Experiment #1 – Can it be that easy?

Like so many hobbyists, I have taken my hobby/passion from consumption to production.  I did my research, I found many recipes and a wide range of time needed to create an amazing drink.  I decided to select the simplest.

Simple is good.  I picked the following approach – Simple Syrup, Ginger and Canadian Seltzer Water.  I purchased the ingredients, and cheated a bit with one of them.  Gourmet Garden has a prepared diced/ground Fresh Ginger, and the ginger has a consistency between liquid and paste. The ginger was peeled and prepared – how easy could it be.

Gourmet Garden - Ginger
Gourmet Garden – Ginger

To start, I measured one cup of water and one cup of sugar into a sauce pan (equal parts of a simple syrup which I found on AllRecipes).  Into the sauce pan squeezed out all the Ginger in the tube.  I turned the heat to medium, and prepared to wait for it to boil and dissolve the sugar.  I also realized I need to dissolve the sugar, and whisked the sugar and ginger in the syrup regularly.

Whisk and Boil
Whisk and Boil

Looks interesting …. Don’t loose track of it like I did.   It boiled over in 15 minutes, and created a small mess.   I cleaned that up quickly.

I poured the mix into the a bowl to cool, and I waited until today to sample. I poured an ounce of the mix into a large glass, and poured in a seltzer water to top it off.


The Ginger Beer was delicious, yet slightly harsh, it needed to be cooked a bit more to limit the harshness of raw ginger .   I was so close.  I am excited to do experiment #2.

Kutztown Ginger Beer

Yes, Yes, Yes.  That’s what I say to anything ginger. I walk through any store, any open air market, and any location which has the faintest possibility of having ginger, and I think my goodness – Ginger is good.  I however also run into the reality that some ginger products are not good – not good at all.

On a getaway weekend with my other half, we ended up in the beautiful city of Philadelphia. We walked all over the city, and we looked for the amazing eats which we were promised – Pennsylvania Dutch and Cheese Steaks.  This mission/excursion lead us to Reading Open Air Market. (a map is attached below)


I wandered through eateries, shops and found one very interesting item – Kutztown Soda – Ginger Beer. Kutztown Soda is a Pennsylvania Dutch Bottling Company that dates back to 1851.  Kutztown reminds me of Polar Sodas in Massachusetts, a local brand and the local favorite.  It however may not be a national favorite.

I opened the top of the bottle (right from the vendor’s fridge), and I took a sip.  I did not enjoy it – the flavor is off. I think it’s the Sodium Benzonate which gives a slightly bitter taste based on the flavors it’s paired.   The ingredients are not exactly forthcoming with the natural and artificial flavors.

INGREDIENTS: Triple-Filtered Carbonated Water, Pure Cane Sugar, Natural And Artificial Flavor,
 Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Yellow #5 And Red #40.

The net of my experience is I did not like it.  I threw it out, it wasn’t a ginger beer I liked or could really finish.

You can try the Ginger Beer out for yourself.

Saranac Ginger Beer

Walking through Wegmans in Northborough, my eye caught a view of a ginger beer.  My first instincts were to buy the ginger beer, my second was to walk buy, and my final instincts ended with the ginger beer in my basket.  I knew when I got home, I’d have some new ginger beer to sample.

The ginger beer was from  Saranac Ginger Beer. I grabbed a bottle and poured a nice drink of ginger beer.  Unfortunately, the ginger beer has high fructose corn syrup. I prefer to see cane sugar used, it does effect the flavor.  I wouldn’t put it on the top of my list of ginger beers – it’s an average ginger beer.

Interestingly, Saranac Brewery has tours.  I may have to put it on my list of places to go visit.

Saranac Ginger Beer
Saranac Ginger Beer

Goya Ginger Beer

There is some irony in this post.  The day that I go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and make my first pilgrimage to Wegmans they are connected in a strange way – Goya.  I ran across the Goya Ginger Beer after visiting the Francisco de Goya exhibit.  Enough of the connection, I’ll jump to the ginger beer.

I popped the top, and took a sip – smoother than I recall.  It’s got a super sugary cling to my teeth feel with a semi harsh feel.  I would give it a five out of a ten.  It’s just not great.  It might be a good cooking ginger beer.

Goya - Ginger Beer
Goya – Ginger Beer




Barr’s Ginger Beer

Asked what I wanted for a gift for Christmas 2014, I had one response “Barr’s Ginger Beer“.  I hadn’t yet tried the soft drink, and I have had it on my Ginger Beer Bucket List for some time.  I’ve done the request search for Ginger Beer on Amazon.com and searched various soft drink review sites, and compiled my list, checked it twice, and had it approved by various gift givers.

On December 24th, I opened the one present I was allowed to open, and found a pack of 24 Barr’s Ginger Beer – the Scottish Soft Drink’s amazing soft drink.  As a side note, I have to say the packaging is very cool – all bear 🙂

Barr's Ginger Beer
Barr’s Ginger Beer

As I have found with all great packaging, they tell a story, and offer a suggestion, and include the best news…. Natural Ginger Flavorings.  There is also a nice surprise that they add lemon juice too.


I would love to say I followed my protocol for testing – two cups – one with ice, one with out.  I just popped the top, and took a sip.

My initial thoughts are – smooth… wait for it…. spicy.  It’s a pleasant feeling. Some ginger beers can be slightly harsh, this ginger beer was smooth and delicious.  Barr’s is going to to the top of my list of Ginger Beer – 10 out of 10.

Almost Homemade Ginger Soda…. and Almost Homemade Sarsaparilla

If you haven’t been…. If you haven’t visited… Portland, Maine is a quick drive from Boston.  I headed up to Maine for the day, and I ended up in the downtown Portland area.

After doing the mandatory shop visits – Bakery, LeRoux and Vervacious, I ended up at In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation.   Just one year or so old, In’finiti is a Brewery and Distillery, they make their own beers, rums, vodkas, whiskeys, and Sodas!  yum… my favorite.

The sodas, ginger, citrus and sarsaparilla, are all “homemade” – technically they are not at home, but made in the residence of the business.  The method is clear – they take the ginger root, the citrus and sarsaparilla and boil it with a simple syrup.  The simple syrup is most likely one part sugar for one part water and reduced.   The sarsaparilla had the earthy flavor of raw sarsaparilla root.  The ginger had a raw flavor of peeled / fresh ginger.

When I ordered, the bartender grabbed a bottle of the infused soda – one shot, and filled the rest to the top with seltzer water.  When the foam subsided, the bartender fills the rest with Ice, and serves.

Delicious!   For any fan of homemade sodas, give them a try.

Gosling’s Ginger Beer

Gosling’s is a name you might be familiar with it if you have had the Goslings Bermuda Black Rum – They have been around since 1806. They are one of the few rum distillers to also be a vendor for Ginger Beer (or at least one of the few I’ve found).

The Ginger Beer is my backup plan when the stores have no other Ginger Beer.  It’s good, but a little harsh when not on ice.  It tastes a bit of the dried ginger root – concentrate being 10x more punch than the raw Ginger Root.

I give the ginger beer a 7 out of 10.  Good, but not great. It’s also one of the few Ginger Beers that I can find in Plastic Bottles and Aluminum Cans.

Gosling’s is also famous for the Dark and Stormy. http://www.goslingsrum.com/microsites/stormygingerbeer.php

Gosling GInger Beer Can
Gosling GInger Beer Can