Good recipe for Ginger Beer?

Anyone have a good recipe for making ginger beer from scratch? I would like to make one that is naturally fermented (from a ginger bug) and has a nice, strong ginger taste, without being too sweet. Preferably one using honey instead of sugar (I don't have any sugar in the house these days)



IlovePhilly January 8, 2013
Thank you, Greenstuff. Very kind!
Geese, that's so great that you're getting into fermentation! It is completely addictive. You'll be making stuff you never dreamed of making in no time. I swear, it happens to everyone! As for the yeast/bacteria question, I'm not going to go into the whole thing, but yes, there are bacteria AND yeast involved in this process. There are tons of little bacteria living on the surface of the things that grow in the earth (l. plantarum covers a lot of it) and they are good guys (aka probiotics). When you put them in an anaerobic environment (under water) those bacteria activate and start eating all the sugars they can find. So honey can actually impede your starter from starting or even if that works, your ginger beer from fermenting after you have a starter. Depending on where you live (winter cold = slower fermentation), I would really give it a shot with sugar. Figure out where you're at and what things would look like, then you'll know when you try it with honey if everything is okay. Some people think it's "dangerous" (quotes necessary) to use honey because your yeasts/sugar/bacteria ratios can get out of hand. I have used just about every sweetener you can think of and nothing but good digestive things have ever come to me or anyone I know from eating my ferments. So go crazy! But it might be easier on you to give it a sugar shot first!

Greenstuff January 7, 2013
The blog is easy to find if you click on ILovePhilly's user name. It looks amazing.
trampledbygeese January 7, 2013
Please do link. Fermentation blog sounds exciting. I've been playing around with fermented foods alot the last few months... it all started when we had too many apples and a juicer :)

I'm also curious why the anti-bacterial properties in honey would kill yeast. I've heard this a few times, but I can't find any reason for it and . Unless yeast is a kind of bacteria?
IlovePhilly January 7, 2013
It is the simplest thing in the world! Since sweetness is preference, you'll have to play with that yourself, but you must have (real) sweetener in your recipe. The culture survives by eating the sugars, so without it, you got nothin'. :-)
For your first batch, you might want to use plain old sugar. You can totally use honey, but since honey has some antibacterial properties (which can negatively impact your "ginger bug") it's kind of a JV-level sweetener for ferments (IMO). My thinking there is that you see how the process works, how long it takes to start the bug, how long fermentation takes in your area/this season and what you like. Then you substitute honey. I have had honey batches of a few things fail (like the honey killed my water kefir grains one time, but the other 99 times I've used honey it's been fine), so it is a thing to watch, but it will probably be fine.
Also, if you're concerned about sugar, let it ferment longer. The sugar feeds your bug and is converted, so your final product has a higher alcohol content and less sweetness.

I'll link to the recipe on my fermentation blog if you like, but I don't want to be the creepster who links to her blog with no solicitation. :-)

Hope that's helpful!
Sadassa_Ulna January 7, 2013
I posted a recipe for a "less sweet" version of ginger ale but I never experimented with honey or other sweeteners. I think you could sub honey 1:1 by volume.
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