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The REAL ginger beer recipe!

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This instructable features making ginger beer from a real GBP plant, not yeast which has been in existance for probably centuries.  If you've drunk commercial ginger beer it's nothing like this, it has a much smoother, tangy, fuller flavour than the sharp crisp versions made with just yeast.

Oh how so many people have been fooled into making authentic, real ginger
beer!

Tsk tsk!

Traditional ginger beer was made using a ginger beer plant. This is NOT
something that you can easily make yourself - it must be possible to make
it yourself because someone hundreds of years ago by chance seems to have
created it. If a recipe calls for yeast it is not REAL ginger beer!

I have heard dark rumours that you can make one by blanching ginger and
leaving it with wild yeasts to ferment (just like a sourdough starter).
Why is this do you say? It's because a real ginger beer plant is a
symbotic relationship between yeast and bacteria creating a unique flavour
you cannot achieve with just brewers or baking yeast.

It is only in recent generations (read: 1887) that a gentleman called
Harry Marshall Ward looked into the sybiotic relationship and had he have
known it was going to pretty much consume the rest of his life, he'd
probably not have bothered. He named the process 'symbotic fermentation'.
I call it good beer!

It is however extremely difficult to get ginger beer plant as its use has
almost entirely died out. I assume from some of my research that it is
due to the WW2 where rationing made it almost impossible to maintain the
plant. Some did survive however as there are small countries that still
brew it traditionally and small internet shoppes which if you're looking
for it will sell it to you - but be warned, there are those who are
cashing in on your ignorance who sell you '100 generations old ginger beer
yeast' which is for all intensive purposes, just yeast. Just old yeast...

When a plant has made a batch, traditionally you could split it and give
it to friends, family or strange people on the internet.

So the first thing you need to do is go forth, find a supplier. There are
a few links on Wikipedia (thanks to a bit of fervent editing I updated the page anonymously a few days ago). Go forth, make purchases or put begging comments
in the bottom of this instructable and when I've got enough, I'll do my
best to send some out.

FYI unfortunately I've been terrible getting samples out to people (mine just isn't growing at present). Instead I'm going to post links to people who are producing good samples commercially rather than promising any out- T


 
 
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awray-13 years ago
Ginger Beer Plant
Ginger beer plant (GBP) is not what is usually considered a plant, but a composite organism consisting of a fungus, the yeast Saccharomyces florentinus (formerly Saccharomyces pyriformis) and the bacterium Lactobacillus hilgardii (formerly Brevibacterium vermiforme),[5][6] which form a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). It forms a gelatinous substance that allows it to be easily transferred from one fermenting substrate to the next, much like kefir grains, kombucha, and tibicos.[7]
The GBP was first described by Harry Marshall Ward in 1892, from samples he received in 1887.[6][8][9][10] Original ginger beer is made by leaving water, sugar, ginger, and GBP to ferment. GBP may be obtained from several commercial sources or from yeast banks.[11] Much of the "ginger beer plant" obtainable from commercial sources is not the true GBP as described here, but instead is yeast alone. This is not legally false advertising because there is no regulation defining GBP.
acarr84 months ago

Just a quick note to say the guy at gingerbeerplant.net is still selling and it's good stuff.

I got some, it took a little while (3 days) to come back to life but fizzing like crazy now.

Mac.uk1 year ago
I use to make ginger beer as a kid some 40 odd years ago. As far as I know the original "plant" IS started with yeast. It may be that when this was first invented it was a wild yeast on the ginger root that reacted to make the first so called plant, but it is the yeast which makes the plant grow, when fed with sugar. It doesn't turn to alcohol because it is open to get oxygen from the air and it therefore uses the sugar as food to keep reproducing and growing. I cant remember the exact process of starting a plant and I believe for ease people of the era used ginger powder. I think it would be a lot better and more authentic to use fresh ginger root but it is important to feed it every day with a teaspoonful of sugar and ginger, every day for 2 weeks to make it grow. If you throw the full amount of everything in at once and leave it, it wont work. You then halve the "plant", use one half for your recipe and re-grow (or give away) the second half. Once the original plant has been started, you never add yeast again so long as it is kept alive by being fed regularly, this is also why over time it probably mellows and takes on a different flavour. It would also be nice to experiment with different sugars, if anyone has the time.
tim_n (author)  Mac.uk8 months ago
Hi Mac - that's not how a true ginger beer plant is created. If it was, there wouldn't have been so much scientific interest in it.

You can make perfectly good ginger beer with yeast, but it'll lack the sour tones you get with a proper plant.
mcintirek tim_n7 months ago

I am quite new to making ginger beer (I'm planning to make my first one in a couple days). I am an avid homebrewer and am curious about the similarities. Wild yeast and sour notes have been mentioned a quite a bit. What if Mac.Uk's process was adapted using a cultured "wild" yeast strain commonly used to make wild sour beers (lambics, saisons, bretts, etc). I may try this out for my first try, but I have nothing yet to compare it to. If anyone has tried this it'd be great to let me know the comparative results.

moesboy3 years ago
even though it probably wont sit long in my house, about how long is the self life of the ginger beer if properly bottled
tim_n (author)  moesboy8 months ago
It's a complicated question that and one of the reasons it's brewed in small amounts. Because we're after a sweet flavour, lots of sugar is added. My general understanding of brewing is that the GBP will continue to carbonate until either the alcohol (its waste product) gets too high or it runs out of easily fermentable sugars.

If you bottle up and you've still got fermentable sugars or alcohol levels are too low and the yeast isn't dormant - you get bottle bombs. Keeping it in the fridge reduces this risk.

You could ferment out all the sugars, use a hydrometer to check the gravity of the beer stays stable for a few days then bottle with some priming sugar. The ginger beer should then last at least a year.
Nice Instructable.

My brew has come out at only 1.5%. I can't seem to increase this like you have, so must be doing something wrong.

tim_n (author)  shabbysquire8 months ago
Temperature, amount of sugar, light etc all play a part - as does time.
katalyst22 years ago
I've used the above recipe to make really top ginger beer.
Double the sugar weight to make a really good alcoholic gb - use 8 kg in 20 litres.
If you want a slight rum edge to the gb, just use raw sugar in place of white.

To make the starter is simple:
Bring a half pint or half litre of good tapwater to the boil and pour into a clean glass jar, about 2/3ds filling it. The jar should be sterilised with a little of the boiling water first.

Cover the jar with clean muslin.

When cool, add:
about a dessertsponful of sultanas or raisins
about a teasponful of sugar
about a teaspoonful of dry ginger

These 'abouts' are OK as quantities aren't critical.

Keep jar in a warm place around 25 degrees F until fermentation starts in a few days. If you carefully lift the muslin you'll see groups of bubbles on the surface.

Add each day:
a teaspoon of sugar
a teaspoon of ginger

Do this for about four days, when there should be full fermentation. Stop the additions.

When fermentation begins to slow down the mother is established and ready to use. It's the symbiote of yeast from the raisins and bacteria from the ginger.

Strain through the muslin and you have your mother.

Things that can go wrong:

Don't lift the muslin too often or stray bacteria or fungi may drift in - once a day is plenty, and anyway the growing activity can be observed through the glass.

Good luck!
tim_n (author)  katalyst28 months ago
I find it tops out with the sugar, though I've never bothered to measure the gravity. Like some yeasts, I'm guessing GBP has an upper limit to what it can convert. I tend to use parboiled fresh ginger - I find the dry ginger ends up contaminating the GBP.
Caulerpa2 years ago
Hello! I just received my GBP from gingerbeerplant.net and it looks wonderful but it didn't have any instructions with it (please don't hold this against them I'm sure they're very busy because of the holidays). How exactly does this work. Do you take the GBP and put it in a jar with lemon, sugar, and water and this BECOMES the ginger beer or do you put it in the sugar-lemon-water mix and just take some out when you're ready to make ginger beer? Is growing the GBP and making ginger beer one in the same or is it a two-step process is what I'm asking. Thank you for your help!
tim_n (author)  Caulerpa8 months ago
He tends to email out the instructions - they're pretty much as above.

You put the gbp in with the lemon sugar and water (And ginger - don't forget that). At the end you need to strain the GBP out. I use a sieve.
playback2 years ago
I was out in the garden today.
I had to remove some agapanthys, I knew there was a ginger plant as well.
Look what I found.
Jinger Plant.jpg
tim_n (author)  playback8 months ago
I wish I could grow ginger in the UK!
mspaeth2 years ago
I'm just getting a batch started with some GBP that a friend mailed me. I'm thinking that, much like you shouldn't re-use stressed yeast from a high gravity beer, that GBP that has been exposed to high levels of alcohol would be stressed as well. Perhaps this is why your culture isn't currently growing.

Also, I'm thinking that much like you leave a yeast starter loosely covered so it can breathe oxygen in order to increase propagation, using an airlock is not healthy for the plant propagation. Other instructions I read online said to keep it loosely covered during the fermentation stage.

Other instructions I have found are for creating only a mildly alcoholic beverage (0.5%). Perhaps, if an alcoholic is to be desired, it would be best to keep a healthy mother going from which pieces are broken off to create higher alcohol content batches.
tim_n (author)  mspaeth8 months ago
Currently it's not growing because of being dropped on the floor in a glass bottle. Bits of glass/drinking not a good idea. I've given up brewing GBP for a while, concentrating on making an electric beer brewery. I'll probably start again in 2015 when my son is old enough to appreciate it.
isaacwilk1 year ago
'Oh how so many people have been fooled into making authentic, real ginger
beer!'

In one sentence, you just killed about ten of my childhood experiences...
tim_n (author)  isaacwilk8 months ago
Glad I could assist!
rmbarret1 year ago
Can you use limes instead of lemons??
Anyone tried to sub that?
tim_n (author)  rmbarret8 months ago
I haven't, but there's no reason why it wouldn't work
gottesfeld1 year ago
Hi i live in miami florida and would like to start brewing ginger beer can anyone send me some REAL GBP my e-mail is (gottesfeld_1 ATT Yahoo DOT com)

p.s. when you bottle can you use a glass bottle or will it explode?
tim_n (author)  gottesfeld8 months ago
When bottling, you can use either glass or plastic. If using plastic, you can tell when it's over pressurised as the bottle goes rock hard - you can open and release.

Using glass it's more difficult. You should always leave an air gap and store it in the fridge. I wouldn't leave it in there for long though.
mdog931 year ago
Very good 'ible, i'm just interested to know how do you maintain you GBP, do your keep a bit to grow or do you buy a new one each time or once you have one is it good fro several batches?

be great if you could get back to me, in the mean time, i may try a yeast method
tim_n (author)  mdog938 months ago
Each time it you brew it grows/splits etc. After a few brews, you halve it and give it away, or freeze it etc.

Currently I don't have any GBP - a bit of an accident happened again (2nd time I've dropped it)
pt491 year ago
Anyone in Australia got GBP? I have made 25 litres with yeast, but would like to try this with a real GBP. I will definately share it as it grows too. freequest @ iprimus.com.au
akravitz1 year ago
www.gingerbeerplant.net make it clear on the website that they email instructions with confirmation of every order and if you didn't receive instructions it's because your email address was out of date or you didn't check your junk folder. If you contact them they'll happily send you them again as also explained on their website.
The Instructable poster is correct - a true 'ginger beer plant' does not involve commercial baking or brewing yeasts. However, a 'ginger bug' starter made with wild yeasts can also be used to make a tasty ginger beer. The 'ginger bug' method is described in Sandor Katz' book, 'Wild Fermentation' and Sally Fallon's book, 'Nourishing Traditions'; both methods are discussed in Sandor Katz' book, 'The Art of Fermentation'.

The ginger beer plant grows during the fermentation.
See my blog post on the ginger beer plant for more details.
rmbarret1 year ago
Ive been making some kombucha for quite sometime..... Wanting to try a new venture!
Anyone have GBP available?
Im located in Florida....

Also have kombucha babies if anyone local needs one!!

rmbarret@mail.usf.edu
yelve2 years ago
i'm also looking for some real GBP i have milk kefir, water kefir and spider plant babies i can trade. pm me
beadysam2 years ago
I am looking for ginger beer recipes for my son. My mum alays talked about a plant (similar to the friendship cake idea) but as a child I had no real idea what she was on about. I am going to make some with yeast, bu would love to make "real" GB using a plant.
Like so many people before me in these comments I am requesting a bit of GBP or `mother' to start my own. I am happy to pass on plant to anyone who wants it once I am up and running. I would guess that I will be making a lot as my son drinks a 2ltr bottle every couple of days!
My email addy is freeserveaddy AT gmail DOT com and I'd love to hear from someone please. I'll send you a little gift in return.
Thanks in advance.
SAM x
Pure Bliss2 years ago
I am so excited at finding this site as I have always wanted to make real ginger beer - in the past I have tried to make a plant using wild yeasts, but I see why my success was limited to soda pop. My mother has an inflammatory recurring disease called polymyalgia and I have read up that fresh ginger (and dried stuff too) contains a powerful anti-inflammatory. Unfortunately she also has Alzheimers, so I thought home made ginger beer would be a good way to hydrate her this summer (hopefully sunny and hot as we live in France) and simultaneously pump in the anti-inflammatories. I also have lots of lovely old fashioned beer bottles with ceramic stoppers and rubber ring..... if I don't use them my husband has threatened to throw them all away!!!!! Time to act, n'est pas? So I have the motivation (my mother), the bottles, and access to glorious clean spring water (we live in an area full of natural springs that supply commercial mineral water such as Vitel and Contrex).... all I need is a real gingerbeer plant - I would like a jelly one if possible. Is there any one out there who has a baby one for me? I will pay costs of course. My email address is cblakebohm.......AT.....gmail......DOT.....com - please no spam or nasty internet implants. Thank you so much and I await replies with genuine excitement. All the best, Claire
Yet another groveler here. Would love to get my hands on a real GBP (been a fan of the stuff you buy at the market for years so intrigued about trying the real deal!) and seems like all commercial sites are down right now. I live in Berkeley, CA and would happily reimburse someone for costs. My e-mail is jbuswellchar@yahoo.com

Thanks!
Hello! I am in France and would love some of the plant. Can you send some here please? Nobody has ginger beer here and I really miss it from England. I am happy to pay postage and packing. My email address is

bluebell.wood@yahoo.co.uk

Thanks!
katalyst22 years ago
OOPS....ERROR

Being downunder I got things upside down folks.

Temperature above should be 25 degrees CELSIUS, around 75 F is OK.
skywri4332 years ago
I would love to start brewing ginger beer. If anyone would be willing to send me some GBP, I would greatly appreciate it. I live in the midwestern US. My email is skywri433 at.... yahoo.....com. Thanks!
JMShell2 years ago
I have tried the soft drink version and loved it. I know this is much different but I also hate the taste of regular beer. If this is as good as everyone says it is I'm in! And I'm also looking for a new hobby to pick up. If anybody could send me about a tlsp of GBP that would be great and I would definitely pay for the postage.
Email: jasonmshell@yahoo.com
Grandpaw2 years ago
Forgot to add my email address. royhgrant@yahoo.co.uk
Thanks.
Grandpaw2 years ago
Hi, I haven't brewed Ginger Beer for over 30 years but now I want to start again. I gave my GBP that I got from my mother to a friend who has recently died so I can't get one back. Can anybody out there with a real GBP please let me have one. I will pay a reasonable price and pay for P&P if you want. Regards, Grandpaw.
pi773 years ago
hi folks... i was on my way to making my own ginger beer. i was going to try both methods. using the gbp from Retro Culture in the uk and using yeast.

unfortunately for me my house was broken into and trashed. needless to say all my ginger beer plant was destroyed.

at present i am not able to afford to order more from the uk so i am hoping somebody here would be kind enough to send me some.

thanks.

my email is pi@operamail.com
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