I love ginger so much that I will drink or eat anything that has ginger in it. Ginger drinks are a special delight and should be enjoyed by everyone.Now not all ginger drinks are created equal and one must be careful not to confuse them. I am not talking about ginger ale but good ole traditional West Indian Ginger beer!
In the islands of the caribbean we make a an aromatic ginger drink that we like to call ginger beer. No, it is not beer in the traditional sense of the word but when in the islands don't ask for it by any other name but ginger beer. This really good drinks are spicy and burn like fire on the way down your palette. That is the very traditional ginger beer found in Trinidad - a really fermented brew that not only burns on the way down but also lights up your stomach briefly.
Ah, now that was refreshing, spicy yes and a drink that can really hit the spot is made right. One has to be careful because not everyone can make this drink that that would want to coming back for more. Ginger beer on the rocks is so good when sweetened just right and is even better when brewed correctly with that ginger smack at the back of your throat. One has to be careful with the ingredients because if you add too much clove the drink can end up with a sour taste instead of the wanted gingery flavor. Another item that can ruin a good ginger beer is the container used to ferment the ginger beer. Using plastic is a bad idea. The ideal container is one made of glass.
Ginger beer is the traditional drink of Christmas in Trinidad along with red and even sweeter Sorrell drink. However, my favorite is Ginger beer simply because of the burn that accompanys it. I remember the manufactures of Solo beverages used to bottle a ginger soda that came close to the local brew but it was not really the same but very good on a very hot day. There is a bottled drink that is made in Jamaica that I have purchased and tasted in the United States that comes close to the local brew. However, there is nothing better than the home brewed ginger drink known as ginger beer.
So what are the ingredients used to make a traditional Ginger beer drink? Well the first and obvious ingredient is the ginger root. However, one must get this first step right because the right ginger makes the most potent drink! It is best to get the ginger as fresh as possible. It must be firm and smooth and have a light shine to it. If you notice that the ginger root looks dull in color or is cracked then don't select these - they are not as potent as fresh ginger root. The rest of the ingredients include some lime or lemon juice or another citrus, try grapefruit. Some people prefer to put the lime or lemon peel instead of the juce in their brew. It is good to experiment you may come up with something that is different and delicious. Of course add sugar to taste, cloves (be careful not to add too much since this will spoil the drink and make it sour to the taste) and a cinamon stick. Others have added vanilla bean and mint. Of course over a period of time you would come up with your very own special recipe. This is my Tip of the day: Just add a dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters!
The fermentation process is special. Some people put the ingredients in a glass jar and put it out in Sunlight for a period of time. Others put everything in the jar and place it in the refrigerator while some like to put it in a cool corner in the kitchen. The fermentation process is does not take long from a few hours to a few days. You will determine what is best after a few tries. After the fermentation process is done the contents are then strained to removed the solid particles. The contents are then refrigerated and served cold or with ice in a glass. West Indians love ice in their cold drinks. The straining process also has its do's and don'ts. However, it does not matter how you do it as long as you are satisfied with the finished product. Some people use a strainer with some solids left behind; others use paper towel in a sieve to get out most of the solid particles while other use a piece of white cotton cloth to get the clearest drink.
Ginger beer is really a Christmas drink in Trinidad but some of the food bars selling Roti and other traditional local cuisine may have ginger beer year round. This is a mouth watering drink and a must try if you are visiting the islands for the first time. If you live in North America or Europe or wheresoever then you need to give the recipe a try. If you do please remember to come back here and tell us what you did that made your drink so special and yes... Delicious!
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