Do-it-yourself ginger beer. It only takes four ingredients that you probably have on hand: water, ginger, sugar, and lemon.
On a semester abroad to London, I learned a few things. One of which is that I have an undying love for Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. Here I am, unattractively chugging the delicious ginger treat at a hostel. Huzzah!
Imagine my happiness to learn that you can make your own ginger beer that’s just as delicious as Fentiman’s AND it’s inexpensive and beneficial to your health.
You can brew your own ginger beer through fermentation, thus the fizz you get isn’t from added carbonation, it’s the fizz of a homemade probiotic. And don’t let the name fool you, there isn’t an appreciable level of alcohol in ginger beer. It’s a soft drink that you can enjoy with the kiddos.
You can use any bottle with a seal to store your ginger beer while it ferments. For mine, I used four one-liter swing top bottles that I purchased from Crate and Barrel.
Ginger Beer adapted from Sandor Ellix Katz’ Wild Fermentation
-a nice hunk of ginger, at least about 3 inches long
-about 2 cups of sugar
1.Begin by making a “ginger bug”. Add 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar to 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir and leave in a warm spot. Sandor Katz recommends to cover the ginger bug with cheesecloth to allow it to breathe, but I kept mine in a sealed mason jar. Either way works. Add 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and 2 teaspoons of sugar every day or two until you can hear your bug fizzing. Then it is time to get brewin’! Or continue to feed your ginger bug 2 teaspoons of ginger and sugar every day until you are ready.
2. The Brew (Yes, I did just rhyme. I am clever like that). Boil 2 liters of water. Add between 2 and 6 inches of grated ginger and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Boil for 15 or so minutes. Then cool your brew. Once it has cooled, strain and add the juice of 2 lemons, your strained ginger bug, and enough water to make your brew equal 4 liters.
If you’d like to start another brew, keep your strained ginger bug. Return to step one and add another 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, and 2 teaspoons of sugar to your ginger bug.
3. Pour your brew in seal-able bottles. Like I mentioned earlier, I prefer the swing-top bottles from Crate and Barrel but you can recycle any old plastic or glass bottle. However, be careful with glass bottles. I have read that the pressure can build so strongly that it is possible for the bottle to explode. My Crate and Barrel bottles haven’t exploded on me and I suspect this is because there is a teeny tiny space between the swing-top seal that allows the bottle to breathe only the slightest. Regardless of your choice of bottle, let it sit at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
4. Cool the bottle before opening. This is not just for refreshment sake, it is also to help stabilize the pressure of the ginger beer so that when you open it, it doesn’t spray a geyser of your delicious brew into the air and onto the ground.
5. Bust out the fancy glasses and enjoy your wonderful home brew!
Please share any of your home brew tricks of the trade or your experiences.