Ginger beer capital of the world

Letting out the ginger beer fizz
Letting out the ginger beer fizz

Round about the middle of August the little Yorkshire village where I live could become the world centre of ginger beer production. Signs, tasteful signs, because we are a Conservation Area after all, will proclaim ‘Calverley, where all that’s beer is ginger’. The Yorkshire in Bloom judges who last year gave us a Gold Award will be wined and dined on lashings of ginger beer. Our award will be better than gold, it will be ginger gold.

The village will be famous, very famous, though not for long. As round about the middle of September, the ginger beer crown will go to the city of Leeds, followed quickly by Yorkshire, pretty soon the whole of Europe will be afizz, you won’t be able to move for the stuff and it will be my fault.

Actually, I blame Noel, he spoke wistfully about the long hot summers of childhood, his thirst quenched with ginger beer made from a plant in a jam jar. Of course I’d never heard of such a thing, all the ginger beer I ever drunk was Ben Shaw’s finest. I never knew ordinary people could make pop, I’d tried it with a bottle of water, two Alka Seltzers and a sherbet lemon. It was certainly fizzy, but tasted like pickle water, though not as nice.

The ginger beer plant, not a real plant of course, more a kind of yeasty soup which bubbles gently as it’s fed sugar and ginger, used to be all the rage before the Second World War. The dregs of the plant are drained after the liquid is added to more water and bottled. Those dregs are divided into two and the whole process started again, giving more ginger beer seven days later, the idea being to keep one and give one to a friend.

Due to the magic of the interweb, Noel tracked down a genuine ginger beer plant. And so it began. The instructions were very clear in their warning about letting off the pressure from the bottles and the potential, however small, of explosions, and making sure they didn’t point at any soft tissue or any particularly weak partition wall.

So the first batch was made without incident, other than a minor graze from the force of the gushing gas, all that needed to be done was to find a new home for the divided plant. Then seven days later another…. and another. Doing a quick calculation I worked out that soon all 3000 homes in the village would have ginger beer plants, with that figure doubling every seven days. Soon ginger beer would be omnipresent and everyone would be enjoying it for the price of a bag of sugar and pot of ginger. Ginger beer every day, every hour, every minute, who could tire of such tasty goodness?

Seven days of ginger beer guzzling later and I’m starting to understand why those ever-dividing plants died out. There really is only so much ginger beer a girl can take. In the meantime – ginger beer plant anyone? 

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