Monday, February 27, 2006

Brewing of a Different Kind

I am pro-beer, but what I can't seem to get enough of lately is ginger ale. The kind of ginger ale that bites and gives me a sense of euphoria. Grocery-store-2-liter-bottle versions are too bland... the good stuff in 4-pack bottles gets too expensive.

So a girl must brew her own.

I think we forget that we can make our own soda. We're so apt to go to the store and buy it. It's easier and we know the taste. But those reasons are also lame and thus, so begins my experiment.

After I found this recipe online where kids were making it, I knew it had to be easy. So combine that recipe with one from a PhD in Chemistry and I figured I found a decent starting place.

First Attempt at Ginger Ale (makes two 2-liter bottles)
1/8 teaspoon of yeast (fleishman's as a first pass)
1/2 cup 105(degF) water
1T sugar

2 cups sugar
8T lime juice
10T fresh grated ginger juice (no pulp -- saved that for infusing vodka)
1T dried ginger powder (*did this only to one bottle)

Clean bottles thoroughly. Mix yeast with warm water & sugar and allow to sit around 10 minutes. Meanwhile, divide the amounts of sugar, lime juice and ginger juice between the bottles using a funnel (i.e. pour 1 cup of sugar to each bottle). Add a bit of water(~2c), cap and shake to dissolve sugar. Divide the yeast mixture into the two bottles, using water to rinse thoroughly (which is also added to bottles). If desired, add powdered ginger (I added to one bottle). Then add water to top (1 inch headspace) and cap. I left them at room temp all day yesterday and when I came down this morning they were pretty firm and I put them in the fridge. Seems you can let it rest anywhere between 24 hours and 6 days. Remember, ginger enhances yeast activity so keep an eye on it.

Started it yesterday; I'll keep you posted with how it goes.


  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    I wonder if letting your kids make homemade ginger ale (est 0.2-0.5% ABV, according to the PhD guy) in states with "zero tolerance" laws re underage drinking would constitute contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    I guess I better not give any overzealous nannies any ideas...


  • At 5:14 PM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Actually, that (somewhat) segways into a question I have for you.... what happens if you add alcohol to brewing beer? Does alcohol change yeast activity? Taste?

    I typically keep ginger juice on hand in the freezer... it stays nice and sloshy (read: easily spoonable into a drink) with the addition of vodka. What would happen if I add this ginger-vodka slurry to my ginger ale brew rather than ginger juice lacking the vodka?

  • At 3:52 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    I think it depends on the alcohol tolerance of your yeast. I don't know, but I'd guess that for regular old bakers yeast like you're using, it isn't as high as it would be for brewers yeast. But I could be wrong.

    In any case, it's not like it's that expensive an experiement.

    The issue that would concern me is how vodka would affect the flavor. But in ginger ale that's probably OK.

  • At 12:46 AM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Usually, I buy the 2 liter bottle and just add a big spoonful of vodka-laced ginger juice. Can't taste the vodka or feel it, but man it's tasty.

    Stong flavored ginger ale is heaven to me.

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Lisa said…


    Cracked one bottle open last night to no sound of fizz whatsoever. Grr. It was mighty tasty - albeit flat - ginger ale.

    So instead of drinking it straight, I used it as a ginger based sweetener for my "martini". By the third one, I forgot all about my failed ginger ale experiment. Go figure.

  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger Taryn said…

    Ohh, save some for me. I really want a ginger martini. Especially since we haven't had any hard alcohol at home since we moved here. Every time we remember to go to the liquor store it is closed. Why is it so hard to buy liquor in this state?

  • At 11:58 AM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Yeah, I thought the same thing. Why do liquor stores close at 6:30 here? And most (except one in Portland) are closed on Sundays. Seems odd to me in a state that's so fond of its beer... wonder if that's why beer's so huge here -- you can buy it in the grocery store or speciality market anytime.

    TJ, did I tell you I've started making slushies of all my 'martini' flavorings (in addition to the ginger I've now made slurries of both fresh lime juice & raspberries -- yum.

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Brian said…


    My understanding is that the reason it is so hard/expensive to get liquor in Oregon has a lot to do with how influential the brewing and wine industries are there.

    Oregon has the lowest state taxes on beer in the country (at least it did the last time I checked).

  • At 6:22 PM, Blogger Taryn said…

    Weird, I joked with Paul that it might have something to do with the beer industry. I guess I'd rather be kept away from liquor by beer than by religious crazies.


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