A lot has changed sense I wrote this post in 2009. Check out our new website The Better Mixer for an up to date list of the best ginger beers. You’ll also be able to leave your own rating, write a glowing review, or rant for the world to see.
It’s only been a week since the release of the first installment from our Ginger Beer Tasting and we’ve already heard reports of a more educated public because of it. With seven reviewed brands down, we’re excited to present the final eight ginger beers from our South Lake Tahoe tasting.
Reed’s “Original Ginger”
(score 1.17) (final rank 14 of 15)
Confusion abounds with Reed’s. Different flavors with only minor variations in label design (“Ginger Brew”, “Ginger Ale”, “Ginger Beer” – please Reed’s make up your mind) can lead to confusion within their product line. Our tasting included both Reed’s “Original Ginger” and Reed’s “Extra Ginger”, both of which tasted nearly identical. Which is to say both tasted like crap, with a few malted notes. While he was most likely exaggerating one of our judges exclaimed “I’d rather lick the inside of a toilet bowl than take another sip”. It’s a shame that Reed’s can be commonly found in most local supermarkets. This potential public health threat should be immediately banned before hallucinations and chemical dependence grip the untrained Dark ‘n Stormy drinking population.
Goya Ginger Beer
(score 6.17) (final rank 9 of 15)
Late spice is an occupational hazard when tasting ginger beer, just when you think that last sip is gone for good that burning sensation in the back of your throat kicks in. Goya’s ginger beer takes the late spice to a new level, crawling and coating your entire mouth. It’s clear pale yellow color allows for classic storm formations when mixing a D ‘n S. It’s flavor is actually pretty decent, the major flaw is an overpowering spice (8 on the spice scale) which crushes the rum and lime.
(score 6.17) (final rank 9 of 15)
You might call Fentiman’s the Ike Turner of ginger beers. It’s just sweet enough to convince you to keep sipping, while in the back of your mind you know the spice is going to hit you soon enough. On first inspection a cloudy white appearance masks that underbelly of spice (5 on the spice scale) and lures you in with sweet lavender and herbal notes. Once the rum and lime get added things just get smoother. Compliment after compliment were thrown around by our judges, who were particularly impressed by its balance. Similar to Ike you might not want to be married to this ginger beer but it certainly has it’s moments.
DG Ginger Beer
(score 8.83) (final rank 2 of 15)
Directions for a memorable hot summer day:
- Locate a body of water – an ocean is preferable but a lake or river will suffice.
- Participate in a mildly strenuous activity. Sailing or boating for the more motivated, badminton for those without sea legs.
- Find a seat in the shade, open a can of DG Genuine, add Gosslings rum and a lime, sip and enjoy the view. Repeat until sunset.
If you can’t tell by now our judges really enjoyed the DG and can’t wait to pack a cooler full of ’em on the next 80 degree day. Tasting notes included: sweet, light, refreshing with a medium spice (4 on the spice scale). A surprise contender for the #1 spot in this tasting, DG might be difficult to find but it’s worth the effort. *Update: DG Ginger Beer is available on Amazon – purchase through this affiliate link and you’ll be supporting this site.
(score 8.2) (final rank 4 of 15)
Bermuda stone means once the ginger beer is brewed it’s stored in stoneware bottles to maintain the natural effervescence. This may account for the cloudy appearance and chalky consistency. It’s a bit of an insult to call Regatta “pedestrian” because it’s an excellent ginger beer – easily in the top four of this tasting. But it’s fault may be in the lack of spice (1 on the spice scale), without any spice you’re left waiting for a bite that never comes. However, Regatta does a lot right: mixed with rum and a lime it’s gives off the required storm clouds, it’s very refreshing, and it has a unique texture. One of our judges may have said it best “It’s anti-climatic, good, but not distinctive”. That being said I’d be far from disappointed to climb aboard the sail boat that adorns the bottle and find it stocked with Regatta.
Reed’s “Extra Ginger”
(score 1.5) (final rank 13 of 15)
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Our judges were not about to be fooled twice by Reed’s and after a quick sip of their “Extra Ginger” it was determined that it is as awful as the Original (see above review) and no more time needs to be spent on it…
(score 6.2) (final rank 8 of 15)
A few of our judges had sampled this particular ginger on new years eve and the memory that stuck was one of spice, lots and lots of spice. Very little had changed in a few months as one judge exclaimed “It tastes like burning”. Jamaican ginger beers like AJ Stephenes are not typically the first choice for a Dark ‘n Stormy as their spice can drown out any other flavors. But in this case it can be a decent change of pace to your typical D ‘n S. The mix is smooth and creates a nice combo with the rum and lime, just be ready for a long burn.
(score 6.8) (final rank 7 of 15)
An advertisement from the 50’s for Schweppes Ginger Beer extols its virtues and describes it as Schweppervescence. Little has changed in the past 60 years and I can hardly find a better word to describe their current ginger beer. Packed into a small 10 oz bottle this ginger is bubble, sweet and has very little spice. It could aptly be called the “champagne of ginger beers”. While it lack any distinctive flavors it servers as a good combo in a D n S. Not the best but far from the worst Schweppes finished with a solid score putting it in the top half of all the ginger beers tasted.
It was the best of ginger, it was the worst of ginger; it tasted smooth and crisp, it tasted strong and spicy; it was the height of mixology, it was a jumble of flavors; it was the zest of lime and it was the consistency of molasses. We had fifteen before us, then we had none left. We were all anticipating the tasting and then we were all sick of tasting ’em. This was the South Lake Tahoe Ginger Beer Tasting.
A few images from the tasting