When I first started working at Fifth Season in Charlottesville, we had a wonderful landlord who would stop by and tell us amusing stories about the “old” Charlottesville and the car business he ran in our sprawling, funky building. He would bring us delicious treats to perk up our workday, and he always had a good word about how much fun it was to come into our store and see all the new and exciting projects and products. He was not just our landlord, he was our dear friend. His name was George.
Last year at his memorial service there were plenty of amusing stories and tributes as well as copious amounts of his favorite cocktail, bourbon and ginger. Being from the north, this bourbon and ginger concept was totally new to me, but I became quite fond of it. In celebration of summer, friendship, and all things delicious I decided to serve this delightful cocktail with a new twist, home made ginger beer. We call this spicy adult beverage “The George”.
This ginger beer is great to drink plain over ice or mixed with fruit juice as well. There are many recipes out there for ginger beers, some use a starter called a ginger plant. Some recipes have a longer fermenting time, creating a more alcoholic brew. This recipe is simple, and the beer is very low in alcohol. I use a champagne yeast but it may be fun to experiment with other yeasts. This recipe makes a five gallon batch, but I have included a one gallon recipe as well.
I use organic ginger for this recipe, as anti-sprouting agents on non-organic ginger may effect the activity of the yeast.
Ginger Beer 5 gallons
- 5 gallons filtered water
- 5 t cream of tartar
- 2.5 cups fresh organic ginger, peeled and grated, I use the food processor to grate
- 2.5 cups fresh lemon or lime juice, or mix half and half
- 10 cups cane sugar or brown sugar
- 2.5 t champagne yeast
Add cream of tartar, lemon juice and ginger to brewing pot with 2 gallons of water.
Bring to a boil, turn down heat and add sugar, stir to dissolve.
Add cold water and allow to cool to 75 degrees.
Add yeast, stir, and cover with a towel, let sit in a dark place for 3 hours.
Strain and transfer to a carboy or brew bucket with an airlock.
Let it ferment for 3 days and transfer to a corney keg or bottle into plastic litre bottles allowing plenty of air room. If using plastic bottles, release air pressure once a day and keep refrigerated.
Ginger Beer 1 gallon
- 1 gallon filtered water
- 1 t cream of tartar
- 1.5 cups organic ginger
- 1.5 cups fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups cane sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 t champagne yeast
Follow procedure as for 5 gallons, but instead of transferring into carboy put into four 2 litre plastic bottles. Leave to ferment in plastic bottles for 3 days, making sure to unscrew the tops twice a day to let off co2, or the bottles may explode. I use plastic for this reason. After 3 days, refrigerate, unscrew top once a day. This will keep for one week.
All of your brewing supplies for this and any other brewing projects can be found at Fifth Season Gardening. Happy summer!