First Draught: Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer
By David Ort
While on vacation in London last month, I was introduced to Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer. There, it’s available in every halfway-decent grocery store. That won’t be happening here any time soon, but by happy coincidence last month — soon after I left London — the LCBO started stocking Crabbie’s Original.
To imagine the level of ginger heat in this beverage, it’s best to picture a point halfway between mass-produced ginger ale (a pale imitation of its former self) and the burning, sensory assault of Caribbean-style ginger beer. The spicy ginger aroma smoothly introduces a candied ginger taste that is balanced by a lemony acidity and apparent sweetness.
Some will find it too sweet, but I think that works well with the ginger. At four per cent alcohol, Crabbie’s is a good, refreshing candidate for hot days — but the flavours are strong enough that you probably won’t want more than one at a time.
It’s traditionally served over ice with lime, but more involved cocktails are an option as well. Four parts ginger beer to one part dark rum, plus a few dashes of Angostura Bitters, makes a Dark and Stormy, the national drink of Bermuda. Or, by topping up a lime juice and vodka with ginger beer, you’ll have a Moscow Mule — needless to say, not the official drink of Moscow.
I am skeptical of hangover-cure cocktails, but some studies have shown that ginger can actually reduce the negative side effects of both motion and morning sickness. To my taste, there is enough ginger in a bottle of Crabbie’s to make it worth a shot.
The full Crabbie’s lineup includes an intriguing oak-aged Black Reserve that has extra ginger added, and the just-released Spiced Orange version.
The best way I can think of to encourage the LCBO to add these to its shelves is to head for the ready-to-drink cooler section (where the Original has been stocked) and buy as many of the Crabbie’s Original as you can carry.
$3.65 for 500 ml. LCBO #272807
When David isn't busy drinking beer for his articles here, he writes about food and drink for Toronto's online publications including his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on beer and life in general follow him on Twitter.