Homemade Alcoholic Ginger Beer

March 11, 2014

Test Kitchen-Approved

Makes: 1 liter
Prep time: 504 hrs
Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm, filtered water (not too hot or you'll kill the yeast)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons champagne yeast
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, more to taste
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • 1 large glass jar
  • 2 clean soda bottles
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. First off, make a "plant" for your ginger beer. Stir the yeast into the warm water until dissolved. Add in 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 1 tablespoon sugar, the lemon juice, sliced jalapeno and stir to combine. The jalapeno will give your ginger beer that kick you can feel in the back of your throat -- if you don't roll like that, omit it. Pour into a glass jar -- one that's large enough for the liquid to fit comfortably, with a bit of extra space. Cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel and secure it over the jar with a rubber band. Place jar in the warmest place in your house. Next to your heater, near the refrigerator, or by a heat vent.
  2. Every day for the next week you'll have to "feed" your ginger beer. First off, feel the bottle -- it should be slightly warm. If it's too cold your yeast will go into hibernation, and if it's too hot it could kill your yeast. Take off the towel and add another tablespoon of grated ginger, and another tablespoon of sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves, then replace the towel and put your plant back in a warm place. Do this every day for a week -- think of it as your neighbor's dog you've promised to dog sit.
  3. After about a week, you should see small bubbles floating to the surface of your plant. You can certainly keep your plant at this stage longer; the more you feed it, the more concentrated the ginger flavor will become. You can adjust flavors later!
  4. Now it's time to bottle. Think ahead to how many bottles of ginger beer you'll want to make. Make sure to use PLASTIC soda bottles -- glass bottles could explode from carbonation, which would not be pretty. Estimate how much water you'll need to fill these bottles 3/4 of the way full, then boil it to purify. Dissolve enough sugar into the water that it tastes very sweet -- as sweet as soda. You can adjust this later as well.
  5. Using a cheesecloth, strain the plant out into a large measuring cup, or a bowl. Using a funnel, add about a cup of the plant liquid to each clean, dry soda bottle -- more if you want it stronger, less if you want it less intense. Add sweet water to the bottles until they are 3/4 of the way full, then stir with a chopstick to combine. you can dip your finger in and taste here to see if the mixture needs more ginger. If so, add more plant liquid. Don't worry if it seems too sweet: the yeast will eat the sugar and turn it to alcohol, so most of it will disappear. You can add it back later.
  6. Seal the bottles tightly with their caps and place them back in the warm place you had your plant. Squeeze the bottles once a day to test how they're carbonating. After a few days they should be hard to compress; when they are impossible to compress at all, slowly start to unscrew the cap just until the carbonation begins to release -- do not open it all the way! Do this whenever you can't compress the bottle at all.
  7. After a week and a half to two weeks, the yeast should have eaten up most of the sugar in the bottle. This means your ginger beer is ready to open up and taste! If you have multiple bottles, open one up and taste test. Add more sugar or lemon juice if you think your ginger beer needs it. Serve ice cold with citrus, and a rum float if you're feeling dangerous. Make sure to consume the whole bottle within 24 hours once you've opened it -- feel free it enlist a friend here. It's impossible to gauge the alcohol content of your ginger beer, but it should be a bit less than a light beer. Enjoy!

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Reviews (23) Questions (3)

23 Reviews

Dave P. August 7, 2016
Bottled mine yesterday and it already tasted great. I added a red chilli which has given it a lovely kick. Measurements are all a bit "guessy", but I used a hydrometer and think it could end up being around 4.5-5.5% abv (If all the sugar is converted). My thinking is that as soon as it is carbonated it's ready to drink, depending on how sweet you like it and how much alcohol you want it to have? Remember that at this early stage, your kids will love it too!
 
Dave P. August 7, 2016
Early stage meaning " a day or two". I don't let my kids drink alcohol, apart from very tiny samples!
 
Linda R. January 12, 2016
I made this, so spicy and delicious! I sweetened with Agave and added lime juice. Perfection! Jalepenos add a nice kick.
 
Patrick B. November 12, 2015
This recipe drove me nuts because the details got a little fuzzy towards the end of the steps. <br /><br />I haven't sampled the final results but I made this recipe with one 2-Liter and one 1-Liter bottle and had some additional left over to keep the plant going.<br /><br />I used 1 cup of the strained ginger liquid and 1 cup of sugar for each liter.
 
Sorley B. January 21, 2015
I made this recipe as written and opened the first bottle today. It's fantastic! Served it to four friends and they loved it and plan to make it themselves. Perfect, simple, and really fun to make my first home brew.
 
monica_m August 29, 2015
I've got the plant going right now and am a couple of days away from bottling it. Does it take the entire plant to make 1 liter? Or is it potent enough for 2L or more?
 
avzdean January 20, 2015
Most other recipes ive seen there is some sort of heating process, but yours doesnt have any heating directions. am i correct in this interpretation? or does the plant start on the stove or something that im missing?
 
Glenda D. October 17, 2018
I read at the start to warm water with sugar But only warm not hot
 
Rebecca July 3, 2014
Can I use a glass carboy instead of plastic bottle, if I have a 1-way airlock, or do you just say plastic so that I don't have to make an equipment investment? Also, if I wanted to make this an alcoholic beverage, would I just need to add more sugar? Thanks!
 
Jacob May 29, 2014
Hey Catherine and People who have made this recipe before! Just wondering if there is any advice from you guys about doubling the batch or if there is anyway to keep the plant going on the counter? thx
 
Bonnie April 19, 2014
I made this and it turned out pretty good. It was overpoweringly gingery- so string that if you inhaled while drinking your eyes would water. I ended up mixing equal parts of ginger beer with sugar water to make it more palatable. I am about to start a second batch and I'm going to skip adding more ginger each day to see if that makes a difference. A suggestion I'd make is having more specifics on measurements. Originally I was going to bottle in two liter bottles, then ended up doing one liter bottles. I believe the author was intending even smaller bottles like 20 oz soda bottles. I had made too much sugar water (trying to best guess) so I decided to put the rest of the sugar water back in the "plant" and see if it woukd continue to ferment since a lot of yeast got left in the ginger mixture. I've now bottled this second generation stuff and waiting to see how it turns out. It's definitely taking longer yo carbonate (only releasing the air every 3-4 days so far). It's almost like having a yeast starter for friendship bread. All in all, it was a fairly easy thing to make and really fun to share the end results. Thanks for the recipe!
 
KarensKuisine October 30, 2014
There is measurements.....Did you use the 1Tbl of ginger and 1 Tbl of sugar ? Maybe that was the problem.
 
KarensKuisine October 30, 2014
Easiest way to figure your water would to be to fill the bottles with water minus head room and ginger bug water...
 
KarensKuisine October 30, 2014
Sorry, they call it a plant some call it a bug. You can also make it with wild yeast like natural sour dough is made.
 
Neil M. September 8, 2015
I've done this in glass beer bottles with no ill-effects. I've used the Grolsh, (or similar flip top resealable bottles). If you have previous brew experience, you'll be fine. If you're worried about exploding bottles, put the batch in an out of the way place. I've been brewing for 30 years, and have never had a bottle explode. If you're REALLY worries about exploding bottles, us champagne bottles.
 
Dave P. August 7, 2016
Surely, by far the simplest way to work out how much water you'll need is by measuring the ginger solution, dividing it by the number of bottles you're using and working out the remaining capacity?! That's what i did! However, the amount of sugar to make it sweet enough, is purely guesswork from this recipe.<br />
 
Dave P. August 7, 2016
I think mine was about 100-150 grams to 750 ml. ( I'll know if it's right or not when I drink it in a couple of weeks?)
 
Abby L. April 5, 2014
Would it be unwise to bottle it in a glass beer bottle or other glass jar?
 
Maggie April 2, 2014
wtf. catherine lamb? i see you catniss…
 
Maggie April 2, 2014
my kitchen ambition always exceeds my ability to turn out recipes, but i'm gonna tackle this because awesome. i will use all my karma points. has anyone tried this, yet?
 
Bryan March 17, 2014
Hydrometers are widely available online from home brew retailers. Also it's important to stress sterilization when dealing with yeast, wash everything frequently and keep your hands clean.
 
John March 15, 2014
It's hardly impossible to test the alcohol level of your homemade ginger beer - a simple Hydrometer (<$10, available at your local homebrew/winemaking supply store or Amazon) will accomplish this. Take a reading when you add your "plant" to your sugar water before you cap it. This is your Original Gravity. Take a second reading when you open your test bottle. This is your Final Gravity. Use the chart that's probably included in the package or is easily findable online to determine alcohol content.
 
Dave P. August 7, 2016
But calculating it from the "plant" which you've been feeding for a week or two, does make it more complicated, if you're not an expert brewer!