Ginger is a vegetable with countless benefits. It’s often used in cooking and medicine, notably, ginger ale which helps with stomach problems. It has a strong flavor, so much that even a few slivers can affect the flavor of food. In fact, its flavor and effect is so profound that people thought of turning it into a kind of liquor.
It was popular during the 18th century, around the times when the spice trade was booming. The drink’s taste quickly made it popular around Britain and became popular in America during the 19th century.
The drink has plenty of variations, but it’s more commonly known for two kinds of flavors. The first is the gentle, tickling and refreshing beer, not far from ginger ale. The second is a strong, carbonated hammer that stops on your tongue as soon as you take a sip.
Though tasty and bracing, Ginger beer contains alcohol. It’s easy to get carried away while drinking, so always remember to drink in utter moderation. According to the WHO, moderate means 2 drinks per day max, 5 times a week max.
How Ginger Beer is Made
It has four primary ingredients, water, ginger spice, yeast, and sugar. It’s prepared similarly to most wine.
For homemade versions, the first step is to extract the juice from the ginger. This is done by a food processor, juicer, or simply using a grate and mashing the small strips. As a substitute, you can also use ginger powder. Add the sugar, yeast then a good helping of water. Place everything in a bottle and shake to dissolve the sugar. The fermentation process can be as short as 2 days, to as long as a month.
With some home-brewed methods, they recommend placing them in plastic bottles. The mixture creates carbon dioxide and one way to know if the bottle has too much gas is by squeezing it. When the bottle is difficult to squeeze, slowly open the cap until it hisses just to remove a bit of the gas.
Other recipes include the adding of lemon juice, salt, jalapeno, and even cinnamon. The end result depends on the amount of sugar and length of fermentation. Higher yeast with a bit less sugar will result in dry ginger beer, more commonly known as ginger ale. Higher sugar and less yeast/fermentation results in a slightly golden brew known more as ginger beer.
The supermarket version of ginger ale is non-alcoholic. It’s normally composed of carbonate water, sugar and ginger flavoring. There are, however, still companies that create brewed ginger beer and ginger ale. Their alcohol content is at 0.5%, which meets FDA’s requirements.
Mixes for Cocktails
Ginger beer is known to be mixed with two cocktails. One is the Moscow Mule. It’s made from vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice. The drink is served in a copper mug to keep the flavor from being altered by the chemicals in the drink.
The second drink is known as the Dark ‘N’ Stormy. This highball cocktail is made simply by combining ‘dark’ rum and ginger beer, which produces the ‘stormy’ flavor along with some lime juice.