Ginger Beer

One fortuitous day, I was taking my afternoon walk around the office and I ran into my friend Terry Bates in the breakroom. He had an interesting bottle of yellow liquid with him. When I asked about it, he let me try his homeade ginger beer. It was super good. He has since given me a video to watch and some notes on it. Maybe I can try to make my own this weekend...

YouTube Tutorial

Terry's Notes

Expect the bug to look a bit "grotty" when it is active; bubbles on the top, audible "fizz," and bubbles when you stir with wooden spoon. You can grab, wooden spoon to stir, cheesecloth, fliptop bottles, maybe large funnel in Target. (Target has an app, so you can search and see what is in-store and even the aisle). The pot he uses is a "dutch oven" which appear to be cast iron and ceramic. I prefer that, since yeast does not seem to react well to metallics. So I would use a wooden spoon to "feed" and stir the bug. I use an analog kitchen scale to measure out the amounts, but a digital could work. Once you do it enough, you can eyeball amounts.

Don't wash the ginger. Do remove any obvious dirt or dust. Get organic ginger (no pesticides). Use brown sugar to feed the ginger bug. You may or may not use Brown sugar in the "beer" concoction. I'm told that white sugar may be less "nutritious" to yeast. So, if you use brown sugar for the bug, it will activate more quickly. If you use brown sugar in the beer, it may ferment faster (faster than you expect). I think I've gone with Brown sugar for the bug, and White sugar for the beer to make it ferment over longer time period. Depends.

Once the bug is "fizzy," refrigerate immediately, cover it enough so that air can get in, with cheesecloths + lid,, but not hermetically sealed. Loosely cover so yeast can feast on air. Feed weekly or every 10 days, with 2 table spoons sugar 2 tablespoons ginger. Also, feed if you use it. Generally, for Ginger beer, you need 1/4 cup of bug to 4 quarts of Ginger Beer brew you make. The bug could theoretically last for a year or so. You can verify it is still "alive" if you stir and see bubbles, or notice that the beer you make is not as "active" and bubbly as expected.

Ginger beer bottles you filled/generate should "finish" fermenting in 2-5 days. In this heat it may be 1-2 days, but generally the optimal temp should be 73 degrees. To test if finished, when I "burp" daily in sink, if the bottle pops strongly and has some mist, it is probably "done." Toss that in the fridge immediately. If you forget to burp, it will explode the bottle.