Beer with ginger — or ginger beer

Though they’re both labelled ‘ginger beer’, there’s a huge difference between alcoholic ginger beer and beer brewed with ginger.

The growth of RTDs and flavoured beers means we’re seeing more of both on retail shelves – the best of both styles providing the exotic flavour of fresh ginger.

Some, like Crabbie’s, reviewed below, are just alcoholic versions of the soft drinks we brewed at home as kids. They’re really part of the RTD world and generally pretty sweet.

But brewers of real beer sometimes season their product with ginger – giving adults the malty flavours and dryness of beer, overlaid with ginger.

Mad Brewers Ginger Chops Alcoholic Ginger Beer (330ml 4-pack $16.99) is a good local version, brewed at Malt Shovel Brewery, Sydney. It even contains a little malted wheat, giving it extra freshness. The full-bore Kiuchi (below) is an excellent imported example.

Kiuchi Brewery Real Ginger Ale 330ml $9.50
Many ginger beers seem like alcoholic soft drinks, tempering cloying sweetness with tart ginger. But Kiuchi is all beer – rich, warming (seven per cent alcohol) and malty, with an abundant, persistent head, and delicious deep undercurrent of tangy ginger flavour. The high alcohol and generous malt make it a good winter beer.

Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer 330ml 4-pack $15.99
A crafty brew, this one – the Brits down 2.5 million cases year, “tapping into consumer desire for craft”, claims the press release, adding that it’s “made from a base of four secret ingredients”. Our leathery old palate identified only two, ginger and sugar delicious enough, but too sweet for my palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 29 August 2012