With handcrafted cocktails currently vogue, it seems you can’t step into any decent bar without encountering a plethora of new concoctions. This is by no means a complaint as I enjoy reviewing the descriptions for something new and intriguing. One ingredient that always catches my eye is “handcrafted ginger beer.” Admittedly, I’m a feign for all thing ginger, and being a home brewer, I appreciate the process almost as much as the bold flavor it can impart to a proper cocktail.
Old School Drinks – Need Quality Anchors
While some establishments are very creative with their ingredients, to include ginger beer, it is ironically the more established drinks such as the Moscow Mule, an Irish Jackass, or a Dark-n-Stormy where ginger is properly highlighted. If you are not familiar with these three fantastic drinks, they are constructed with widely different spirits, vodka, whiskey, and rum, respectively, followed by ginger beer. Now, one could easily just pick up some ginger beer or ale at the local store, but crafting some in your own kitchen is vastly easier than you might think and infinitely more satisfying.
Now, a warning, the implementation of this article will in all probability lead to the complete annihilation of your taste for any of the mass produced products currently available. The writer and this magazine cannot held responsible for this loss and your reading of this implies you understand and assume all dangers therein.
Making your Own Ginger Beer
Before you begin, there are a couple small purchases that must be made along with the ingredients. First, a bottle for your handcrafted ginger beer to go into (eventually you will want to make more than one bottle at a time). Assuming you do not happen to have a bottle capper, you can pick up a couple of the self-capping style, such as those commonly encountered with Grolsch Beer, at a local market. While you’re there, grab some cheese cloth to be used in juicing your ginger along with a couple lemons and of course a ginger root. At a local wine/beer brewing supply store, pick up some champagne yeast. Only a small amount is required, so a pack or two will be plenty. While there, it is also highly suggested that you purchase some Star San sanitizer. This is a product used by brewers to prevent anything from contaminating the brew and killing the yeast.
The ingredients for a single bottle of ginger beer are simply 10 oz. warm water, 3 oz. simple syrup, 2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice and finally, 1 oz. fresh ginger juice. If you do not have simple syrup on hand, it can as the name implies, be simply made. All that is required is 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water mixed in a pot over medium heat (reaching a boil is not necessary). Stir lightly, but rather continuously until the mixture becomes clear, then set aside to cool. This will provide you much more than you will need, but it can be kept in the refrigerator for use in other cocktails.
Process Of Making The Ginger Beer
To begin, peel the hard skin off the ginger and cut into half inch chucks and place inside of a food processor.
Pulse these chucks until finely chopped, almost mushy. At a pace of a couple tablespoons at a time, spoon the ginger into the cheese cloth.
Twist and squeeze to force out the ginger juice into a measuring cup (this takes some work but isn’t hard). Continue this process until you have the desired amount of ginger juice.
Combine the ginger juice with the fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup and stir until completely blended. Mix in the warm water (about 70°) again until blended. I like to run the finished product through a strainer to collect any pulp prior to bottling.
Pour into your sanitize bottle, add about 1/16 teaspoon yeast directly into the bottle, cap and shake vigorously for at least a few seconds. Now it is time for nature to take its course.
Take your brew and place into a cool, dark location to let the yeast do its job of carbonating the beer. Generally three days is enough after which the bottle should then be transferred to the refrigerator for a further two days.
Your homemade ginger beer is now ready for use in a cocktail, or simply enjoy it over a glass of ice. Cheers!