How to Make Ginger Beer
What is Ginger Beer?
Reading Time: 3 minutes
When we were kids and would complain about a stomachache, Mom would give us a glass of ginger ale to help stop the rumblings and pain. Fast-forward to today, and ginger beverages have grown up and become quite trendy and that’s when I learned how to make ginger beer. Not only is ginger beer refreshing, it’s much healthier than most carbonated drinks. Why? It’s all about the root, which is actually a rhizome. Ginger root is key to making ginger beer. It contains anti- inflammatory benefits, along with minerals and, of course, compounds that help quell nausea and soothe the tummy.
The bonus here is you can learn how to make your own ginger beer at home. It takes a few ingredients and only one day to ferment to develop a flavorful drink, teeming with good probiotics.
Ginger beer is not a real beer, since it contains no grain. But because ginger beer uses yeast in the quick fermenting process, we call it a “beer.” The alcohol content is so minimal that the FDA classifies it as non-alcoholic.
Naturally fizzy with a sweet and spicy bite, the original recipes I found called for wine/champagne yeast. I didn’t have any, so I used regular bread yeast. The second time I splurged and bought wine yeast and used that. Guess what? The ginger beer made with wine yeast had a more refined flavor, but both worked great. I hope you try this recipe!
I used 1½ cups sugar, since as it ferments, it becomes less sweet.
8 oz. fresh ginger or frozen root, thawed, peeled a bit, and coarsely chopped
7-8 cups water
1 to 1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon molasses, honey, or maple syrup
¼ to ½ cup fresh lemon juice or more to taste
¼ teaspoon (I used a heaping ¼ teaspoon) wine or regular active dry bread yeast
1 container with enough space for fermentation, covered
1. In a blender, pulse ginger with 1-quart water until roughly puréed.
2. Combine ginger water, 3 to 4 more cups water, sugar, and molasses in pot over medium heat. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves completely.
3. Remove from heat and let cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.
4. Stir in lemon juice to taste.
5. Line a funnel with coffee filters (3) or double cheesecloth to strain liquid into container. Press on solids. I used a big glass jar. A big plastic soda bottle works, too. There should be 3” or so of space left on top for fermentation.
6. Sprinkle yeast on top of liquid. Give it a good couple of stirs.
7. Cover with lid. Position it so a tiny bit of air can come in. (The original recipe said to seal tight, but I was afraid of jar bursting.)
8. Let ferment/sit at room temperature for 12 hours or so. Mine sat a full 24. The longer it ferments, the more “beery/yeasty” it tastes.
9. After fermenting, pour into bottles, leaving air space at the top, seal and store in refrigerator. I don’t seal mine real tight.
10. Drink within two weeks. Can be used as a base for cocktails.
How to Choose the Best Ginger Root
Pick firm, plump root. Break off what you want if the root is large.
Freeze root up to six months.
What are those little “bumps” on ginger root?
When you see bumps/eyes/swellings on ginger root, that means it’s starting to sprout. Pot up the root a couple of inches in good soil, with bumps pointing up. Water well. Grow in sunny window or outdoors in dappled sun. Be patient. Eventually, lance-like leaves will grow from the root. Makes a lovely houseplant for clean air indoors. Yes, you can harvest the new roots that form!
Ginger Beer Tips
Ginger ale vs ginger beer:
Ginger ale is a carbonated beverage. Ginger beer is fermented.
Wine yeast vs bread yeast: What’s the difference?
Wine yeast has a very high alcohol tolerance, while bread yeast has a lower tolerance, which makes bread yeast just fine for ginger beer.
If you’re looking for a warm, soothing drink during the colder months, try making some ginger tea.
Have you made ginger beer? What kind of yeast did you use? Do you have any other helpful tips? We would love to see your comments below!
Originally published in Countryside Hands-On Homesteading Special Issue 2020 and regularly vetted for accuracy.