The world can be an unpredictable place for those who are red of of hair. Sometimes they get burned at the stake for witchcraft, and sometimes they are 3rd in line to the British throne.
The most visible redhead in the world these days is likely Prince Harry, whose hard-partying ways have almost certainly afforded many a young lady the opportunity to inspect the orange and fuzzy crown jewels.
The voluptuous and overly top-heavy Joan Holloway from the popular Mad Men television series has rekindled the image of the redhead as a femme fatale, just as Ginger from Gilligan’s Island did nearly 50 years ago.
Your intrepid liquor reporter had flaming red hair as a toddler, but much to my chagrin, it eventually grew out to a mousy and unassuming light brown.
However, my ardor for redheads continued unabated, with my first schoolboy crush for the fictional Pippi Longstocking, a flame-haired adventurer who captured both the imagination and the heart of your humble narrator while reading stories of her swashbuckling ways.
The halycon days of my squandered youth presented further occasions for a few up-close and personal inspections of a comely red-haired vixen, where I learned that ginger is the best spice in life.
It was indeed a wise man who encouraged those who have dated a redhead to raise their glass in cheer, and those who have not, to raise their standards.
Never letting an opportunity for filthy lucre to pass them by, the beer industry is jumping on the ginger bandwagon with zest and zeal, filling your local booze merchant with a veritable cornucopia of Ginger Beers.
Yes, gentle reader, similar to how lime-flavoured beer was all the rage a few years back, this summer season will be the year of the ginger beer.
The origin of Ginger Beer goes back to England in the 1800’s, when ginger was brewed and fermented just like beer, and contained around 2% ABV.
Waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery were common in that era, so the population turned to brewed beverages like ginger beer, as the extended boil during the brewing process would kill off any nasties.
It was not for another century that the famous Canada Dry Ginger Ale was invented, but this soft drink is an entirely different beast. Made from carbonated water and ginger, there is no brewing process required to create Ginger Ale.
Since it is the extended boil during the brewing process that brings out the ginger flavour, Ginger Beer tends to taste much stronger than Ginger Ale.
While the North American palate never truly warmed to the flavour of Ginger Beer, this summer may just be the turning point, as more and more Ginger Beers make their way onto the shelves of our local booze merchants.
Starting at the western edge of our great country, Phillips Brewing in Victoria was the first to kick off the ginger revolution in Canada. Served in 650mL bottles, this is a pale malt beer, with a blast of ginger that is just barely contained by the solid malt foundation.
Long-time readers may recall that Phillips Brewing is a long-time favourite of your intrepid liquor reporter, who was tickled pink when a brewery expansion last year finally enabled them to distribute in the Alberta market.
Moving off the island to mainland BC, we have the Ginja Ninja (pronounced gin-jah nin-jah) from Granville Island Brewing. This is a light-bodied pale lager infused with fresh ginger during the brewing process, which produces a beer with hints of fruit and spice in the aftertaste. Your humble narrator found it to pair particularly well with sushi.
Closer to home, Calgary’s own Village Brewery recently released a seasonal brew called Village Ginger, made with red malt for an auburn hue, then paired with ginger root and local Alberta honey for a complex and flavourful medium-bodied brew.
Your humble narrator enjoyed this one greatly, and was quick to purchase one of the limited-release 64oz growlers at a well-stocked liquor retailer.
As an up-and-coming new brewery in Calgary, your patriotic booze writer tries to support local businesses, so give Village Brewery your custom now to ensure the beer taps keep flowing for many years to come!