Reed’s seasonal six-pack. Photo courtesy
Reed’s Ginger Brew.
WHAT IS GINGER BEER
Ginger ale is carbonated water simply fllavored with sugar and ginger flavoring. Ginger beer, on the other hand, is brewed for deeper and more complex flavors and a sizzling ginger “burn.”
The basic recipe combines ginger, sugar, water, lemon or lime juice (for an acidic pH balance) and the ginger beer plant, a fungus that contains specific yeast and bacteria that aid fermentation. Other live cultures can be substituted, including brewers’ or bakers’ yeast, lactic acid bacteria, kefir grains or tibicos, another culture of bacteria and yeasts.
Brewers can add citrus zest, cayenne pepper and other hot spices, and blend-ins from nettle or dandelion beers.
After a few days of fermentation, you’ve got ginger beer, effervescent with natural carbon dioxide (as in the fermentation of beer).
Ginger beer originated in England, where it can be made with an alcohol content of up to 11%, or with no alcohol at all. In the U.S., it is typically found as an alcohol-free soft drink.