Earlier this summer while attending the National Restaurant Association show here in Chicago, I had the opportunity to talk to some folks from Reeds, Inc., known for their flagship ginger brew products.
Now, here at BevReview, we're fans of really good ginger ale. That's why we talk up Bruce Cost's Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale whenever given the opportunity. But while Cost's entry into the market is one that plays to the Whole Foods-type crowd, Reed's counterbalances that by promoting the health benefits that ginger can bring. This type of nutritional angle is one that is relevant given the abundance of "functional" products we are now seeing the beverage marketplace.
At the show I talked to Reed's Neal Cohane, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, and Emily Straubel, Director of Public Relations & Social Media. We explored the different markets that Reed's is currently involved in, including not only ginger brews, but also some anti-nausea products, candy, ice cream, and their standard beverage line, Virgil's. While some of their claims have recently gotten them in trouble with the FDA, the basic premise of their ginger products remains the same: good-tasting soft drinks that have some added benefits.
I've been quite interested in ginger lately, as my wife is pregnant with our first child, and unbelievably we've seen how ginger has an amazing calming effect when it comes to morning sickness and nausea. I wouldn't have believed it had we not been going through this phase in our lives, but there's just something in ginger that works. While the rest of the marketplace is pushing products that give you more energy, or feature stevia, or have some amazing new method to help you recover from a hangover, it's interesting that something vintage like real ginger could impactful benefits.
The flavor of Reed's Original Ginger Brew packs a good bite, maybe not as harshly as Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale, but it also provides a certain smoothness that is attractive. If you've never had a real ginger ale — Canada Dry, Seagram's, and Schweppes don't count — you really need to give Reed's a try… or take it to the next step with Reed's Extra Ginger Brew. But don't just take my word for it. I asked fellow BevReview reviewer George Tsakiridis to share his thoughts as well.
Reed's Extra Ginger Brew is one of a line of ginger drinks that harken back to a time when soda couldn't be easily bought at the store. Their website discusses the old pioneer days when soft drinks were brewed at home not only as a tasty drink, but also as an herbal solution. Just thinking about it has me excited, as the Reed's line combines taste and health and I'm sure it will pack a big bite with 26 grams of fresh ginger involved. For those interested in the investment angle, Reed's is also a publicly traded company: REED.
The bottle is green with red/yellow labeling and a nice beach scene on the front. It states "All Natural Jamaican Style Ginger Beer" and they have clearly gone with a sort of "Jamaican" themed bottle. Each bottle contains 12 fluid ounces and 145 calories. It also has 37.4 grams of sugar and 25% fruit juice.
The ingredient list reads as follows: "sparkling filtered water (sweetened by a blend of fructose, pineapple juice from concentrate and honey), fresh ginger root, lemon and lime juices from concentrate and spices." Note it contains fructose, but not high fructose corn syrup, a notable difference.
Honestly, I was really looking forward to tasting this for the first time, not only for the taste itself, but also the fact that it will probably settle my stomach. I twist off the cap to a pretty loud "pop" and see a cloudy smoke emerge. I smell some ginger, but not much and not too strong of a scent. With the first taste, I feel a fairly heavy carbonation burn and a gingery taste mixed with a sweet flavor that I can't quite put my finger on, but which I can clearly taste as honey as I drink more.
The afterburn is present, but not near as strong as I was expecting. Perhaps it is because I was ready for it. Giving it to someone else for a second opinion, they found it clearly stronger than another ginger beer we've reviewed recently, Cock 'n Bull. I definitely feel an extended burn, but it is not overly intense. I also notice sediment on the bottom of the bottle, what I hope is the fresh ginger. It has a fresh taste to it, and again, the more I drink, the more I taste a honey-ginger mix. The 25% fruit juice also must be coming into play, but I can't quite put my finger on that as easily. Perhaps I taste it a bit in the aftertaste.
Overall, this is a great drink and has a more "natural" feel to it. I would recommend it as a standalone ginger beer, but part of me almost wishes for more bite, but perhaps that is just the new ginger challenge arising within me. The burn stays with you, but is sort of a "slow burn," perhaps the desired effect for many connoisseurs. So although the punch was less than I expected, the lasting effects are definitely present. As far as the carbonation, I placed what was left of the bottle (after my taste review) in the fridge and after 24 hours without the cap on it still was fairly fizzy – impressive.
In the end, chalk this ginger brew up as a win!
Full Disclosure: This beverage was provided compliments of Old 52 General Store