July 19, 2013

Best Ginger Beers of 2013

Six ginger beers lined up - includes Reeds, Regetta, DG Ginger, The Ginger Peoples, Bunderberg and Maine Root

Editors Note:

The ginger beer landscape has changed sense I wrote this post in 2013. 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.


The most popular posts on the 2 Out of Three blog are our ginger beer reviews. And while each of the five tastings we’ve conducted used identical judging criteria, the lineup of ginger beers has varied. This has made comparisons a bit cumbersome and doing a quick lookup for specific beverages on this site can be downright frustrating. Well, we’ve set out to remedy this situation by shining a light on the American ginger beer landscape with a comprehensive guide. It is one you can download to your mobile phone for a quick consultation at the market, or print and store in your wallet for those who prefer an analog version.

Consider this a public service for those of us who go weak in the knees at the thought dark rum, ginger beer, and a splash of lime mixed and poured over ice; the devoted legions who take their ginger with vodka; or, those who prefer their ginger beer served straight and cold.

Over the years our judges — whose training consists primarily of drinking an above average number of Dark n’ Stormy’s — have settled on two favorites out of the 32 different ginger beers they’ve tasted: Fever Tree and Bundaberg. Both qualitative and quantitative evidence make it a no brainer for us to recommend you pick up one of these two when in doubt. But, personal favorites vary, so below (and in downloadable format) we’ve put together a ranking of ginger beers available in the United States with tasting notes and scores with a scale ranking between 1 and 10 (read our original tasting for details on the judging criteria).

Our ginger beer guide is portable!
Printable Pocket Guide (PDF)
Digital Pocket Guide (PNG) – save to your phones photo album

Fever Tree

Fever Tree

(score 9.16)

No ginger beer strikes a better balance between sweet and spicy than Fever Tree. Starting sweet, it lures you in, then wakes you up with a kick of ginger on the finish. While you certainly taste the fresh ginger in each bottle, at no point does it overpower or outstay its welcome. Neat, this beverage is the best drinking ginger and an excellent partner for any mixed drink.

Bundaberg

Bundaberg Ginger Beer

(score 9.0)

There are very few faults with Bundaberg. It’s refreshing and sweet, making you want to go back for another sip before you’ve finished the last. While it’s light on the spice scale, it mixes up one hell of a Dark n’ Stormy, making it the gold standard for ginger beers.

DG Ginger Beer

DG Genuine Ginger Beer

(score 8.83)

We recommend you take DG Ginger Beer out on the next hot summer day, find a shady spot, and sip away while soaking in your surroundings. This ginger is refreshing, with a sweet and light taste that finishes with a medium hit of spice.

Cock ‘n Bull

Cock 'n Bull ginger beer

(score 8.43)

Cock ‘n Bull has a brisk start and a smooth finish, and when mixed into a D ‘n S, our tasters all agreed it’s a top performer. Tasting notes included a stronger ginger scent than taste, a clear appearance and a low spiciness score.

Barritts

Barritts

(score 8.2)

This is an easy drinking ginger beer with low carbonation and very little bite. A pleasant ginger flavor with notes of citrus comes alive when mixed with rum. Average on it’s own, Barritts shines when mixed into a Dark n’ Stormy.

Regatta

Regatta Ginger Beer

(score 8.2)

Regatta does a lot right: mixed with rum and a lime it’ll give you picture-perfect storm clouds for your D n’ S. It’s very refreshing, with low levels of spice, and it has a unique chalky texture due to the stoneware bottles it’s kept in.

Maine Root

Maine Root Ginger Beer

(score 7.86)

A fresca-like color hides a solid kick of spice that intensifies as it lingers in your mouth. Its consistency is a bit syrupy and it’s flavor is more unique than most ginger beers. Support this site by picking up a couple four packs on amazon →.

Fentiman’s

Fentiman's Ginger Beer

(score 7.33)

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. You might not want to be married to this ginger beer but it certainly has it’s moments.

Schweppes

Schweppes Ginger Beer

(score 6.8)

Schweppes could aptly be called the “champagne of ginger beers.” While it lacks any distinctive flavors, it serves as a good combo in a D n’ S. Not the best but far from the worst.

Gosling’s

Goslings Ginger Beer

(score 6.66)

A serviceable ginger beer that fulfills its primary purpose as a mixer for a Dark n’ Stormy very well. Its an oddly smoky bouquet with a light trace of ginger. It has a modest spice that trails off quickly at the end. Buy a six pack, support this site →

Sioux City

Sioux City Ginger Beer

(score 6.4)

Sweeter than most ginger beers, Sioux City manages to balance nicely with its medium spice. It’s a decent ginger beer that mixes well with rum.

AJ Stephans

AJ Stephans Ginger Beer

(score 6.2)

There are likely other flavors in this ginger beer but they are difficult to detect under the spice. If you like your cocktails with a long, slow burn, this is the ginger for you.

Goya Ginger Beer

Goya Ginger Beer

(score 6.17)

Goya’s ginger beer takes late spice to a new level, crawling and coating your entire mouth. Its flavor is actually pretty decent, but its major flaw is an overpowering spice which crushes any mixed drink.

Artisan Elixirs Golden Ginger

Artisan Elixirs Golden Ginger Beer

(score 6.1)

This is one beverage you’ll either love or hate. A strong lemon flavor and notes of lychee left us enjoying the drink but comparing it to non-alcoholic offerings you might find at a trendy restaurant.

Squamscot Ginger Beer

Squamscot

(score 5.7)

A consistent burn begins early and continues rolling through until well past the after-taste. Consider this an average ginger beer with medium spice.

Buderim

Buderim Ginger

(score 5.29)

Buderim comes strong with the ginger flavor upon first taste, then lingers with a medium hit of spice. Mixed into a cocktail, the flavor is muted with the ginger being overpowered by the rum and lime.

Prince Neville’s

Prince Nevilles

(score 4.83)

Containing “raw ginger” and lacking carbonation, this beverage has more in common with raw drinks like Kombucha and is not recommended as a cocktail mixer. A sweet introduction, with notes of pineapple and ginger candy, lead to a hardy spice.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer

Rachel's Ginger Beer

(score 4.0)

Appropriate given its taste, lemon is placed ahead of ginger on the ingredient list— its tart flavor can suck the moisture out of your mouth. Rachel’s is a decent soda but not ideal for a cocktail.

Captain Eli’s

Captain Eli's

(score 2.66)

The sweet sugar cane in this beverage is too strong, muting the ginger flavor. It’s best described as a “bad soda.” Go ahead try it yourself →

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole Ginger Beer

(score 2.6)

Lacking spice; with a medicinal scent, and a clear appearance, we liken Jackson Hole to a flat cream soda.

The Ginger Peoples

The Ginger Peoples Ginger Beer

(score 2.33)

At first pour you’ll notice a cloudy, almost grapefruit-looking appearance, as well as the strong scent of ginger.

Reed’s Extra Ginger

Reed's Extra Ginger

(score 1.5)

Reed’s is a divisive beverage. Some people love it, and others can’t stand it. Our judges fell into the latter category. Our opinion, as ginger beer tasters, is that it tastes like crap, with a few malted notes.

Reed’s Original Ginger

Reed's Original Ginger

(score 1.5)

When we posted our review of Reed’s the company founder made his way to our blog and posted a strongly worded retort. We appreciate the sentiment, but we still don’t like the stuff.

128 comments

  1. dave on

    For me it is the Goya ginger beer. Get it at the grocery store for 99 cents a bottle.You know you have some ginger in your mouth for sure. Great stuff

  2. Lynn on

    Is there a worldwide ginger shortage? is it that expensive? Trader Joes Triple Ginger Brew is traditionally delicious- stong punch of ginger, depth of flavor with a hint of sweetness. The 2014 edition is flat and too sweet – tastes like a weak ginger age. This seems to be a common theme in this thread. Looks like room in the market for someone to come in and clean up if they were so inclined….Calling all soda & beer makers…the opportunity awaits you.

  3. Pooh on

    Hi all just finished a bottle of Jamaica’s finest made with ginger root. Wow, this stuff is the best even helps with tummy aches. Love the intense hot spicy ginger taste. Thanks for the information I did not know that I could go to Natrona and purchase by the case.

  4. Lloyd Hunter Benedict on

    I was making cocktails last night in the bar, and Reeds Ginger Beer blows! Its sour and almost reminds me of a skunked bottle of wine! Unfortunately in my small town its the only Ginger beer around, need to special order something else.

  5. mykie on

    I’m not sure why Maine Root rated so high on this list, it has an initial kick of ginger, quickly taken over by a rich aftertaste/burn of POTTING SOIL.
    It may be ethically made, but it’s not ethical to sell a product that tastes like it was made from houseplant water.

  6. Jennifer on

    I drank my first Moscow Mule and I’m hooked. Went looking for ginger beer to be able to make at home. Not knowing anything I picked up the only ginger beer available where I stopped – Crabbie’s orange citrus four pack $9.99 (bonus-had a $4 mail in rebate) I LOVED it! Better than the original Moscow Mule that I drank. I thank you for this list because I needed some guidance.

  7. Jim Pickett on

    Pleasant surprise to stumble onto this forum of fellow Ginger Beer lovers. I would like to throw my product into the ring for your review. Pickett’s Ginger Beer CONCENTRATE. My 2 brothers and I started producing a couple years ago. I worked on yachts for years and cut my teeth – and a few other things – on great ginger beer and related drinks. Shared this passion with my blood and eventually we decided to take a stab one ourselves. Ours is more about making better cocktails than being a soft drink. We make a “#1-Medium+” and “#3 Hot N’Spicy”. All about balance of flavors and spice. Mix our syrup with fizzy water to our suggestion or your own preference. Only available in Metro NY area and online until recently, but we now have CA distributors starting to bring in.

    Oh yeah, we are originally from Ohio and we like our whiskey. Bourbon (or Rye) and Ginger Beer kicks the shit out of a bourbon and ginger ale. And we highly recommend ANEJO (barrel-aged) rum over blackstrap molasses rum (sorry Gosling’s) in our D n S’s. Barrel-aged rums are more complex and savory, thus making more complex and savory D n S’s. Molasses based rums are sweeter. The extra sweetness can bury good spice from the GB – we don’t like that. Nobody puts spice in the corner. There are lots of great 4-7 yr aged rums for under $20 the will make spectacular D n S’s. And when you are done playing with bourbon and anjeo rum, take a shot at mezcal and reposado tequila. Use an orange to garnish the agave drinks.

    I could do this for hours. But would rather have you all tell us what you think.Tell us where to send samples for your next tasting and we’re on it.

  8. Dave Foster on

    I tried the DG ginger beer, hoping that it would remind me of the stuff I got in Scotland years ago..no such luck. Later on I picked up a few bottles of Goya from the Winn Dixie store for 99 cents each. All I can say is you know you have ginger in your mouth when you slurp a big swallow. You either love it or leave it but I found it to be really good after a meal. If you like a ginger beer with a bite and want to cauterize the hair in your throat this is the one. After one of these all the rest are just ginger ale

  9. Katie on

    Agreed with most of your reviews but I do Love Love Love reeds Ginger Beer. (Otherwise agree that the lower ranked ones are horrible!) I’ve had a few bad batches of Reeds though: tasted like stale flat (disgusting) Vernors with cigarette ashes added. Idk what happens during production or shipment when that is the final product. But a good batch? Oh wow I could drink a case of it in one sitting. It’s perfect.

  10. Dave Patterson on

    Reed’s does indeed taste like crap.Bundaberg and Cock ‘n Bull are my two “go to” ginger beers.

  11. Ian Brett Cooper on

    Just FYI, Trader Joe’s now sells its own line of ginger beer alongside Reed’s, and Trader Joe’s is godawful – even worse than Reed’s. I bought a 4-pack last week (in the hope that it would be a cheap alternative to the Fever Tree that I’m addicted to) but it was so awful that I poured all but two sips of it into the sink. It tastes like lemon and lime flavored medicine and I couldn’t detect any ginger in it at all (although given the overwhelming medicine taste, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is ginger hiding underneath the nastiness). My advice – if you see Trader Joe’s Ginger Beer, run away!

  12. Jim P on

    Trader Joe’s is a HEAVY private label company. They work with a lot of their suppliers to private label the same goods under a Trader Joe label. Look at the ingredient roster. Looks pretty identical to Reed’s. Dead giveaway – Pineapple juice as ingredient.

  13. Ian Brett Cooper on

    So either my palate has become less accepting of garbage ginger beers, or Reed’s has got even worse than it was when I last tasted it a few years ago. I’m guessing it’s the former, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the latter.

  14. Cindy on

    My husband and I like Bundaberg ALOT, but we did NOT like Fever Tree. The two at the top of this list are VERY different. I suggest you try them both and see what suits your palate. I think some people who have never tried ginger beers, if they try Fever Tree, will think they don’t like any ginger beers, so I wanted to post this comment for them. I tried Fever Tree because it is available at my grocery store, but I am willing to go to a my large beverage specialty store 😉 to get the Bundaberg.

  15. Ian Brett Cooper on

    Well, my liking for Fever Tree comes from the fact that it’s just like the Ginger Beers that I used to drink as a kid back in the 1960s, before they started putting corn syrup and chemicals in them and when their primary ingredient (other than water) was real ginger root.

  16. Nick Smo on

    Any thoughts on what the best ginger beer available in cans is? I want to bring some on a grand canyon river trip and I’d rather not bring glass if I can help it.

    As far as my tastes go, I love Fever Tree, and I like the spicy part of Reed’s but agree that it’s too sweet. Not sure where to go with the can requirement and I’ll probably have to order online for it so I can’t try out a bunch.

  17. Abraham on

    @Nick, from what I see on Amazon your best choices for ginger beer in a can are Cock N’ Bull, Barritts and Goslings. Unfortunately, none of those are on the spicy side. That being said I’d recommend Barritts for an outdoor adventure as it’s crisp/clean drinking and less sweet than Cock N’ Bull.

  18. Evan on

    I believe the Barritts in the can is a different formula than their bottles. I think has high fructose corn syrup vs the cane sugar in their bottles so I have stayed away for what it is worth.

  19. e uprichard on

    you can always take a bit of ginger powder and add it to make it spicier. I do that generally with all ginger beers.

  20. john dickenson on

    I love A J Stephans, but now have another new favorite in the same style…River City Ginger Beer vfrom Sacramento, Ca. OUTSTANDING!!!!!!

  21. danthony on

    I know that Bruce Cost is a Ginger Ale, but when there is a huge pile of real ginger at the bottom of the bottle… it seems to rival some of the Ginger Beers on your list. Also I have been drinking some Q Ginger Beer lately and like the kick… (maybe a little high on the pepper, but still a good one.

  22. Jennifer on

    Just thought I’d put in a note in favor of Buderim Ginger Brew. I drink it all by itself, so I can’t speak for it as a mixer.
    I have tried almost every Ginger Beer out there and for me, this is the very best. It’s now difficult to find and should it vanish, I will probably cry. A lot! Buderim actually makes 2 versions – Aussie Style and Yank Style, which is milder, The Aussie is best and I haven’t found the Yank style in years.

    The distributor here told me that they have to use a specialty process because it’s actually brewed. The base is a product of the method used to make Crystalized Ginger for the spice industry, hence, very real ginger.

    The 2 closest to it in this list are the Fever Tree and the River City.
    Alas, I’m out at the moment and suffering from withdrawals.

  23. Edward on

    Just tried Windmill Ginger Brew.
    WOW…. as good as Fever Tree and then some.
    It is very new to market. Brewed in Geneva,IL. Its all natural no preservatives. Got some through friends, who knows brewers personally. Tried with Rum outstanding!!! used it to make Moscow Mule…BEST EVER. If you can put your hands on it TRY, TRY, TRY…!!!

  24. Dave Ussell on

    I’ve really enjoyed your reviews over the years but I think it would be very useful, to many who find themselves at your site, to rate each ginger beer by two different standards. A rating for the stand alone ginger beer and a rating for it as a mixer. They are not the same. Some good ginger beers make bad mixers and the reverse. Some ginger beers are good in both roles and Reed’s in neither. Believe it or not some people just like it by itself and so it’s value as a mixer is not useful. My 2 cents.

  25. Abraham on

    @Dave, thanks for the comment. Typically we include comments about each ginger beer alone and mixed into a Dark and Stormy. This allows readers to understand how they perform in the various situations. Our judges then score each ginger beer on it’s overall performance to provide a simple rating. We’ll take your suggestion of two separate scores into consideration for the next tasting.

  26. Jay on

    Well I came across this site tonight after purchasing a 2-ltr of Goya Jamaican Ginger Beer. I can say it was & was not what I had expected. I was introduced to Ginger Beer when I was a child, back in the late 70s in Bermuda, the throat hit is what I remembered the most, However I can’t remember the name of the brew. What I can tell you is the Goya had the exact same flavour and kick, truly what I was looking for, and then it hit.., the strong pepper burn on my upper lip and into my gut. Come on! It was perfect right up until this point, The burn lasted 3-4 mins, I expect a good ginger beer to hit 7-8 on the scale, and taper off quickly (30 sec) Regatta is a bit too mellow in my opinion creamy like a low carbonate root beer but not enough after-kick.

    I tried reeds once because I had never seen it before, I threw it all out, didn’t even finish a few sips, I’m sorry to say this but, I honestly thought the first bottle was tampered with, it was horribly tasting, I actually had my friend smell it to see if she thought it was made with rusty water, or if it smelled like somebody urinated in the bottle.Every one smelled just as bad. Now I’m thinking I should have grabbed the DG, But the Goya just needs something to tone it down some.. I’m betting a 30/70 mix with Regatta will bring back old memories.

  27. Katie on

    Reeds is very hit or miss. When it’s good, it’s near perfect, but that’s only about 1/3 of the time. When it is bad, I swear it tastes like someone put out their cigarette in it. Disgusting.

  28. Debby on

    Each New Year’s Eve, we do a taste test and as I have discovered a love for Mules, Moscow preferably I decided to do my own ginger beer test. I mixed .5 oz lime juice, 1.5 oz Kinky Vodka (what I had and had been drinking in my Mules) and then 4.5 oz of each ginger beer. I usually muddle some mint in my Mules but for the sake of this test, left that out. My selection was Fever Tree, Stoli (which I had been using in my Mules), and Original Reeds. I started with one that I rated an 8-9, then the next one was HORRID, is all I could taste was the vodka, and then one I rated a 6 (and recognized as the Stoli). I correctly identified them before my husband told me which ones were which. I hold to a philosophy “you get what you pay for”, Reeds was the least expensive. I also spend $30 or more on a bottle of wine (not boons farm).
    I am not sure if the Reeds was bad, it has “stuff” in it, a brownish sediment, not clear but “milky”. There was NO fiz and even drinking straight out of the bottle it was ‘YUCK’. I am going to take it back to the store and get my money back! Maybe I got a bad batch, but as I researched and came across this, is all I can say is there are people out there that drink cheap wine and beer, and possibly the 10-1 (per Reed) are the ones that drink boons farm? Maybe ginger ale? 😉
    I live in a rural area so my selection of ginger beer is limited, I am pretty tickled I came up on Fever Tree! Looks like I now will be using it for my Mules and can’t wait for the next one!!

  29. Jim Pickett on

    I welcome this forum to try our PICKETT’s Ginger Beer Concentrate and share your reviews. We think it is some of the finest available. NOTE: the product is a concentrated syrup and designed for mixing with fizzy water at a ratio of 1 part syrup to 5 parts fuzzy water. But unlike bottled or canned ginger beers, you can also adjust the mix ration to your own personal preference. We also offer 2 different spice levels – #1 Medium (more traditional spice) and #3 Hot N Spicy (a bit zippier). We designed it to handle darker spirits like Aged Rum or Bourbon, so it also makes killer miles. We welcome any and all of your feedback. Jim Pickett

  30. ianbrettcooper on

    Just FYI, ginger ale is just flavored carbonated water. Ginger beer is actually brewed (fermented). There is quite a big difference.

  31. Charles on

    I agree that Blenheim should have been considered. Especially the pink (red) tops. My favorite.

  32. John on

    While Blenheim’s is absolutely delicious, it’s a ginger ale, not a ginger beer. There is an important distinction.

    When I first tried the Ginger People brew, it was delicious. But I noticed a turpentine-like flavor at one point. The GP folks were very kind and replaced all that I had bought, but it still had the same off flavor.

    Excited to add some new ginger beers to my list of things to try, however, because I haven’t tried a few of the brands listed above.

  33. Zumajim on

    Which of course prompts me to ask how you know what turpentine tastes like. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  34. brijawi on

    My first entry into the ginger beer world was but a few weeks ago, and commenced with a local brew: Brix Jamaican Ginger Beer. Since then, I have had the fortune to try many of the others on the list. While I appreciate the dryness of and potency of Brix, I think the likes of Bundaberg, Fever-Tree and Maine Root have better balanced sweetness with ginger’s citrus and bite. Ginger People has the fullest ginger profile. I am fond of Fentimans with its more herbal characteristics. After reading the reviews and profiles, I eagerly sought Reed’s and despite the negative comments, I like it. It reminds me of the Squirt of ginger beers. I have only had ginger beers straight up.

  35. Gail Newchurch on

    For those of us who are Diabetic, I’ve found it difficult to find DIET Ginger Beer. Bundaberg is quite good. I’d like to see other options and availability.

  36. ianbrettcooper on

    Not sure if it’s good for diabetics, but Fever Tree offer a “naturally light” ginger beer, made with fruit sugars. It has less than half the sugar content of their standard ginger beer. I actually prefer the naturally light ginger beer to their regular ginger beer, which I find too sweet.

  37. ianbrettcooper on

    Due to a temporary cut in my supply of Fever Tree, I tried Bundaberg for the first time a couple of weeks ago. How this awful sickly sweet garbage gets to #2 on this list I just do not know. I see what looks like ginger pieces in it, but I can’t taste the ginger at all. I’ve tasted both Barritt’s and Goslings and I find them far FAR better than Bundaberg.

  38. Not a fan on

    You guys are INSANE for not liking Reed’s. I have no affiliation but I love ginger ales and beers. I’ve had more than a few on here. And by far my go-to is Reed’s Extra. Spicy, a unique and balancing sweetness from the pineapple and honey. I don’t know what you were drinking but you were either not drinking Reed’s (no matter how many times you tried it) your you were hit in the head incredible hard right before drinking it. Malty? There isn’t a malty note in there at all. You guys are literally insane.

  39. Abraham on

    Thanks for the comments @Not a fan, @ianbrettcooper and @zumajim. It’s always fun to see the diversity of opinions regarding ginger beers. I’ve been working on a new website for just such a spirited debate.

    Check out http://thebettermixer.com

    You can leave your own rating, write a glowing review, or rant for the world to see.

  40. A man eating crow on

    @ Ian. I still contend that Reed’s Extra is an excellent Ginger Beer… but, I bought some Fever Tree, and I have to say… it rocks. The balance is better than Reed’s. I still love it but, comparing now with Fever Tree, it kind of throws everything at you at once – sweet and spicy, and the honey and pineapple give it a bit of a heavier mouth feel. I’m still a Reeds guy… but I’m going to be buying Fever Tree too. Reed’s still kicks the hell out of Gosling, Barritt’s, and Cock and Bull to me though.