdean (author)marccase2011-07-10

I'm pretty sure its not alcoholic or if it is its incredibly low. I've downed over a liter of the stuff in an hour and never even felt a twinkle. As for the lime juice, I just added straight lime juice to the mixture when I added the lemon juice. We like things with a bit of punch. You can taste the mixture and add it to you liking before bottling (probably before you stick the bug in) but remember it should taste sweeter than you like because some of the sugar will be eaten by the yeast and they pay you with carbonation!

marccase (author)2011-07-05

I know this may be a silly question but scanning the comments I didn't find anyone asking this. Is this an alcoholic version of the drink or a non-alcoholic version?

Sun Gear (author)2011-06-28

This stuff is great. I'm still perfecting my sterilization process so each bottle/batch has given my different results; however, It tastes great and i like to add some vanilla extract to make it more refreshing.

nrwright (author)2011-04-07

Am I missing something? Where are the pro-biotic ingredients?
Wouldn't the yeasty fermentation add to the yeastiness of the gut?
I'm not sure I understand.

jdougherty2 (author)nrwright2011-04-07

The ginger IS a probiotic. The yeast used in fermentation is from the initial ginger bug, there's no additional yeast added.

timbit1985 (author)jdougherty22011-06-27

a probiotic is a bacteria. Generally a lactobacillus or a yeast. The ginger itself isn't a probiotic, but the bacteria ON the ginger is.

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