Mike on America

Chris Reed: A True Brew "Ginger Bug"

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

So right from the start Chris Reed impresses you as 'different'. Could it be the tie-died T-Shirt? The long gray hair? The engineering degree? Just listen to him talk about natural gas cryogenics, "When you liquefy it, it's one-600th of its current volume as a gas. So as a liquid you have to get it into a tank, except the problem is, it's at minus 273 degrees, and that's where I came in."

It's also where he left. Turns out natural gas engineers weren't a lot of 'fun', and that's what Chris wanted to have, some fun. So he went to rock guitar 'camp', played professionally, traded the markets, and eventually found his true calling: ginger. The spice, not the castaway on Gilligan's Island. "I use a million pounds of fresh ginger a year. You have to use real ginger, says Reed."

Chris Reed is the CEO of publicly traded Reed's Inc.and what he makes is ginger ale. Reed's Ginger Brew went into the bottle first 23 years ago, and now, according to Chris, "It's become the 'Coke' of natural foods. I know that's a horrible way to describe it, but we've taken over natural foods."

What Reed has done is bring 'craft brewing' to the soft drink aisle. A series of all natural, ginger and other herb infused, products. Made the same way our forefathers did. You know, George Washington and the boys.

Reed says, "There are cultures all over the world that are more appropriate for a ginger beverage than the U.S., although, at the time of our Revolution, 1776, ginger was 'the' flavor. So this country had a ginger bug at one time."

And if Reed's growing sales are any indication, we're getting one again. The 'health benefits' of ginger as a root have been touted by herbalists and other devotees for years, and now with the emphasis on 'natural' and 'organic' foods in the mass market place, Reed's is suddenly--gasp--mainstream! Chris Reed: "It started out as an eclectic, fringe product, and I haven't done anything different, and now I'm mainstream."

Reed also makes root beer under the Virgil's brand (some of the best I've ever tasted) and ginger ice cream and candy. Funny what you can find in a tie-died T-Shirt.

Chris Reed's story will be seen on 'Mike On America' on "On The Money'" Monday evening, 7p ET, tonight. After that, it'll be posted right here on CNBC.com.

Bottoms Up!

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com