Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ginger binger 2015

It's taken me a few days to find some computer time (happily, I am getting some time in the field with hawk and dogs), but we recently did our annual ginger-beer tasting to ring in the new year. Rather than do another massive copy/paste session, I'm going to link to the last one I posted (three years ago?!?). Please click here for background; Shakespearean ginger quotes; a primer on DGAs, GGAs, and GBs; and, of course, tasting notes on various ginger ales and ginger beers.

All caught up? Okay, here are notes on a few new entries (and one update), as compiled by yours truly, along with wife Jessa, daughter Ellie, and guest taster Susan Farrell (Jessa's mom):

NEW: Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, from Brooklyn, New York, follows a well-established pattern of American ginger sodas in that the label is somewhat misleading with regard to category. I would classify this as a true GB, cloudy with bits of real ginger, and made with cane sugar. Apparently the eponymous Mr. Cost is a restauranteur who has written a ginger-based cookbook, so I'd be interested to know why this one is labeled a GA, but no matter. The soda itself is quite good, and we'll go back for more.

We also sampled two flavour-added variations from Bruce Cost. The first adds passionfruit and turmeric; notable for its bright yellow colour, the taste was more subtle than we had anticipated. The other is blended with jasmine tea; the resulting drink is (unsurprisingly, I suppose) tea-coloured, and quite refreshing. Apparently there is also a pomegranate and hibiscus flavour, but that one eluded us as we shopped.

NEW: Rocky Mountain Soda's Golden Ginger Beer is instantly recognizable for its brown bottle— award a point for honouring tradition—with bright-yellow label featuring a mule-deer illustration that would not look out of place in a nineteenth-century book on natural history. The drink, too, is unique, in that the use of beet sugar is specifically highlighted; this is a break from the cane-sugar standard, but let's award another point for using local ingredients! While this is as spicy as some GBs, I'm going to classify this as a GGA on the basis of colour and clarity. There are also some citrus notes, and our consensus was a bit of earthiness as well. (Ellie: "It tastes like the forest somehow.") Enjoyed by all of us, and another we'll likely buy again.

UPDATE: Goose Island Spicy Ginger, which became an instant favourite when we reviewed it three years ago, has undergone a re-branding (though the change to the label is subtle enough that I couldn't say when). Apparently it's WBC Spicy Ginger now, part of the WBC Craft Sodas line from WIT Beverage Company. Still a very good GGA. 

(Incidentally, WIT has also acquired III Dachshunds root beer and orange cream soda, both of which I've enjoyed. It's unclear whether III Dachshunds beers are still available in Wisconsin.)

Oops, I've overlooked one. Not sure if this counts as NEW or as an UPDATE, but there's now a Cock 'n Bull Cherry Ginger Beer, with real cherry flavour to go along with the real ginger. Still in brown glass, but with a red-and-white label in place of the familiar red-and-black. Comparable to the Reed's Cherry Ginger Brew, with perhaps a slight advantage to the Cock 'n Bull.

Happy New Year, and we'll try not to let another three years pass without adding some new reviews.