recipe for ginger beer bug

Proper Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Recipe

There was a time when ginger beer bugs were found on many a Formica kitchen bench, merrily blip blipping away. Old fashioned ginger beer bugs are something many of us remember from our childhood, and although you can google recipes for making ginger beer that involve yeast and seem to be ready to drink pretty much immediately, that is not the ginger beer that I remember from mine.

As the saying goes: Good things take time. Ginger beer, as my folks used to make, involved a mysterious "bug" that sat on the kitchen bench and needed to be fed every day. It bubbled away, sending out little lava explosions of ginger now and then that could entertain a bored child for longer than you'd expect.

The liquid was drained off it once a week and mixed with sugar, water and lemon juice, then poured into glass bottles and capped with a cruel-looking clampy thing.  

ginger beer bug recipe

The bottles went into wooden crates, then into a cool place under the house, accessed by the trap-door in the wardrobe floor (true story), in the bedroom that my sister and I shared. Dad would go and fish out a few bottles as required, and it was the best ginger beer you ever tasted. Dry and spicy and the perfect drink to quench a summer thirst.

The problem was, that summer under the house, it wasn't quite as cool as you'd think, and one night the ginger beer went off like BOMBS. My sister and I were petrified, and the remaining bottles were "gingerly" removed by Dad. So ended my childhood memories of ginger beer.

Some years ago, my sister and I decided to have a stall together to use the mass of lemons we both had. We were thinking about what to sell when we hit upon the idea of selling the ginger beer recipe with all the ingredients needed to make the cherished drink of our childhood memories. So the Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Bug Kit was born. 

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We measured our ingredients, downsized the recipe to fit in a preserving jar, and did some trial runs. The taste was a trip down memory lane, and unsurprisingly the debut of this product at the Ngatimoti fair in early 2008 was a runaway success. The Country Trading Co. store was founded later the same year, and the Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Bug was one of the first products.
The rest, as they say, is history, and in the following eight years, we sold thousands of these little jars of nostalgia. We sold that many of them that I often wondered if spice traders in NZ wondered why the demand for ground ginger suddenly spiked. But all good things come to an end, and eventually, we decided to retire the Ginger Beer Bug.
Now the Country Trading Co. Old Fashioned Ginger Beer Bug recipe is yours to enjoy. We had a lot of fun from it, and I hope you will too. While you're here - take a look at our other great products for your plastic free natural kitchen.
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  • Hi could you kindly help me with 40 liters measurements have a wedding coming in April and when can I start with the brewing
    Thank you
    Country Trading Co. replied:
    Hi Irene, that is exciting.  You can start now and just keep multiplying the quantities you make until you have enough. It will keep for a few weeks in a cool place so you might want to keep growing your bug until it makes around 10 litres per batch.  Good luck. On Fri, 10 Feb at 8:00 AM , Sunny <> wrote:

  • Thanks for this recipe. I am getting very keen to make Ginger beer again.
    I too stopped production years ago after an explosion. I will only make Ginger beer in plastic bottles from now on.
    Can’t wait to get started on this.

  • I am on day 8 and am wondering what to do with the raisins when I drain off the liquid and refill with water. Do I get fresh raisins, throw them away, or keep them?
    Country Trading Co. replied:
    Thanks for your question Anita, get fresh raisins.


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