I’m in St. Petersburg, Russia. So there’s no Canada Dry or anything like it. It’s not my favorite beverage, but my wife took a liking to it when we were in the USA.
I have wine yeast, so that’s the method I want to use. Put some into a bottle with ginger, sugar and water with some lemon zest and juice and keep it warm. I know to open the cap each day to relieve some of the CO2 buildup. I’m not really going for an alcoholic beverage - but is the only difference how long I wait? With the wine yeast I’m sure it’ll be like a cider if I go that way.
I make a syrup with water, sugar, grated fresh ginger, and a little lemon peel. I put the syrup into a 2-litre bottle, and add water and yeast. I leave it for about a week, relieving the pressure now and then.
It’s turned out well, but there’s a weird taste to it that’s not in commercial brews. I think the closest I can come to describing it is ‘sulphur’. Also, it’s never ‘hot’ enough. (Canada Dry certainly isn’t ‘hot’ at all, and Vernor’s doesn’t have much of a ‘bite’.) I liked one from Australia called Buderim Hot Ginger Brew. Last time I made ginger ale, I added cayenne pepper to it. It helped, but not enough.
The sulfur taste usually comes from the yeast. Different strains of yeast and fermenting temps will affect whether this flavor is noticeable or not. It can also be caused by bacterial contamination or stressed out yeast.
Doesn’t Alton Brown’s Good Eats have a recipe for ginger ale that basically involves making a ginger-infused simple syrup and adding that to carbonated water? When I searched for it, all I find is a fermented version using yeast…
Anyway, maybe I’m remembering the origin of the recipe I used, but here’s what I remember:
Make a simple syrup on the stove (equal parts sugar and water).
Once sugar is dissolved, steep the following in the syrup to infuse flavor:
Slices of freshly cut ginger
Cool the syrup.
Strain out the pieces.
Add to carbonated water.
The result here doesn’t really taste like any brand of ginger ale that I’ve tasted. In fact, it’s more like cold/fizzy ginger tea. But it is very tasty.
I just made a ginger syrup to mix with seltzer water for on-the-spot ginger beer. I like mine very spicy. I could probably get away with less ginger, but I usually just buy a moderate-sized ‘hand’ from the grocery store and throw the whole thing in.
1c white sugar
1c brown sugar
~3 c water
~4-8 oz ginger, thinly sliced. I don’t bother peeling it unless it’s crusty.
1 star anise
tsp black peppercorns
tsp green cardamom pods
Other possibilities: citrus zest, clove, allspice, fennel seed
boil then simmer ~20 min; strain out solids; chill.
I think I know which recipe you’re talking about, but he actually does a fermentation. I made that recipe last week, and it turned out ok, but definitely needs some work.
I only let it ferment for the two days in the recipe, and it tasted fine, but was less carbonated than I’d have liked. Next time, I may let it go for longer, but I was worried that I’d forget to release the pressure one day and it would explode. I definitely would have liked something “hotter,” and I would imagine that adding way more ginger would do it.
I’ve heard that champagne yeast can yield good results, but haven’t tried it myself.
Do you have a link to that? I bought some packets of wine yeast from Amazon and had them sent them to my Mom in NY, who then sent them to me. So I really want to go that way.
My main problem with Alton Brown is - in any given recipe - he always seems to have one (or more) ingredient(s) that I don’t have. And here in Russia, there’s no way I’m going to find it. Especially these days (politics…)
As I said, I’m not really going for an alcoholic beverage, but I do want to use the wine yeast. Maybe I’ll make the syrup version for this week, and the alcoholic version for New Years (that takes a couple of weeks).
I’ve made ginger ale before, but I used mywhipping siphon to force-carbonate it.
Essentially what I did was make a syrup, mixed it up to the appropriate dilution, and carbonated it. There’s no reason that the syrup couldn’t be mixed with the appropriate volume of sparkling water for the same exact results.
I’ve always thought the fermentation part of making ginger ale/beer was strictly for fermentation. I can’t think of a bottle-conditioned commercial variant, and pretty much all of the homebrew soda recipes call for the fermentation step, even fruit flavored ones.
So if you can get sparkling water, I’d recommend the syrup route. Cleaner flavor (no yeasty weirdness) and less trouble. And, for the record, the Alton Brown one calls for ginger, sugar, water and lemon juice, along with yeast, if you go the bottle-conditioned route.
I’ve made kvass several times before. It’s a bread (usually rye) based soft-drink, usually with yeast and sugar. It’s only mildly alcoholic (perhaps 1% - so of course in Russia it’s considered non-alcoholic). You also squeeze the (plastic) bottle, and if it’s hard - you loosen the cap to release the CO2. The only place I’ve found kvass outside Russia is the Russian-Jewish deli’s in Forest Hills, Queens (NYC). I’ve not been to the Baltic countries or Poland, but I’ve read they make it too. It’s rather delicous, once you get used to it. A good summer drink.
I reckon Ginger Ale should be easier. I’ll only need some Ginger (powder or fresh), sugar, and taking the advice in this thread, make some kind of bug/“wort”. And it too needs to have excess CO2 let out of the bottle. I think I’ll make one regular, and try to make another alcoholic (somewhere around 7%) for New Years. There’s not another bottle for sale within 500 kilometers of here.