My paternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright, included two recipes for ginger beer in her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wines. Traditionally ginger beer is made from the fermentation of ginger, yeast, and sugar and is carbonated, naturally sweetened, and usually non-alcoholic. It originated in England during in the mid-eighteen century and became popular in many of the former colonies of the British Empire, including the US and Australia. Today, the non-alcoholic version is popular in cocktails such as Moscow Mule and Dark and Stormy. At least two sites on the Internet offer up-dated recipes.
Here is Grandmother’s recipe for ginger beer in her own words.
The proportions of this may vary. Loaf sugar is preferable to moist; some say a pound to a gallon, other a pound and a half. Some allow but half an ounce of ginger (sliced or bruised) to a gallon, others an ounce. A lemon to a gallon is the usual proportion, to which some add a quarter of an ounce or half an ounce of cream of tartar. The white of an egg to each gallon is useful for clarifying, but not absolutely necessary. Some people put a quarter of a pint of brandy to four gallons of beer by way of keeping it; half an ounce of hops boiled in it would answer the same purpose. Boil the sugar, and shaved rind of lemons; let it boil half an hour. Clear the lemons of the white pith and put them in the wine. When cool, stir in the yeast (two tablespoonfuls to a gallon), put it in the barrel without straining, and bung close. In a fortnight draw off and bottle. It will be ready for use in another fortnight, and will keep longer than ginger pop. If cream of tartar is used, pour the boiling liquor over it, but do not boil it.
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