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Monday, September 30, 2019

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ginger Brew

Ever heard of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon? It's that thing that happens when you just hear of something for the very first time, and thereafter, everybody and his brother seems to be talking about said thing. It's on TV commercials, it comes up at workplace water cooler convos, you overhear folks discussing it in the grocery store—it's something you'd never heard of in all your many years of life and suddenly it seems like the whole world is talking about it constantly.

I had that happen with "Moscow Mules" shortly after my esteemed colleague reviewed the original ginger brew for this blog. Somebody mentioned that it would make a great Moscow Mule in the comments. It came up in a conversation with Sonia soon afterwards, and I had to ask her, "What the heck is a Moscow Mule?" She explained it to me, as she'd ordered one or two in the past and had known about them since long, long ago. I thought, "Hmmm. Okay. Odd that my wife knows about this super obscure mixed drink served in a copper mug and I don't."

My very next trip to the state liquor store, I noticed there were pre-mixed cans of ginger beer and vodka, and they were being marketed as Moscow Mules. I couldn't believe it. How strange, I thought. Then it was mentioned in a movie we were watching, the details of which escape me now. A friend brought up Moscow Mules as an off-handed interjection while we chatted on the phone. It just kept coming up. Over and over and over.

Since then, I've sampled a makeshift Moscow Mule or two, although I have yet to try one in an actual, authentic copper mug. We did add vodka and lime juice to the above-mentioned triple ginger brew, and it did indeed make a tasty concoction.

This stuff? We don't have any vodka on hand to test my theory, but I'm thinking Pumpkin Pie Moscow Mules are just a big fat NOPE. And in all honesty, I'm not over the moon with this pumpkin pie ginger brew in the first place. It's not that I dislike it, it's just that the original is better. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. I'm generally okay with pumpkin/pumpkin spice/pumpkin pie offerings around this time of year, and I generally enjoy the flavor when it's appropriate. I just like that plain old ginger flavor better in this case.

I won't say the pumpkin pie spices "clash" with the ginger flavor, but they don't really enhance it, either. They're all just kinda there, whereas before, there was a nice pungent wave of ginger. Now it's a mishmash of ginger, allspice, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. It tastes vaguely of pumpkin pie spice...and vaguely of a traditional ginger beer.

It's not the worst beverage we've had from Trader Joe's, but it's not the best, either. The presentation of the product is still stellar, the pleasant fizzy carbonation is still there, and as usual, only top-quality ingredients are used. It pours mostly clear, with a faint yellow-orange tint. If you're dying for pumpkin spice beverages beyond those lattes you've been grabbing at the local Starbucks, I won't tell you NOT to get this. I'll just tell you I prefer this particular beverage withOUT the pumpkin spice. And I'm not a pumpkin spice hater...yet. As I might have guessed, Sonia liked it slightly more than I did, but she wasn't bouncing off the walls and singing impromptu songs about fall like she does when they really nail the pumpkin spice thing.

Looks like three stars from me and three and a half from the missus.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.


  1. I love this! Have already finished one bottle and bought 3 more for a party next weekend. Try it with Fireball! Also good with spiced rum.

  2. A Moscow Mule is the only way I'll drink vodka these days, but I prefer a Kentucky mule (with bourbon) or an Irish Mule (with whisky). We have about a dozen copper mugs at home for our guests who enjoy them as well.

  3. I bought this drink today. I like it even though it is a bit spicy. I don't drink alcohol anymore. So I wouldn't try it with alcohol.


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