Monday evening we decided to have a little blind tasting. We gathered my 18 year old son, two of his friends, and my 22 year old son, and five premium ginger beers. For the uninitiated, ginger beer (or brew in some cases) is akin to ginger ale, but generally stronger in flavor. I have long been a fan of a frosty long neck bottle of ginger brew with a nice, strong cigar. We collected sixpacks of Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer (in cans) and Saranac Ginger Beer in bottles, four packs of Reeds Extra Ginger Brew and Maine Root Ginger Brew and a lone bottle from a four pack of Appalachian Brewing Co. Ginger Beer. My lovely wife passed out cups of each one at a time and we judged each on fizziness, sweetness, spice, finish and overall satisfaction. We used a 5 point scale with 1 being worst and 5 being best.
Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer averaged 2.8 for fizziness, 3.4 for sweetness, 3.4 for spice, 3.0 for finish and 3.0 overall satisfaction. Some of the comments were that it smelled gingery, was balanced, mild, sweey and spicy. I enjoyed it as a step up from ginger ale and a refreshing beverage. This one is a bargain at $2.99 for a six-pack of cans. I’d be interested in trying this in bottles.
Maine Root Ginger Brew averaged 2.2 for fizziness, 3.0 for sweetness, 4.6 for spice, 4.2 for finish and 3.8 for overall satisfaction. Some comments were that it has a floral aroma, was strong, complex aromatic, spicy on the back of the throat, a spicy MoFo, and a lasting aftertaste. Personally, this is my second favorite of the group, it’s ginger ale on steroids, with a very strong ginger bite. Pricey at over $5 per four-pack, but very tasty.
Appalachian Brewing Co. Ginger Beer averaged 3.6 for fizziness, 2.8 for sweetness, 2.8 for spice, 3.2 for finish and 3.0 for overall satisfaction. Some of the comments were that it has a citrus aroma and flavor, not much spice, sweeter and not as spicy, and smells fruity, very fizzy. I was rather surprised by the low sweetness rating, as this ginger beer is heavily honeyed, and is, to me, very sweet. I think this one was in the neighborhood of $5 per four-pack as well and is nice if you like honey more than ginger.
Reeds Extra Ginger Brew averaged 3.0 for fizziness, 3.2 for sweetness, 3.0 for spice, 3.2 for finish and 2.9 for overall satisfaction. Comments were that it had a faint ginger smell, strong, aromatic with a fine finish, spiciest, very faint ginger smell, very nice and enjoyable. This was my introduction to ginger brew going back twelve or so years. We probably should have gotten the regular ginger brew for this test, but I just love the Extra, and actually wanted to see if I could pick it out of a line up. I did identify it immediately, I’m pleased to report. Great stuff and when you can find it under $5 a four-pack it’s even better!
Saranac Ginger Beer averaged 3.8 for fizziness, 4.0 for sweetness, 2.5 for spice. 3.4 for finish and 3.2 for overall satisfaction. The comments were a citrusy smell, taste like cat litter (?) light spice, very sweet, fine fizz, light finish and smooth and sweet. This is both the closest to a ginger ale of the bunch as well as one of the least expensive at around $4 for a six-pack. I’m confused by the cat litter comment, as that’s not generally a complimentary comparison.
It looks like the Maine Root was the over-all winner, although I think we need to work on the rating system a little. It certainly competes favorably with my favorite, Reed’s, and will be welcomed into my refrigerator. We’ll work on a root beer tasting next as there are some excellent examples around.
Tuesday night I took a long walk with a 7″ x 54 Nestor Miranda Special Selection which was a gift from my buddy Barry Stein when he announced that he was going to work for Miami Cigar and Co. I don’t see this size listed, so I don’t know the story behind it, but it sure was good! It burned perfectly even though I was walking briskly and there was a bit of a breeze. I walked over three miles and this cigar really kept me entertained. At one point I tasted an exotic spice of some sort that I recognized, but couldn’t place. It was a terrific choice, and I thank Barry for sharing it with me. I’ll certainly be on the look out for more of these. This was the first I’ve smoked and I really enjoyed it, even if it’s not a style of cigar I normally gravitate to. Terrific smoke, and the Maine Root Ginger Brew was an excellent chaser for this cigar.
That’s it for now, until the next time,