Recipe: Ginger Beer

My interest for the idea of making ginger beer came to me when I was looking through fermentation books when I was down in Portland, visiting Powell’s books. I never thought about making the beverage before then, but after reading about how easy it was, and that it took a lot less time than beer or mead, I was excited about the brew.

After looking at a variety of recipes, this one seemed to be best fit for my time frame.

9 cups spring or well water
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

You Also Need:
1 2-liter plastic bottle with screw top (soda water bottle that has been carefully cleaned work great).
A medium to large sized pot for heating water


I was pleased to know how easy this recipe was, and even while making the ginger beer, it was fun and refreshing to make. Smelling the mix of the ginger and the citrus together was uplifting and energizing. I couldn’t help but to think of my mom back at home while smelling the lemons, and remember her telling me just how smelling citrus can make you happy. I don’t fully remember the reason as to why this is, but all I can say is she’s right.

Lemons which helped to add flavor to the brew and also smelled incredible

Lemons which helped to add flavor to the brew and also smelled incredible. photo credit: Alana Mousseau

Most of the work and time put into this recipe came from grating ginger and waiting for water to boil and cool (just much less times than making homebrew beer, thankfully)
After preparing and gathering all the ingredients, the ginger, lemon and cream of tartar are brought to a boil, sugar is added, and then the mix is cooled to a temperature that the yeast can be added to.
After all this the pot is covered for three hours, covered by a kitchen towel and placed in a dark area.

Only some of the large amount of ginger that went into this brew.

Only some of the large amount of ginger that went into this brew.

Savannah and I decided to make this recipe together, but we experimented by using two different kinds of yeast. She used a dry “ale yeast” which we purchased at Rockytop Homebrew, and were told that specific yeast could be used to make a variety of beverages. This yeast was vacuum packed and needed to be kept in the fridge. I went on a different route, and used the average bread yeast you can purchase just about anywhere, which was not vacuum sealed, and could be kept at room temperature.

After our three hour wait, the area we left our brews in smelled just as it should- slightly sweet with high yeasty scent. We strained our brews from the ginger and lemon into our containers and sealed them. Within just two to three days, our brews should be ready!


Focusing on a local aspect of my project,
My ingredients I purchased came from a variety of places.
Organic cane sugar from Costco (grown in Paraguay) I purchased in bulk since I knew I would be using sugar more frequently in my recipes.
Lemons came from Safeway (grow in California)
Cream of Tartar (no provided location)
Organic Ginger came from the Co-Op, (Didn’t see a location)
and ginger purchased at Trader Joe’s (Thailand)
Water came from the tap (varied sources)
Yeast: Ale Yeast, E491 – (Canada), Bread Yeast (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)


Changes I would make for next time:
-Straining the ginger with a much smaller strainer.
I think the reason why the flavor was so strong was because the only strainer we had present still had large enough holes for bits of ginger and lemon to get through.
-Keeping the brew warmer. (I kept mine at 70 degrees)
Most recipes I read recommended around 72 and up to 80 degrees.
-Add another flavoring to the brew!
I’m interesting in experimenting with either fruit, tea or essential oils for flavoring

Recipe source:

Featured Image credit: Alana Mousseau

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