Ginger Beer is a carbonated drink. As its name suggests, it is ginger-flavoured1, though it is non-alcoholic. (If you want to make ginger beer with a bit of an extra kick to it then check out the Edited Guide entry on Alcoholic Ginger Beer.)
Ginger is a pungent spice made from the root of the ginger plant, though the stem of ginger is also used as a confectionery. The root is used to flavour ginger beer, at least in home brewed ginger beer, though in industrial ginger beer chemical flavourings may be used instead.
Ginger beer has a certain nostalgic quality and is often associated with picnics and the good old days. Anyone who has read Enid Blyton's children's book series The Famous Five will note that the four children and their dog are always having picnics of 'home-made ginger beer and macaroons'.
Do not, however, be put off by this image, for it really is a delicious drink, despite the connotations.
Producing your own ginger beer is very easy. It is produced in a biological process in much the same way as yoghurt. You will first need to create what is called a ginger beer plant2. It will be ten days before the first batch will be ready.
- 25g Dry yeast (50g of fresh)
- 2tbsp ground ginger
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- ½pt (300ml) water
If you are using dry yeast, stir the yeast in with ¼ pint (150ml) of lukewarm water and a bit of sugar. Leave this mixture for 10-15 mins. If you are using fresh yeast, which you can procure from certain bakers, you can skip this process.
Mix the wettened yeast with the sugar until they cream to form a liquid. Then add the ground ginger and water. If you used dry yeast then use only ¼pt (150ml) of water. Stir this mixture well and pour it into a jar with a loose-fitting lid, so as to let the mixture breathe. Now leave this mixture in a cool place.
The next day, and each day thereafter, add 1 level tsp (5ml) of ground ginger and the same amount of caster sugar to your jar and stir the mixture thoroughly.
After 10 days. dissolve 500g sugar in 1½pt (900ml) of water, bring this mix to the boil and let it cool slightly. Add the strained juice of two lemons to the water.
Strain your ginger plant through fine muslin and add the strained liquid to the sugar and lemon juice mixture, along with 6pt (3.4l)water.
Stir the mixture well and bottle it straight away in clean, sterilised plastic pop bottles, such as held lemonade. Do not use glass bottles as the increasing pressure of the fermenting liquid may cause an explosion. As the ginger beer ferments, over the next day or so, you may release the pressure by slowly undoing the tops. Keep a cloth handy in case of sudden gushes of beer. It should be drinkable within 24 hours.
To Make More Ginger Beer
Halve the sediment left on the muslin and divide it into two separate jars. Add ½pt (300ml) water, 2tsps (10ml) and 2tsps (10ml) caster sugar to each jar. Stir it well and continue the same process as before for ten days.
This means that the produce is doubled every ten days.
Ginger Beer is best enjoyed chilled and despite the cliché is also highly enjoyable on picnics.