I've enjoyed ginger ale for a long time. Aside from being the soda of choice when sick, it's the only thing I'll drink on an airplane. Something about the peculiarly intense sunlight at 35,000 feet shining through a little plastic cup of golden, bubbly ginger ale just makes me happy.
There are camps devoted to each of the major ginger ale brands, and plenty who hold that ginger beer is superior to any lowly ginger ale, and so on. However, I have heard what sounds suspiciously like some degree of consensus among ginger ale afficionados that Vernors is something pretty special.
It claims to be the nation's oldest soft drink, "the original ginger soda", and has the simulated woodgrain on the bottle in white silkscreen (or whatever that is) to back up its claim. In addition, it claims to be "barrel aged 3 years". Clearly, this is some SERIOUS soda. I don't even want to know what would happen to a garden-variety Coke or Pepsi if you left it in a barrel for three years.
I'm looking forward to this. I've never tried it before.
Side note: as further evidence of its lineage, there seem to be a series of coded raised bumps along the bottom rim of the bottle, just above the base. On one side, there are a series of irregularly spaced dots, something like this:
* * * ** ** *
On the other side, there is an upside-down number 8, a weird symbol, and another dot. And then part way round back to the dots, there is a number 6.
In binary, I guess the dots (making guesses as to the spacing, and assigning 1 to dots and 0 to spaces) would be 100101011001101. If you assume there is a trailing 0, that's two single-byte integers, 149 and 154, or one two-byte integer, 38298. Or you put the zero on the beginning and get the two single-byte integers 74 and 205. According to what I can find here, 74 is ASCII for capital J. The other numbers only have meaning in extended ASCII, I think, but there 149 is "o with a downwards accent", 154 is "Capital U with an umlaut", and 205 is two parallel horizontal lines (apparently different from an equals sign). So I'm thinking Vernors code is "òÜ", since that is cooler than "J=".
I'm so onto yòÜ, Vernors.
Where and when: purchased 3/12/09 at BevMo in Escondido, CA
Color: a lovely gold.
Scent: mild ginger, with some other complex stuff.
Taste: Ooooh, very nice. A nice mild ginger (but still recognizably real ginger, with that interesting heady bite), maybe some vanilla? A slight acid tang, which shows up a bit more after the initial sweet, but never gets very strong. Very, very pleasant. A touch sweeter than Canada Dry, and much less tangy.
Quaff rating: 4.5. I really can't find anything to criticize, except the sweetener. Excellent stuff.
Cough rating: 0. I'm tempted to make it negative, given ginger's effects on settling the stomach.
Interesting to note that this is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, and bottled by Dr. Pepper. I'll bet that if this were made with cane sugar, it'd be truly heavenly. As it is, I'll have to align myself with those who swear by this for their ginger ale.