Jamaica Ginger Beer

This Christmas, I decided on some ginger beer to temper the seasonal increase in Port, Sherry, wine and Laphroaig! It turns out that homemade ginger beer is really easy to make and is now a staple in my fridge. For those embarking on a dry January, you can drink this to your heart’s content as it is not a ‘beer’ and does not contain any alcohol – the fermentation process produces CO2.

My love affair with ginger started with my grandfather’s favourite cake: McVitie’s Jamaica Ginger cake – a moist, sticky affair with plenty of ginger heat. So, it seemed fitting to serve my Jamaica Ginger Beer in my grandfather’s old pewter tankard. It has a glass bottom and I remember Gramp filling my head with tales of men press-ganged into the English Navy for ‘accepting’ the King’s shilling. The glass bottom of the tankard allows you to see if someone has slipped a shilling in your drink and save you from a life of weevils and grog.

I firmly recommend that when you decant the ginger beer into a bottle, do leave plenty of ullage (the gap between the top of the liquid and the bottom of the stopper). The reason for this is that the ginger beer will continue to ferment – albeit at a slower rate – even after you place your ginger beer bottles in the fridge and leaving too little space for expansion on opening will create something akin to dropping Mentos into Diet Coke! I would also recommend burping (opening the bottle top to allow excess gas to escape) the bottles on a daily basis.

Makes 3 x bottle (750ml)

about 250g fresh root ginger
400g unrefined sugar – I used Panela
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp fast action yeast
2 litres filtered water


The day before…    wash and coarsely grate the ginger into a large bowl. Add the sugar and pour over 2 litres of filtered, boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Leave to cool to blood temperature before adding the lemon juice and the yeast. Stir again, cover a leave to ferment for 24 hours.

The next day… Using a fine sieve or muslin, filter out the grated ginger before filling your sterilised bottles – leaving plenty of ullage – and transfer to the fridge. The ginger beer will keep happily for at least a week in the fridge – although mine never last that long! Once cold serve over ice with a slice of lemon or lime or a spirit of mint …



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