Ginger beer is a sweetened beverage made from fermented ginger. Usually, the beverage comes in carbonated and non-carbonated versions as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. Ginger beer is characterized for its sweet, tangy taste and strong flavor. Different regions create their own versions of ginger beer but in the Caribbean, Jamaican ginger beer is the most popular.
Unlike commercial ginger beer, Jamaican ginger beer is not carbonated. The classic Jamaican ginger beer is usually served around Christmas time in the Caribbean, but it’s enjoyed all year long. The drink is non-alcoholic and slightly sweet.
The good news is, you don’t have to travel all the way to the Caribbean to enjoy a cold, refreshing glass of Jamaican ginger beer. You can make your own brew at home, just follow the recipe below:
You will need:
4 large fresh gingerroot
2 limes or 1 lemon
1 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Start by washing the ginger roots very well and remove the skin using the back of a spoon. Once the ginger roots are peeled, grate them. If you are in a hurry, you can also use a blender to process the gingerroot though we don’t recommend it if you want the flavors to be extra robust. Set aside. Slice the limes and extract the juice. If neither lime nor lemon is available, you can use ¼ cup of grapefruit juice as a substitute.
In a clean wide-mouthed jar, add the grated ginger and add the lime juice, cloves, cinnamon stick and ¾ cup of sugar. You can add sugar gradually to adjust the sweetness. Add about 10 cups of boiling water to the mix and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover the mixture tightly and set it aside to steep to cool temperature.
Pop the jar to the fridge and chill for at least one week. After a week, get a large strainer and add a cheesecloth over to strain the liquid over to another wide mouthed gallon glass or ceramic jar. Press the solids firmly using the back of the spoon to squeeze out as much flavor as you can. Throw way the solids and close the lid tightly.
Add the remaining sugar to the liquid and stir until it dissolves. Pop the beer back in the fridge and chill for an hour before serving. You can serve the beer over crushed ice and a few sprigs of fresh mint.
Adjusting the Brew
You can adjust the base recipe to whip up your very own Jamaican beer. If you want to turn the non-fizzy beer into a fizzy one, mix the brew with soda water before serving it. You can also add cream of tartar to deepen the flavor of the ginger.
Note that the longer the brew is stored, the deeper the flavor develops. If the flavor is too intense, you can tame it down by adding more water. You can always add more sugar to adjust the taste according to the volume of water you added to the beer.