Ginger beer

A few weeks ago I co-hosted a baby shower for a friend. We cut out cute theme elephants, played guess the due date, but mostly ate yummy hors d’oeuvres and swooned over the baby bump.

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The best part of any party: a signature cocktail. We served Moscow Mules (alcoholic and non-alcoholic - for the kids and the pregnant lady, of course). If somehow you’ve managed to avoid every trendy cocktail bar around for the last two years, a Moscow Mule is a mix of ginger beer, vodka, and fresh lime juice. 

In addition to being very trendy right now, ginger beer is also delicious. We have a local craft sparkly-ginger-drink maker called Rachel’s Ginger Beer who sells at the farmer’s markets and has a stall at Pike Place. Her brews are awesome, but expensive!

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making my own for a while, and when I finally looked into it, it turns out it’s not that hard at all! I got my method from Sharon Biggs Waller who writes about all things old-fashioned. Check out her other ideas!

Fresh Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic):

1 cup unrefined sugar (apparently the less refined the better to help with fermentation, but regular granulated sugar will also work)

3-4” grated/micro-planed fresh ginger (about 2 Tbsp) - peel the ginger first. Fun tip: use the backside of a spoon to just scrape off the skin - it comes right off!

1/2 cup water

Boil these all in a pot until the sugar dissolves, then set aside to cool. While cooling, the ginger will seep into the syrup, releasing all its gingery-goodness. After ~1 hour, strain out the ginger bits through a sieve (hopefully you have one; I’m not even going to show you a picture of the shenanigans I rigged up to strain mine given that I didn’t have a sieve. Let’s just say a food mill is not really a good substitute…)

Take a clean 2L plastic bottle with a screw top, or a glass bottle that has a resealable lid if you have one (I buy lemonade at the grocery store that comes in these bottles and then save them for future use).

Fill the bottle half full of water and add:

1/8 t active dry yeast

Then pour in the ginger syrup you made in the first step (steeped and cooled for ~1 hour) and add:

3 Tbsp lemon juice

And fill the rest of the bottle with water. I can also highly recommend a funnel, which I also didn’t have, to make sure most of your ingredients end up inside the bottle instead of running down the sides. 

Shake it all up ‘til the yeast is dissolved. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days until it looks fizzy, then put it in the fridge so it doesn’t start to turn alcoholic. Drink within 1-2 weeks (if you don’t finish a whole bottle on the first taste like I did!).

Note: my sieving system was so poor that quite a bit of ginger made it through to the final product, which actually wasn’t a bad thing. Don’t worry if your brew is cloudy or has particles - they’ll settle out and won’t harm the taste.