Introduction: Best Ginger Beer
There's nothing more refreshing than an ice cold ginger beer. That spicy and tart bite that ginger has is perfect for quenching thirst on a hot day.
However, no matter how many different types of ginger beer I try, I find all store-bought ginger beer to be more sweet than tart, and none of them are spicy enough for my tastes - even the ones that are labelled "extra spicy". There's a serious gap in the market for spice-heads like me for ginger beer that has great bite, but also tart and refreshing.
Taking matters into my own hands, I made what my taste buds consider the best ginger beer around. And, it was easy enough to make in large batches so I never have to run out!
Step 1: Recipes
There are recipes that involve fermenting in the bottle to achieve carbonation, but I wanted more control over the potency of my ginger beer, both in terms of flavor intensity and carbonation. For these reasons, the easiest way to make ginger beer is to first make a syrup and then simply add soda water to make the drink to your liking.
The ingredients are very simple for ginger beer, and you can modify them to suit your tastes.
For a tastier beverage, add:
The kitchen equipment you'll need is also fairly basic:
An alternative to adding canned soda water is to use a home soda water maker, which allows you to mix all the ingredients together in the bottle and then carbonate it. If you're serious about homemade drinks a sodastream is a must!
Step 2: Shred Ginger
To maximize the ginger taste we'll need to shred the ginger root, this will increase the surface area of the ginger and impart the most potent taste.
I used a cheese grater, as they are easy to use and everyone has one. Feel free to use a food processor or just a kitchen knife to prepare your ginger. The smaller the bits, the more surface area your ginger will have.
I very rough estimate is 1 root for every liter of syrup you'll make. You really can't go wrong with more ginger, so don't worry about overdoing it. Also, the ginger isn't what makes it spicy, so it'll never be too "hot" if you add more ginger.
Step 3: Combine Ingredients
Transfer the grated ginger into a saucepan and squeeze in the juice of a large lemon. It won't matter if the seeds fall into the pot, since it'll all be strained through a cheesecloth later.
Add in 2 cups of water to the saucepan. We're looking for enough water to cover the ginger completely, too much water will make the syrup more diluted.
Add 1½ cups of white sugar to the saucepan. This will make a modified simple syrup, if you prefer a sweeter drink feel free to add more sugar, or substitute brown sugar for white sugar.
Add in 1 teaspoon of cream of Tartar. Adding cream of tartar to simple syrup inhibits the natural tendency for granular sugar to recrystallize, there's also a side benefit that the cream of Tartar gives a smooth mouth-feel finish to the drink. While not required, it's an ingredient that once you use you'll understand why.
Adding peppers is an optional step, but it's what takes regular ginger beer into the most intense flavor you've ever had. If you're not satisfied with store-bought ginger beer and think the flavor is lacking, this is the cure.
Cinch the spice bags closed and place both bags into the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
Give the mixture a good stir to ensure ingredients are mixed well, then turn on the heat.
Step 4: Boil + Rest
Heat the mixture to a boil and then turn off the heat.
Stir by hand to ensure even distribution and allow to sit undisturbed for an hour to cool and steep.
Step 5: Strain
After an hour the mixture should be cool and the ingredients thoroughly steeped.
Gather a large mixing bowl, a strainer, and cheesecloth to strain the cooled mixture.
Place the strainer into your large bowl and then place a double layer of cheesecloth into the strainer. Pour the cooled ginger mixture into the cheesecloth strainer and completely empty the saucepan.
Allow the ginger mixture to drain for a few minutes, then gather the edges of the cheesecloth and pull together, tightening around the grated ginger.
Gently squeeze the cheesecloth to remove as much liquid from the grated ginger as possible, then discard the cheesecloth and grated ginger bundle.
Step 6: Bottle Syrup
Clean the glass bottles with warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
Using a funnel, fill each glass bottle. Make sure to stir the syrup between pours to ensure an even mix, as the syrup may settle.
I like using glass bottles to store my syrup as it looks very smart, and there's no carbonation which would be unsuitable for sealed glassware. These resealable glass bottles are great for keeping the syrup fresh and tightly sealed.
Once all bottles are filled, store in the refrigerator. Syrup will keep for about 3 months.
Step 7: Mix Yourself a Drink
Add syrup to your favorite glassware, then top off with soda water.
Start with about an ounce of ginger syrup and increase dosage to suit your liking after diluting with soda water.
This tart, spicy, gingery syrup is a great refresher. By having it in syrup form you can easily modify the intensity to suit your tastes.
This recipe can be easily modified to suit your tastes. Try brown sugar for a darker and more sweet syrup. Or, try a few other twists to make this syrup your own signature drink.
I'd love to know what you come up with, so share your results in the comments below.