Monday, December 10, 2012

The Ragoo Family's Ginger Beer Recipe

I have a confession.  Ready? It took me years before I could drink a single glass of ginger beer. There, I said it, I was never a huge fan.  It is truly one of those beverages that you'll either love or hate, and for a long time, I hated it.  I disliked the one thing that everyone seems to love about it; that burning sensation in your throat after one sip.  Some say that's how you can tell a good ginger beer, from a bad one-the burning. I suppose the burning from this beverage makes it a great contender for a sore throat or cold. My mom makes this every year during Christmas time, like most Caribbeans, and all I could ever drink was one small glass, with lots of ice.

Ginger beer is a spicy (from the ginger of course) beverage typically made during Christmas time in the Caribbean.  A classic ginger beer is made by soaking grated ginger and various spices in water.  It is placed outside in sunlight for a few days to ferment, it is strained and then served over ice. It certainly has a bite and packs a punch with its fruity notes and warm aroma provided by the clove, cinnamon, and citrus peel.  You can find ginger beer in the stores these days, but there is no comparison to the homemade version, simply because of freshness.

Last year after complaining to one of my blog fans, Kumar Ragoo, about my love-hate relationship with ginger beer, he promised to send me his family's recipe, noting that since it is not a traditional recipe, I might really enjoy it.  What's different about his family's recipe is that they add ginger ale and orange soda to give it some fizz and added flavor. He explained how much of a hit this ginger beer is at their Christmas parties; everyone always loves it.  I was convinced and now here we are.  So what's the verdict? Kumar was right, I did enjoy this recipe.  What I loved was that I could customize it as much as I wanted by adding more or less of the orange and ginger ale sodas. There is a fine line though, adding more sugar towards the end and then a little bit of soda at a time, ensures that you don't turn this into a ginger soda, taking away from the fresh ginger taste.  

So if you are not a fan of ginger beer, I'd say try this recipe out, perhaps it might bring you along the adoption curve as it did for me.  Thanks to Kumar and his family for sharing with us his family's recipe!

Here is what you will need:

Soak all ingredients in one gallon of water.

You'll need 1 1/2 pounds ginger root.

Chop into pieces and peel.  You can grate by hand or place in food processor.

Add grated ginger to pot with water.

Give it a good stir and let it steep for at least 24 hours.

...The next day

Strain ginger beer, make sure to squeeze the ginger pulp to get every last bit of liquid out.  As you keep straining, the ginger will come out first then the rest of the ingredients.  Be sure not to pour all at once.

This is where Kumar's recipe differs, you can stop here and add as much sugar as you like or you can add a little bit of orange soda and ginger ale along with more sugar to sweeten up.

Give it a good stir and serve over ice.

The Ragoo Family's Ginger Beer 
Makes one gallon

  • 1 1/2 lb grated ginger root
  • 1/8 cup barley
  • 1/8 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1/2 orange peel
  • 1/2 lime peel
  • 2 tsp mixed essence 
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup orange soda - optional
  • 1 cup ginger ale - optional
  1. Grate ginger by hand or place in food processor.  Set aside. 
  2. Peel half orange and lime, set aside. 
  3. In a deep pot, add water, barley, rice, mixed essence, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves.  Stir in ginger. Cover and let steep for at minimum 24 hours. 
  4. The next day, strain beer, squeeze ginger to get most liquid out.  Add additional sugar to sweeten.  Add orange soda and ginger ale until desired flavor is achieved.


  1. Hi alicia,
    I love your recipes....i have a quick question. Can I use seltzer water maybe orange or meandering instead of soda

    1. Hi Rehana, I think that would be a great substitute!

  2. What is in the mixed essence and why do you use rice and barley? I can't wait to make this!

    1. Mixed essence is a combination if different types of artificial extracts (Almond, vanilla, Pear, etc) The scent note that is more prominent to me is the almond extract. I always have some mixed essence at home, but I think almond extract would be a great substitute if you can't get your hands on some mixed essence. You can try making your own! ;)
      The rice and barley are added for the same reasons they're added to some beers, to make it lighter. It makes it less spicy in my opinion, that way, we don't have to reduce the amount of ginger used and risk ending up with a watered down ginger "beer"!

      Bill, I hope you made some and it turned out great! :)

      Thanks Alica again, for a fantastic recipe!

  3. Can you specify EXACTLY is in mixed essence instead of "etc." Please explain how to make it. Every ginger beer recipe calls for it and nobody wants to give the secret away, it seems. Thanks!

    1. Mixed essence is sold that way check any Walmart or Amazon