How to Make Delicious Ginger Beer at Home
Instructions for ginger ale are included in this guide as well so that those looking for a non-alcoholic alternative have an option for the kiddos.
Looking for a Non-Alcoholic Alternative for Your St. Patrick's Day Party?
Ginger Beer is an alcoholic beverage. If you're looking for a non-alcoholic alternative to traditional beer, you'll need to shortcut your process and leave out the fermentation. Because Ginger beer is fermented (the bubbles being produced by yeast), the bottle produces carbon dioxide and the beer becomes alcoholic. The alcohol content can be quite high in ginger beer (akin to that of a light wine) so bear this in mind when reading through the recipes and choose whether you wish to ferment.
In short, Ginger Beer is beer. It tastes different because of the spices in it, but ultimately ginger beer is still an alcoholic beverage.
Did you previously know the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer?
What is the Difference Between Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer?
The difference between ginger ale and ginger beer is the alcohol content. As with the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate, many Americans seem to make this mistake. While these beverages are similar to one another, there is a key difference. Like the cocoa butter in hot chocolate (vs. hot cocoa), the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is the yeast (and therefore the fermentation process).
All ginger beer has some alcohol content. It may be small thanks to a short fermentation process, but the alcohol content in ginger beer can be higher than that of a barley-based beer.
If you're looking for an alternative, you want ginger ale because it obtains its fizz from a carbonating machine and not from the yeast put into ginger beer.
Simple Ginger Beer Recipe
This recipe for ginger beer is simple and should be very easy to follow. Please make sure that you follow the instructions exactly: The fermentation process in brewing ginger beer may cause your bottles to burst and you want to make sure that you're paying attention to the pressure in the bottle you've used so that you can release it when necessary to avoid accidents.
It's not recommended to use glass bottles. Use plastic. It's easiest to rinse out a soda bottle that you bought at the store. Straight-sided bottles are best (such as Pepsi as opposed to the contoured bottles Coke comes in).
Note that the amount of alcohol in this recipe is negligible but to keep alcohol content in mind with ginger beer when you're considering making a different recipe or purchasing it. Processes vary!
(The longer you let the beer ferment, the more alcohol it will develop. If you consume it more quickly, you won't have to worry as much about alcohol content.)
- 1 Cup White Sugar, Make sure you use sugar! Alternatives won't produce the same effect.
- 8 Cups Filtered Water
- Freshly Grated Ginger, to taste
- 1/8 tsp Active Dry Yeast
- Lemon Juice, to Taste
- 2 Liter Plastic Bottle, Don't use glass!
Method for Making Ginger Beer at Home
- Peel your ginger and grate it finely. Add 1 cup of your water to a pot and place this over medium heat, then add the ginger and the sugar to the pot as well. Continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved into the water.
- Allow the sugar, ginger and water mixture to steep until the water has been sufficiently reduced, leaving you with a ginger syrup.
- Strain your ginger syrup to remove the ginger solids and discard the solids, retaining the syrup. This is the base of your ginger beer.
- Using a funnel, sprinkle the yeast into the two-liter bottle and then add your syrup and lemon or lime juice to taste. Pour the rest of the water over this mixture, cover the bottle and then shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients together.
- Store the bottle out of direct sunlight for 2-3 days to ferment. You may move it to the fridge at this point to prevent further fermentation (keeping it mostly a "soft" drink) or you may continue to let it ferment. If you wish to continue the fermentation process, release some of the gas every couple of days in order to prevent the bottle from exploding.
Adding More Alcohol -- Or Less
If you ferment your ginger beer for 2-3 days, you should get the fizz you're looking for without a lot of alcohol content, and the ginger beer should still be a good alternative for children when the grownups are drinking barley beer. It's up to you as the parent whether you're comfortable with your children drinking any alcohol, and those sensitive to alcohol should consider a different option (such as the ginger ale listed to the right).
For a higher alcohol content, ferment for longer. You may potentially need to add more yeast into the process, and you'll need to continually stir your beer in order to keep things working the way that they need to.
On the other hand, if you want less alcohol, brew for less time. Drink your ginger beer just as soon as it's fizzy enough to be a soda. This will give you the minimum of alcohol.
Ginger beer is considered perishable because of the fermentation process. If you want it less fermented (and less alcoholic), drink it immediately following its fizz.
|Serving size: 8 oz|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 29 g||10%|
|Sugar 29 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 0 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Estimated Nutrition Information
The nutrition information supplied to the right is estimated due to the fact that different sites had varying information on the nutritional content of granulated sugar. One site claimed that sugar had 0 carbohydrate in it (which is obviously not true) and with inconsistent values, the best possible results are illustrated here.
Sediment in Your Ginger Beer
Your ginger beer may produce sediment, particularly if you ferment it for longer or use a ginger bug (for soda making) in your ginger ale. This sediment is normal in the fermentation process. You may either strain the liquid back out (leaving the sediment in the strainer) or drink carefully and leave the sediment in your bottle. If you pour before drinking, you an avoid it altogether and use it for flavor.
How to Make Ginger Ale at Home for the Kiddos
If you prefer something that doesn't have any alcohol in it at all, it's quite simple to make your ginger ale at home as well. This can be given to the children so that they feel like they're consuming the same drink that the adults are when drinking their ginger ale.
While ginger beer often has a low alcohol content, you may wish not to allow your children to drink it even so. Ginger ale is a good solution to this problem and is incredibly simple to make.
You should already know how to make your ginger syrup from the recipe above. Add this to carbonated water (soda water) and mix well. Voila! Ginger ale! It really is that simple to make delicious ginger ale for your children to drink while you enjoy the alcoholic version of the drink.
If giving this to children you may wish to consider going light on the ginger because of its strong and spicy flavor.
How to Make a Very Strong Ginger Beer
© 2014 Becki Rizzuti