I made about a gallon of homemade ginger beer.  It’s not perfect but it’s pretty damn good – if you like it spicy.

I was flicking through the Southwest Air in-flight magazine the other week and they had some cocktail recipes, so I shoved the mag in my backpack and forgot about it until last weekend, when I made a batch.  I just tasted the first glass, and it’s hot as hell but pretty good.  It’s gingery, lightly carbonated, not too sweet, and tastes a little too much of habanero.  I’ll make it again but modify the recipe a little.   Here’s what I’ll do next time:

  • Juice from 1lb finely grated ginger

  • Juice from 8 small lemons

  • 18 oz turbinado sugar (a light brown fairly unrefined sugar)

  • 80 oz water

  • 2-4 habanero chillies, halved and deseeded

  • Champagne yeast

Bring some of the water to boil and dissolve sugar. Add the juice from the grated ginger, lemon juice, remainder of water and habaneros. Stick it in the fridge overnight.

Remove habaneros, bring back to room temperature (I did it on the stove), bottle and add a little yeast to each bottle (I used 32 oz gatorade bottles, and about 1/8 teaspoon yeast per bottle). Cap tightly, shake really really well, and keep in a warm place for a day or two until the pressure in the bottle has built. Refrigerate to stop further fermentation.

Lessons learned from this try:

  • Add yeast directly into bottles.  Despite stirring and ladling I was left with the majority of yeast I pitched into the pan of ginger beer at the bottom of the pan, not in the bottles.  And they didn’t carbonate first time round.

  • Less habaneros – not that the hot and spicy is bad, but it tastes like chilli ginger beer.

  • Grating ginger continues to be a threat to the structural integrity of my fingertips, but squeezing the juice out of ungrated ginger is really difficult and in the long run probably more painful.

Next steps: handful of ice, twist of lemon, splash or two of ginger beer, and a slug of Woodford Reserve…