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Ginger Ale!

Is an awesome carbonated drink you make with ginger. You already knew that, though, so now Im going to tell you some facts to impress your friends with.

A Recipe!
Making ginger ale is a super easy process. Lets go through the process to make enough to fill a 2-liter bottle: Ingredients 2-liter plastic bottle 1 - 4 tbl grated ginger (or 2 tsp ground ginger?) 1 cup sugar 1/4 tsp bakers yeast 1 lemon, juiced (~2-3 tablespoons) lukewarm water Instructions 1. Add the sugar to the bottle, along with the water. Cap the bottle and shake well to dissolve. 2. Add the grated ginger, lemon juice and yeast to the bottle, shake lightly to combine. 3. Leave the bottle at room temperature. Squeeze every so often, refrigerate when the bottle gets firm. 4. Once its cold, drink and enjoy! You might want to strain it when you pour it into a glass. Keep your options open! 1. Looking for more of a kick? Double the ginger and add a pinch of cayenne pepper! Honestly adding cayenne to a drink sounds insane, but check the ginger beer at a bodega they totally list capsicum (chili pepper) as an ingredient! 2. For something a little more citrusy, cut a few strips of lemon peel and muddle with the sugar. The sharp sugar grains will draw the oils out of the lemons, and then youll have nicely lemony sugar. 3. Mash cup berries or a handful of mint sprigs with the sugar, and then proceed as usual!

A tiny history of ginger ale

People have been drinking fizzy water forever mineral water bubbled up from the ground, and everyone thought it was great (and a little magical). In the early 1800s apothecaries figured out how to carbonate water and add in flavors, and soda was born! Ginger ale itself was invented in Ireland in the 1850s and was immediately a hit. It led the pack for a long while from around 1860-1930 it was the most popular soft drink in America! After that cola took the lead and ginger ale fell by the wayside.

Types of ginger ale

Golden Ginger Ale is what we now know of as ginger beer. It has a stronger ginger flavor with a healthy dose of spiciness. You can usually find it in stores parading around as Jamaican Ginger Beer. The Jamaican comes from the type of ginger historically used for ginger beer, not because its actually from Jamaica. Dry Ginger Ale is what you generally see around. Its light colored and not super gingery. It became popular during Prohibition thanks to golden ginger ale being too strong to be a good mixer with bootleg liquor. Canada Dry derives its name from this type of ginger ale. Ginger Beer in a historical context is different from whats passed off as ginger beer these days. It was a true alcoholic beverage, and made from a yeast-y, bacteria-y organism called Ginger Beer Plant (sort of like kombucha or kefir).

Brooklyn Brainery: Soda Making Basics - Ginger Ale. Drop questions, comments and neat pictures to

The Details
First: the yeast. Yeast is, basically, a one-celled fungus. Delicious, right? Were using it for the same reason it makes bread rise or beer bubble air production. The yeast eats up carbohydrates like sugars and gives off CO2 in return. As the CO2 fills up more and more of the bottle, it eventually has no choice but to dissolve into the water. Voila, youve got carbonation! It does take a little while for the yeast to work, but it sure is cheaper than an $80 Sodastream machine. This is why we use a plastic bottle. You can always squeeze the bottle to see how carbonated it is, and once its nice and hard you can put it in the fridge to slow down the carbonation. I know Ive been guilty of using those fancy-topped glass bottles, but if they get over-carbonated theres always the chance that theyll explode all over your kitchen. Plastic bottles will make a mess, but glass bottles can be dangerous. The sugar and lemon juice are there both for flavor and to help the yeast grow. Yeast loves eating sugar and enjoys the acidic environment the lemon juice creates. As time goes on even after its in the fridge the yeast will keep growing and using up the sugar (it just grows more slowly in the cold). Thats why the longer your ginger ale sits in the fridge the less sweet it will become. Also, because the yeast is still growing, youll want to try to open up your bottles every day to let some of the pressure out. They probably wont explode if you forget about it, but its better than a fridge covered in ginger ale.

Q & A
Im not into sugar, will it work with artificial sweeteners? With honey? Agave? Dont trust the internet, artificial sweeteners wont work! Yeast is totally fine with honey or agave or anything nice and natural, though (it just cant eat the dextrose that the artificial stuff is made out of). If youre watching your sugar intake, replace some of the sugar with artificial sweetener so both you and the yeast can be happy. What if I dont feel like waiting for the yeast? If youre Dr. Moneybags, go out and buy a Sodastream. Itll carbonate water for you! Otherwise, make a simple syrup (google it!) with some slices of ginger in it. Let the syrup cool, and then pour it into some club soda. Easy soda! Id like to use less/more sugar! Or more/less ginger! Go nuts, really. Ive made it with twice as much sugar (too sweet!) and half as much sugar (not sweet enough!). As for the ginger content, youll want to play around until you get a mix you like. 1.5 tbsp. per liter is a little bit gentler than I personally like, but other people seem to be into it so its a good baseline. Can I use a glass bottle instead? You can use a swingtop glass bottle, but you need to be careful. You can squeeze a plastic bottle to see how the pressure has built up inside, but you cant with a glass bottle. Just let some carbonation out every day to be safe and youll probably be fine. What if I want to make other super fancy sodas and learn the history and history of soda in general? Well, my friend, youll have to wait until we open registration for the next round of classes!

Brooklyn Brainery: Soda Making Basics - Ginger Ale. Drop questions, comments and neat pictures to