Picture this: you are searching for unique beverages to serve at an upcoming dinner party at the supermarket when you notice that ginger beer and ginger ale are sitting next to each other on the same shelf. You’ve only heard of them on television, and you’ve always wondered whether they are the same.
If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is, we’re here to tell you all about it! We’ll take you through the history of the two beverages, the differences between them, and their various health benefits.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Origins and History of Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale
It’s a common misconception that the two drinks are the same with different names, but this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Ginger was discovered several centuries ago, making it one of the oldest spices that man has ever discovered. When people first started incorporating it into their diets, ginger was used to treat various illnesses. It was commonly used in South East Asia, particularly among Indian and Chinese communities.
However, in the 1st Century AD, the world discovered ginger, thanks to the Roman Empire. As time went on, different parts of the world began to control trade, and ginger became more expensive. Still, people everywhere loved the taste of ginger, and farmers began to grow it in different parts of the world.
In the centuries that followed, ginger became a significant part of people’s diets. Still, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that people incorporated ginger into drinks!
History of Ginger Beer
It might sound surprising, but ginger beer originated in Yorkshire, in England. It was made in a similar way to the kombucha that many people drink today. First, sugar, ginger, water, and lemon were fermented together. Sometimes, people added a starter culture to the mixture. After the liquid was left to ferment for some time, brewers were left with a beverage containing 2-10% alcohol.
It’s important to remember that many also created ginger beer out of necessity. Back in 18th century England, many people lacked access to clean drinking water. Therefore, they used the fermented alcohol from the brewed ginger beer to make drinking water safe for human consumption. Most importantly, however, the strong ginger flavor made consuming this fermented beverage a more pleasurable drinking experience.
In today’s world, manufacturing companies have introduced carbonated beverages, and ginger beer is another drink that has received the carbonation treatment. While many companies sell it as a non-alcoholic beverage, others manufacture it with a slight alcohol percentage. As a result, it is labeled as alcoholic ginger beer.
History of Ginger Ale
When it comes to ginger ale, the timeline of its introduction to the world is similar to that of ginger beer.
According to various researchers, Thomas Joseph Cantrell invented what was first known as ginger ale. Cantrell was a surgeon and manufactured the older version of ginger ale. It was a darker gold and tasted sweet and strongly of ginger.
Several decades later, a Canadian pharmacist and chemist named John McLaughlin reinvented ginger ale. He already owned a soda water bottling plant, so he began to develop flavors extracts to add to the water that the plant manufactured. As you probably guessed, ginger was one of those flavors. In 1904, he introduced Pale Dry Ginger Ale to the world.
This beverage became increasingly popular over the years. It soon became a staple in supermarkets and homes alike. Many people use it as a mixer for alcoholic drinks.
What Is The Difference Between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale?
When I first heard about ginger beer and ginger ale, both beverages contained some alcohol percentage, but I was wrong. Many believe that you can similarly consume the two drinks to wine or beer, but this isn’t true! Both ginger ale and ginger beer are similar to other standard soft drinks, like Coca-Cola or Sprite.
How Are They Made?
Both drinks are produced in very different ways.
Regarding ginger beer, manufacturers tend to use the old production methods that involve traditional brewing. However, they control the prepared ginger beer mixture from fermenting too much to maintain its soft drink status and ensure it doesn’t turn into an alcoholic beverage.
However, it is essential to note that ginger beer contains 0.5% of abv. This percentage could be even lower, depending on the manufacturer. As a result, ginger beer is classified as a non-alcoholic beverage. It is also not as carbonated as some other drinks, which is thanks to the fermentation process.
When it comes to ginger ale, the manufacturing process is entirely different. In this case, a ginger-flavored mixture is added to carbonated water. Unlike ginger beer, ginger ale isn’t fermented. Therefore, it doesn’t contain any abv percentage. During the manufacturing process, sugar or corn syrup can be added to the mixture as a sweetener.
Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale Taste and Appearance
In today’s world, most mass-manufactured products taste artificial and unhealthy. However, ginger beer and ginger ale both taste gingery and delicious, almost like something you would make at home if you had the right ingredients and equipment to do so!
As we learned earlier, the manufacturing process for both drinks is entirely different. Therefore, both drinks look and taste very different as well.
Ginger ale is produced when a ginger-flavored liquid is added to carbonated water. This means that ginger tastes like a combination of sparkling water and ginger. It is much sweeter than ginger beer, and it is transparent, not unlike a drink like Sprite or 7Up.
On the other hand, ginger beer isn’t carbonated. If you’re a bit confused when you’re at the supermarket, remember that ginger beer looks similar to regular beer, where both liquids are a dark gold color. When you pour ginger beer into a clear glass, you’ll notice that it might be cloudy. It tastes more strongly of ginger than ginger ale does as well.
It’s important to remember that the differences between both beverages aren’t always as pronounced as to how we’ve described them. The reason for this depends on the way companies choose to brew and manufacture their respective drinks. Some companies use natural flavorings, while others use artificial sweeteners and flavorings to make sure that consumers know the difference between the two.
If you’re still unsure about the difference between ginger beer vs. ginger ale, remember that ginger beer has a more robust ginger flavor than ginger ale. Ginger ale is carbonated, and it is much sweeter and more mellow-tasting than ginger beer.
Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale Flavorings
Thanks to the wonders of manufacturing and technology, you’ll come to realize that ginger ale comes in a variety of flavors! If plain ginger isn’t enough for you, you can buy ginger ale mixed with cranberry, cherry, blackberry, or green tea flavorings.
On the other hand, there aren’t that many ginger beer varieties available in stores. However, if you search hard enough, you might get lucky enough to find ginger beer flavored with citrus-based ingredients, like lemons or limes and pineapples.
Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale Nutrition
There isn’t much of a difference between ginger beer and ginger ale when it comes to nutrition. You might be surprised, but ginger ale is healthier than ginger beer. It contains around 125 calories and 30 grams of sugar in a single serving, weighing approximately 12 ounces.
Ginger beer is heavier, but its nutritional value is similar to ginger ale. It contains around 135-140 calories per serving, with roughly 30-35 grams of sugar in a single serving that weighs about 12 ounces.
Ginger Ale vs. Ginger Beer in Cocktails
We’ve covered the differences, history, and nutritional factors of ginger beer and ginger ale. Now it’s time to get into something a bit lighter: cocktails!
You might have wondered if you could substitute one drink for the other when making drinks at home, and we’re here to provide you with answers to all your questions.
Ginger beer is a common ingredient in well-known cocktails, like the Moscow Mule, the El Diablo, or the Foghorn. It is most commonly found in Moscow Mules.
However, if you’re having a children’s party and want to serve the kids some mocktails, then ginger ale is your best bet. This is not to say that you can’t put ginger ale in a cocktail! The only reason that we’d recommend you stick to what a cocktail recipe says is because of how distinctive the flavors of the two drinks are.
As we mentioned before, ginger beer has a strong and more ginger-intense flavor, which is why you would add alcohol to it. The flavors of alcohol compliment the ginger beer without overpowering it. On the other hand, ginger ale is sweeter and has a milder ginger flavor that would get lost in a cocktail with strong spirits and liquors.
At the end of the day, the flavors of the two beverages come down to what you prefer in your drinks! Suppose you’re feeling a bit naughty and only want to water down an otherwise potent cocktail. In that case, we’d recommend swapping ginger beer for some ginger ale! Once you’ve learned what your preferences are, you’re free to go wild when making drinks.
Top Health Benefits of Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale
Ginger beer and ginger ale both have various health benefits and being good mixers for drinks. You might have heard of people drinking ginger ale to settle an upset stomach, but both drinks do a lot more. Here are some of their health benefits.
Improving Brain Function
It’s no secret that ginger contains various anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, so it may not come as a surprise to you that ginger came help improve your brain’s function. It includes multiple antioxidant compounds that slow down inflammation and boost memory. Ginger also slows down the aging process of your brain function!
Reducing Muscle Pain and Soreness
You might get sick of reading this, but ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties do wonders for the human body as a whole. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can help in terms of reducing muscular pain and soreness.
Ginger beer or ginger ale can help fight bacteria in the body when you have an infection. Many doctors often recommend drinking a glass of ginger ale when you have a cold. Once again, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginger help your body and immune system fight infections.
Lowering Cholesterol Levels
If you’ve been dealing with abnormal or high cholesterol levels, then you might want to try drinking ginger beer. We’d advise against drinking ginger ale because of its higher sugar content. Still, ginger beer can help lower the cholesterol levels in your body. If you can’t access ginger beer, you could try brewing it in tea.
Helping with Indigestion
Ginger is one of the most effective ingredients in trying to improve gut health and aid indigestion.
Fighting a bout of nausea or an upset stomach is something that ginger beer and ginger ale are most commonly known for. Both beverages also work wonders if you’re dealing with morning sickness and motion sickness as well.
Some Popular Brands of Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale
A few of the most famous ginger beer and ginger ale brands are:
- Fever-Tree Ginger Beer
- Bundaberg Ginger Beer
- Maine Root Ginger Beer
- Zevia Mixer Ginger Beer
- Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Ale
- Bruce Cost Unfiltered Ginger Ale
- Reed’s Ginger Ale
- Polar Ginger Ale
In this article, we took you through the differences between ginger beer vs. ginger ale. We looked at the histories of the two drinks and how you can use them to elevate beverages while also making the most out of their health benefits. Finally, we shared some of the most popular brands so that you can go out and buy some ginger beer or ginger ale for yourself!
What’s healthier: ginger ale or ginger beer?
Ginger beer is healthier than ginger ale.
Can I substitute ginger ale for ginger beer?
You can, but if you’re making a cocktail or mocktail, the flavor of your beverage will change.
Is ginger ale the same as ginger beer?
No, they are two different beverages with different preparation methods.
Does ginger beer have alcohol in it?
No, it does not.