History: It started in a log cabin, a little brewery in the mountains of Wilson, Wyoming. Charlie and Ernie Otto not only founded Otto Brothers Brewing in 1988; no joke, they’re also credited for reviving the growler and turning it into a popular container for beer. In 1998, the brewery relocated to Victor, Idaho where it still resides today. In 2000, the company changed its name to Grand Teton Brewing. In 2009, it was purchased by Steve and Ellen Furbacher. They’re known for their beer. These days, the 26-person brewery produces 10,000 barrels of it a year. Could I interest you in a Bitch Creek or Howling Wolf Hefeweizen? Nothing better after a hard day than a Bitch Creek. Sounds like my ex-girlfriend’s favorite beer… right, Tonya? But today, we’re calmer and sampling ginger ale. Grand Teton’s Ginger Ale is part of their “Old Faithful” series, although “series” is probably a stretch considering the only other flavor is root beer. The cool thing about these two sodas is that they were developed to be sold in Yellowstone National Park. There’s a rumor this could happen if you carry too much of it in your car. There’s nothing I love more than bears and soda, so this is a pretty big day for me. Ginger ale was actually the original soda flavor developed by the Otto Brothers. Its recipe has since morphed several times before the current incantation. Grand Teton also has another line of four kettle-brewed sodas that started in 2011. These include traditional flavors like root beer, black cherry, cream soda, and the more adventurous mountain berry. The company brews all of their sodas in small batches in the same kettles used for beer and sweetens them with cane sugar. But the home run ingredient is their water. Soda Program Manager, Freya Boughton, says “Our water for example is special in that it is glacial run-off filtered 300-500 years with Teton Mountain granite and limestone.” This is basically the equivalent of a pizza company saying their crust is made with fairy dust. You can’t necessarily taste it, but you know it’s important and you’re glad it’s there. When it comes to their ginger ale, Boughton mentions “We say it’s a cross between a ginger beer and a ginger ale.”
Where to get: Grand Teton Brewing sells their sodas via their Web site, however it should be noted that you must call the company to place an order. Their sodas are mainly distributed throughout Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Illinois and California.
Nose: Traditional ginger ale with extra ginger. Basically what you’d expect.
Taste: Earthy; ginger; crisp sugar. Grand Teton thinks of their Old Faithful Ginger Ale as a cross between a traditional ginger ale and ginger beer. This is a perfect description of its taste. It’s a little earthier and spicier than a normal ginger ale, but doesn’t quite have the zip of a ginger beer. It’s very light and clean in the mouth. Perhaps that has something to do with the quality of the glacial water. It’s crisp, but doesn’t quite have a bite. A little earthier than most ginger ales. I’d like to have seen a little more tartness from the ginger than these earthy undertones I’m getting. The carbonation and sugar work very well together to highlight the ginger ale’s sweet and spicy notes.
Finish: Earthiness followed by cane sugar tinged with mild ginger. Not much of the way of lingering flavor.
Rating: Ginger ale is often hard to enjoy on its own because it’s either too bland or too carbonated. Grand Teton Brewing has avoided these pitfalls in their take on a classic craft soda. Old Faithful Ginger Ale is highlighted by a crisp, refreshing ginger flavor. In fact, it contains more ginger than your average ginger ale. It isn’t spicy, but more earthy. This is its only downfall. While likely a great remedy for a stomach ache, it’s just a little too musky for me to take down multiple bottles in one setting. That said, this is an incredible mixer. When paired with bourbon, the earthiness really brings out the spirit’s true flavors. On its own, this is an above average ginger ale in a world that needs more of them. It has flaws, but so do you man, so back off! Pick up a bottle for yourself and see what you think. The ginger ale market is prime for a resurgence. And when it happens, we’ll be ready.