Refreshing Caribbean ginger beer

4.6.15 | Recipe by Renz
A refreshingly delicious ginger drink, made using fresh ginger root and spices. Caribbean ginger beer is refreshing drink enjoyed across the Caribbean islands.  
A tall, chilled glass of ginger beer with a slice of lime

I am addicted to ginger drinks!

I collect ginger ale by the cases. I have ginger tea in full stock. And well I love to drink a good old homemade ginger beer.

Ginger beer is a Caribbean favorite. Though you will see a lot of "Jamaican ginger beer" recipes and "Barbados ginger beer", this drink is in fact, a "insert any island" drink. It is a Caribbean ginger beer.

It is a popular drink in the Caribbean. It joins the likes of sorrel and ponche de creme as the main drinks at this time of the year.

Though we may all have some slight variations to our process, the drink is common island-wide.


What is ginger beer?

If you never had a ginger beer before it's definitely no comparison to ale.

Unlike ginger ale's slight taste of ginger, this drink has a very heavy flavor of ginger that can at times "burn your chest" with the spice and give you that real ginger kick.

Ginger beer consists of fresh ginger combined and left to steep for flavor, then sweetened to taste. Not only is it just delicious but it also has great health benefits. Because I mean, we know ginger is loaded with antioxidants and does amazing things for the body.

I am not too much of a fan of too much of the stronger-tasting ginger flavor that burns your chest, so this recipe is more of a perfect blend of burn and sweetness.

This drink is not really a beer. It is not considered an alcoholic beverage. But it does go through a fermentation process.

But we don't leave it long enough for it to get a full fermentation.

Some people add alcohol to their ginger beer making that version alcoholic.

Best way to pick fresh ginger

The best way to choose ginger is to make sure that it doesn't have too many wrinkles on the skin. When you start to see more wrinkles it means it's getting old.

Also the harder it is to scrape away the skin with your nail means it's also starting to dry out.

So the best ginger is one that has fewer wrinkles or is wrinkle-free and the skin is easy to scrape off.

If you happen to buy ginger root a few days prior to you using it to make your drink, the best place to store it would be in the fridge.

You can store it in a paper bag or a plastic bag.

Freezing is also a good option. I would chop it up prior to freezing it so that when I'm ready to use it to make the drink it is already chopped up.

Ingredients needed for this ginger beer recipe

The most important thing is that the ingredients, especially the ginger, are fresh to get a strong flavor.

Ingredients for making ginger beer, water, ginger, limes, cloves, cinnamon

The most important thing is that the ingredients, especially the ginger, are fresh so that you get a strong flavor.

  • Fresh ginger
  • Lime peel
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Cloves
  • Raw rice
  • Vanilla essence
  • Angostura Bitters

How to make ginger beer?

I don't want anyone to be wary of the beer term and think that follows that long process. It does not. This recipe for ginger beer is pretty easy to make.

A lot of sugar is needed for ginger beer, especially if you don't want that extremely strong ginger taste.

What makes ginger beer so delicious is the blending of the flavors as it sits.

And this is where you want to really make sure you get some nice, good, fresh ginger.

Which makes choosing good ginger so important as I mentioned above.

Chopped up ginger on a chopping board

With the clean fresh ginger, we are going to chop it up into chunks so that we can put it into the blender or food processor.

Combine the ginger with about 3 cups water until fine and well blended.

Then add in your lime peel, rice (if using), cinnamon stick and give it a mix. Let that sit overnight (up to 48 hours).

Now strain the mixture into a large bowl. You can use a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Get as much of the liquid out as possible.

Now add the rest of water and start to sweeten. You may need to add more water so that you get the flavor to your liking.

Once you find your spot, add in the essence, and bitters.

Add cloves and place mixture in a clean bottle and refrigerate.

Once ready to serve, pour over crushed ice .

What is the rice for?

I always get questions about the rice in my recipe.

Long time, to get the ginger to start fermenting, they would leave the blended ginger and spices in the sun for a few days to ferment. Instead of doing that, rice is used instead.

So if you don't have rice, or don't want to use it, you can leave the mix in the sun somewhere for 24 hours.

You have to make the ginger "sit" which is the fermentation part for the "beer". The lime and cinnamon addition while the ginger ferments lend for a great flavor.

Best sweetener to use

Now in the recipe, I say to add sugar to taste.

You will be adding a lot of sugar. I don't mean like 3 tablespoons. It might be way more than that.

Everyone has varying taste profiles with this which is why I didn't give an exact amount of sugar.

If you like your drink very very gingery, then less sugar is needed.

If you like it mild, then sugar AND more water might be needed.

Honestly, about a 1/2 cup of sugar is what I need to put to get to the balance of sweet and ginger I want personally.

So don't be afraid that you keep having to be adding sugar. I've always used granulated (white) sugar so as to not darken the color of the drink too much. Using brown sugar will adjust the color but it doesn't spoil the taste. You can also use cane sugar.

I have never tried using agave or any other substitute but you are free to "sweeten as you like".

Remember that ginger is the star in this drink so we don't want to overpower the taste too much.

Not just with sweetener but also when you are adding clove to the mix. Clove can overpower ginger surprisingly, so be careful how much you add to the mixture.

This is best served chilled, over some ice.

Close up of two chilled glasses of ginger beer


Once sweetened, always make sure you store it in an airtight container, a glass bottle would be best. I love storing mine in these large glass jars.

It keeps it fresh for a long time.

Then store it in the fridge.

It can be made well ahead of any event. Just make sure nobody drinks it out.


* Be mindful that you will continue to see sediment dropping when refrigerated even though you have strained the ginger beer. That is normal. If you have cheesecloth, that would strain better than a strainer if you really wanted to get more sediment out. But, honestly, it is not a real issue.

* If you would like to make this a boozy drink, you can add some rum or vodka to your batch of ginger beer. You And it can also be used as a base for some mixed drinks like Moscow mule.

* A great addition to ginger beer is a little fresh lime juice.

* To give it a little carbonated feel, add some sparkling water to replace some of the water used to make the drink.

A single glass of Caribbean ginger beer. Chilled and with some lime wedges

What to have with ginger beer?

It is the perfect drink to pair just about anything with.

From your entrees like orange ginger chicken, stuffing, pie, and a side of salad.

To have it with deserts like pone, pastelles or with some cassava black cake.

Is this drink alcoholic?

This is not an alcoholic drink based on my recipe. But alcohol is added so you have the option of making it alcoholic.

This recipe is a winner and I encourage you, if you are not a ginger lover, to try this and let me know what you think. It's some real ginger goodness.

What's better than making your own homemade version? Avoiding all those artificial flavors and also being able to control the "heat" level to your liking.

Have you ever made your own ginger beer?

Either way, this is such a refreshing drink.


  1. Hi, my mom was from Trinidad and we always had a huge bottle of her Ginger Beer in the fridge. She made it herself and would put it in a huge glass jar with a heavy cover out in the sun to ferment. I remember it being out there for days. It was the kind that burns which I LOVE! When you say "rice" in the ingredients, do you mean raw or cooked rice? I don't remember her putting in rice, do you know if that's common? I don't remember cinnamon either, but I do remember the cloves! YUM. Just wondering about the rice.

    1. I yes. It's raw rice. Rice helps to speed up the fermentation a bit with the ginger beer. You strain it off before drinking :)


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