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Ginger Beer Taste Test

While in Scotland this summer, I became obsessed with Ginger Beer. I drank one almost every day. And the most common brand in supermarkets and convience stores was the canned Idris Fiery Ginger Beer. When we came home, I immediately went to Global Foods, knowing if I could find it anywhere in St. Louis, it would be there. I wasn't disappointed. Global Foods not only had the familiar red can from Idris, they also had five or six other brands. I was content to buy what I knew for several months.


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But, on my most recent visit to GF, it occured to me that one of the others might taste even better. So, I bought Idris plus three other brands to do a blind taste test.

On the left above are bottles from two different Jamacian companies. (Did you know that in the 1950s Jamaica produced the highest quality and the third largest quantity of ginger in the world?) I didn't either. The can, and the bottle on the right are produced in the UK.

I came home and set up a blind test, recruiting Dan to rearrange the bottles; pour the four brands; and then place the bottles behind the box so I couldn't see them.

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I had some preconceived ideas about which would be the best. I'll admit that those ideas were based mostly on the quality of their web sites. Just shows how susceptible we all are to marketing techniques, I guess.

Here are my notes on each:

#1 - strong, ginger smell tickled nose, but surprised at very mild taste. Thin mouth feel and no finish at all.

#2 - Smell not as strong as first one. Also a mild taste, but better body and some finish.

#3 - Amost no ginger smell, but an odd herbal overtone. Very weak taste and definite herbal taste. Not what I'm looking for when I drink Ginger Beer.

#4 - Not as strong a smell as #1 but MUCH stronger taste with a wonderful ginger after-burn.

Rank: Leader by far - #4; good but a distant second - #2; blandly in the middle - #1; Never want to taste again - #3.

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Here are the names and the website links of the four brands. Well, technically only the website links for the three losing brands. It turns out my favorite doesn't even have a website. Although there is an importer in Miami that claims to be the exclusive representitive of Jamaican Country Style products.

Fentimans Ginger Beer
Old Jamaican Ginger Beer
Idris Fiery Ginger Beer
Jamaican Country Style Ginger Beer

I think now that I know my favorite of the four, on my next visit to GF I'll buy the rest of the brands available and test them against Jamaican Country Style. Maybe there will be a better one yet.

Comments (5)

amy:

Oh, yum. Need to look for some around here!

Deborah responds: Maybe on the website you can find a listing of where they distribute. Or maybe a phone number to call.

You can whip up some delicious coctails with your ginger beer too!

Deborah responds: Hmmm, Jerry. I'm thinking a shot of my homemade Tokyo Rose liqueur in ginger beer with lime.

I love ginger ale so I'm going to have to look for a few of these locally. I don't think I've seen them here. I do like the Reed's Ginger Brew which is pretty spicy.

Deborah: Interestingly, Marta. The grocery stores, in their shelving, made a clear distinction between ginger beer and "American style" ginger ale.
Ginger beer is much spicier. Ginger ale tastes pretty tame in comparison.

Interesting taste test. I wonder if they sell any of these brands here. Will have to bookmark this post and check it out :)

Essexsteve:

ahh...Deborah my dear the secret with Fentimans is to shake the bottle before you crack it open! trust me give it a second go with an extra shake thrown in!!


Deborah responds:

Well Steven, you are correct, I did not shake the bottle. So, to be fair, I guess I'm going to have to give your favorite a second chance.

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