There’s nothing quite like the crisp, lean taste of ginger ale. A spice with a rich and colorful history, ginger has been part of our culinary heritage for ages. Ginger ale became popular during the Prohibition when it was used in mixed drinks, as its sharp flavor masked the strong taste of home-made liquor.
Canada Dry Ginger Ale has certainly been around longer than Reed’s Original Ginger Brew. According to Cadbury Beverages, Inc., in 1890 a chemist/pharmacist opened a small soda-water manufacturing plant in Toronto. He sold this water to drugstores, to be added to fruit juices and flavored extracts.
Experimenting with different products, the chemist discovered a soda he dubbed Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale. Shipping the brew to New York in 1919 helped sky-rocket the ale to fame.
According to the Reed’s, Inc. website, the organization has been in existence for about 15 years. Drawing on a tradition of hand-crafted brews, Reed’s produces six flavors of ginger brew, including the popular Original Ginger Brew. This brew comes from a Jamaican recipe, using seventeen grams of fresh ginger root in each bottle.
The ingredients for the two drinks are similar, but have significant differences. Canada Dry’s ingredient list reads: “Carbonated Water, High Fructose Syrup and/or Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Caramel Color.” Reed’s ingredients are listed as “sparkling filtered water (sweetened by a blend of fructose, pineapple juice from concentrate and honey), fresh ginger root, lemon and lime juices from concentrate and spices.
According to the Nutrition Facts on each container, the two beverages come out about even. A 12 fluid ounce serving of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has less calories – 120 compared to Reed’s Original Ginger Brew’s 145. Canada dry has a whopping 40 mg of sodium, compared to Reed’s 5mg. Reed’s Total Carbohydrates and sugar content comes in higher at 37.4g, compared to Canada Dry’s 33g.
Ginger can be an acquired taste. With its strong bite, it can surprise many soda drinkers who are used to blander drinks, filled with much more sugar.
I prefer the heartier bite of Reed’s brew. The ginger taste is a welcome change from a “usual” soft drink. It doesn’t seem to have the sugary taste found in the Canada Dry ale. (Most likely from the high fructose syrup and sugar.) Both beverages are offered in a glass bottle as opposed to aluminum (which I stay away from due to the detrimental long-term metal exposure of this metal).
Reed’s Ginger Brew and Canada Dry’s Ginger Ale are priced comparatively, although Reed’s is slightly less expensive. A four-pack of the Reed’s cost just over $4.00 in the grocery store, averaging about $4.25 for the pack. At over a $1 each bottle, the price is higher than a regular soda, but comparable to other specialty drinks. Canada Dry only offers the ten ounce four-pack in my area, and runs about $4.50 for the pack.
Canada Dry is also easier to find, both in local grocery stores and while traveling. A staple on airplanes and vending machines, Canada Dry’s popularity makes it much easier to find than Reed’s Original Brew. (Although Reed’s is gaining popularity, as I’m finding it available at more grocery stores and some fast-food outlets.)
The medical benefits of ginger have been long understood, as both a stomach soothing and motion-sickness remedy. Ginger has also been touted for it’s migraine-slowly properties and its mood-enhancing qualities. I prefer using Reed’s brew when I have an upset stomach, or if I just need an energy lift during the day. Perhaps the high quantity of fresh ginger in the brew works better than the ginger found in the Canada Dry ale.
For its superior taste and ingredients, I would recommend Reed’s Original Ginger Brew. I think that the brew’s outstanding fresh ginger taste outweighs Canada Dry’s Ginger Ale.