A phone call from Jonathan my first flatmate in Wellington with the promise of a visit prompted a chat about related old friends in our early days in Wellington...which randomly led onto George Rose and Rebecca Hardie-Boys...originally from Mike's hometown Nelson who makes Organic Ginger Beer in New Zealand. A quick google and here we are on the roll of making our own Ginger Beer. I say a roll as it needs feeding daily [like the cat!] and you have to bottle weekly...a bit of a commitment!
It was Amelia's 15th birthday on Friday and it coincided with the first tasting. The bottle opened with an explosive 'POP' not dissimilar to the local drop we are more familiar with. And on the first sampling ...not too spicy and not too sweet...it was actually very good! All of the girls asked for seconds so we must be doing something right...and if nothing else it has been a bit of fun, a good science lesson in the production of gas from the yeast and sugar 'ginger beer bug'. The NZ company Phoenix Organics provides a 'How to make Ginger Beer' PDF as a resource for schools...a good home education kit too...the link is below, scroll down to the Ginger Beer section for the download.
Ginger Beer with Rebecca Hardieboys of Hardieboys Beverages.
Recipe for Ginger Beer Bug from Tony Simpson's book, "A Distant Feast"
10gm fresh yeast or 5gm dried beer or bread yeast
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp sugar
To make the bug:
Mix these ingredients together and leave for 24 hours, then 'feed' daily for 7 days with 1 teaspoon of ground ginger and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Strain and reserve both the solid and the liquid. If you want to keep the bug going for further brews, halve the solid, add the 400 mls of water and start again.
Keep bug loosely covered in a warm light place.
To make the ginger beer:
strained liquid from bug
3 litres cold water
juice of 2 lemons
1 litre boiling water
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger (optional)
Mix the strained liquid with 3 litres of cold water and add lemon juice. Dissolve sugar in boiling water and add to brew. For extra zing, add grated fresh ginger. Bottle the gingerbeer and keep for at least a week before using. It will get fizzier with age so take care opening it. Store in fridge when ready to drink..
NOTE: Beer yeast is available from home brewing stores. Don't use bread yeasts with added dough improvers.
In the summer it will be a good non-alcoholic organic thirst quencher for young and old and may stir a few memories for those of us that grew up with home brewed Ginger Beer in the garden shed and got their kicks out of the excitment and danger of opening a bottle left a little too long...how times have changed!