Food: Homemade Ginger Beer

Homemade Ginger Beer

I was watching an episode of River Cottage, a UK food show a few weeks ago and came across this easy method for making your own ginger beer. The same method could be applied to almost any flavoring that you might want. I recommend fresh ingredients over dried or artificial. If you are going to make soda yourself, you might as well make something as wholesome and tasty as possible. You can buy any soda you want at the store. Make this something different.

This ginger beer, like all brewed sodas, will contains a small amount of alcohol due to the fermentation that creates the bubbles. It is usually never more than 1%-2%, though.

WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MAKE THIS IN A GLASS BOTTLE!

If you do, it is almost guaranteed that you will explode the bottle, causing yourself quite a bit of danger and mess. Stick with plastic. Even then, keep it in a location that won’t be harmed too much from flying sugar water, should it occur.

Here is the River Cottage recipe. I will add my changes in parentheses.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes –
Ginger beer recipe

Date Published: 03/11/2010

There’s lashings of Hugh’s famous fizz all round on River Cottage Every Day

Hugh: “For this, you will need screw-top, 2-litre plastic bottles, which you have cleaned thoroughly using sterilising tablets.”

(I sterilized my bottle with a capful of bleach to a bottle of water. Swish it around and then poor it out. RInse with fresh water. I only had 1 .5 liter bottle on hand. It seemed to work just a well, although you may want to short the ingredients a bit to compensate for the small size.)

Per 2-liter bottle:

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp brewer’s yeast (I used the baking yeast I had around)
  • 225g caster sugar (I used 1/2 granulated sugar and 1/2 brown sugar)
  • 1½-2 tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 good tbsp honey

Method: How to make ginger beer

  1. Add the yeast to the bottle. With a funnel, pour in the sugar.
  2. Mix the grated ginger with the lemon juice and honey.
  3. Pour the ginger mixture through the funnel into the bottle. Now fill the bottle about ¾ full with water, put the cap on and shake the bottle until all the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Top up the bottle with water, leaving a 2.5cm gap at the top, to allow for production of gas. Cap the bottle tightly, then place it somewhere warm. Leave it for about 48 hours. Once the bottle feels very hard and has no give in it, your beer should be ready.
  5. Place the bottle in the fridge for several hours to stop the yeast working. Once the beer is thoroughly chilled, pass it through a fine sieve and serve.

© River Cottage Every Day

After about 48 hours the bottle was very firm and the bottom of the bottle had pushed out from the pressure. I placed it in the fridge for a few hours this morning and tasted it this afternoon. There was a burst of gas released when I opened the bottle, but the soda remained quite fizzy on pouring and drinking.

The soda was very gingery and a bit sweet. I might cut back on the sugar just a bit next time. If it is too sweet, you can mix it with sparkling water to match your tastes.

Homemade Ginger Beer

2 Responses to “Food: Homemade Ginger Beer”

  1. ditte frisk says:

    Hi just tried this recipe myself and I wonder whether fermentation can form methanol instead of ethanol. I know that methanol, even in very small amounts can be dangerous so just want to make sure that it is not possible since I’m going to serve it to guests on Friday ;
    Best the dane

    • dewelch says:

      Good question and I hadn’t even thought about it. I have made this twice now, with no ill effects, so I believe the answer is no. I also found this post on http://www.brewingtechniques.com/library/backissues/issue4.4/miller.html

      “Methanol in Home-Brewed Ginger Ale?

      Q: I have a serious question that I can’t find an answer to anywhere. We’ve been making lots of ginger ale and it tastes great – like Canada Dry with Everclear in it, only much better. But we are a bit worried. Given that ginger is kind of woody, is there a methanol danger?
      A: While methanol is sometimes made from wood (hence the name “wood alcohol”), you have nothing to worry about. Yeast cannot make methanol. The process of manufacturing methanol is completely different. It involves heating wood in the absence of air and distilling the fumes, which are primarily methanol. Ginger is indeed “woody” in texture, but the brewer’s yeast you use to make your homemade ginger ale is not capable of breaking down cellulose (the stuff wood is made of), and even if you introduced enzymes that would break the cellulose down to sugar, the yeast would just make ethanol out of it.

      I would be happy to demonstrate my confidence in the safety of your home-brewed ginger ale if you would care to submit a sample for sensory evaluation.

      Getting ready to do another batch myself, in fact. Good luck with yours!

      Douglas

  2. […] a sec on fermentation in the bottle to create the famous bubbles. You can use a similar method to make homemade ginger beer and fizzy hard cider, […]