Kitchen Alchemy: Ginger Ale Post Mortem

So, after reading of Mark Frauenfelder’s ginger-ale experimentation via BoingBoing, I decided to try my own batch at home. I should note, however, that I ended up using Alton Brown’s recipe instead. Here are my notes:


– The recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of yeast, but I used a lot less than that. I was worried that the end product would have a strong yeasty afte-rtaste, but the end result was that while there was a mild yeast flavour to the drink, not enough carbonation occurred to make the drink suitably fizzy.

I think, in future batches, I will use more yeast in the recipe and maybe try a champagne or brewer’s yeast instead.

– Alton Brown filtered his ginger/sugar syrup before adding it to the water and yeast, but I just added the shredded ginger and filtered it out when I was ready to drink. I don’t have a control case to see if this affects flavour, so I’ll try filtering the ginger next time.

– Mark’s and Alton’s recipes both used sugar as sweetener for the drink. I subbed honey for a 1/3 of the sweetener, and I noticed that there was a distinct pleasant aroma when I simmered it with the ginger/sugar/water for the syrup. Some of this has flavour and aroma has carried over to the drink, so I’ll try it again in my next batch.

– I used some fresh squeezed lemon to add a little sour flavour to the drink and in future batches I’d like to try out spices like peppercorns and nutmeg to see how they affect flavour.

– Cooling the drink definitely helped with releasing CO2 when opening the bottle for the first time after fermentation. Plus, this is a drink you’ll want to enjoy cold.

– I’m also open to trying carbonated water and ginger syrup and bypassing the whole fermentation process if that works.

Those are my thoughts, and based on the thoughts of half of my family that tried the end product, it was a halfway decent drink. I look forward to experimenting and fine tuning the recipe to make a better ginger ale. Its fairly simple to make, and I highly recommend this to all amateur chefs.

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