DIY Ginger Beer? Yes, please!

I have found my next cooking project. And this is it. As soon as I get my hands on some champagne yeast and/or brewer’s yeast, I’ll be making some. The recipe is as follows:

“Makes 1 (16-ounce) bottle

Note: It’s crucial to use a bottle that can be sealed tightly. If the seal is loose, the final product will be flat. Also, make sure to fill the bottle to the top with liquid; if there is too much air in the bottle, the ginger beer will not be sufficiently carbonated.

4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice form 2 lemons
Pinch champagne yeast

1. Place ginger in fine mesh strainer set over medium bowl, and press with wooden spoon to extract 2 tablespoons juice; discard ginger pulp. Heat sugar and water in small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Pour ginger juice, sugar syrup, and lemon juice into 16-ounce bottle. Add 1 pinch (about 25 crystals) yeast to bottle. Fill bottle to top with lukewarm water.

3. Cork or cap bottle tightly. Shake well to combine ingredients. Store bottle in warm, dark place for 48 hours then refrigerate immediately. Serve when cold.”

Naturally.

The first time (and maybe the last time too, so far as I can recall) I had this was in 2004 when I was in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was brewed in house at an upscale casual dining restaurant called Dux de Lux. (According to their website, they suffered some damage from last year’s earthquakes and are temporarily closed.) I do not remember their food specifically, although I recall that it was quite well regarded and probably delicious. The patio area was beautiful, I remember that much too. But other than that, I don’t remember much besides their amazingly delicious Ginger Tom.

Yes, a “real” ginger beer, not the soft drink from a can, or if you prefer, Fresh Ginger Ale – my favorite of the sweet soft stuff. But this stuff… oh, yum. It was beautiful subtly spiced, honey sweetened perfection. But since it was on the sweeter side, one was just enough. And since I was on the lightweight side, one was definitely enough. But mostly due to the sweetness, it was overwhelming to drink more than one. The same way I feel about most hard ciders, with the exception of Ace Ciders, which is amazing (My favorite is the Perry and the Honey) and the real stuff, brewed by a Brit who knows what he is doing. It is balanced and just sweet enough to be delicious and just tart enough to not be cloying. And it is nothing like the crap that just has apple juice added to it. Yech. I won’t name names.

I’ll report back on the results when the time comes to sample it.

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