Refreshing homemade Caribbean ginger beer recipe

4.6.15 | Recipe by Renz

A refreshingly delicious ginger drink, made using fresh ginger root and spices. Caribbean ginger beer is a 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 recipe" and "Barbados ginger beer", this drink is in fact, an "insert any island" drink. It is a Caribbean ginger beer.

It is a popular drink in the Caribbean, especially during Christmas time. 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 strong ginger flavor that burns your chest, so this recipe is more of a perfect blend of burn and sweetness.

Do not be alarmed by the word beer. 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 a little rum to their ginger beer making that version alcoholic.

The best way to pick fresh ginger

Since we are using fresh ginger, it is important we know we choose the best so that we get the best ginger beer.

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. Additionally, the harder it is to scrape away the skin with your nail, means it is 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 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.

  • Large ginger roots: The main ingredient, we are going to use these as is (with skin on) so make sure you scrub them well).
  • Flavorings: Lime peel, cinnamon stick, sugar, whole cloves, vanilla essence, and bitters all help to enhance the flavors.
  • Sugar: The main sweetener for this gingery drink. See notes for the type of sugar that can be used.
  • Raw rice (optional) - This helps with the fermentation of the ginger mixture. But can be skipped. The mixture can also be placed in the sun.

How to make ginger beer?

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.

Chopped up ginger on a chopping board

Combine the grated ginger with about 3 cups of water until fine and well blended. Pour that mixture into a wide mouthed gallon glass jar. What makes ginger beer so delicious is the blending of the flavors as it sits.

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

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 to the ginger juice and start to sweeten as needed. You may need to add more water so that you get the flavor to your personal preference.

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

Add the cloves and place the mixture in the refrigerator.

Once ready to serve, pour over crushed ice or put to chill and drink straight.


  • 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. And it can also be used as a base for some mixed drinks like the 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.

This recipe is a winner and I encourage you, even if you are not a ginger lover, to try this and let me know what you think. You can let me know in the comments or the recipe card below. 

This is 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?

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

Frequently asked questions for ginger beer.

What is the rice for?

I always get questions about the rice in my recipe.

Back in the day, 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, which makes it happen faster.

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

In the recipe, add sugar to taste, and note that a substantial amount is required, around 1/2 cup for a balanced sweet and ginger flavor. Adjust based on personal preference; less for a stronger ginger taste, more water if a milder flavor is desired. Use granulated (white) sugar to maintain the drink's color, but brown sugar or cane sugar is acceptable. Feel free to experiment with substitutes like agave, keeping in mind not to overpower the ginger, which is the star of the drink.


Once you have finished sweetening, make sure you store it in an airtight container, a glass bottle would be best. I love storing mine in these large glass jars. or even in rum bottles. 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.

What to have with ginger beer?

It is the perfect drink to pair just about anything with you want to eat. Some ginger beer with sweet bread, or a slice of cassava black cake, or even with pastelles.

Besides straight, I love to make a 1:1 mix of sorrel and ginger beer.

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.


  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 :)

  2. I love your description of the strong ginger flavor. It sounds wonderful.

  3. I too love all things ginger and I had no idea that rice was a fermentation aid, very cool!

  4. I had no idea you could make ginger beer! Can't wait to try this.


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