Over the past few years on 2 Out of Three we’ve tasted our fair share of ginger beer. In four separate tastings we’ve sampled and scored over twenty-five ginger beers. Disappointingly, it had begun to appear that we had exhausted the ginger beer possibilities in the US of A. So it was with great excitement when I was served Artisan Elixir, a new entrant to the ginger pool, at the Mission Cheese Shop.
Artisan Elixer made an immediate impression with a classic yellow label and bold block text declaring itself a “Golden Ginger.” Upon inspection it was obvious this was going to be a beer to be reckoned with, with clouds of ginger and lemon sediment formed into bands throughout the bottle. On the back of the bottle the creator’s intentions are spelled out: “Perfect for MIXING / Excellent for SIPPING.” While this is a broad statement, a glance at the simple ingredient list – filtered water, organic agave, organic lemon, organic ginger and organic lemon emulsion – assured us Artisan Elixir is out to make a high quality bottle of ginger.
The first sip goes down smooth with a mild kick. What stands out is that ginger isn’t the only flavor at this party, a strong side of lemon jumps in and defines this beverage as much as the ginger. That’s not to say you won’t taste a healthy dose of ginger: it comes through with a long, warm burn that crawls into your throat after after each sip. Depending on the quality of your tumbling skills you may find a different level of spice farther down the bottle. For me it ranged from a mild to a medium kick.
A bit of Internet research revealed this fine beverage is produced locally in Santa Cruz, CA by Hans Losee, a long time bartender. Artisan Elixir has even taken it upon themselves to educate the ginger drinking public with a series of “how to” cocktail videos – including a lesson on the Dark N’ Stormy. That’s the kind of dedication we appreciate at 2 Out of Three and we’re excited to get our hands on a few bottles of Golden Ginger and try mixing it into a cocktail. To date we’ve only found it at Mission Cheese Shop on Valencia St, and even then their supply seems inconsistent, but word on the street is Pleasure Point Cafe & Market on East Cliff, New Leaf Markets’ in Santa Cruz and Slanted Door in the SF Ferry Building may have stock.
Overall I truly enjoyed my time with Artisan Elixir. My one criticism would be the level of lemon – I’d like to see them back off a tad and let the ginger take a stronger lead. While this was not an official tasting (we’d need dark rum and a panel of tasters for that) unofficially I’d give Golden Ginger a score of 7, with a 5 on the spice scale.