I like to think of myself as something of a connoisseur when it comes to Ginger beer – a quintessentially English drink beloved of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five – and I have tried every type that has crossed my path since my first bottle in 1997. That was Fentiman’s botanically brewed from Northumberland in the north of England and still one of my favourites when I can find it. Sweet with a nice after-burn on its way down.
In my local off licence the other day my eye was caught by a bottle of “Gingerknut” Irish ginger beer from the Wicklow Brewery at Redcross. There were two 500ml bottles on the shelf and I foolishly took them both – €3 each – and headed home. The uninspiring label should have been a warning and the contents were worse. Like flat cider, little or no fizz, ginger flavour or anything else to recommend it and no kick despite a 3.4% alcohol warning. Really, the worst ginger beer that I have tried over the years and that includes the cheap, sugary tins available in some supermarkets. I drank the second bottle the next day rather than pour it down the sink but sadly the result was the same. The message here is avoid and stick to the English producers such as Fentimans and Belvoir Fruit Farms – even if it means having to get it ordered in specially.