T’ej beer (part of the 12 drinks of Christmas)

Perfect pint
This recipe isn’t in Brewing Britain but many, many more are.

T’ej beer part of the twelve drinks of Christmas

Starting today I’ll be posting 12 drinks of Christmas, these will be drinks that you can make at home and will either be ready to drink on Christmas day or, in the case of the last, it will help your mind and body recover after Christmas and ready for round two on New Year’s Eve.

Today being the 15th December means that there are just 10 days (including today), until the main event.  So, what can be ready in that time? Surely there is no time to make a beer? Well, yes perhaps there is how about some Ethiopian T’ej beer.


Just as normal grape wine or beer can differ from region to region or even from season to season due to the ingredients available so can pretty much any alcoholic (or non alcoholic) drink. In the case of the unofficial national drink of Ethiopia T’ej, the honey based drink not only varies due to the difference in pollen available but in strength from a I can cycle home 7% to an I’ll order a cab 14%. The wine is also look much more like a wheat beer as the yeast used means that most of the dead yeast cells will stay in suspension.

T’ej is more like beer (or rather traditional ale) too, in the respect that a bittering agent is added to counteract the sweetness. Just like beer too the brewers get very creative and the inside of the fermentation vessel, which is normally a ceramic pot, can be smoked in order to impart some complexity in flavour. The bittering plant of choice for the Ethiopian brewer is gesho which is more commonly known as shiny leaf buckthorn.

Outside Ethiopia Gesho can be hard to get hold of although one American Supplier Brundo.com will ship to much of Northern America, Europe, Australia, Japan and Oceania.


4.5 Litres/gallon Water
1kg/4 cups Honey
4 Gesho Sticks*
Small bunch Gesho Leaves*
(if using a yeast Lavin ICV D-47)

*If neither can be found then 25g high alpha acid (10%) hop will suffice.


Mix honey and water. You will need to place in a large container and shake it like mad. Leave to stand for 3 days then simmer the gesho sticks and leaves in the honey solution for 15 minutes. Allow to cool then place in your fermenting vessel or crock. If using yeast add when liquid has cooled to 25°c.

Leave to stand for 5 days then remove the Gesho. Rest for a day, strain then bottle.

Caution: this wine will still be fermenting, do not leave any bottles for long periods of time without “burping”, that is opening the top of the bottles occasionally so that air escapes.