My excellent adventures making ginger starter for ginger beer

Start of ginger starter

I had a craving for spicy, alcoholic ginger beer about a week ago. I remembered the taste of a homemade ginger beer which someone brought to an event. It had a good alcoholic kick.

Since Debbie made a batch of ginger beer when we were staying at Punggol, I asked her for tips on how to make ginger beer.

I was also driven to make my own ginger beer because my haughty relative is making his own rice wine and vinegar. I cannot lose to him!

Debbie’s recipe follows Sandor Ellix Katz’s guide. Instead of using store-bought yeast, you harvest the yeast in the air and let it ferment naturally.

I read the guides and promptly forgot about them. I believed that making yeast was just like Chinese cooking that doesn’t really have exact measurements for ingredients (“Some soy sauce to taste.”)

No wonder my first batch turned out horrible. I made a pure ginger juice and sugar mixture. The next day, I added more ginger and sugar. Until the 6th day, there didn’t seem to be any fermentation going on although I smelled phantom fermenting going on.

Ginger in sugar syrup

So Debbie suggested I keep the ginger sugar syrup for later and make a new batch. I immediately started early in the morning. To my amazement, by evening, there was already bubbling going on in my new ginger starter.

I was excited. I cooed at my jar of ginger starter, already naming it Ginger and thinking about our future together.

Fermenting ginger bug

At night, I read up more about making ginger starters. I even clicked through to Page 4 of Google Search.

The next morning, there was more fizzing going on in the jar. I fed it with one Chinese spoon of grated ginger and one Chinese spoon of sugar. In the afternoon, there was still fizz but I kept bothering it too much that the fizz hid away from me.

Then I began reading about making ginger beer. Wait a minute, it seems like I still need to further ferment the bug with water + ginger + sugar for a long period of time before it could turn into ginger beer.

I panicked. I would be away for about 2 weeks almost 2 weeks from now. Does this mean I cannot drink it?

Debbie’s suggestion was to bottled it up today so I can make it in time. But I still love my starter too much to bottle it up although I promise to start the bottling first thing after breakfast tomorrow.

Cheers to a lovely 2 liter batch of spicy ginger beer in 2 weeks’ time.


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