As a child, I was never a fan of ginger ale.
It was one of those icky, nasty sodas that I had no understanding why anyone would drink in the first place.
However, in the last few years, I’ve come to realize some of the better ginger ales out there are damn good at taming a mildly sore stomach.
Then there’s ginger beer, the alcohol-infused adult pop equivalent of the popular soda.
Ginger beers have been around at liquor stores for a long time now but like unfiltered wheat ales, fruity wheat ales and barrel-aged ales, ginger beers seem to be one of the newest trends in the craft beer industry.
Winnipeg’s Fort Garry has a new ginger and lemon grass lager called the Big Buddha, Granville had a ginger beer here a year back called Ginja Ninja, and even Great Western has a ginger beer called Bring Yer Ginger.
The one I was looking forward to most was Melville’s Ginger Beer from Scotland’s Innis & Gunn. I tried Melville’s Strawberry Lager this past February in the Scottish pavilion at the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival. I was impressed with the combination of real strawberry flavours (instead of fake corn syrupy strawberry extract), so I have high hopes with Melville’s take on ginger beer.
Melville’s Ginger Beer pours just like your standard non-alcoholic ginger ale — a golden, yet orangey hue. It’s a fizzy, carbonated beverage that has that typical soda hiss to it.
The aroma is quite earthy, floral and gingery. This reminds me of some of the ginger ales by companies such as Boylan’s — a pure, sweet and herbal soda. There are also notes of lemon, brown sugar and root.
As for the flavour, it’s very herbal with — your guessed it — ginger! This is a rich ginger beer — it doesn’t have that Canada Dry fauxness to it, just this ‘je ne sais quoi’ to it, with a hint of earthiness.
It’s warm to the palate as it’s a bit spicy, and tickles the back of the mouth, giving a bit of a peppery heat sensation to the tongue.
If I was given a glass of this without being told it was a lager brewed with ginger root, I wouldn’t have known it was actually a beer at all, but simply a ginger ale soda.
So, if you’re a ginger ale fan or just happen to like gingery lagers, I think you will enjoy this. That said, if you’re not a fan of spicy heat, this may be a bit too much for you as it reminds me of mild pub wings.
Melville’s doesn’t have any alcohol taste to it like some other ginger beers, such as Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer. Of the two, I would prefer Melville’s as it is a tad closer to a ginger ale to me.
Melville’s Ginger Beer is brewed with these simple ingredients: lager malt, super styrian hops, Melville’s own strain of yeast, spring water and natural stem ginger. You can find it at the 10th and Victoria and south-end Liquor Marts for $3.49 per 500mL can.
The folks at Innis & Gunn also have a new cask-themed ale out for a limited time. Innis & Gunn Whisky Trail Ale is a rich oaky scotch ale that’s aged in mature 30-year-old Highland whisky casks from all five of Scotland’s whisky distilling regions to give it the absolute best taste of Scotland.
It’s 7.4 per cent ABV and available at the 10th and Victoria Liquor Mart for $4.95/330mL bottle.