Monday, 11 March 2013

Crabbie's - Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Crabbie’s - Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer
So it’s about that time again where I don the ginger beer reviewer’s hat, recalibrate my palate and become entrenched in a land of spice. It’s been bloody hot here in South Australia lately (currently 36 degrees at time of writing), so I needed a good honest refreshing beverage! And ginger beer is definitely the beverage capable of delivering fast thirst quenching refreshment. So the ginger beer in question today is Crabbie’s which is located in Scotland - Arrrrggghhhkkk! Crabbie’s which dates back to 1801, is one of the more well known alcoholic ginger beers, especially in the UK and it is readily available in Australia too.

My first mega concern even before I opened this ginger beer was the list of ingredients. Quite an elaborate and lengthy list of additives, preservatives and flavourings were boldly displayed on the back label. It went a little like this:
Ingredients:  carbonated water, ginger wine (water, glucose syrup, sugar water, grape concentrate, spirit alcohol, ginger extract and yeast), fortified glucose wine (water, glucose syrup, spirit alcohol, yeast), sugar, food acid (330), flavourings, colour (150d), preservatives (202) (223) and antioxidant (300)

Now to me, this seemed a little too ‘manufactured’ and full of nasties. It pretty much boarders on Rekorderlig or Kopparberg territory, and is something you probably don’t want to drink too much of. But the implications on the use of fresh raw materials like ginger in a mass produced product (considering it is very expensive), is understandable and not cost effective. But I’ll let the actual ginger beer’s flavour do the talking irrespective of its make up of ingredients.
The colour is a deep golden yellow, and is filtered completely clear. I’ll say it again, I love seeing real ginger pieces in ginger beer as it offers originality (but can you get originality in a product such as this?). There was a nice light carbonation in the glass, with a large bubble. The nose offered up immediate soft hints of ginger and vanilla. Other characters of clove, cardamom, orange peel, lemons, five spice and tiny hints of honey were also noticeable. The whole aroma did seem a little watery, with no in your face ginger punch. However in saying that, there was a nice balance of ginger to spice. As a whole, it was soft and mellow.

There was a nice up front, rounded sweetness on the palate which was balanced well with a pleasant creamy, malty texture. I did enjoy the lingering ginger flavours, which built up over several mouthful’s to a persistent and expected ginger heat. However, this was only very mild and I found that the whole palate lacked the important ginger spice kick. Again, there was a watery character which I believed diluted the delicate spice flavours. The 4 per cent alcohol also left the mid palate quite hollow and thin. I was just a touch disappointed with the palate, as I was expecting bigger things.
Overall, this ginger beer was a little on the commercial/industrial side for my liking. Where was the ginger kick?! It was very subtle and a little shy. Refreshing? Unfortunately it wasn’t, and I was left a little disappointed and still searching for a thirst quencher.

Producer: John Crabbie and Co
Region: Glasgow (Scotland, UK)
Alcohol: 4%



  1. this stuff is nasty, commercial swill. I't's Zima dressed up to look like something real. it has no ginger flavor and the bottles I have say "malt beverage with natural flavor and caramel color added" I've had true ginger beer (Fever Tree), with real ginger root, spring water and cane sugar. to me, anything less (or more!) than those ingredients are not real ginger beer.

  2. lovely taste for those of us who'd prefer LESS of a gingery kick...I prefer a lighter (not so offensively hot) less peppery (spicy) bite in my this is just perfect for me. I've been using these to finish off my "moscow mule" cocktails in which everyone who has tried it, loved it...lots of folks just prefer less KICK in their ginger beer...i am one of those people.

  3. Were any of those preservatives sulfur compounds by chance? Like sodium metabisulfite or sulfur dioxide? I just drank my first (and only) one of these ginger beers this weekend and got a migraine. I have a known sulfite sensitivity so never drink wine, but did not expect ginger beer to be a problem. Unfortunately, I could not find an ingredients list on the packaging that I purchased.

  4. "Real" ginger beer should contain: Water, fresh ginger, sugar (processed white sugar, brown sugar, or honey), lime or lemon juice, and yeast. Its very easy and cheap to make with just a carboy and an airlock. Make it yourself for better flavor, you'll also save a lot of money.