What is Ginger Beer?
Recently a friend of mine told me that he was making homemade ginger beer and explained what that meant. You see, most ginger beer is not the true and authentic version of how it started almost 300 years ago in Great Britain. Real ginger beer comes from something known as the Ginger Beer Plant (GBP). Although it is not a plant as you would traditionally think about it, it does need constant feeding and continuously grows in size. This means as you make more ginger beer, you increase your capacity to make more, but the tradition is to hand down excess to people who are interested in making their own as it’s been done for 300 years now.
Because I’ve wanted to make something myself for a long time, but could never find the right endeavor… the rare opportunity to get an original plant combined with the traditional history that goes back 300 years, it was the perfect fit. Not to mention one of my favorite cocktails is a Moscow Mule.
I came across this article courtesy of the New Scientist Magazine. It really gives you some history and interesting facts… please to enjoy:
Summer was once the time to quaff ginger beer, served up in brown stone bottles. All over the British Isles people relished its frothy, fizzy gingery tang, enhanced by an alcohol content that temperance campaigners warned could rival that of strong London stout. Best of all it was virtually free: you could make it at home with just a bit of sugar, ginger, water and a ginger-beer “plant”.
No wonder, then, that this plant was a family heirloom, passed from mother to daughter and father to son. But it wasn’t your typical green, leafy kind of plant. This was a sloppy mess of whitish, gelatinous lumps that typically lived in a jam jar. Exactly what this stuff was, nobody had a clue. It worked, and that was enough.
But in 1887, a 33-year-old botanist called Harry Marshall Ward became curious. When a famous friend at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, gave him a specimen, he was hooked. Unwittingly, he had embarked on a Herculean labour. “Had I known how long and difficult a task I had set myself,” he later remarked, “the attempt would possibly have been abandoned at an early date.”
EVERYONE knew that Harry Ward could never resist a challenge. On a visit to his old mentor, the director of Kew Gardens, Ward couldn’t help but notice the bottle of ginger-beer plant, perched on a shelf in the director’s study. “There is a thing you have to worry out,” suggested William Thistleton Dyer, knowing all too well of Ward’s penchant for botanical mysteries.