How to Make Probiotic Ginger Beer

How to Make Probiotic Ginger Beer – a naturally fermented probiotic drink that is packed with health benefits. This article includes a photo tutorial, information on secondary fermentation, flavoring your ginger beer, and troubleshooting when the process goes awry.

How to Make Probiotic Ginger Beer - a naturally fermented probiotic-rich beverage that you can brew at home using minimal equipment! | TheRoastedRoot.net

Disclaimer: brewing probiotic beverages at home can be risky. When fermenting probiotc food and beverages, use caution. Always use sanitized tools and when in doubt, throw it out! If you notice any strange smells or mold, be sure to discard the whole batch.

Many moons ago, I wrote a cookbook called Delicious Probiotic Drinks. This cookbook is focused entirely on making probiotic-rich beverages such as kombucha, kefir, ginger beer, fermented vegetable juice, and more, at home.

My favorite of all the fermented beverages to make is ginger beer. First and foremost, it is magnificent tasting. Secondly, it is CHALLENGING. Perhaps the most challenging and unforgiving of all the fermented drinks. And for that reason, the most rewarding.

For those of you who have been around this site for a long time, you may remember my easy tutorial on How to Make Ginger Beer. This is the goof-proof method that works each and every time and does not require much time or attention.

This version of probiotic ginger beer is different. It involves preparing a “ginger bug” (or ginger starter) from scratch.

How does that work?

Probiotics and yeast are naturally occurring everywhere. They are in our fruit and vegetables and are also present in the air. Giving these probiotics and yeast optimal conditions to grow and reproduce results in fermentation. You’re already familiar with this concept, as it is the same process for creating yogurt, cheese, beer, wine, pickles, prosciutto (and other fermented meats), etc.

Applying this idea to fresh ginger is how we create a ginger starter, which is then used to make ginger beer.

Don’t worry…I’ll go over how to make a ginger starter in excruciating detail later on in this post. First, let’s cover some basics.

Close up on open bottle of ginger beer with two bottles of ginger beer in the background

WHAT IS GINGER BEER?

Ginger beer is a naturally fizzy beverage with a sweet and spicy bite. Grated ginger is fermented in sugar water and lemon juice, allowing the natural yeasts in ginger to feed and multiply, creating a probiotic beverage.

While ginger beer is a sweet, spicy, delicious beverage all on its own, it is famous for its role in cocktails, particularly the Dark & Stormy cocktail, a mixture of ginger beer and rum, garnished with a slice of lime.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GINGER BEER AND GINGER ALE?

The phrases, “ginger beer” and “ginger ale” are typically used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two beverages. Ginger beer is fermented for up to 2 or 3 weeks using a “ginger bug,” where ginger ale is more of a ginger flavored soda.

While there are ginger ale beverages made with real ginger, most ginger ales are simply carbonated water with ginger flavor and sugar. In this sense, ginger ale does not go through the same fermentation process that ginger beer does.

METHODS FOR MAKING GINGER BEER

There are multiple ways to make ginger beer. Here are three of the most common methods:

  • Non-probiotic ginger soda/ale: For those who aren’t concerned about the probiotic benefit of fermented ginger beer, you can simply combine ginger simple syrup (made with ginger and sugar) with soda water and achieve a great-tasting homemade beverage. This version contains no probiotics and is basically fancy soda.
  • Quick and Easy Ginger Beer with some probiotic benefits: This fast method uses bread yeast for fermentation and requires only two days to complete. For this version, read my blog post on How to Make Ginger Beer. This version is not as probiotic rich, but is still lower in sugar than regular soda.
  • Authentic Probiotic Ginger Beer – a health elixir: The authentic method for making fermented ginger beer is outlined in this post. It uses a probiotic-rich “ginger bug” (or ginger starter) which you make yourself at home. Like most things in life, the authentic version takes much longer than the easy version, but also yields great results. This version can take between 2 and 3 weeks to complete.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF GINGER BEER

Fermented ginger beer has a great deal of health benefits and is commonly used to ease upset stomach, nausea or diarrhea. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, which can help with migraines, and studies show fresh ginger prevents and fights several types of cancer cells including breast, colon, ovarian, prostate, and lung cancer.

Ginger is also known for cleansing the body of toxic chemicals, easing menstrual cramps, and much more! The probiotics and yeast that grow during the fermentation process help colonize your gut with good bacteria, which helps boost immunity, fight disease, and promotes overall health.

A bottle and a glass of grapefruit rosemary ginger beer sitting on a table with half a grapefruit and sprigs of rosemary

 

HOW TO MAKE FERMENTED PROBIOTIC GINGER BEER

Fermented probiotic ginger beer requires a three-step process.

Step 1: Make a “ginger bug” or starter using fresh ginger, water, sugar and lemon juice. This starter is used to brew a batch of ginger beer (Step 2). This can take 1 to 2 weeks to complete (depending on the temperature of your home and how active your culture decides to be).

Step 2: Brew a large batch of ginger beer using the “ginger bug” – you could compare this process to making a batch of sourdough bread dough using sourdough starter. This process takes about 1 to 3 weeks, depending on how active your ginger bug is and how warm your home is.

Step 3: Bottle the ginger beer and allow it to ferment further – Once the beverage becomes effervescent (fizzy/probiotic-rich) we bottle it and allow it to sit for “secondary fermentation” (more on this below). This process takes about 2 to 5 days.

You Will Need:

  1. 1-quart glass jar or jug 
  2. Cheesecloth 
  3. Stretchy rubber band
  4. 1-gallon glass jug 
  5. Flip-Cap Bottles 
  6. Fresh ginger
  7. Organic Cane Sugar
  8. 2 to 4 Lemons

Ingredients for the “Ginger Bug:”

  • 1-inch nub fresh ginger, peeled and grated, plus more for feeding the starter
  • 1 tablespoon raw organic sugar, plus more for growing the starter
  • 2 cups water

 

Instructions for the Ginger Bug / Ginger Starter:

Peel and grate a 1-inch nub of fresh ginger (about 1 tablespoon).

Box grater on a plate with fresh ginger grated on it

Add the grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and two cups of filtered water or spring water (non-chlorinated) to the jar and stir (a 1-quart jar works great).

Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or towel. Secure the cloth around the jar with a rubber band. This keeps insects away from the starter.

Allow jar to sit in a warm, dark place for 24 hours. The optimal temperature for preparing the ginger starter and brewing ginger beer is between 70 and 85 degrees. If your house stays cool, find the warmest spot in your home to place the ginger starter. This process activates the probiotics and yeast that are in the ginger and allows them to begin reproducing.

jar of ginger starter with a towel on top, secured by a rubber band

Feed the colony – Once a day for one week, add one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of grated fresh ginger to the jar and stir well. This ensures your ginger starter stays fed and grows, similar to sourdough starter. Stir a couple of times per day. During this process, natural yeasts are released and create a white substance at the bottom of the jar. This is where the probiotics come from.

After about 3 to 5 days (perhaps longer if your house is very cold), the liquid will begin bubbling when you stir it. Once you can see and hear bubbles without touching the jar, your ginger bug is ready to be used. This will take 7 to 10 days in a warm (70 to 80 degrees F) house, but longer in a cool house.

To expedite the process, wrap the ginger starter jar in a heat blanket or an insulated blanket to keep it warm. If after 7 days, your ginger bug is still not bubbling, continue adding a teaspoon of sugar and ginger until it does. Have patience, friend!

Use the liquid from ginger starter to make ginger beer (instructions below). You can continue adding water, ginger, and sugar to the starter and to use it for multiple batches of ginger beer. In this sense, you can treat your ginger starter the same way one would treat sourdough starter and keep it alive.

small jar and big jug of ginger beer on a shelf, covered with towels

Note: If you ever see mold floating on top of the starter liquid, discard the starter and make a new one.

Ingredients for the Ginger Beer:

  • 1 cup ginger starter (see above)
  • 1 scant gallon of filtered spring or well water
  • 1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar 
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh ginger, grated

Instructions for 1 Gallon of Probiotic Ginger Beer:

Fill a gallon-sized jug most of the way up with spring or well water (do not use water from the tap unless your house runs on a well). This water should be room temperature or slightly warmer (aim for 70 to 80 degrees).

Add one cup the the ginger starter, along with 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of grated ginger. Stir very well.

How to Make Probiotic Ginger Beer - a naturally fermented probiotic-rich beverage that you can make at home | TheRoastedRoot.net

Cover the jug with a cheesecloth or towel bound by a rubber band and put it in a warm, dark place at room temperature for 8 to 10 days. Mine takes 8 days, even in a very warm (80⁰F +) house.

How to Make Probiotic Ginger Beer - a naturally fermented probiotic-rich beverage | TheRoastedRoot.net

Taste-test the mixture periodically to see if more sugar needs to be added (the natural probiotics will eat the sugar so if the beverage ever loses all of its sweetness, add a little more sugar (no more than 2 tablespoons at a time), but be careful to not overload the probiotics, as they can die when given too much sugar.

Stir the mixture once or twice a day. You will notice a white substance forming around the ginger at the bottom of the jug. This is the natural yeasts coming out of the ginger – it’s a good sign! There will also be large bubbles that form on the surface of the liquid. The ginger beer is ready when the substance becomes bubbly when stirred (similar to when you’re making the ginger starter).

Once the ginger beer is ready, give it a taste test. If it doesn’t taste sweet, add additional sugar and ginger because once you bottle the brew, it goes through secondary fermentation and the probiotics continue to need to eat sugar. 

At this point, your options are to either bottle the ginger beer as-is or flavor it prior to bottling it. See information on Secondary Fermentation and flavoring options below.

Pour the liquid (including the ginger pulp) into sealable bottles and set them in a dark room for 2 to 4 days. This process makes the ginger beer very fizzy. The warmer the room, the faster the beverage gets fizzy, so open a bottle every day or so to check the fizz and level of sweetness.

Both the fizz and sweetness is up to your taste but be very careful to not allow the bottles to sit for too long because they most definitely will explode.

Place bottles in the refrigerator to calm the fermentation process. Note that the ginger beer will continue to ferment in the refrigerator, so try to consume the beverage within a few days after secondary fermentation is complete for best results. Leaving it in the refrigerator for longer than a week will result in a “drier”, less sweet ginger beer.

You can now brew another batch of ginger beer using the ginger starter you have been feeding. Because your ginger starter is now more mature, it will take a little less time to brew your second batch.

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Grapefruit Rosemary Ginger Beer

SECONDARY FERMENTATION

Once ginger beer is finished with its primary fermentation, you may add additional sugar and/or ingredients (see “Flavoring Ginger Beer” section below) to flavor it and allow it to go through a secondary fermentation.

The purpose of secondary fermentation is threefold: To achieve a fizzy beverage (it will get just as fizzy, if not fizzier than soda!), to make the drink even more probiotic-rich, and to give it delicious flavor.

FLAVORING GINGER BEER

Ginger beer is perhaps the easiest probiotic drinks to flavor because just about any type of fruit and/or herb goes wonderfully with ginger.

The fact that there is already a great deal of sweet and spicy flavor in ginger beer provides a wonderful canvas for incorporating other sweet, sour, tart or creamy flavors. In this way, the added ingredients are typically what one tastes first when drinking the ginger beer, with the spicy ginger coming through at the finish.

You have a few options for adding ingredients for secondary fermentation. You can add fresh fruit juice, a homemade simple syrup infused with any flavor you like, or a fruit/herb sauce (similar concept to simple syrup).

If you’re adding fruit juice, simply add 1/4 cup to each glass bottle before filling them the rest of the way up with ginger beer. Secure the lids tightly and allow them to sit for 2 days. Immediately transfer to the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process.

Getting creative with fruit and herb combinations is brilliant when it comes to this drink and you are virtually guaranteed to end up with a delicious probiotic drink!

To make flavor ginger beer, choose your fresh fruit and/or fresh herbs. Combine 2 cups of fresh fruit with ½ cup cane sugar and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan (Note: if you’re adding fresh herbs, do so here as well). Bring to a full boil and cook until the fruit has softened. Allow mixture to cool completely. Once cool, divide it between the bottles you are using to bottle the ginger beer.

Fill the bottles the rest of the way up with ginger beer, seal tightly, and allow bottles to sit at room temperature for 2 days to undergo secondary fermentation. Transfer the bottles of ginger beer to the refrigerator and chill.

closeup glass of coconut basil ginger beer with a glass and bottle in the background

Here are some of my favorite flavor combinations for ginger beer:

  • Blackberry Sage (2 cups blackberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup fresh sage, packed)
  • Grapefruit Rosemary (1 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 sprigs rosemary)
  • Coconut Basil (1 can full-fat coconut milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fresh basil, packed)
  • Blood Orange (1 cup fresh blood orange juice, 1/2 cup sugar)
  • Raspberry Mint (2 cups fresh raspberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fresh mint)

 

SHELF LIFE OF GINGER BEER

When properly sealed in bottles, plain ginger beer can last for up to one month in the refrigerator. For best results, drink within 2 weeks of brewing.

When ingredients such as fruit, are added to ginger beer, consume within 1 week for best results and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. While ginger beer can last even longer than this, it is best to err on the safe side when it comes to probiotics.

 

A NOTE OF CAUTION

As is always the case with probiotic beverage, be cautious when opening a bottle after secondary fermentation as pressure builds and the drink will be fizzy. Never point a bottle at your face (or at any other person) while opening, and never hand a bottle to a child to open.

Blackberry Sage Ginger Beer - a recipe for probiotic ginger beer

TROUBLESHOOTING

If it seems like either your ginger starter or ginger beer is taking a long time to come to life (get bubbly), don’t worry. This is likely the result of the temperature of your home.

Like many probiotic beverages, ginger beer is one of those that seems to be doing nothing for quite some time and then all of a sudden, it’s working.

At the end of secondary fermentation, if your ginger beer too dry (not sweet and very fizzy), this is because the yeast consumed all of the sugar that was in the bottle, leaving very little sweetness for you. Some people prefer drier ginger beer, but if you prefer it to be on the sweet side, simply make sure you add additional sugar (either cane sugar, fruit, or juice) prior to bottling your next batch.

Did you pop open a bottle of ginger beer after 3 days of secondary fermentation and it wasn’t fizzy and it still tasted sweet?  If this is the case, your ginger beer still contains residual sugar that needs to get eaten up by the probiotics. This is okay!

Simply leave the remaining bottles (if any) at room temperature to continue secondary fermentation. Because there was plenty of sugar in the beverage prior to bottling, it will simply take an additional day or two for the probiotics to consume the sugar and for the beverage to become fizzy.

To prevent flat ginger beer, be sure there are small bubbles that rise from the bottom to the top of the liquid prior to bottling it for secondary fermentation, as this is a sign of probiotic activity.  Keep in mind that even if your ginger beer does not get fizzy, it is still full of probiotics and is great for you!

If at any point you find mold on the surface of your ginger beer while it is brewing, throw the whole batch out, even if it is only a tiny bit of mold. Ginger beer is easy to re-make (especially since you already have your ginger starter ready to go), and it is not worth sacrificing quality and health even if it is frustrating to have a failed batch.

Any Questions??

I hope this post will inspire you to make your own naturally fermented healthy ginger beer at home! 

Be sure to check out my cookbook, Delicious Probiotic Drinks for more recipes for fermented beverages!

Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller

Also check out my latest cookbook, Paleo Power Bowls for nutrient-dense meal recipes.

This article contains amazon affiliate links. If you click one of the affiliate links in this post and make a purchase, I will make a small commission. Thank you for your consideration and support!

Wooden serving tray with eight bottles of ginger beer inside on a wood table

Probiotic Ginger Beer

Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fermented drinks, fermented food, ginger beer, probiotics
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Fermentation Time: 12 days
Servings: 1 gallon
Author: Julia

How to make naturally fermented ginger beer at home

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Ingredients

Ginger Starter:

  • 1 (1-inch) nub fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 2 cups filtered water

Ginger Beer:

  • 1 cup ginger starter instructions below
  • 1 scant gallon filtered water or well water
  • 1 1/4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh ginger peeled and grated

Instructions

Prepare the Ginger Starter:

  1. Peel and grate a 1-inch nub of fresh ginger (about 1 tablespoon).

  2. Add the grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and two cups of filtered water or spring water
    (non-chlorinated) to a jar and stir. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or towel and secure it with a rubber band. Allow jar to sit in a dark place for 24 hours.

  3. Once a day for 4 to 10 days, add one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of grated fresh ginger to the jar and stir well. This ensures your ginger starter stays fed and grows, similar to sourdough starter. Stir a couple of times per day. During this process, natural yeasts are released and create a white substance at the bottom of the jar. This is where the probiotics come from.

  4. After 3 to 5 days (longer if your house is very cold), the liquid will begin bubbling when you stir it. Once you can see and hear bubbles without touching the jar, your ginger bug is ready to be used. If after 7 days, your ginger bug is still not bubbling, continue adding a teaspoon of sugar and ginger until it does. Note that amount of time it takes to get a ginger bug active varies widely depending on the temperature of your home and the activity of the bacteria and yeast.

  5. Use the liquid from ginger starter to make ginger beer (instructions below).

Make the Ginger Beer:

  1. Fill a gallon-sized jug most of the way up with spring or well water (do not use water from the tap unless your house runs on a well). This water should be room temperature or slightly warmer (aim for 70 to 78 degrees).

  2. Stir the ginger starter well. Add 1 cup of the ginger starter, sugar, lemon juice, grated ginger, and the ginger starter. Stir very well. Cover the jug with a cheesecloth or towel bound by a rubber band and put it in a dark place at room temperature for 8 to 10 days.

  3. Taste-test the mixture periodically to see if more sugar needs to be added (the natural probiotics will eat the sugar so if the beverage ever loses all of its sweetness, add a little more sugar (no more than 2 tablespoons at a time).

  4. Stir the mixture once or twice a day. You will notice a white substance forming around the ginger at the bottom of the jug. The ginger beer is ready when the substance becomes bubbly when stirred (similar to when you’re making the ginger starter).

  5. Once the ginger beer is ready, give it a taste test. If it doesn’t taste sweet, add additional sugar and ginger - once you bottle the brew, it goes through secondary fermentation and the probiotics will need more sugar to survive.

  6. At this point, your options are to either bottle the ginger beer as-is or flavor it prior to bottling it. If you choose to leave the ginger beer as-is, simply transfer the ginger beer to
    glass bottles, secure the lids, and place bottles in the refrigerator.

  7. If you choose to flavor the ginger beer, add your flavoring ingredients to the flip cap bottles (see blog post for flavor ideas and instructions for secondary fermentation) prior to filling the bottles up with ginger beer. Secure the lids on the bottles and leave at room temperature for another 2 days.

  8. Place bottles in the refrigerator to calm the fermentation process. Note that the ginger beer will continue to ferment in the refrigerator, so try to consume the beverage within a few days after secondary fermentation is complete for best results. Leaving it in the refrigerator for longer than a week will result in a “drier”, less sweet ginger beer.

  9. You can now brew another batch of ginger beer using the ginger starter you have been feeding. Because your ginger starter is now more mature, it will take a little less time to brew your second batch.

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Ginger Beer using native yeast (naturally occurring yeast) - delicious refreshing low-sugar low-calorie probiotic rich drink!

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Comments

        1. Aquila Bootsma Tendon

          Is there alcohol content? Would this be safe for a pregnant woman to drink to help with morning sickness for example? Thanks!!

          Reply
          1. Julia Post author

            Hi there!

            There is a very small amount of resultant alchohol, yes. There’s no way to know how much alcohol without owning equipment to test it. That said, I wouldn’t recommend drinking it if you’re pregnant unless your doctor has cleared you to drink other probiotic containing drinks and food, like kombucha or kimchi…better safe than sorry! To help ease morning sickness, I would stick with ginger tea using fresh ginger, and/or peppermint tea. Let me know if you have any other questions!

            Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi there! I haven’t tried it using coconut sugar, but my guess is it would work. If your ginger bug takes too long to bubble, I would abort mission and stick with cane sugar. Hope it works! xo

      Reply
  1. Velda C Mowry

    To keep my ginger bug alive how often do I feed it and how much? If I refrigerate it will it come back to life after a few feedings similar to sourdough starter?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Velda! Feed the ginger bug once a day for one week. Add one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of grated fresh ginger to the jar and stir well. I have never tried refrigerating it and bringing it back to life, but my guess is it would be difficult to get it going again. After you make a few batches, you could certainly try to refrigerate the bug and see if it works!

      Reply
      1. Velda C Mowry

        Thank you! I will keep it at room temp for sure! I just made my first batch 1st ferment yesterday! Got a nice active ginger bug so hoping for a great result! Your directions really helped!!!

        Reply
        1. richie gudgeon

          Hi there, my partner and I attempted making ginger beer about 4 weeks ago, just 2 litres worth for a quick experiment using lemon, ginger, sugar, water and brewers yeast (inactivated) believing the brewers yeast was for brewing. As we found out later the yeast used was a protein supplement from health food store, as opposed to the common mis-conception based in the title ‘brewers yeast’
          After realizing we may have used the wrong yeast we have actually noticed carbonization in our bottles. The first 2 weeks we could not see any change, I added a pinch more sugar to each bottle and during the last week I now relieve the pressure in the bottles daily. It’s not like an intense fizz but there is definitely canonization now.
          Would this carbonization be due to fermentation of the ingredients alone without the yeast which is in fact de-activated?
          Would it be okay to consume anyway although the yeast we added at the start is not the right one for brewing?
          Would this be a suitable ginger bug as is?
          Thank you for your time =)
          Regards Richie.

          Reply
          1. Julia Post author

            Hi Richie!

            It could be fermentation from the other ingredients, absolutely. As long as the ginger beer doesn’t have a funky smell to it (i.e. smell rancid or like vomit), it should be fine for consumption. I would just try it in a small amount (say 4 to 6 ounces) to start out. Happy brewing! xoxo

            Reply
      2. PeterH

        Hi Velda, Julia,

        Yes you can refrigerate your bug like a sourdough starter. I try to have about twice the bug I need for the beer batch and put the rest back in the fridge with a big tablespoon of fresh ginger and sugar as well as some extra (dechlorinated) water. I then feed it once a week or even once every two weeks with again a tbs of grated ginger and a tbs of sugar. Regularly de-gas if in a closed container as it will continue to ferment. If you leave it for too long, it will die as at some point it will run out of sugar. But as long a sit is bubbly and smells yeasty, you are good!

        The cooling does not actually kill the bug, it just slows the fermentation. This way you only have to go through the process of making the bug once and after that you can just pull it from the fridge and start using it straight away. I use about 100ml of the liquid bug per 5 liters. I’ve done it about 4 times over about as many months and works like a charm.

        I’ll soon try one of the recipes in this blog, sounds awesome!!

        Reply
  2. Rogier Mansvelt

    Hi, thanks for the excellent instructions. I used to drink a beer or two when I arrived home, now the ginger beer give me much more pleasure and great feeling only after drinking one or two glasses.

    I have one question, my fresh ginger beer is nice and fizzy. However when I put it into the refrigerator, it becomes clear, with a white yeast layer on the bottom of the bottle. If you drink the white part your stomach gets very bubbly during the night.

    Is there a minimum temp range that it still keep fermenting. I think my fridge might be too cold, at about 4-7 degrees? It seems the fermentation totally stops. My ginger main production vessel is fermenting great and I have nice ginger beer after about 24 hours. at 30 degrees Celsius almost constant. But after refrigeration the freshness is gone.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Rogier!

      The ginger beer needs to stay between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in order to continue fermenting. At a certain point, the bacteria and yeast will run out of food (sugar) to eat and will die, which is why refrigeration is necessary. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  3. Sharon

    Hello, Everything went as described until I bottled the ginger beer, within a day or so everything thickened to a snotty mess! Do you know why this would happen or if it’s fixable?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Sharon,

      I’ve never had that experience or anything close to it…what does the ginger beer smell like? It should smell lemony and ginger-y, but not putrid. If your ginger beer smells at all rancid (like rotten milk or vommit), then definitely pitch it. But if it smells “normal,” it could just be that you ended up with a lot of probiotics and yeast. With kombucha, the culture is made using a SCOBY, which is a mass of probiotics and yeast, which is potentially what you grew. If that’s the case it is totally fine…you can just remove any snotty mass and either pitch it or save it to make your next batch of ginger beer. Also feel free to email me photos if you want me to take a look – roastedrootfood@gmail.com

      xoxo

      Reply
  4. sarai

    I’m excited to try this! My partner needs to be low-glycemic, and I’m wondering if most of the sugar content gets eaten by the bug (similar to kombucha)?

    Reply
    1. Chris T

      If you’re worried about the sugar content of the finished product, there are two ways to go about it.

      The gist is: the longer it ferments, the less sugar will be left, so you’ll probably need to let it ferment longer in primary, letting it get fairly dry then adding a small amount of sugar before bottling. (My gut says teaspoon – when making beer we only add a tablespoon to a 5-gallon batch for carbonating in the bottles)

      Here’s where your options come in:
      Way #1: just taste it – if it’s sweet there’s still sugar.
      Way #2: I’d strongly suggest that you invest in a hydrometer so you can actually measure the amount of sugar in the brew; these are fairly inexpensive, you can get them at any home brewing supply store, and the clerks will be happy to teach you how to use it. The main advantage here is that you can **know** how much sugar there is for sure, so you can better do portion control and that sort of thing.

      I should also note: You do need to use proper sugar, no stevia or anything like that, but I’ve heard of people having luck with lower glycemic index sugars, like coconut sugar.

      Happy experimenting!

      Reply
  5. Cam

    How do you look after the ginger bug after the first week and after the first brew so that you can make more? Do you have to feed it 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon ginger everyday to keep it alive?

    Thanks.
    Cam

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      That’s correct – feed the ginger bug 1 tsp fresh ginger and 1 tsp sugar every day until bubbles begin to rise to the top from the bottom of the jar. I wouldn’t grate the ginger in advance just to be certain it stays fresh 😀 Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  6. Cameron Sandwell

    So to use the ginger bug again do I add another cup of water to it and keep feeding it indefinitely?
    I.e. replacing the cup of liquid I took out

    Reply
  7. Dayna

    Hi there. I am going to start a batch of your ginger beer this coming week. I have just made a simple kind like we did as wee kids, using normal sugar, yeast, and ground ginger. Now I have successfully done that, I want to step it up to the “real deal”

    Just wondering as I cant find a simple answer online – how much in grams would the 1Tbsp ginger, and 1/3c grated weigh?

    Is it okay to grate a whole ginger, then use to feed and store until the final 1/3c cup ? If so, how would I store it?

    When stirring, do you disrupt the bottom as well to mix that in, or do you just stir the top water layer?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Dayna!

      I’m so happy to hear you’re interested in trying this method! I’m showing 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger weighs .26 ounces (or 7.37 grams) when grated. 1/3 cup will be about 39 grams.

      I recommend grating the ginger fresh off of the root daily, but if you want to grate it all in one go, feel free to do so. I would store it in a tupperware container in the refrigerator if you grate it all at once 😀

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and happy brewing!

      Reply
  8. Alex

    Hello,

    This is my first try with any sort of fermentation and my bug has started bubbling (very proud) but I have a few questions.

    1. In my bug most of the grated ginger is floating, is that ok?
    2. When I get onto the actual beer part, does it need to be lemon juice for any chemical reasons? Like for the acid content? Or is that for sugar/flavor? Just curious about future batches.

    Thank you very much! It is so cool that you have stayed so active answering questions.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Alex,

      It’s fine that the ginger is floating, although I would stir it up quite a bit just to be sure it’s well incorporated into the water/sugar. The lemon juice is for flavor and also to help keep the bad bugs out. Hope you enjoy! xo

      Reply
  9. Ian

    My ginger bug was active, I combined the ingredients fir mixing the ginger beer, and the mixture was fizzy and bubbly after a day and into the second day with a white layer of probiotics at the bottom. On the third day, the mixture went flat and much of the probiotics were gone. I added about 2 tbsp more of grated ginger and 2 tbsp more of sugar and a little more ginger bug to try to kickstart the probiotics in case they had died. Is there anything else I should do to try to regain the carbonation and build up the probiotics before I bottle? Also, when I do bottle, do I strain out all of the ginger? Leave it in? Or strain and put fresh ginger in? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Ian,

      Ah bummer! It is definitely a finicky beverage to make…I would say as soon as the bubbles are visible in the starter, you’ll want to put it to use by making a full batch of ginger beer. Also try to keep it warm, as bacteria likes to be comfortable 😉 No straining necessary when making a full batch of ginger beer – you’ll want to keep all the pulp. Hope all of that makes sense!
      xoxo

      Reply
  10. Isaac

    Hi,

    Why don’t we need to seal the vessels? Like with those 1 way gas valves? I thought that stuff was needed for the fermentation.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Zander

    Thanks for the beautiful post! I’ve tried making my own batch and it should be ready to drink in a couple days. I’m just a little worried about Botulism. Am I way of course here, or is it possible to be present as the drink is not that acidic? Should I add more lemon if it’s a concern? Just getting into making my own fermented foods and have a little fear still. Thanks in advance 🙂

    Reply
  12. emma

    Hi there, what happens with the leftover starter? Do we have to keep feeding daily or can it holiday until needed next? Also I didn’t read properly and had mine on the bench in a warm spot, not dark. Will it still be prebiotic?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Emma,

      Yes, you will need to continue feeding the starter, but you can likely drop it down to every other day and have it still be active. To be safe, I would still feed it every day.

      As long as your starter has bubbles rising from the bottom to the top, that is an indication the probiotics are still alive.

      Reply
  13. Jemmy

    Hello,
    Thank you so much for this recipe it is very detailed. I would like to know the approximate percentage of alcohol i may achieve with this recipe. Will i get up to 5% alcohol?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Jemmy,

      I don’t think you would achieve 5% alcohol with this method. You would need to employ an entirely different brewing method, likely requiring some sort of beer yeast or champagne yeast. Alcoholic ginger beer or cider is a whole other ball of wax 😉 xoxo

      Reply
    1. paula

      hi there, i just finished my secondary fermentation (after 8 days) and the beverage is really sour and i really believe that there is more alcohol in there than it is supposed to be. could it be harmful? is there any way how to find out the alcohol percentage? thank you for your answers 🙏

      Reply
      1. Julia Post author

        Hi Paula,

        You would need special equipment that measures alcohol content in order to have an accurate idea of how much alcohol there is. Fermenting ginger beer under a short period of time will not result in very much alcohol, so I wouldn’t say it’s harmful. If it tastes offputting to you, it’s best to start over. xoxo

        Reply
  14. Andrew

    Hi there. I’ve just started my bug and am wondering about flavouring the ginger beer. Is it doable/advisable to put a few sprigs of fresh herbs (say mint) in with either the initial or secondary ferment? I tend to like my ginger beer on the drier side, so would like to avoid adding simple syrup. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Andrew,

      The first fermentation must be just the base recipe – you can add flavors for the secondary fermentation.

      The residual sugar content is dependent upon the amount of time it ferments, so to get a nice flavorful but dry ginger beer, simply allow it to ferment 3 to 5 days for the secondary fermentation. For a mint flavor, I would combine 1 cup water, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 cup fresh mint leaves in a saucepan. Bring it to a full boil, then remove it from the stove top and allow it to sit for 1 hour. Strain the mint leaves, then add the liquid to the ginger beer for the secondary fermentation.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and happy brewing! xo

      Reply
  15. Lori Garrity

    Hi thanks for great post – I finally got a healthy bug – funny had 3 variations and only 1 took off so happy lol bubbling now – my ? is for 2F – I am very interested in trying some of your favorites specifically these 2 –
    how do you make these? – still a simple syrup? if so how much water in each and any other tips?? for 2F with these combos..
    Grapefruit Rosemary (1 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 sprigs rosemary)
    • Coconut Basil (1 can full-fat coconut milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fresh basil, packed)

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Lori,

      I’m so happy your third attempt at a ginger bug worked! It really can be a challenging process, as you’ve experienced!

      No need to add water to either one of those flavors – the ingredients you listed are all you need. Simply heat the ingredients in a saucepan to boiling, then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to sit for at least 1 hour. Then strain out the herbs (rosemary and basil) and add all of the liquid to your ginger beer (should be just under one gallon of ginger beer). Stir it all together and pour into your glass bottles. Allow the bottles to sit for 3 to 5 days (3 if your house is very warm, 5 if your house stays less than 70 degrees), then refrigerate them. And let me know how it turns out!! Happy brewing! xoxo

      Reply
  16. Annie

    Other recipes tend to show that you can use the ginger bug starter mixed with water and other ingredients and immediately bottle it. How come you have the extra 8-9 days of fermenting before bottling?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Annie,

      The 8 – 9 days is your fermentation process. The versions you have seen that bottle right away may work, too, but they will likely result in far less probiotic content and may not become fizzy. If you don’t mind that, the quicker version is just fine! xoxo Happy brewing! 😀

      Reply
  17. Heather Andrews

    Right at the beginning you mention lemon juice required to make the starter, then all later references don’t include it… please clarify. Thank you for this post… very keen to try it

    Reply
  18. Hannah

    Hi, I have followed your recipe but halved the quantities for the beer and I’m 3 days into the fermentation process. I’m wondering how it should taste by now as the amount of ginger you add doesn’t seem like very much compared to the amount of water. I just tasted it and it tastes very yeasty but not very gingery. Will the flavour improve as it ferments or should I add more ginger? Some recipes require boiling ginger and water before adding the bug, is this to create a stronger flavour? I’m new to this and would appreciate some clarification. Thank you

    Reply
  19. Katie

    Hi!
    Thanks for sharing such great detailed instructions for brewing ginger beer! I have a few questions I’m hoping you can help with.
    I was wondering if we are able to bottle using mason jars if we don’t have the flip-cap/swing-top bottles? I have 16 oz mason jars I was hoping to use.
    If so, how much flavoring of simple syrup concoction would you fill up vs ginger beer? With honey having anti-bacterial properties, should that not be used as a flavoring agent? (Curious since I love the honey + ginger combination)

    Also, when bottling, do you leave any head space or fill it to the top when capping it off? And if I read another commentor’s question above correctly, we would strain out fruits & herbs from the syrup mix used for flavor, but we do not need to strain out ginger from the ginger beer itself, is that right?

    Thanks a bunch!
    Katie

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Katie,

      I wouldn’t recommend bottling the ginger beer in Mason jars, because the pressure builds quite a bit and removing the lids from mason jars could be difficult or even dangerous. I recommend flip cap bottles because you can pop open the lids pointing away from you so if there is any overflow, it isn’t directed toward your face. I don’t mean to scare you, but I would hate for you to go through all the process and then have a difficult time getting the jars to open.

      When flavoring ginger beer, I use about 1 to 1.5 cups of whatever I’m adding per 1 gallon of ginger beer. For instance, if I’m making a blueberry flavor, I do 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup water and 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar on the stove top, boil it, let it cool for an hour, mash up the blueberries and add all of it (blueberry pulp included) to the ginger beer prior to bottling. The pulp actually works wonders for the probiotics (because: fiber) and results in a very fizzy beverage! I just stir everything up really well so that each bottle gets an even distribution of the flavor mixture. As an alternative, you can add the same amount of the flavoring (again, including any pulp) to each bottle prior to adding the ginger beer. Yes, be sure to keep some space at the top of each bottle to allow the pressure to build. I fill mine just below the neck.

      I’m not too sure about the honey question. I personally wouldn’t do it because I wouldn’t want to disrupt the bacteria, but there isn’t a good way of testing the bacteria content at home, so I can’t be too sure how much it would effect the ginger beer. I know that’s not a super helpful answer, but to summarize, I’d pick a different flavor 😉

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and happy brewing!! xoxo

      Reply
  20. Stuart Purcell

    Hi Julia,

    Thanks for making such a comprehensive and interesting post on probiotic ginger beer.
    My question is : if made according to your instructions, is the drink suitable for children or is it deemed an alcoholic drink with more than 0.5 percent of alcohol.
    We used give our children kefir with all its health benefits but we wanted to try something new.

    Many thanks,

    Stuart

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Stuart,

      That’s a great question…in short, I don’t know! Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell how much alcohol ends up in the ginger beer since the strength can vary per batch, and I don’t own a hydrometer 🙁 I would definitely err on the side of caution until I buy a hydrometer and can test it myself among several batches. Stay tuned! xo

      Reply
  21. Douglas Anderson

    I have been researching ginger beer recipes as it is one drink I truly enjoy, the criterion being that it is vegan.
    This recipe of yours seems to be a perfect start point, however, I am going to make one change; instead of organic cane sugar I want to use molasses giving it a darker colour, and while I know that this may change the flavour slightly I am willing to give it a try. I will let you know how it turns out.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Oh I love the idea of using molasses! That will give the ginger beer such a unique and rich flavor. Looking forward to hearing how you like it!! xo

      Reply
  22. Joy Miele

    Does the probiotic Ginger Beer have the alcohol content of a normal beer (3-5%)? Stronger like a microbrew? Or just trace amounts like Kombucha?

    Reply
        1. Julia Post author

          Hi Joy,

          I wish I could give you the clear on that, but I can’t be sure. Without measuring the amount of alcohol, it is difficult to know how much is actually in it, and the strength varies per batch. My gut says it would be fine because it is typically less than 1% alcohol, but if there is any concern at all I don’t think it’s worth it 😀 Hope that helps!

          Reply
  23. Patti Philpott

    Thank you for putting this instruction together. You mention feeding the ginger bug water, ginger and sugar to keep it going. Do you feed this the same volume of water/ginger/sugar as the original bug or a different amount after taking out a cup of the liquid for the ginger beer ?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Patti,

      You can continue feeding it the same amount as the original bug 😀 Once the starter has matured, you can likely drop the feedings to less frequency (similar to a sourdough starter).

      Reply
  24. Cheyenne Weatherhead

    Hi Julia. I was wondering if you would be able to use local honey for this? Also, is this able to be bottled such as beer? What process what the entail to kill the yeast? Thank you! Can’t wait to make this.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Cheyenne,

      I’ve never tested ginger beer using honey, so I’m not sure. I know some people have had success using molasses. If you’re okay with experimenting, I think it’s worth the try, but I’d hate for you to go through the whole process and not have it work out.

      You do want to bottle the ginger beer once it has brewed 😀 This is an important step in getting it to be nice and fizzy.

      Reply
  25. Annemarie Woltmann

    Hi there, my ginger bug is 8 days in and looks good. It also tastes strongly fermented with a good ‘sting’, but I’m. It seeing or hearing bubbles. Is this just a matter of time or am I missing the boat or can I proceed with starting a batch. I’m keen! And thank you for this great recipe and for responding to everyone’s questions.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Annemarie,

      Do you notice any bubbles if you stir it? It is definitely possible the bug is working, but I would hate for you to go through the trouble of making a batch and not have it work out. I would leave it up to you and your intuition…if the bug definitely tastes fermented, similar to kombucha, I personally would go for it. Hope that helps 😀

      Reply
  26. Annemarie

    Sorry, I realise that didn’t write properly. I’m not “seeing or hearing” bubbles! Thank you ?

    Reply
  27. LJ

    I am on my second attempt of making my ginger bug. The first one I kept in a dark cupboard and it looked good the first 2-3 days with bubbles, but then suddenly it stopped fizzing and making progress. The second one is currently on a seedling warming mat and again looked good for the first 2 days, and now has stopped producing any bubbles or noise. Both times I have never had a white substance on the bottom that I can see, just a bunch of ginger. The ginger also has a penchant for floating to the top and staying there. Do you have any troubleshooting tips?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi LJ,

      It is common for bacteria/yeast to be active a few days in and then go dormant after a couple of days and bounce back around 7 days (this happens with sourdough starter pretty frequently). I wouldn’t be concerned about the lack of presence of white substance since the starter is still young. If it were me, I would just keep at it. As an alternative, if you’re feeling bold, use the starter as soon as you see the bubbles…the culture will not be very mature, but it could still work! Let me know if you have any other questions! xo

      Reply
  28. Itsorbbro

    Hello Julie,

    Thanks for your informative blog on not only ginger beer but ‘growing’ a ginger bug.

    As a Covid project, started a ginger bug & beer and my first attempt didn’t work too well due to it not getting hot enough.

    However, the 2nd attempt, we tried a ginger with tumeric bug and it really took off well. Upon secondary fermentation, we tried 2 flavours: maple pear ginger tumeric and apple ginger tumeric. Happy to report the maple pear is a great combo!

    Thanks again for the brew recipe and the coconut milk idea. Since our last brew turned out well, we plan to do a cold spin on golden tea next 🙂

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      I’m so happy to hear round two worked! That’s so cool you used turmeric too…I will definitely be trying this, myself! Thanks so much for the feedback, and enjoy! Happy brewing 😀 xoxoxo

      Reply
  29. Nathan C

    Hi! I’m on week one of the first fermentation and I’ve yet to see any bubbles form, even when stirred. The yeast is building up on the bottom on top of the grated ginger, though. I added a little more ginger (it wasn’t gingery enough for me) in hopes that it would kick start it some, but it’s still very flat and sweet. I make kombucha as well and know you can let it go up to 2 weeks in the first fermentation. Is this ginger beer the same way? I’m going on vacation for a week and just want to be sure I won’t come back to it ruined. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Nathan,

      The starter is tricky, for sure. Sometimes they take off almost immediately and sometimes they take a while to activate. It can take anywhere from 2 days to a couple weeks to get the starter going, and even then there is no guarantee that the probiotics will grow enough to culture. The key seems to be the temperature of your home…if it is consistenly between 70 and 80 degrees, the starter will be more likely to work…any cooler than that and it can be hit or miss. It may be worth starting a new ginger bug using different ginger to see how it goes and do a side-by-side comparison. I hope this helps! xoxo

      Reply
  30. Jennifer Rose

    Hello!

    Thank you for such a thorough recipe. I just finished my first successful ginger bug and brew. I didnt have a grater so I finely chopped the ginger which seemed to work. Can I re-use the ginger pulp from the first batch to continue the second batch?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Jennifer,

      Great, I’m glad the chopping worked! I’ve never tried re-using the ginger so I can’t be sure whether or not it would work. If it were me, I would go with fresh ginger just to be sure. Happy brewing! xoxo

      Reply
  31. Mida

    Hello, what do you recommend we do with the bug if we do not want to make ginger beer regularly? Can I put it in the fridge and then take it out when i need it again?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Mida!

      I haven’t tried keeping a ginger bug alive without continuously using it to brew, so I can’t be too sure, BUT I think you could keep it in the refrigerator the way you would sourdough starter. This will slow down the activity of the probiotics and yeast substantially, so just note that they will not live forever when refrigerated. My guess is this would work for about 2 weeks before they start to die off. Let me know if you try it and are able to successfully revitalize the starter for a new batch! xoxo

      Reply
  32. Mernie

    Hello there,

    Thank you so much for the very detailed discussion about this process. I have a bug, which took me about 2 weeks to get started (London house in May)., and it was your blog that gave me the confidence to just keep trying with this one (whereas the others I had thrown out too soon.) These days it seems the bug is almost too active, if that’s even a thing. The last batch I made, 2 liters with about 2/3 cup sugar (I wanted to try going light) bubbled up explosively in about 3 days and all the sugar was gone! I put some added sugar in and put it in the fridge to slow it down. I am not sure why this is happening. But my question to you is about your process of keeping the mixture open as a primary ferment before bottling as a second. Many online recipes suggest bottling immediately which is what I had been doing. What is the difference and outcome between leaving it out covered with a towel vs putting it into the bottle to ferment?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Mernie,

      I leave it covered with a towel to allow the probiotics and yeast air to breath. This helps with their reproductive process, where when you bottle a fermented beverage, the fermentation process slows down. It sounds like slowing down the fermentation would be a benefit in your case, so perhaps bottling it right away is a good move for you! Let me know if you have any other questions! xoxo Happy brewing!

      Reply
  33. MaryAnne

    Thanks SO much for the instructions – I have researched dozens of sites and yours is the ONLY one I can find that doesn’t boil the ginger. I think the ambient-temperature fermentation yields a better probiotic drink since everything ferments at room temperature and without heat. I’ve brewed several batches so far, fermenting naturally without yeast and getting satisfactorily fizzy ginger beer.
    Instead of the secondary ferment in flip-top bottles which have to be burped, I’m doing the current secondary fermentation batch in mason jars with airlocks so I can still observe progress but won’t have to expose it to air as when you burp the flip-top bottles.. Will be interesting to see if it makes a difference. After that, it goes into flip-tops and into the fridge to chill and enjoy : )
    Thanks again and keep the info coming!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Thanks so much for the sweet note and feedback, MaryAnne! Do feel free to keep us updated on your batch! I’m interested to know how it turns out 😀 xoxoxo Enjoy!!

      Reply
  34. Tifany Clark

    Hello! I am wondering for getting the brew batch going do I use just the liquid from the ginger bug or just take a one cup scoop from all of it, ie: including the bits of ginger? Thanks!

    Reply
  35. Joaquin Santana

    Hi Julia!

    I am wondering if I can a double the recipe and use all of the ginger bug. I did it the first time and it was a hit and I am trying to do a bigger batch.

    Thank you,

    Joaquin

    Reply
  36. Joaquin

    Hi Julia!

    Thinking of doubling the recipe. Do I use two cups of the ginger bug which all of it? Or I should not double it. Would it affect the fermentation process?

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Joaquin,

      You can definitely double the recipe by using all of the ginger bug! It won’t affect the fermentation process. Just be sure you use one large jug for the batch, or if you break it between two jugs, make sure the same amount of ginger bug ends up in both jug 😀 Let me know if you have any other questions! xo

      Reply
  37. Caraline

    Hi! Very excited to try this- my starter is in the pantry and is already starting to bubble! I am wondering if using a plastic gallon jug for the first fermentation will impact the quality of the ginger beer… my roommate goes through milk like crazy and I don’t have glass jars on hand larger than 16oz. Will the plastic give me problems? Is it a better move to use several smaller glass jars? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Caraline!

      Yay, exciting!! It’s probably ready to use then! I would recommend using glass for sure. Plastic can interfere with the fermentation process. Hope you love the end result! xoxo

      Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      You could leave it at room temperaure for a few days and see if it springs back to life. If it’s still flat after a few days, I would start again.

      Reply

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