Ginger Beer

Introduction

Ginger beer is not terribly (SCA) period, but nonetheless it's fairly easy to make and has been very popular at SCA events at which I've distributed it. This is a recipe I found on the Internet (I don't remember where), modified to use metric measurements and to make greater quantities. It is similar to the way my parents used to make ginger beer when I was young.


Recipe

(To make seven litres)     (To make thirteen litres)
Plant
1 packet dried brewing yeast 1 packet dried brewing yeast
250 mL warm water 250 mL warm water
7 tsp sugar 7 tsp sugar
7 tsp powdered ginger 14 tsp powdered ginger
Beer
1 ginger beer plant (above) 1 ginger beer plant (above)
6 L water 12 L water
2 lemons 4 lemons
1 kg sugar 2 kg sugar

Plant. Dissolve the yeast in the water, and add one teaspoon of sugar. Add one teaspoon of ginger if making seven litres, or two teaspoons of making thirteen litres. Leave covered, and every day for six more days add one teaspoon of sugar and one (for 7L) or two (for 13L) teaspoons of ginger. The plant is now ready for use.

Beer. Dissolve the sugar in the water over heat. Add the liquid from the plant and the juice of the lemons, and mix together. Bottle the beer. According to the original recipe, the beer is "ready to drink in five days but is better after two or three weeks or even more". I have drank it after as little as three days but more usually drink it after a week or two.


Notes

Gassiness. Ginger beer is notorious for causing explosions. I've never had a bottle explode, but the beer can be under quite high pressure when bottled and it pays to watch where you are pointing when opening the bottle. Keeping the bottle in the refrigerator will reduce the pressure in it.

Recycling your plant. Once you have drained the liquid from your plant to make beer, you can continue the plant by adding another 250 mL of warm water, then feeding it with sugar and ginger once per day as before. The yeast from the original plant will continue to live and, after another week, you will have another plant ready. You can also divide the sediment of a drained plant into two, and make two plants.

Larger quantities. It may be possible to make larger quantities by making linear increases in the amount of ginger, beer water, lemons and beer sugar used, but the above quantities for thirteen litres are the biggest I have tried using one plant. To make larger quantities, I start with one plant, make one quantity of the above recipe, and store this in a container large enough to hold a triple quantity. I divide the original plant in two and use it (as for recycling, above) to make a double quantity, and mix this with the first batch. To make even larger quantities I simply start with two (or more) plants and make the recipe two (or more) times.

Alcohol content. I have read that ginger beer made this way typically contains 1-2% alcohol but I have never measured mine. Judging by my level of drunkenness (i.e. not very, if at all) after drinking ginger beer, I would say the alcohol content is quite low.

Mixers. For something more alcoholic, I often mix the ginger beer with a little whisky. Mixing ginger beer and ginger wine in equal proportions also gives a very good drink.