Ginger ale was the first soda that Emma Christensen, author of True Brews, had tried homebrewing, and it was an epiphany. The flavor of the ginger was so bright and clean. The squeeze of lemon complemented it perfectly, and the sugar rounded out the edges. It made her tongue tingle in the best possible way. She can’t help but think that this is what ginger ale was meant to taste like.
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 cup water, plus more to fill the bottle
- 9 Tbs. (4 oz.) white granulated sugar, plus more if needed
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 5 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons), plus more if
- 1/8 tsp. dry Champagne yeast
Peel and finely grate the ginger (a Microplane works well). You should have about 2 Tbs. grated ginger.
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Add the ginger and let stand until cool. Stir in the lemon juice.
Pour the ginger water into a clean 2-liter bottle using a funnel. Do not strain out the ginger. Top off the bottle with water, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace. Taste and add more lemon juice or sugar if desired. The extra sugar will dissolve on its own.
Add the yeast. Screw on the cap and shake the bottle to dissolve and distribute the yeast. Let the bottle sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until carbonated, typically 12 to 48 hours. Exact fermentation time will depend on the temperature in the room; soda will carbonate quickly at warm temperatures and take longer at cooler temperatures. Check the bottle periodically; when it feels rock solid with very little give, it’s ready.
Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 weeks. Open the bottle very slowly over a sink to release the pressure gradually and avoid bubble-ups. Pour the soda through a small fine-mesh strainer when serving to catch the ginger as you pour. Makes about 8 cups (enough to fill a 2-liter plastic soda bottle).
Adapted from True Brews, by Emma Christensen (Ten Speed Press, 2013).