Difference Between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale

Ginger Beer vs Ginger Ale

The difference between ginger beer and ginger ale stems from the process of their making itself. Ginger is one spice that is used in many more ways than to provide a flavor to food. It belongs to the same family as turmeric and cardamom. It has been known to people of South Asia since ancient times and, in India, consuming hot ginger juice during winters is considered good for health as it increases immunity against fever, cough and cold. It spread to the western world after it reached the Caribbean. Today, root ginger, as it is called to differentiate it from many other things called ginger, is the primary flavor in two types of soft drinks, ginger beer and ginger ale. There are many who remain confused between ginger beer and ginger ale because of the similarities in taste, and the fact that both have ginger as the main ingredient. This article tries to find out the differences between ginger beer and ginger ale to remove all confusion.

What is Ginger Beer?

Ginger beer, centuries ago, in 18th century England, was a fermented alcoholic beverage that contained ginger, water, and sugar, and was truly an alcoholic drink. However, today, there is no trace of alcohol in the drink, which is why the name ginger beer is really a misnomer. It is no more than a soft drink without alcohol, though it is fermented or brewed. It creates a fizz when opened just like other colas and clear drinks. You can remain sure that ginger beer that you get from the market does not have alcohol and is a pure cold drink that is fermented.

However, as it is stringer and spicier than ginger ale, many still differentiate between the two and think of ginger beer as an alcoholic beverage even though it does not contain alcohol. Ginger beer has less carbonation and is mixed with lime juice to make the taste crispier than ginger ale. Today, most of the ginger beer in US comes from Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. Even if you wanted to try, it may not be that easy to make ginger beer at home.

Difference Between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale

What is Ginger Ale?

Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink that has a milder ginger taste. Ginger ale is found in two varieties as golden ginger ale that is basically ginger beer, and dry ginger ale, which shot to fame and gained popularity during the prohibition in US. Because of the strong ginger flavor, golden ginger ale became first choice for those who could not get alcoholic beverages.

One factor that is common to both ginger beer and ginger ale is that, both are used interchangeably when it comes to treating certain symptoms of ailments like gas, diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting, morning sickness, etc. Flu patients drink either of these two drinks to keep themselves hydrated. Both are commonly used as a mixer or ingredient in some punches. Some airlines make use of these drinks to prevent symptoms of morning sickness in their flights.

Despite ostensible similarities, it is easy to make dry ginger ale at home. Water, ginger, sugar, and soda are all you need to make a tasty glass of ginger ale.

Ginger Beer  vs Ginger Ale

What is the difference between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale?

• Definition:

• Ginger beer is a fermented drink.

• Ginger ale is a carbonated drink.

• Taste:

• Ginger beer is crisper and spicier than ginger ale.

• Ginger ale has a milder taste.

• Making at Home:

• It is difficult to make ginger beer at home.

• Ginger ale can be easily made at home.

• Alcohol content:

• Ginger beer does not have alcohol.

• Ginger ale also does not have alcohol.

• Uses:

Both ginger beer and ginger ale are used as a cure for following situations as ginger is known as medicine.

• Gas.

• Diarrhea

• Upset stomach

• Vomiting

• Morning sickness

As you can see, despite being called ginger beer, it is not an alcoholic drink, and is very similar to ginger ale. They are two non-alcoholic cold drinks that attract people by their ginger flavor.

Images Courtesy:

  1. The Old Jamaica Ginger Beer by Nsaa (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Boylan Ginger Ale bottle by Hillary (CC BY-SA 2.0)