ginger beer

Gingerly does it

Put aside the hoovering and get brewing. By Jake Yapp

Some things in life still feel grown-up, even though I'm kind of knocking on the door of my half-century. Buying a newspaper. Eating dark chocolate. Drinking red wine. Ok, fine, I'll say it - hoovering. Feels all grown-up. Fermenting.

That feels pretty darn grown-up. Last month I wrote about making kimchi, and how it has saved my life (this is a total exaggeration, but you know how The Media Is These Days).

My current obsession is making ginger beer. Another thing that seems like only a Proper Grown-Up could do it. Turns out it's ridiculously easy. And is preposterously satisfying. Does wonders for the ego.

All you have to do is shred 500g of ginger, add 350g of sugar and 12 cups of water. Add the juice of a few lemons, too, if you like. And leave it to do its thing. You have to 'burp' the jar(s) a couple of times a day, if you don't have a proper fermentation airlock thing - you know those things with water in that go BLOLLOP every now and then. I feel that 'burping' is a polite term for what's really going on, anatomically, in there.

Can you argue that it's vegan, if there are, effectively, little critters in there, eating the sugar and, er, 'burping'? I think so. Especially since ingesting them isn't necessarily the end of the road for them, anyway. Symbiosis and all that. I think of the bacteria as live-in pets. It is so completely mesmerising watching the bubbles form. I could watch it for hours. I'm serious. Those little guys are my babies. I love them.

Leave the ginger beer somewhere room temperature (although I put mine in the airing cupboard to get it going) and after 6-7 days, you can bottle it. But take care to put it in bottles that can handle some serious PSI. Because 6-7 days on from that, you have, effectively, a little stash of bombs, ready to go off. I'm not kidding. Reusing fizzy drink bottles is a good idea. But glass jars can and will explode. You can slow (but not halt) the fermentation process by putting it in the fridge.

Here's the other thing. Once the second fermentation has happened, the drink will be deliciously fizzy. Without adding any yeast or anything. This feels very grown up and amazing to me.

And after maybe 8-10 days of the second-stage fermentation, something even more grown-up happens, ummm. I hadn't remotely considered this, mentally guileless child that I am.

But after having taken a hefty few swigs one afternoon, to cool down, about twenty minutes later I noticed that my innocuous ginger beer had had Quite A Considerable Side Effect. And could now be considered much more 'beer' than 'ginger'. I had inadvertently made, uh… Booze.

I am going to leave it to you to decide just how fast I decided to whip up a second batch. Top tip, though, if you do: Take some of the old, grated ginger slurry from the first batch, and add it as a fermentation starter. Batch two is BLOLLOPPING (technical term) at a frankly terrifying rate of knots, at a cooler temperature. I have no idea what I'm in for.

But don't throw away the rest of the grated ginger - I boiled it with some sugar, garlic and chilli and a little salt to make an indescribably delicious chilli jam, which I am currently smearing over everything in sight. It feels jolly grown-up. And the grown-up drink I get out of it at the end is really only a small part of the joy of it. So, if you don't feel up to hoovering this weekend - try some fun adulting with a boatload of ginger instead.

For more from Jake, follow @jakeyapp on Twitter. To listen to Vegan Life Magazine Podcast, head to or search for it on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google Podcasts

ginger beer


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