File this one under projects that seem a lot harder than they actually are.
- A week or two ago, my wife tore out a couple pages in the New York Times Style magazine about a shop in Melbourne, Australia that combines style, bespoke fashion, and great food under one roof called Captains of Industry (here it is as an interactive online feature). Besides all the cool ideas and wavelengths that must bounce around in that shop, they apparently have delicious ginger beer. And they offer an informal recipe in the spread: take ginger, cut it up, add some lemon juice and sugar, toss in hot water and yeast, and give it 24 hours. Not that they had time or space to give any true exact quantities or anything. But hey, that's the fun of fermentation and kitchen experimentation.
- Well, it actually is that easy to make ginger beer, and I made a batch recently which was fizzy, super ginger-y and dry, and fantastic over ice. Ginger beer is essentially ginger ale but with a much sharper, more upfront ginger taste, and it's far less sweet. It isn't alcoholic, but because of its more assertive flavor it holds up beautifully in cocktails.
- Indeed, I was most happy to see if fulfilling its true destiny in a Dark 'n' Stormy cocktail, mixed with dark rum and a little lime juice to taste. The sweet undertones of the rum soften the spicy ginger to great effect—and when summer finally comes around for good in Chicago and it's sweltering again, the heat is made a little bit more bearable with one of these in your hand.
- Homemade Ginger Beer
- 1/2 pound fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 quarts boiling hot water
- 2 cups sugar
- juice of two lemons
- 1 teaspoon champagne or other yeast
- A couple tips for making ginger beer: first, don't do like I did and stuff all the ginger into the jug you'll be storing it in. Obviously, once it's done fermenting I needed to separate the ginger from the liquid or it would get spicier and spicier, and so I had a real time getting all the solids out of the bottle. Instead, let it steep in a large bowl or pitcher, then pour it into a jug and add the yeast
- Also, the kind of yeast you use matters when it comes to flavor. Champagne yeast is cheap and pretty good for this purpose -- check for a local brewing shop or order online. That said, it'll work with regular bread yeast and it will still taste pretty good.