By Chris Heagney
Asheville is already well established as a mecca for beer drinkers. In the wake of that industry, a flourishing cocktail, cider and wine culture has also emerged, but there is another member of the craft beverage community that has chiseled out a new category: ginger beer. “Alcoholic ginger beer is brewed in a similar way to traditional beer, but we don’t use any malts or grain,” says Cristina Hall Ackley of Ginger’s Revenge. “And like an ale, the fermentation window is about seven to ten days.” Using an English ale yeast for ginger beer draws an even closer connection to its barley-brewed kin.
So, what distinguishes ginger beer from your typical beer? “Our base fermentable is organic cane sugar,” explains Ackley. That and, of course, ginger are the main ingredients. Don’t expect a syrupy beverage though—the ginger beers at Ginger’s Revenge lean towards dry, spicy and crisp rather than sugary and sweet. The absence of grain also allows for a drink that is 100 percent gluten-free.
Reaching the end of its first year of production, Ginger’s Revenge sits at the edge of the River Arts District in a building called River Arts Makers Place (RAMP), which is also home to Spicewalla and the new French Broad Chocolates facility. Other neighbors include the UNCA STEAM Studio and Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. This area is quickly becoming a busy place for craft beer lovers with Zillicoah Beer Company farther up Riverside Drive and The Bywater and Ole Shakey’s just down the road.
Ginger’s Revenge takes pains to produce a 95 percent organic and fair-trade beer, sourcing ingredients from as far away as Hawaii, Peru and Paraguay. They also utilize local ginger and spices as often as possible. Made with a variety of herbs from around Western North Carolina, the “Herbal Series” of ginger beers will make its sophomore debut this summer. Last year, Rayburn Farm in Barnardsville provided Ginger’s Revenge with herbs like orange mint, lemon thyme and Thai basil to be infused into innovative concoctions.
Visit the Ginger’s Revenge taproom to find brews like Honey Chamomile, Hibiscus Lavender and the popular Lime Agave, which will be celebrated with a bottle release party this month.
Ginger’s Revenge is located at 829 Riverside Drive, Suite 100, in Asheville. The brewery is open Wednesday through Sunday and features live music every Friday starting at 7:30pm. For more information, visit gingersrevenge.com. Chris Heagney is the owner of Daidala Ciders, located in the Cotton Mill Studios at 122 Riverside Drive, Unit G.