Friday, 27 July 2012

How Funny Do You Think You Are, Ice Cream, Beer & Beat The Heat

I shall start this week by congratulating Yorvale for winning both Best in Class & Best Ice Cream at the Great Yorkshire Show for its Lemon, Honey and Ginger ice cream. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it's the ginger! Yorvale produces its ice cream from its own herd of 40 cows.

Asia's biggest food industry event, the Taipei International Food Show, was held at the end of last month with the aim of launching new products in both Taiwan and overseas. One of the participants was the Indonesian Trade Ministry who hosted a pavilion with the theme "Remarkable Indonesia". With Indonesia being one of the ginger world's major players, it won't surprise you to learn that one of the products on show was a ginger juice. Exports of Indonesian ginger root has dropped dramatically in recent years so I am wondering whether the export of value-added products such as ginger juice is the preferred option. In a previous post I mentioned that ginger from four countries including Indonesia will be part of the Sustainable Spices Initiative.

In the last fiscal year, India exported 5.75 lakh tonnes of spices, a near ten per cent increase over the previous year. Of this total, ginger contributed four per cent which equated to two per cent of earnings. Considering that the majority of Indian ginger is produced for domestic consumption, we can see that it is also an important foreign exchange earner. (In case you are wondering, a lakh is a unit in the numbering system used in the Indian subcontinent equal to one hundred thousand).

Denver's Westword blog reports that Crabtree Brewing is moving to larger premises. Why is this of interest? Well, the brewery will now be able to make more of its regular beers including Ginger Bee, a 6.5% abv blonde ale brewed with fresh hand-cut ginger and orange blossom honey.

Americans love to add ginger to blonde beers and wheat beers. This brings me to Calicraft, a three-month-old brewery in California, which brews a 4.6% abv ginger wheat beer called Napa Smith.

August 6th this year is the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. Celebrations will be held all over the world including a programme of film, music and comedy shows in London called Respect Jamaica 50. And Retail Times informs us that the official soft drinks sponsor of these shows will be Old Jamaica ginger beer from Cott Beverages. I've never tried this drink but Jamaicans are said to be very proud of it as it contains their beloved local root ginger with its internationally renowned fiery taste.

Old Jamaica has also been busy (and, presumably, having a good time) conducting a survey on British humour. According to Digital Spy, the survey found that 55% of men believe that they are funnier than anyone else they know compared to just 22% of women.

If you visit the Old Jamaica website before July 30th, you can enter a joke in the You Can't Beat An Old Jamaican competition.

The Toronto Star carried a timely article on using ginger in drinks to keep cool in summer. I say 'timely' as here in the south of England we are experiencing days of very warm weather (30-32C). I know this is nothing compared to what the USA has been suffering from recently but after months of wind & rain, 30C is welcome. We all know that ginger in winter can be warming but ginger in summer can also be both refreshing and uplifting. Although the article is only concerned with cocktails and beers, it is still an interesting read.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Thomas Henry, More Wheat Beers & A Vegetarian Symbol

Mixology is the art of mixing alcoholic drinks. It is also the name of a German trade magazine for bartenders and drink connoisseurs. Recently the magazine contained an article comparing a number of ginger beers (Gosling's, Fentimans and Thomas Henry) from a German point of view. What attracted my attention most was Thomas Henry and the fact that, despite its name, it is a German company. The name refers to an 18th-century scientist and surgeon-apothecary from Manchester, England, who is credited with the first production of carbonated water. There is one thing that puzzles me about Thomas Henry the company. If you compare the English and German-language websites you will see that both sites refer to a ginger ale. But the English-language site also contains a ginger beer whereas the same drink on the German-language site is called "Spicy Ginger".

black & white, a newspaper from Birmingham, Alabama, reports the arrival of a Belgian-style witbier containing ginger. White Thai, from the Westbrook Brewing Company in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is spiced with lemongrass and ginger root and comes in at 5% abv. As we have seen in previous posts, the Americans love their witbier with ginger, something the Belgians appear to have missed.

And talking of previous posts, here's something I forgot to mention at the time. Two weeks ago the Monday Night Brewing Company from Atlanta, Georgia, launched Fu ManBrew, a 5.2% abv ginger wheat beer. This is the third offering from a brewery which began life in a weekly Bible study group.

Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Cold Stores has relaunched its Elephant Ginger Beer (EGB) in India to meet new vegetarian labelling requirements. These requirements state that vegetarian food and drink products on sale in India must be identified with a green dot. EGB uses natural ginger extracts produced by 250 farmers. (Source: Sunday Observer)

this is Somerset reported that a new ginger soft drink is about to be launched in the UK. KOJI Lemon & Ginger, from Future Drinks Ltd, is currently being bottled and will soon be launched in pubs, cafes and delicatessens in the South West. This Japanese-style infusion also contains persimmon, goji berries, hops, cranberry, lemon zest, and apple. I shall look forward to trying it.

The Public Ledger contained a small article about how Indian ginger prices have risen by nearly a quarter in recent weeks. This rise has been attributed to farmers growing less ginger than previous years because of recent low returns. And there is icing on the cake as well. The crop this year is looking very good. Unfortunately, I can't tell you any more about this article as we have to pay to find out.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Independence Ginger Tea, Celebrity Chefs & Welcome Price Rise

The Retail Gazette carried an interesting article on how UK supermarkets are boosting their sales and profits by working in partnership with a celebrity chef or two. In particular, the article mentioned the success at Waitrose following the launch of Delia Smith's recipe for Rhubarb & Ginger Brûlée. Within the first seven days of the launch 14 weeks' worth of rhubarb was sold and the sales of ginger jumped by more than 3000%. Must make a note of that; when I open my shop, find a famous chef.

Good news for ginger lovers in Germany. LWC Michelsen has brought out 18 new jams of which two are ginger & pineapple, and ginger extra. Apparently, Germans prefer jam rather than marmalade at breakfast so these are ideal if you need a bit of a kick first thing in the morning.

Following the recent launch of Adnams Ginger Beer (see post), the brewery has swiftly followed it with another new beer called Flame Runner. This limited edition 3.9% abv pale ale, launched to commemorate the London Olympics, has been brewed with malted barley from Europe, hops from Australasia, and spices from Africa, Asia and America. The brewery describes the beer as having a 'subtle ginger aroma' which I take to mean that it does actually contain ginger.

The Business Standard provided welcome news for Indian ginger farmers when it reported that the price of both bleached and unbleached ginger had risen by about 10% at the spices markets. The rise was attributed to renewed domestic interest and increased export demand coupled with restricted levels of imports. Presumably prices will fall again when imports increase.

The Daily Star yesterday reported that the Bangladesh Tariff Commission Chairman has criticised the business community for raising the prices of essential commodities just before the start of Ramadan next week. He said that ginger is being bought wholesale for Tk37 but sold retail for Tk75. Two weeks ago, Commerce Ministry officials, businessmen and traders agreed to limit profits to no more than ten percent during the month of fasting.

The Fiji Times, like many other news organisations, likes to print extracts from its archives. Recently it reprinted news from July 8th, 1966, which contained a reference to 457 cases of ginger being shipped to New Zealand on the Union Steam Ship company's MV Tofua. I don't know how much ginger this is by weight as the term 'case' does not have a definitive meaning in this context. The same vessel also carried 2912 cases of bananas.

The Jamaica Observer carried a business article about Jamaican Teas Ltd, a company which has a 50 percent share of the local market. Apparently, the company has a plan to produce a 100 percent Jamaican ginger tea to commemorate Jamaica's 50 years of independence. The only possible problem could be the difficulty in acquiring enough local ginger in time for Independence Day on the 6th August.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Boston Cooler, Ginger Smoothie & Waxed Ginger Beer

For the last few weeks, much of the USA has been enduring extremely high temperatures. I've just been reading that the temperature in Detroit has ranged from 36°C to 39°C and that an ideal way of staying cool is to drink a Boston cooler. No, I don't know what one is either but according to Wikipedia it is a mixture of vanilla ice cream and Vernors Ginger Ale. Despite the name, the drink was invented in Detroit and was known as far back as the 1880s. Have a go yourself with whatever you can lay your hands on (ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger wine etc) and let me know the result.

Last year, Q Drinks, the New York-based maker of natural sodas, launched a ginger ale called Q Ginger. I'm sure that our Spanish readers will be pleased to learn that the ginger ale is now available in Spain, according to Alimarket (and if my Google translation is correct).

I'm always interested to see how far north the Americans will attempt to grow ginger. The Enterprise, from Brockton in Massachusetts, mentions that Marta MacFarland is experimenting with ginger at her organic Rise and Shine Farm in the nearby town of Marshfield. I shall try to find out how the experiment is progressing.

Wales Online reported that the incessant rain which has fallen on the UK for what seems like months and months and months failed to deter visitors to the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival 2012. One stall holder pleased with the event was Roger Schmid of the Septimus Spyder Medieval Brewhouse from Burton-on-Trent who sold a range of soft drinks including his ginger beer. Interestingly, the company produce a ginger beer, a ginger beer special reserve and a sloe ginger beer in waxed bottles, and a ginger beer special reserve in a stoneware crock.

Fastmoving introduced me to a type of product which I never knew existed - ginger beer smoothie. Wild Island (a South African brand from the Ceres Beverage Company) makes a range of dairy fruit mix smoothies and it has just added Ginger Beer Smoothie. Sounds interesting.

The Centre for Rural Technology in Nepal has published some images of ginger drying in the sun. I've also found some great images of ginger in Jyoti Pathak's Taste of Nepal blog.

Still in Nepal and the Himalayan Times has reported on some good news for Nepali ginger farmers. Ginger exports for the first ten months of the current fiscal year (mid May) have reached Rs 323.2 million compared to RS 199.4 million for the same period in the last fiscal year. But the latest figure must be put into perspective as the export value for the year before (2009-10) was RS 302.6 million. The implication is that last year must be treated as an unfortunate blip caused , I believe, by a better than expected harvest in India, Nepal's principal export market.

I shall finish by introducing Mauritius, a relatively small member of the ginger producing community. A year ago the Minister of Agro Industry and Food Security warned that 70 percent of the products consumed by Mauritians are imported and that is a risky situation to be in. The country is now just over halfway through a seven year plan to increase annual ginger production from 1300 tonnes to 2500 tonnes. Last year's interim production target aimed to meet 80 percent of local consumption. The increase in production has been made possible by the micropropagation of imported ginger material. I must remember to come back to this in 2015 to see if the plan has been achieved.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Small Selection Of Ginger-Spiced Beers From Around The World

If you like your ginger and you like your real ale and you like the combination of both then this post is just for you. Ginger-spiced beers and ales are springing up all the time all around the world and this is a small selection of those new beers I've encountered just over the last few days.

Starting at home and last Saturday saw the launch of Adnams Ginger Beer. The brewery uses the pale ale malt wort used for its Broadside offering and then adds ginger, orange peel, lemon and lime zest. At 2.5% abv, this appears to be an extremely quaffable drink.

In the spring, Oxfordshire Ales started producing a limited-edition range of unusual beers. Under the name 'Baby Ox', these beers will be produced at the rate of one a month using rare hops and obscure ingredients and recipes. This month's offering is Ginger Ale Baby Ox, a rich copper ale with a hint of ginger.

Over to Italy. one of my favourite countries, and the Birrificio del Ducato brewery from the village of Roncole Verdi in the province of Parma. Here they produce New Morning, a Belgian Saison with added ginger and coriander. It is amazing how many brewers are producing ginger Saisons now. As a bonus, here are a couple of pieces of trivia: the beer is named after a Bob Dylan song, and the village is the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi.

Across the pond to Arizona now and a seasonal beer which is making an unseasonal return. San Tan Brewing Company's Winter Warmer will make an appearance on July 14th at the brewery's Christmas in July celebration. This ale is based on a traditional English Old Ale recipe and then spiced with 10lbs of fresh ginger and 10 gallons of Arizona orange blossom honey. Take care if you decide to pop along - it is 9.5% abv.

I may be a little to late with this one. It was early June that the Dogfish Head brewery released Konichiwit, a 4.9% abv Belgian-style wit bier made with fresh ginger root and wasabi. Availability is limited so it may well have already gone.

Up into Canada now and the Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The brewery is celebrating its 15th anniversary by brewing two special beers. The first is called 15th Anniversary Hops, Mango & Ginger and it is made with real mango, shaved fresh ginger and 15 varieties of hops.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Flying On Ginger, Running On Ginger & New Drinks

A Singapore Airlines guide recommends either drinking ginger ale or eating a ginger-based Oriental dish to combat airsickness, according to an article in The Australian. But the article does suggest that if you take the ginger ale option, let it go flat first. This is because carbonated drinks can cause bloating through the expansion of stomach gases when descending. And I'm sure we all know what happens with excess gas.

The Dorset Ginger Company has added to its increasingly popular range with the launch of a new variant, “Strong and Dark”. The company has built its reputation on the Dorset Original Ginger drink but, following customer research, found that a sizeable number wanted a stronger tasting version. Hence the aptly named new drink.

Over to Sydney now and the release of a ginger-spiced real ale for the Australian winter. The Malt Shovel Brewery has produced Ginger Chops Alcoholic Ginger Ale with an abv of 4.2%. It also contains a little Australian honey. A post on the brewery blog contains the following line: "It won’t cure the common cold, but it’s sure to keep your innards warm this winter, while you doze off and dream of all things ginger". I'm sure that they meant to write "... and dream of All Things Ginger".

Traditionally, the planting of ginger 'seed' in many parts of India starts with the onset of the monsoon season. The heavy and widespread rain is essential for the newly-planted ginger to become well established. The monsoon system which graces India is known as the Southwest monsoon, or 'Nairutya Maarut', and persists from June to September. But this year the rain has been somewhat erratic. The monsoon arrived three days later than predicted, moved across many, but not all, expected areas and then stopped for a week. According to the Deccan Herald, this absence of heavy rain in the state of Karnataka has affected the sowing of ginger, an important crop for many farmers. Information regarding the progress of the monsoon can be found at the India Meteorological Department website.

Business Standard reported that Indian ginger exports rose by 37% in the last financial year with a corresponding 69% increase in value. In terms of actual tonnage (21,550 tonnes) it is not that large for the world's biggest producer of ginger but it is still quite impressive when you consider that the vast majority of the country's output is for local consumption. So it is understandable that farmers are concerned when their planting schedule is disrupted.

Two new styles of drinks have been launched in the USA, neither of which I have encountered before. The first concerns Mamma Chia which has launched three new chia-based vitality beverages including Grapefruit Ginger. Chia, or Salvia hispanica, is a flowering plant from the mint family which is grown in central America and neighbouring regions for the seeds it produces.

The second launch concerns Reed’s, Inc., maker of a range of non-alcoholic ginger drinks, which has entered the Kombucha market with the launch of four ginger-based flavours in its new Culture Club Kombucha range. Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea which originated in Northeast China and is now appearing around the world (but not, it seems, where I live).

I've just discovered Jeremiah Weed Root Brew at a local supermarket. Naturally, I bought a bottle which I plan to open in the next few days. I'll let you know what I think.

The grough website reported on the remarkable endurance feat of Colin Meek who has just completed a 30-day 600 mile run along Scotland's watershed. This watershed is a drainage divide which runs north to south through the country separating river systems which flow to the east from those which flow to the west. As well as running such a distance, Colin had to climb over 30 munros. A munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet high. What brought this article to my attention was that he sustained himself with Fentimans Ginger Beer.

Today (July 1st) is officially Canada Day although, as it is Sunday this year, tomorrow is the statutory holiday. To celebrate the day, Ipsos-Reid conducted a survey of which one question was to select a national drink. Although beer topped the list with 42%, ginger ale came in a creditable fourth with 17%. Happy birthday Canada!

Still in Canada and a potted history about Canada Dry Ginger Ale in the National Post. The article mentioned that the drink received praise from the 8th Duke of Devonshire who pronounced it "the champagne of ginger ales". He must have known what he was talking about; he had been the British Secretary of State for India. India introduced the British to the pleasures of ginger.

Two weeks ago I wrote about a ginger flavoured Belgian Saison-style beer from Utica in New York. Saison beers, it appears, are becoming increasingly popular in the US. I have found another one and this time it is on the other side of the country in San Diego, California. The Green Flash Brewery has created Saison Diego, an unfiltered golden ale with orange peel, grains of paradise and Chinese ginger. Grains of paradise, or Aframomum melegueta, is a member of the ginger family.

Last week I highlighted the concern shown by Queensland's Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry minister about the bacterial dangers of importing fresh ginger from Fiji. This concern has now been backed by the president of the Australian Ginger Growers Association, Anthony Rehbein. According to News Mail, he fears that Fijian ginger could have unknown diseases and strains that are more virulent than anything in Australia. He is also concerned that the price of Fijian ginger could drive down the price of domestically grown ginger to the point were it would become uneconomic.

There is good news for Bangladeshi shoppers this Ramadan, according to The Daily Star. In past years the price of basic commodities such as ginger has risen to exorbitant levels during the month of fasting. But this year Commerce Ministry officials, businessmen and traders have agreed to limit profits to no more than ten percent.

Another piece of scientific research using ginger and yet another one from Nigeria. The study, 'Effect of chronic intake of Zingiber officinale (ginger) enriched diet on the gastrointestinal sections of albino rats', was conducted by the Department of Biochemistry at the Federal University Of Technology. The research demonstrated the digestive stimulatory effect of ginger.