Distilled: Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer is big, bold

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Alcoholic ginger beers have become fairly popular in Columbus, at least anecdotally, as I’m seeing more and more folks ordering them at bars and picking up six packs in stores. I’m pretty happy about this because I’m a big fan of ginger beer (alcoholic or not) and even some ginger ales (Vernors sucks).

The first one I noticed, around last fall, was Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer and I was quite pleased. The alcohol taste was barely noticeable — Danger, Will Robinson, danger! — and it was immensely refreshing. (I found dropping a shot of whiskey, preferably Jameson, in a Crabbie’s made it even more appealing.)

I know what you’re thinking. The headline says Royal Jamaican Alcoholic Ginger Beer, not Crabbie’s. Well, I’ll get to the reason for including the latter in a bit.

A few months ago I was introduced to Royal Jamaican Alcoholic Ginger Beer, after it was recommended by a number of knowledgeable imbibers. And I can see why they were so fond of Royal Jamaican — it’s a refreshing and crisp beverage, but it also has some characteristics of sour beers and/or ciders. The acidity in Royal Jamaican rounds out the flavor profile quite nicely, but it also makes it difficult to drink more than one.

And here’s why I included Crabbie’s — it’s a much more drinkable ginger beer than Royal Jamaican. So much so, that I can’t even say one is better than the other. It would be like comparing apples to alcoholic ginger beer.

Plus, I find Crabbie’s ideal for a pairing with Jameson, or probably most whiskeys. Royal Jamaican’s more intense flavors don’t work as well in pairing the two together. Now, that’s not a condemnation, just a heads up from a shot-and-(ginger?) beer guy.

So if you’re looking for an alcoholic ginger beer with bolder flavors, try the Royal Jamaican. It’s a far superior product in that sense. But if you’re looking for a simpler version, Crabbie’s is the choice.

Or you could just get both. Each one has its own appeal, and will surely satiate anyone looking for a refreshing alcoholic drink in the coming warm months.

photo courtesy of Royal Jamaican