My fun drink of choice lately has been the Moscow Mule. They are way too delicious and go down way too easily. So, naturally, I had to learn how to make my own ginger beer. If only I could make my own vodka. Maybe my next culinary challenge… Just kidding. Well, maybe not… if I can get my hands on a distiller. But I digress…
Making ginger beer is surprisingly easy. The process does take a few weeks, but I assure you that the end result is well worth the wait.
Homemade Ginger Beer
Yields 2 ½ liters
Tip for peeling ginger: use the edge of a spoon to peel with thin outer skin with ease.
- 3 cups water, plus 2 liters
- 2 tsp. champagne yeast (I found mine on Amazon)
- 3 lb. fresh ginger, finely grated
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus additional 4-5 cups
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ jalapeño, sliced
(Note: this recipe does produce an alcoholic ginger beer.)
Start by boiling and cooling 3 cups of water. This purifies the water, allowing the yeast to grow properly. To make your ginger beer “starter”, stir the yeast into the water until it dissolves. Stir in 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger, 1 tbsp. of the granulated sugar, the lemon and lime juice, and sliced jalapeño. Pour the liquid into a non-reactive (e.g., glass) container or jar and cover with a cloth towel. Place the starter in a warm spot in your house — this will help to keep the yeast active. However, make sure the spot is not too hot (yeast will die) or too cold (yeast will go to sleep and slow your process).
Each day for the next week, mix 1 tbsp. ginger and 1 tbsp. sugar into the starter until the sugar dissolves.
*Plastic bottles are essential in order to ensure the pressure that builds up does not break the bottle!
After one week, strain the starter through cheesecloth into a large, pourable pitcher. While the starter is draining, slowly heat to a low boil 2 liters of water with 4 cups of sugar in a large pot, stirring until dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved, turn off stove, and cool water. Using a funnel, pour the strained ginger starter equally into 3 empty plastic* 1 liter bottles.
Add the sugar-water evenly to each bottle already containing the starter. Test the sweetness of the liquid: it should be sweeter than juice. Don’t worry about adding too much sugar. Over the next couple of weeks as the ginger beer ages, the yeast will eat the sugar and convert it to CO2 and alcohol. Tightly close up the bottles and place back in that warm spot of your house. After two days, slowly open each bottle and release any pressure, close the bottles back up, and store. Continue this step every day for 2 weeks.
Final step: ENJOY! It’s finally time to open the bottles and sample your homemade ginger beer. Add any additional sugar or citrus juice if needed.
If you’re looking to try a new ginger beer-based drink, check out the recipe for my Moscow Mule-inspired cocktail: The Beauregarde