I decided to brew ginger beer the other weekend. For one, it’s an easy way to debut in brewing (ginger beer has a negligible amount of alcohol — 0.5% — which makes it easier to brew) and establishing one’s presence in the kitchen in general. Ginger beer also happens to be one of my favorite drinks (if you think you’ve tried ginger beer before, try Fentimans Ginger Beer and prepare to be gobsmacked).
I found very helpful recipes online and adapted them slightly to make the beer taste a little more like Fentiman’s: ensure a distinctive “kick” of ginger with hints of juniper. I did two batches — I wanted to try the first, then improve my process for the second one. The first batch took forever and the beer was too lemonade-y and not ginger-y enough. I improve my recipe and the second batch turned out to be a success.
The Recipe for 5 bottles (16 oz each)
- 10 cups of water — I used Poland Spring
- 1/2 cup of ginger juice
- 4/3 cup of cane sugar
- 2 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1 tsp of yeast — I used Fleischmanns Instant baking yeast
- A pinch of cream of tartar
- A couple of handfuls of juniper berries
I bought some fresh ginger root, peeled it and juiced it with a garlic press, chunk by chunk (each chunk was big enough to fit in the press).
I brought the water to a boil, added the ginger juice, the sugar, the lemon juice, cream of tartar and the juniper berries. I let the water boil for 10 minutes.
At the same time I reconstructed the yeast — I put it in a cup of lukewarm water with a teaspoon of sugar and let sit for 10 minutes.
I let the compote cool down, added yeast and poured into a large bottle (I used two large orange juice bottles). I covered the bottles with cloth and let sit for 16 hours, undisturbed in a dark, warm place.
Finally I poured the mixture into bottles (I used those flip-top bottles, they are great), sealed the bottles and let them sit in a dark, warm place for 36 hours.
I was very pleased with the result — the beer had the kick I was looking for, and the lemon wasn’t overpowering. Mind you, I was probably biased since I wanted the beer to work out, but overall it was a fun experiment. I think what would make it even better would be to use actual ginger beer plant.
I encourage everyone to try and do something in the kitchen. Brewing is an interesting offshoot of cooking — it teaches patience; but it’s still relatively easy to make. Even a poorly brewed ginger beer will no doubt taste excellent in a Dark and Stormy…