bette jane’s

Bette Jane’s Blood Orange Ginger Beer

History: Bette Jane’s is a little west coast bottler filling a large gap for a great cause. Founder Kirk Pearson is the man behind the bottles and launched the company in July of 2014 after believing his home-brewed ginger beer deserved a larger audience. A portion of proceeds from all company sales go toward finding a cure for breast cancer, the disease Pearson lost his mother to at a young age. Pearson is a veteran of the spirits industry and “saw a need for high-quality mixers with a local twist,” he says. Bette Jane’s is probably most known for their ginger beer, but also makes a tonic water and club soda, in addition to the blood orange ginger beer we’re reviewing today. Pearson considers his biggest competitors to be Fever Tree and Q Tonic (whose kola we’ve reviewed in the past), but the former is from England and the latter from Brooklyn. He decided the best coast needed to up its cocktail mixer game. “We are the only full line of cocktail mixers made on the West Coast and we are all-natural,” he tells us. And with ginger beer being the hottest craft soda on the market right now, bottlers are trying to find ways to put a new spin on the flavor before it loses its steam with the general public. Enter Bette Jane’s Blood Orange Ginger Beer.

Pearson says blood orange was the logical next step, adding “When I first started making ginger beer at home as a hobby, it was the first flavor I started toying with…. It was always going to be our first extension off the ginger beer.” He also believes the fruit itself just has a nice verbal aesthetic. “The consumer can really relate. They love the name ‘blood orange.’” And I’ll admit, I’d want one even if I didn’t know what it was. Blood orange? Sure. Blood strawberry? Give it to me. That’s not a real thing, but it’s amazing what one word does. Blood orange a self-promoting fruit. Pearson concocts all Bette Jane’s drink formulas himself and uses a blood orange concentrate to give the ginger beer its signature flavor. His vision for this particular soda was all about balance. It’s designed to taste like a blood orange soda on the front and a ginger beer on the back end “with longevity of spice,” he says. It was critically important for Bette Jane’s to differentiate its take on blood orange from other sodas that attempt the flavor. Because what’s trendy isn’t always what’s good. Pearson said he believes other blood orange ginger beverages are usually “too chemically or too sweet.” He added that his version “needed to have the punch of blood orange, but not be too sweet.” Again, all about balance. Clearly a lot of thought was put into this flavor. So it’s time for us to drink in the knowledge.

Where to get: Bette Jane’s is distributed throughout all of California and starting in April 2015, it’s heading to Arizona. If you’re outside those areas, April 2015 is still the date you want to watch because that’s when Real Soda will start selling Bette Jane’s Ginger Beers online. Don’t mind the website looking like it’s from the 90’s. We’ve ordered from it before. It’s legit and its owner is one of the most eccentric, knowledgeable people on soda you’ll ever encounter. You can also contact the company directly here.

Nose: Ginger; orange popsicle. Lots of citrus going on.

Taste: Light orange; ginger juice; sugar; heat. Very soft orange up front with mild acidity and tartness. The flavor is kind of like what I imagine an orange popsicle made from real orange would taste like. Soon after the ginger beer namesake flavor wells up from of the bottom of the bottle to join the orange and it creates a heavy citrus flavor. This is the best part of the soda, which is nice because it’s also the most prominent flavor you’ll taste. Finally, after the ginger fully washes away the orange flavor, you’ll taste some fire that hangs out in the throat. It’s got some solid burn to it. I’d say probably a 7.5/10 on the heat scale. If you’re sensitive to spiciness, that number probably balloons up to 8.5. Sweet with soft, juicy blood orange up front and a gingery kick in the pants on the way out.

Finish: Lingering spiciness that slowly fades, leaving notes of ginger juice along the back of the tongue.

Rating: Blood orange is such a great flavor idea for soda. Why people haven’t thought to combine orange and ginger until around 2015 blows my mind, and despite this fact, most of these hybrid ginger beers still suck. Look, I’m just keeping it real. But I guess even two beautiful things don’t always work on the first try. Look at Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston. But Bette Jane’s has figured out the recipe for taking two great concept flavors in soda and turning them into something you need to put in your mouth. The orange and ginger together are refreshing, crisp, and full of spicy citrus. The sweetness and mildness of the blood orange combine perfectly with the peppery, spicy nature of the natural ginger used in Bette Jane’s Blood Orange Ginger Beer. What really stands out is that blood orange flavor. It’s so soft and light on the palate, but it has a nostalgic taste to it. Think orange popsicle made with real oranges. It takes me back to childhood. This soda is a perfect blend of flavors from the past and flavors of the present. The sugar levels are just right and don’t render the ginger’s heat barren of flavor or potency. You can’t beat the balance of fruity citrus and spicy ginger here. It’s exquisite. I wouldn’t even mind to crank the heat up one more notch, but I think you might run the risk of thinning out your audience by doing that. There’s no reason you shouldn’t buy at least four of these, enough to pair with an excellent dark rum and get drunk off of share with your friends. And to top it all off, the money goes to a great cause. Even non-ginger beer lovers should find this appealing. Delicious.

Five Stars

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Bette Jane’s Ginger Beer

History: Kirk Pearson started making ginger beer for personal use a couple years ago in 2013. Having an extensive background in the cocktail and bar industries, Pearson just figured he could make something better than what was out there. Soon, he started testing it with friends in the industry and getting requests for use in their restaurants. So he self-taught himself how to carbonate and ferment, and voila, in July 2014, Bette Jane’s ginger beer was born. He’s still a one man show, but he’s quickly gaining a following on the West coast. The concept behind the product is a noble one. Bette Jane was the name of Kirk’s mother who passed from breast cancer when he was young. Pearson donates proceeds from every bottle to breast cancer research and those affected by breast cancer. While the ginger beer stands on its own, it was really developed to be a mixer to “carry through the cocktail.” A unique note about Bette Jane’s ginger beer: it uses lemon concentrate instead of citric acid, which gives it a more natural flavor and saves the barman the extra effort of having to add his own house juice to a cocktail. Headquartered in San Rafael, California, Bette Jane is soon set to launch a couple more intriguing products… but we’ll let them tell you when they’re ready.

Where to get: Contact Bette Jane’s directly to place an order.

Nose: Soft ginger; bold lemon; slight vanilla.

Taste: Slow ginger burn; lemon. More of a tart kick than a spicy kick. Very smooth for a ginger beer, which is fairly unusual. Tastes very authentic. The use of simple, quality ingredients stands out. Most ginger beers are slightly harsh, to very harsh on the palate by design. I didn’t know how to take this at first, but it really grows on you. It’s probably too light to consistently drink by itself. But that isn’t what this ginger beer was designed for, so now we had a perfectly good excuse to get drunk… test this out with rum. And whoa. It makes a world of different. The ginger beer really let’s rum do the talking for itself while still being present enough to make you say, “Ah, there it is!” Crisp and refreshing. This does better with alcohol than on it’s own.

Finish: Smooth lemon with a lingering candied ginger fruitiness.

Rating: If you’re looking for a mixer to add flavor to your cocktail without stealing its thunder, this is your ginger beer. The bite isn’t strong enough to shock, yet is bold enough to enjoy. The mildness of the ginger makes it easy to drink on its own, but may be too light to consistently drink without alcohol. The use of lemon in this is really phenomenal and is a flavor most ginger beers completely ignore. It really makes the beverage shine. Think of it this way: by drinking a bottle of Bette Jane’s, your also helping out a good cause. Who knew you could be philanthropic and get drunk all in one fell swoop. Get a copper mug; get a Bette Jane’s and an adult elixir, and take a load off.