Ginger Beer

It is remarkable how my diet changes with the seasons. The things I am interested in eating, the amount of food and even the preparation. We had a few days of warm weather last month and I instantly adopted a summer palate. I was interested in salads and simple meals. I also wanted bright, refreshing things to drink.
At a recent dinner at Longman & Eagle I had a whiskey drink with ginger beer that was pretty outstanding and got me wondering about ginger beer. I’ve heard it used to describe a variety of beverages, some containing alcohol, some not, some carbonated, some not. A little internet research seems to confirm that the term is applied to a range of liquids and the only common component is, well, ginger. I was interested in a non-alcoholic version that I could use as a mixer with soda or something a little stronger and  decided to give making my own ginger beer a go.

You’ll need a lot of ginger. Two and a half pounds of it, to be precise.  I was worried that I wouldn’t even be able to find that much ginger in one place, but by some amazing stroke of luck I came across this gorgeous piece of ginger that fit the bill. The ginger, some sugar and some lime juice make their way into a pitcher and chill in the fridge.

Man, this is some strong ginger beer. I couldn’t tolerate it on its own but I really loved it with soda and lots of ice. It mellowed out and was exactly the type of refresher I was looking for. It also plays very well in cocktails, so if you’ve been craving a Dark & Stormy, this is for you. Santé!

Jamaican Ginger Beer (from jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon)

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh ginger, roughly peeled
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 8 to 10 limes)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups of sugar

In a blender or food processor, liquefy the ginger and 2 cups of  the water for 3 minutes, then strain the juice into a large bowl or pitcher. Transfer the ginger pulp back to to the blender or food processor, add another cup of the water, and liquefy again. Strain again, adding the liquid to the first batch. Again transfer the pulp along with another cup of water, liquefy again, and add to the liquid. Press on the solids as much as possible to squeeze out as much of the juice as you can.

Once the ginger has given up all that it’s got, discard the mashed solids. Add the lime juice and 2 1/2 cups of the sugar. Mix well and taste. Add more sugar, a little at a time, until it reaches your preferred sweetness.

Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Shake before serving.

Makes about 8 cups.

24 comments to “Ginger Beer”

  1. Wow! That is a lot of ginger!! I have a ginger beer recipe for this book (great book by the way):
    http://www.amazon.com/Cool-Smoothies-Cocktails-Elsa-Peterson-Schepelern/dp/1845973895/ref=sr_1_49?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274201377&sr=1-49

    If my memory serves me correctly, it calls for about 2 cups of shredded ginger, 1 cup of brown sugar (I lowered it to a 1/2 cup), zest and juice of 3 limes, and a couple cloves. Place everything in a french press, pour boiling water over it, wait for it to cool, plunge, then refrigerate. To serve, fill half the glass with the ginger beer concentrate and then top off with something fizzy. Gingery, but not whomp you over the head spicy!

  2. This looks amazing! I cannot wait to try making it this weekend.

  3. oh my i love this! my mom makes something similar and now i really need to remind her to make it again!

  4. Katie, my motto is go big or go home! (no it isn’t. thanks for including that recipe, sounds good too)
    Jenny, do it!
    Shaheen, what a mom! Lucky you.

  5. I have been craving a dark and stormy! I’ve got rum and I live right in Chinatown so finding mass loads of ginger isn’t a problem. Dark & stormy here I come! Thank you.

  6. first – must check out L&E. if their gingerbeer/bourbon drink is anything like Big Star’s, we might have ourselves a problem. i don’t even like bourbon, and the ginger is enough to sway me into temporarily liking it.

    second – have been meaning to make that recipe from that book. the graham crackers in there rock, but the orange marmalade is way too bitter. so since i’m 1 – 1, i need a good tiebreaker :)

  7. Thank you for this– I love everything gingery & find that it’s only the really expensive brands of ginger beer that I like. making my own for the summer would be a much cheaper option! I like ginger beer for a gin shandy, too–it also mixes well with guava nectar, lime, & vodka, which was our house cocktail for a while.

  8. I can’t believe you posted this!!! My roommate and I made ginger beer last night. My roommate spends time in St. Vincent frequently where he learned the recipe. We used seltzer water, ginger, sugar, cloves, and mint. It is so delicious. I thought using agave nectar in place of sugar might be an improvement – and maybe some coconut milk .X_X.

  9. Heather, thanks for the tip on the Big Star drink-sounds good.
    BJG, your house drink sounds like a great idea.
    DASTAVE, whoa! great minds?! agave sounds like a good choice. I also think brown sugar would be worth a try…at least in this version.

  10. Wow. That is one intense looking beverage.
    We ordered a case of Cock & Bull ginger beer a few years back. It was divine in Moscow Mules = vodka + ginger beer + lime.

  11. thanks for reminding me of this fabulous summer beverage.
    I’m also a fan of Moscow Mules (vodka, lime, ginger beer).
    But on its own, sans alchohol, it’s a great pick me up with seltzer water.

  12. This is an interesting one! In Italy ginger beer is totally unknown, the only reference to it I ever heard of before being twenty or so, was in a very nerdy computer game, where you had to find ginger beer at a point… I always imagined it to be something boozy and very foamy (i think it exploded in the game at a given point); when I read your post, I felt like a twelve years old again. I think I did eventually taste something called ginger beer that was pretty awful. I’ll have to try this one, now :). Thanks!

  13. I have Karen Solomon’s book too and have been eyeing this recipe. Thanks for reminding me to try it–it looks so refreshing!

  14. Oh I love ginger beer! I had some homemade in Jamaica once, was incredible. I’ll have to give this a try.

  15. Lurker here, but had to comment on the ginger beer. Wild Fermentations by Sandor Kratz has a recipe for a naturally carbonated, non-alcoholic, ginger beer that is wonderful and mixes well with rum. It does take some time for the fermentation, but it is good and quite a experience just making it.

  16. Hey Tim and others,

    I am going to make this this evening and was wondering about agave, as well. Any thoughts on how much to use as a substitute for the sugar? Or should I keep it honest and go with sugar only? Thanks!

  17. Thanks for the info Susan, I will check it out. Title is very intriguing.
    Hey Jenny, I don’t use agave regularly, so I am not sure. It needs to be pretty sweet to offset the spice of the ginger. Maybe a mix of sugar and agave? It will be easy to experiment with, just add and taste until it feels right to you. Keep in mind that you’ll be cutting it with water or booze or something. Good luck and let us know if you end up using agave!

  18. Hi, Tim. This is an exciting discovery just in time for summer. I have never come across any recipe for ginger beer. It would be an exceptional complement to meals al fresco – especially for those not wanting alcohol. Thanks, Dan

  19. This ginger “beer” contains a lot of ginger, indeed. It has to be strong !
    Our diet also changes according to seasons (a lot of cooling down food), although this year spring in Europe is awfully cold and rainy (in my country, floods).
    One issue as regards the recipe; I have heard that ginger warms up a body; since you have a loooot of ginger in your drink, I am wondering how your body reacted for such a huge amount of warming up ginger :)

  20. Hey Tim. As promised, I made this on Friday and then patiently waited to drink it on Sunday on my friend’s veranda. I went with sugar, as i didn’t have an adequate amount of agave on hand. It was very refreshing post snack. I mixed it with just a bit of vodka and sparkling water. And it does warm the body up!

  21. Wow. I’m drinking this right now and dying. It’s so very, very spicy (but also delicious). We mixed ours with sparkling water and lots of ice too. It’s almost too hot to drink, but I’m hoping an overnight stint in the fridge will cool it off. Whew!

  22. Hey Tim. One more comment from me! I just finished stir-frying some fresh broccoli and asparagus with garlic and chili flakes. Things were starting to stick so I threw in a hearty dash of the ginger beer to finish off the cooking. The flavor that it added to the vegetables is spectacular!

  23. I love love love ginger and this just sounds like the best drink ever. Thanks for the idea!

  24. Super excited about this! My boyfriend LOVES Ginger beer! So he is out for a bike ride and I will be making this recipe as a surprise!! Hooray! Thanks! Love the Site!

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