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Corfu Ginger Beer

Article by V.P.

One of the local oddities of Corfu is the consumption of ginger beer, a drink popular in the United Kingdom but virtually unheard of elsewhere in Greece. It is a sweet and peppery carbonated drink, flavoured with ginger. Despite bearing the word ‘beer’ in its name, it is non-alcoholic.

The origins of ginger beer can be traced back to Yorkshire, where it first appeared in the 18th century. It was introduced to Corfu by the British Army sometime in the early 19th century after the Ionian Islands had become a British protectorate.

Local production began in 1860. The recipe calls for water, lemon juice, sugar and, of course, ginger, and has remained largely the same over the years.The ingredients are first mixed in a pot where they are allowed to ferment for a few hours. The drink is then bottled and the fermentation process continues in the bottle for five days. The carbon dioxide in the drink is the natural by-product of this process.

The result is a very refreshing drink, best enjoyed chilled on a hot summer day. Ginger itself has been a traditional component of folk medicine around the world for centuries. Ginger-lovers claims it is beneficial to the digestive system, that it can help prevent colds and coughs, reduce nausea and morning sickness. Not least, many consider ginger a powerful aphrodisiac, an ideal complement to Corfu’s warm summer nights.

Photo by V.P & S.Z.

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