LIFE

Ginger beer: a lost flavor

Jason Schwartze, owner of Moonglade Ginger Beer, brews an amazing beverage and sells it at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (photo by John Gregory)

Ginger beer: a lost flavor

Thanks to a new generation of gastronomic adventurers, unique tastes and flavor sensations are being created and served all over the world. This trend has made its way to the weekly Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market in the form of ginger beer.

Okay, it’s not new. In fact, it’s very old. Jason Schwartze, owner of Moonglade Ginger Beer, is bringing back this authentic flavor that few have sampled. Sipping it for the first time is definitely like experiencing a new flavor. Wait a few seconds and your taste buds and brain will stand at attention.

This stuff will really wake you up. You might feel some extra pep in your step a few minutes after sampling it. That’s because the ginger and the all-natural ingredients used to make it are very healthy. In fact, Schwartze said it’s good for digestion.

“The flavor is very crisp. It’s naturally carbonated so it’s fizzy. It has a lighter carbonation and it has citrus tones,” Schwartze explained. “Our original brew is sweeter, but we also make a triple ginger and a double ginger for our farmer’s markets which definitely have more of a kick, so you get a lot more ginger, less citrus and less sweet. Then we also do seasonal brews which also include ginger but have blueberry or mango or peach or pineapple.”

Organic ginger, lemons and limes are some of the natural ingredients Jason Schwartze uses to make Moonglade Ginger Beer. (photo by John Gregory)

Real ginger beer has a bit of a familiar taste. That’s the bold zing of real ginger. Commercial ginger ale sodas from the store only hint at this flavor. Ginger beer brewed by Schwartze uses only organic ginger and it nearly slaps your taste buds.

“It’s a fermented beverage so it has a trace amount of alcohol, but it’s below 0.5 percent, so it’s considered non-alcoholic,” he said, adding that it’s fine for children. “We use a traditional brew process that was first started in the 1700s in the British Isles.”

Schwartze explained that he is not a big drinker of alcohol. So, as an adult, he began searching for ways to develop a drink he liked and could drink in social situations.

“I typically don’t drink. I don’t like traditional beer or hard alcohol. I would go to a restaurant or bar with my wife and there was nothing to order except sugary soda or a lemonade or something like that,” Schwartze explained. “So, I would always look for ginger beer and I could never find anything that was real ginger beer.”

As he continued his search for the perfect ginger beer, he decided to try making his own. Schwartze has been brewing ginger beer now for quite some time. He kept refining his recipe, lowering the sugar and adding more ginger, he said.

“Real Ginger beer is fermented and it’s lower in sugar than the standard ginger ales that you see out there that are just like flavored sodas,” Schwartze said. “So, I was able to find this traditional recipe from Britain and I started experimenting and found it was 100 times better than anything I could find on the market.”

It would seem Schwartze is really onto something. Not only is his ginger beer different, it’s kind of addictive — hard to put down once you’ve had your first sip.

“A lot of people who like ginger beer, love this ginger beer because they know they can’t find a real, authentic, good ginger beer locally,” he said. “If they’ve never tried ginger beer before, it’s a really different flavor profile. It’s a different experience for them. It’s unique and they really, really love it.”

Moonglade has only been in business for a few months, and Schwartze mostly sells ginger beer in mini growlers at farmer’s markets. He is beginning to get his product into local stores, shops, bars and restaurants at this stage.

His ingredients include organic, fresh ginger root, pure cane sugar, purified water, lemon and lime juice. The live ginger beer culture is similar to a culture used in sourdough. It keeps regenerating from generation to generation and Moonglade keeps using it over and over, Schwartze said.

“That gets the fermentation going and that’s why it’s a traditional, authentic ginger beer,” he explained.

Schwartze hopes to one day have a special ginger beer brewery, but for now he works out of a commercially licensed kitchen and rents time at a licensed brewery to produce his ginger beer.

“There’s been so much positive feedback. People are chasing us down to get more bottles when they can,” he said. “We’re trying to keep up with demand and just produce more. We’re scaling up our operations right now in order to provide more wholesale to restaurants and retail establishments.”

Moonglade Ginger Beer can be found most Saturdays at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. Visit moongladegingerbeer.com.

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