POLAND has given me a great many beers to try. Many barely adequate. Some quite good. And all very ordinary. This one looks a little different though. Here is Classic Gingers Beer, procured from the same Polish shop on Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green as yesterday’s Bosman Full.
It’s a strange looking thing. It doesn’t look much like a bottle of beer at all. I thought it was a bottle of non-alcoholic normal ginger beer until I studied the back label closely.
The neck label didn’t help a great deal.
The name, for a start, doesn’t make any sense. “Gingers Beer” for example is like a bad translation. Which is probably what it is. Yet again, I’m stumped by the Polish language. To the translators out there, do please leave your translations and pronunciations in the comments at the end of this post. This neck label has the words “Oryginalny Imbirowy Smak”.
The front label is even more unusual.
What, for heavens sake, is a tornado doing on the label of ginger beer? Who thought that was a good idea? Is it so strong and gingery that it will taste like a whirlwind in your mouth?
The logo doesn’t answer many questions either. Is the name of the brewer “Classic”? Or “Gingers”? Helpfully, there is some English language writing on it. In the red at the bottom are the same Polish words as from the neck label. At the top however are the words “Original Ginger Taste”. Is that the same as what the Polish text says? Either way, the only thing you learn from the front label is that it tastes gingery.
Will the back label answer any questions? Only if you can read Polish.
Not one to be deterred by a lack of linguistic ability, I press on. The first thing you notice is the anti-drink-drive warning message. Normally these get in the way. But this time, it’s what told me that this was an alcoholic ginger beer. If it wasn’t for that message, I would have put the bottle back in the cooler and gone back to looking for beer.
The big block of text is Polish. But that’s never stopped me trying to figure out a few words before. And this one starts with a welcome combination of words and numbers. I think this ginger beer has a moderate 4.1% alcoholic volume. The polish word for ‘pasteurised’ makes an appearance. And this seems to be the produce of Kompania Piwowarska SA. So that’s who brewed this beer. The same Kompania Piwowarska that cooked up the average Żubr and below average Dębowe Mocne. This isn’t a Mocne. And it isn’t a typical lager. So I’m keeping an open mind with Gingers Beer.
What else is there on the label? That it’s 500ml. That they have a Polish telephone information line. And that it goes for 2,95 zl. Besides that, there’s nothing on there to talk about. And that means it’s time for the fun bit.
What will Classic Gingers Beer taste like? Should you buy one? Let’s get pouring.
What’s wrong with this picture? Besides the terrible camera that I’m stuck with, you might have noticed the mammoth head. Fortunately, it was dying down very quickly, so after a few more pours, it looked like this.
After a few more moments, there was no head at all. It looked as if it had never had a head. The colour is a slightly gingery shade of amber. I think it looks like a cheap non-alcoholic ginger beer. The sort you could buy from a supermarket in a huge plastic bottle. It smells the same way too. It smells gingery. But not the rich and strong ginger smell you get from the high-quality ginger beers. This one smells like the cheap ginger beer you buy from supermarkets to go with the sausage rolls when you have your cousin’s family visiting.
But what does it taste like? It tastes a lot like cheap, non-alcoholic ginger beer too. If you’ve drank the widely available, mass produced ginger beer you can find in supermarkets and corner shops across the land, then you’ll know what to expect. It’s a fizzy drink that tastes mildly of ginger.
So, it has a flavour of ginger. What about aftertaste? Yes, it has a mild one of those, too. It leaves your mouth tasting mildly bitter and, of course, of ginger.
Is there any sign at all of the alcohol? Just about. At only 4.1%, it was never going to be easy to find, but it is there. Barely. Somewhere around the point where you gulp it down, you receive a mild kick. A bit like being kicked by one of those tiny Lego men. You can barely feel it, but it’s there. For something similar, try adding a tiny amount of vodka to regular non-alcoholic ginger beer. I dare say the experience will be identical to drinking this stuff.
What are the positives? It is light, refreshing and very easy to drink. In exactly the same way as soft-drink ginger beer is. It is beer, sort of, and beer with a flavour. That flavour is pleasant too. There’s no unpleasant aftertaste or “bite” to worry even the squeamish among you. This is the sort of beer a responsible adult would let their young teenage children drink at meals and special occasions. It also scores points for being unusual and distinctive.
What of the downsides? It’s weak. And the beer-ness is so hidden by the soft-drink flavour, that it may as well be al alcopop. That head is a pain. You’ll either end up with froth on your table or half-empty glasses when it’s died down. A chore if you’re trying to pour it out for an extended family of house guests. Next, although it has flavour and taste, neither will satisfy the demands of the ale drinker. But then, what will? Lastly, it’s a bit on the gassy side.
Where does all of this leave Classic Gingers Beer? In an unusual niche is my answer. If you want an alcoholic ginger beer, this could be the one for you. It’s also one to look out for if you like unusual beers. Or the tangy flavour that only ginger can provide. I liked the thing. I think it has a time and a place and is worth keeping a bottle of it around for the right moment.
The nearest rival that I can think of, apart from non-alcoholic ginger beer, is Badger Blandford Fly Premium Ale. That tasted of ginger. But it was also an ale. It had the same flavour, but it delivered it in an entirely different way. That was an ale that had a ginger flavour. This is a ginger beer that happens to be alcoholic. It is nice though.
Have you tried Classic Gingers Beer? What did you think of it? Where can you buy it in your area? And can you help with the translations?
Do please leave your opinions, information, advice, corrections, translations, pronunciations, requests and recommendations here please.