US Ginger Beer Tasting & A Fresh Ginger Ale


The generosity of folks never ceases to amaze me; I recently received a parcel form the USA packed full of American Ginger Beers, courtesy of Mr. Abe of California, a true gentleman of ginger beer to whom I send my thanks. Abe himself has already conducted a very comprehensive tasting of US and Australian Ginger Beers which can be found here.
D&G Spicy Jamaican Ginger Beer
D&G also make Old Jamaica, a popular brand in the UK and one that did well in our “original tasting”. I have checked ingredients lists, etc. and this is definitely a different product.
In terms of taste, it is similar to the UK version, but is perhaps a bit richer and a bit sweeter. There is a nice kick of ginger and a good spiciness to the drink. The ginger beer has a medium fizz and is a suitable benchmark for a classic ginger beer. As you continue to drink it, the flavour deepens and you notice a slight creaminess, not butteryness, and a little gritty spiciness on the finish.
This was Mrs B’s favourite and my second favourite.
Maine Root Ginger Brew
Medium-low fizz. Very fiery, this has a very warming aftertaste. There’s a good depth of flavour and, after a while, the spice is quite hot. It’s a nice change to have a ginger beer that is not overly effervescent and, also, having one with a decent amount of heat. Superb.This also makes a flavourful, refreshing and, frankly, excellent Moscow Mule.

This was my favourite and Mrs B’s second favourite.

Reed’s “Extra” Ginger Brew
Unusually, this has a yellowy-green colour to it. It has a medium fizz and a nose that is reminiscent of sugar syrup, citric acid and home-made lemonade. Mrs. B also detected hints of baked beans and vegetable soup.

It has rather a home-made taste and is tasty. The bottle bills itself as having “extra ginger”, but from tasting it, I never would have known. One odd thing was how much it tasted like pineapple juice, particularly on the finish. Funnily enough, it does contain pineapple juice.

Cock ‘N Bull
Given the intrinsic link between this product and the Moscow Mule, at least historically, I was thrilled to finally be able to try this ginger beer. It was very, very fizzy and quite sweet. It had a medium heat, but it’s difficult to tell what is heat and what is just intense fizz. There is a very short finish and it’s a bit cloying.

It’s possible that this was never going to live up to my expectations, as I’ve wanted to try it for so long; but, good or bad, I’m so glad I got a chance to try it.

Buderim Authentic Australian Ginger Brew
The colour of cloudy lemonade, Aussie has a nose of citrus and ginger and a medium fizz. It is quite sweet, but there is some artificiality to the sweetness, which also makes it a bit cloying.

A.J Stephan Jamaican Style
This ginger beer is very herbal, with a nose of green leaves, such as crushed mint or basil. Mrs. B said it reminded her of a church and freshly cut flowers. After this journey of smell, I also thought it smelt a bit like old books.
There is a medium-high fizz and it’s not too sweet. It’s also nice and fiery, with a very spicy finish. If you can get past the funny smell, it’s very enjoyable and I couldn’t fault its heat.

Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale

For me, the real ace in the pack was Bruce Cost’s Fresh Ginger Ale. Mr Cost wrote a very comprehensive book on ginger, “Ginger East meets West”, where he documents the origins of ginger soft drinks and how he finally decided to make his own ginger ale.
But this is no Canada Dry, however. Bruce has taken his inspiration from the more hearty Belfast-style of ginger ale; it is something of a hybrid between modern ginger beer and ginger ale, but, in reality, was the ancestor of both. Belfast Ginger Ale is more fiery than ginger ale, but not as sweet as ginger beer, and it’s delicious.
Tasting Notes:
There’s a fruity nose with a hint of spice. In terms of taste, the fruitiness appears again, maybe passion fruit, as well as some malt and a bit of yeast. It has a medium fizz and tasted like a fresh, home-made variety; rustic, but absolutely superb. To my mind, this is a good example of Belfast-style ginger ale. I wish more ginger beers were like this; Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale has to be one of my favourites.I also tried Mr Cost’s Ginger Ale in a variety of ginger ale cocktails, the recipes for which can be found here.
Postmaster [50ml Gin, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale, Build over Ice]
Pleasant and refreshing, but probably a bit sweet for me; half a measure of citrus juice would turn this into a buck and that would solve the problem.
Sloe Bump [50ml Sloe Gin, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale, Build over Ice]
Rather pleasant, as it freshens up the sloe gin. It may, perhaps, be too sweet for some, but if you were to use a variety such as Sloeth or Foxdenton, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Horses Neck [50ml Brandy, 100ml  Fresh Ginger Ale; Add Ice and a Citrus twist]
Sweet & smooth and the twist of citrus sets off the flavours nicely. Not too fizzy and very tasty.
Typically, you would use a ginger beer for the two drinks below, but I was intrigued to try them, as Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale is rather ginger-beer-like.
Moscow Mule
Great, not so heavy of the ginger and a little bit of lemongrass comes through. Fresh an very quenching of one’s thirst.
Dark  & Stormy
Pretty good rink, maybe a bit watery but the way the ginger ale and the rum interacts it certainly looks stormy. Visually spectacular.
I’m really impressed with this product and I’m keen to try the Passion-fruit and Jasmine Ginger Ales that they also make. It tasted just as good mixed as it did on its own and I hope that it’s available in the UK sometime soon.
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About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

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