Once you’ve accumulated all the junk, err…, equipment required to brew beer, keg, and dispense, you start wondering if there’s anything else you can do with it all to justify the money you’ve spent. One easy and obvious choice is to make soda (or as some regions call it, pop.)
I started off with the decent and informative book Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop. It laid a good foundation and provided numerous tasty looking recipes.
Using that information as a starting point I created my own recipe for Ginger Ale. I’ll warn you in advance, this is not for soda lovers who don’t like the flavor of real ginger. This drink has a solid ginger base with an nice zing of pineapple juice and lemon. I’ve brewed it several times and have always gotten positive feedback. In fact I’ve helped some friends brew this themselves for Christmas presents just recently.
One note about safety when making a soda. Some recipes call for adding yeast and fermenting to carbonate in bottles. I strongly recommend against that because soda is filled with sugar for the yeast to consume. Even putting bottles in fridges will only slow down the carbonation. If you forget one or if you give one to a friend who leaves it out on the counter top it will explode. I always carbonate with a CO2 tank in kegs to avoid this. I sometimes will fill a carefully sanitized bottle from the keg, but only when I am sure I will drink it in the next couple of days. I did bottle one batch recently but for safety I added potassium sorbate at the correct dosing.
I’m going to assume you know how to make beer from extract and follow good sanitation practices. Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
2.5 Gallon Recipe for Dave’s Ginger Ale
- 40 oz Desert Mesquite Honey (other honey will do but this is cheap at Trader Joe’s and has a nice flavor)
- 6 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2.5 oz grated fresh ginger
- 32 fl oz Pineapple Juice
- water to top up to 2.5 gallons
- Grate the fresh ginger and juice the lemons.
- Put grated ginger into a straining bag and pour the pineapple juice and lemon juice through the bag. Tie the bag up so that you can easily separate the ginger from the ginger ale.
- Add all ingredients to a large (at least 3 gallon) pot and top off with water to 2.5 gallons.
- Stir well so that all of the honey is dissolved
- Heat to 180 F, let sit for five minutes.
- Transfer to a sanitized keg while hot, put in your keggerator, and carbonate like an American Pale Ale (15 psi at 40 F)
Enjoy! It is usually carbonated by the end of the first week or two but will be very strong. It mellows considerably over the following month and then the ginger fades almost completely.