Recipe: how to make ginger beer

Posted by Vuyi Qubeka on 8 October 2015

While on assignment in Stellenbosch, I learnt how to to make gemmer (ginger beer) – here’s how you can enjoy it too!

Also read: Christmas recipe – Gammon with a sticky orange and ginger glaze

‘First you’ll need two litres of water, two tablespoons of Robertson’s ginger powder, two cups sugar, one teaspoon of cream of tartar, a handful of raisins, the skin of the pineapple, and finally a teaspoon of yeast.’ Mamma Swartbooi (or gogo, to me) from the township of Kayamandi (‘a pleasurable home’, in Xhosa) was describing in detail the process of making gemmer (ginger beer), while we sat at Hartenberg Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Meanwhile, I sipped on their Shiraz and my taste buds encountered heaven.

For more photos: wanderlust in Stellenbosch
It’s ironic, I think to myself, that of all places, I learn about making this popular Xhosa drink in Afrikaans Stellenbosch. Then again, the town is one of South Africa’s purest sources of all things infinitely quaffable. And edible.


How to make gemmer / gingerbeer


  • 2 litres water
  • 2 tbsp Robertson’s ginger powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Handful of raisins
  • Skin of a pineapple
  • 1 tsp of yeast


Cooking instructions

  1. Melt the sugar with a little water.
  2. Simmer the ginger, raisins and the rest of the ingredients (except the yeast) for 20 minutes on a low heat.
  3. Allow the pot to cool for an hour or two, then add the yeast.
  4. Leave to stand for 10 to 12 hours.
  5. Taste the mixture and once you are satisfied, pour the gemmer into a bottle through a sieve. Serve well chilled.

You can follow my adventures on Twitter and Instagram.


Read our guide to Stellenbosch in the August 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

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