Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer and the story of ginger ale

I love ginger ale. I’ll start with that right now. I think it’s the best drink to mix with ever since it goes with literally everything. Canada Dry is in my top ten list of things I’m missing on exchange. Of course this isn’t quite the same thing but I was very happy to see a type of ginger beer I could sink my…not teeth so tongue I guess..into.

This is pretty light on the alcohol, only 4% although it does come in large portion, and you should get about one and half to two glasses out of it. It’s very similar to normal ginger ale, although there are a few differences.

There is a bit of a thicker head on the pour, although nothing unusual for a beer. The scent of ginger is heavier, and there’s other spices as well, such as nutmeg. The typical ginger heat is there, although it is muted a bit by the sheer creaminess of the drink.  This would probably make a good summer drink, although in my mind it would really shine as the base of a ice cream float.

Let’s do a bit of a throwback and go into the history of ginger ale and ginger beer, just to understand why it is we have the drink that I love so much.

It seems that a large amount of the story of ginger drinks goes back to a story we know well already, the idea of small beers. These were beers that are lower in alcohol content and were meant to provide alternatives to a probably contaminated water supply.

Ginger beers home appears to be somewhere in the British Isles, with some saying Ireland and some saying England. The date of appearance is disputed, but sources agree that it most likely was common in England by the 1800s and in the United States by 1850. The first ginger was in Ireland by 1851.


After that the story of modern ginger ale becomes a Canadian story. Until then people had been drinking golden ginger ale, a style that is rare but still exists today. This started with a barrel aged by pharmacist James Vernor while he fought in the American Civil War. Golden is stronger in ginger flavour and isn’t as pale as dry ginger ale.

Dry ginger ale was created by Canadian John McLaughlin, who operated a carbonated water plant that supplied water and flavouring to local drug stores to sell to customers. In 1890 he released McLaughlin Belfast Style Ginger Ale. He then lightened the dark colour and patented Canada Dry in 1922.


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