Ginger Ale (Ginger Beer)

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A couple summers ago my wife brought me home a 6 pack of Crabbies ginger beer. I fell love with it. It was the perfect, light, sweet drink to quench my thirst on a hot summer day. Since I'm into home brewing I set out to make my own summer time ginger drink. I pulled from a number of recipes and references around the net got started. What I ended up with was closer to a ginger ale than Crabbies, but it was still pretty good.

NOTE: This recipe may produce alcoholic beverages. Drink responsibly, at your own risk, and only if you are of legal age.

References

The Basics

The Plant

Almost every reference or recipe I found started by making what they called the plant. I'm not sure why they call it the plant, but it's a mixture of ingredients and yeast allowed to grow for a week or so before beginning the fermentation process. You'll add ginger and sugar each day to feed and grow your plant.

NOTE: The plant that I've described here is not officially a ginger beer plant. From what I've read, a ginger beer plant cannot be made, but has to be grown from existing ginger beer plant. I've also read that it's bad carma to buy ginger beer plant and that it has to be given as a gift.

The Ferment

After a week it's time to being the fermenting/carbonation process. Several of the recipes I found called for doing this in plastic bottles, 2 liters, or similar. Since I have a homebrew setup I use a fermentation bucket with airlock. It's important to remember, if you go the plastic bottle route, to to release the pressure every day by loosening the cap. Otherwise you run the risk of the bottles exploding making a sticky mess. Keep a good handle on the cap too, as I've read reports of it shooting off when you go to loosen it.


Whether you use a fermentation bucket or plastic you'll want to start by mixing 4 gallons of water with 4 pounds of sugar. You'll want to remove chlorine from the water first by boiling it or letting it sit out for 24 hours.


Strain the liquid from your plant into this sweet juice and let it ferment for a week or two. I like to add more yeast here to ensure a good ferment. You'll know it's fully fermented when it mostly stops producing pressure in your bottles or bubbles in your fermentation bucket.

The Finish

With the fermentation fineshed you're in the home stretch. Add 5 ounces of priming sugar to your ginger beer and bottle it up. Let it carbonate for a week and then refrigerate. Once chilled, enjoy!


My Recipes

First Try

This turned out pretty good and very, very sweet. The cane sugar gave it a very distinct taste. I'm not sure if it was due to using champagne yeast or if this is typical, but these turned out very bubbly.

First Recipe

  • Mix in a mason jar:
    • 1200 mL water
    • 2 tsp yeast
    • 4 tsp powdered ginger
    • 8 tsp cane sugar
    • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
    • 20 raisins
  • Cover with cheese cloth and a rubber band to keep any bugs out.
  • Each day for a week add:
    • 4 tsp powdered ginger
    • 8 tsp cane sugar
  • Strain the liquid from your plant into a fermentation bucket and mix with 4 gallons of water and 4 pounds of cane sugar. Seal with an airlock to allow co2 to escape and keep air out. Let this sit for about 2 weeks.
  • Siphon to a bottling bucket, add 5 ounces of priming sugar, and bottle.
  • Let the bottles carbonate for a week. You may want to put them inside a plastic tub or tote just in case any of them blow. After a week refrigerate and enjoy.

Second Try

For my second try I went with shredded ginger root and fresh lemon juice and zest. I also used white sugar instead of cane in hopes of bringing out more of the ginger flavor with a hint of lemon. I also used ale yeast instead of champagne to cut down on the bubbles a bit. I'm afraid I may toss this batch. I think it came out with a higher alcohol content (not sure because I always forget to take og readings in the beginning), but it has a bit to strong of a citrus flavor/kick for my liking. I think the cane sugar helps to mellow/mask this a bit.

Second Recipe

  • Mix in a mason jar
    • 1000 mL (4 cups) water
    • 1 pack of ale yeast
    • 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
    • 8 tsp white sugar
    • juice of 4 lemons
    • lemon zest
    • 20 raisins
  • Cover with cheese cloth and a rubber band to keep any bugs out.
  • Each day for a week add:
    • 4 tsp fresh grated ginger
    • 8 tsp white sugar
  • Strain the liquid from your plant into a fermentation bucket and mix with 4 gallons of water and 4 pounds of cane sugar with a pack of ale yeast. Seal with an airlock to allow co2 to escape and keep air out. Let this sit for about 2 weeks.
  • Siphon to a bottling bucket, add 5 ounces of priming sugar, and bottle.
  • Let the bottles carbonate for a week. You may want to put them inside a plastic tub or tote just in case any of them blow. After a week refrigerate and enjoy.

Third Try

Next I found a recipe posted by Catherine Lamb on food52.com. It was fairly similar to the other recipes with one major difference. It calls for jalapeños! Anyone who's had store bought ginger beer may have noticed that little bite it has. I was hoping this recipe with the added jalapeños would get me closer to a crabby's clone. Unfortunately it did not turn out too well. I think the jalapeños gave it more of an off flavor than spicy kick.

Third Recipe

  • Mix in a mason jar
    • 2 1/2 cups (600 mL) water
    • 1 pack of champagne yeast
    • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
    • 1 tbsp of sugar (I made a mix of half cane sugar, half white granulated sugar)
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 4-5 jalapeno slices
  • Cover with cheese cloth and a rubber band to keep any bugs out and store in a warm location
  • Each day for a week add:
    • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
    • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Strain the liquid from your plant into a fermentation bucket and mix with 2 gallons of water and 2 pounds of cane sugar/white sugar mix. Seal with an airlock to allow co2 to escape and keep air out. Let this sit for about 2 weeks.
  • Siphon to a bottling bucket, add 5 ounces of priming sugar, and bottle.
  • Let the bottles carbonate for a week. You may want to put them inside a plastic tub or tote just in case any of them blow. After a week refrigerate and enjoy.

Fourth Try

Finally, I found a Wellness Mama's Natural Ginger Ale. This recipe gets back to the basics. I decided to ditch the process of growing a ginger bug and go straight to fermenting with brewers yeast this time. The first time I used this recipe I forgot to use the conversion for lemon/lime juice from concentrate. It turned out good for making moscow mules, no extra lime juice needed, but not great for straight drinking. I also like my ginger beer a little sweeter, so I increased the cane sugar by a cup.

Fourth Recipe

Mix in a large pot

  • 4 cups water (The actual amount of water at this point isn't important. You just want enough to be able to easily mix in the sugar and ginger.)
  • 2 cups of lime juice (or 2/3 cup of lemon juice from concentrate)
  • 2 cups of lemon juice (or 2/3 cup of lime juice from concentrate)
  • 4 teaspoons of Sea Salt

Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in:

  • 3 cups of white granulated sugar
  • 4 cups of cane sugar
  • 12 tbs (4 x 1.5 Oz Containers) powdered ginger

Allow to boil for a total of 15 minutes.

  • Pour your "plant"/"wert" into a fermentation bucket and add water to make 4 gallons. Allow the mixture to cool before adding an 11 gram English Ale yeast pack and a box of raisins. Seal with an airlock to allow co2 to escape and keep air out. Let this ferment for 2-3 weeks.
  • Siphon to a bottling bucket, add 5 ounces of priming sugar, and bottle.
  • Let the bottles carbonate for 1-2 weeks. You may want to put them inside a plastic tub or tote just in case any of them blow. Then refrigerate and enjoy.

Enjoy and feel free to report any problems or suggestions to longet@spider.dnsdojo.net.