How to make ginger beer!
It’s really easy.
But this is a comics site, so first let’s get thematic. When I think “ginger,” I think of my favourite webcomics redhead: Shelley Winters. (Not actually true, but a useful lie.)
Scary Go Round dot com is currently in Bobbins Now gear. I’ve mentioned my penchant for the many tales of Tackleford before. I’ve mentioned my deep-seated fondness for Main Girl Shelley (Expecting to Fly floppy copies review upcoming).
Well, this recipe is for her. Bubbly, sharp, refreshing as heck. Home-brew alcohol, so also “quite naughty.” Take it to the woods when you shouldn’t! Take a nip between finishing your last chapter and starting on the next! Mix it with rum for a Dark & Stormy, if you want to get into her sister-sister relationship with Erin. (Who else is feeling feelings on this subject right now? Talk to me.) It’s a versatile comparison.
Ginger beer is very easy to put together, no skills needed, but more than the sum of its parts. And I love it. A very Shelley kind of treat.
So here’s what you need:
- 1 chunk of fresh ginger: a 2×2 inch square, if you can. Figure out an equivalent, ginger can come in odd shapes.
- 1 salt-spoon or pinch of yeast (some will insist upon champagne yeast, but bread yeast is 100 percent satisfactory)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3-4 good squirts of lemon juice from a squeezable plastic bottle
- cold water
- 1 2-litre milk carton (plastic with screw-on lid). After using all the milk, I sterilise the carton with a tablet—look for the stuff people use to keep babies’ bottles healthily clean and follow the package instructions.
Here’s what you need to do:
Peel your piece of ginger; it shouldn’t be too troublesome (the skin mostly rubs off if you rub it hard enough). Grate it into a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice, cup of water, and cup of sugar. Heat the pan, stirring until the sugar dissolves and everything is super gingery. If it bubbles, that’s fine. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down. You don’t want it cold, you just want it cool enough that it won’t melt the plastic carton.
Strain and funnel the mixture into the clean, sterilised milk carton. Add enough cold water to fill it 3/4 of the way. If your carton is crumpled, that’s even better, as this will help you determine when the beer is fermenting well (the creases will pop out and the bottle will become turgid). Add your pinch of yeast. Screw on the lid, shake the bottle. Find a dark, cool place to keep it. If you live somewhere hot, stay tuned til the end for an IMPORTANT TIP.
Check your ginger beer every day. Once the bottle becomes turgid, loosen the cap to let the gas out. This is why we use a plastic bottle! If you forget, and it pops, there are no shards.
After three days, you should have some pretty tasty ginger beer. Start drinking it! If it’s not ready, or you don’t like it, adjust to your taste. More lemon juice? More sugar? Go for it.
Important tip! If you live somewhere very warm (and so, very fermenty), or if you only have glass-wear options for your beer making, you will need to introduce an airlock into the mix. This allows the gas to get out without air or bacteria getting in. You can buy glass or plastic airlocks fit for this purpose, of course, but maybe, like me, you are “not rich.” Here’s what you can do: use a condom!
Yes, the rubber johnny is useful in MYRIAD ways. Keeping the babies out! Carrying water really far! Serving as a brewery tool! So many thanks to Mister Durex. What you do is—this will feel counter-intuitive—you prick one single small hole in the tip of the condom. I KNOW. I know. But, just this one time. Then you slip the sheath over the neck of the bottle (fasten it with a rubber band if your glass cock is too thin). The gases produced by the fermentation process will inflate the condom, and oh my word it looks incredibly lewd. But instead of bursting your glass, excess gas will seep out of the hole and keep things safe and sound and tasty.
(Bonus tip: If you’re making wine, wait until the johnny deflates before tasting your product.)
Make it for all your family! A pint for everyone! And not a bad one among ’em.
Note: This is not a wildly alcoholic drink. The levels are really quite negligible, although don’t do anything you might like to blame it for, such as climbing a ladder holding shears, after indulging. It tastes exactly like you’d expect “ginger beer” to taste, only better, so do keep a watch on things if you make a large batch. Mistakes could be made.
Ahh, I trust ya.