Battle of the Brit Ginger Beers


The contestants: Old Jamaica Ginger Beer and Idris Fiery Ginger Beer

There are lots of reasons to drink ginger beverages. For one thing, they’re one of the few drinks that use an actual natural flavor rather than artificial flavor. That’s because no one has synthesized a convincing ginger flavor yet. Raw ginger is relatively cheap, and so potent that a little goes a long way.

On the left, Old Jamaica Ginger Beer; on the right, Idris Fiery Ginger Beer

Another reason to drink it is that ginger has medicinal properties; next to cannabis, it’s one of the world’s great anti-nausea agents, which is why parents give it to children with upset stomachs. A third reason lies in the making of shandies — as usually defined, drinks featuring an equal proportion of ginger beverage and beer.

American ginger ale, despite the stronger-sounding name, is a much weaker form of ginger beer. Today we pit against each other two English ginger beers. In the yellowish can decorated with a golden helix on its cylindrical surface is Old Jamaica Ginger Beer. In the bright red can stands Fiery Ginger Beer, whose slogan is, “Try me if you dare.” Indeed.

Actually, both ginger beers are weak compared with Jamaican ginger beer made by D & G in Kingston. As it turns out, Old Jamaica Ginger Beer is made by a licensee of D & G. For English tastes, the product is not nearly as strong. Here are the tasting notes.


Old Jamaica Ginger Beer — This product is cloudy-white, quite sweet, and possessing of an almost floral nose. The carbonation is moderate, and the sweetness is provided by sucrose (table sugar). The legend on the can reads, “With Fiery Jamaican Root Ginger,” suggesting the origin of the natural flavor is the island itself.

Idris Fiery Ginger Beer — The beverage is tinged yellow, and more fully carbonated than Old Jamaica, and moderately sweet from sucrose. There’s an earthy flavor mid-palate, which is notable, but neither annoying nor desirable. This ginger beer also boasts a slight citrus flavor. Real or not, it tastes like a squirt of ReaLemon has been added.

The Verdict: Old Jamaica Ginger Beer is best.

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