Ginger Beer Vs Ginger Ale: The Difference Explained

Ginger beer vs ginger ale comparison

When you were younger and had stomach cramps, you might remember your parents making you drink a glass of ginger ale to help relieve some of the pain. After all, ginger is known to contain natural medicinal properties that aid in common digestive problems.

But as you got older, you started to realize that ginger is not just perfect for tummy troubles. It’s also an excellent ingredient for a different kind of stress reliever ­­─ mixing cocktails.

Ginger beer and ginger ale have something in common in their ingredients ─ ginger. But both drinks are not the same. In this article, you'll get to know their differences to help you decide which one to choose.

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Difference in Alcohol Content

Ginger ale is ginger-flavored, artificially carbonated water without any alcohol content. Meanwhile, ginger beer is naturally fermented and brewed and is classified as non-alcoholic because it contains less than 0.5% alcohol as per FDA requirements.

Difference in Taste and Aroma

A man drinking a bottle of beer

Another difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is its flavor and aroma. While ginger ale is mellow and smells sweet, ginger beer has a rather spicy whiff and gingery taste.

The sugar content is also lower in ginger ale than in ginger beer. An ounce of ginger ale contains 2.6g of sugar, while an ounce of ginger beer contains 3.3g.

Difference in Production

Yeast vs whey

The main difference in the production of ginger beer and ginger ale is the use of fermenting agents. Ginger beer uses yeast while ginger ale uses whey.


How is Ginger Beer Made

Ginger and lemons with zester

Ginger beer is traditionally made by preparing ginger and lemon zest and steeping it in hot water. Yeast is then added to this ginger-lemon zest tea when it has cooled to 25-30 degrees Celsius. The mixture is then covered with a clean cloth and allowed to sit for 24 hours in a warm place to start the fermentation process. 

This mixture is then bottled in PET bottles and allowed to ferment for another 48 hours at room temperature, then transferred into the fridge. After six days, sugar is added to it to kill the live yeast.

How is Ginger Ale Made

Molasses with ginger

Ginger ale is made by making a “wort” from molasses, ginger root, salt, and water and bringing it to a boil. Whey or ginger bug is then added to it and then bottled. 

Ginger ale can be bottled in glass bottles, but ginger beer cannot because the yeast’s gas formation will burst the glass bottle. The glass bottle is capped until airtight then allowed to sit on the counter for 2-3 days. Fermentation will come from the whey. During this time, carbonation forms.

Is Ginger Ale a Good Substitute for Ginger Beer When Making Moscow Mule?

A true-blue Moscow mule lover knows that ginger beer gives the beverage its exquisite taste and refreshing aroma, especially when served in a copper mug. But does ginger ale have the same effect on the cocktail in terms of flavor and feel?

The verdict ultimately depends on the drinker’s preference.

For those who fancy a sweeter, bubblier, and less fuzzy drink experience, ginger ale may be a suitable alternative to ginger beer. But if you prefer your cocktail to have a more intense and citrusy flavor, the best ginger beer for Moscow mule is the one for you.

Top 5 Ginger Beers

1. Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer

Two bottles of Fever Tree

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The Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer is the most popular ginger beer choice for all sorts of cocktails. To ensure the finest quality in each bottle, Fever-Tree used three kinds of ginger from Nigeria, Cochin, and Ivory Coast to develop a fresh-tasting and well-blended ginger beer without being too sweet.

2. Barritt’s Original Ginger Beer

Three cans of Barritts ginger beer

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Aside from the usual Moscow Mule, Barritt’s Original Ginger Beer gives a bit of character to other cocktails like the sangria or margarita. This ginger beer is a marriage between a bold, flavorful, and spicy mixture of real ginger and a secret blend. It has a stronger taste than other brands, but it’s that very essence that gives the cocktail a unique flare.

3. Q Mixer's Ginger Beer

A can of Q Mixers ginger beer

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Q Mixer’s Ginger Beer uses agave instead of the standard sugar, giving it a bit of crispiness and depth. It is proudly made in the U.S. and has served tens of thousands of bars and restaurants. Whether you are making a classic, Gin Gin mule, Mexican mule, gin and tequila, or sangria infused with ginger beer, this brand gives off a more natural ginger taste.

4. Bundaberg Ginger Beer

A pack of Bundaberg’s ginger beer

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Bundaberg Ginger Beer is made with local ingredients from Australia. The most notable of the drink’s components is the Queensland cane sugar that is a tad sweeter than other types of sugar we know. This particular brand works well as a topper for whiskey and scotch to balance its bitter and earthy taste.

5. Zevia Mixer Ginger Beer

A pack of Zevia ginger beer

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For this particular brand, the sugars were removed and swapped with the healthier stevia. Together with the fresh gingers and natural lemons and lime oils, the Zevia Ginger Beer is packed with spicy and citrus hints that can level up your cocktails to a whole new level.

Top 5 Ginger Ales

1. Q Mixers Ginger Ale

A can of Q Mixers ginger ale

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With 25% fewer calories, the Q Mixers Ginger Ale is a good choice for those cutting out on sugar but still want to indulge in the ginger ale's naturally sweet flavors. The clean and crisp ginger bite with hints of sweet agave syrup makes this brand a standout among the rest.

2. Canada Dry Ginger Ale

A pack of Canada Dry ginger ale

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With 140 calories to every 12-oz can, the Canada Dry Ginger Ale is not a very good option for those on a diet. However, the spicy and sweet flavors are well-balanced, so it is not overwhelming whether you consume it independently or as a cocktail mixer.

3. Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Ale

A pack of Fever Tree ginger ale

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The refreshing combination of lime and ginger is to die for, especially when you mix the Fever-Tree Ginger Ale alongside whiskey, a classic martini, or a Moscow mule. Its subtle botanical flavors, citrus notes, and spring water combination create a refreshing and authentic taste.

4. Schweppes Ginger Ale Soda

A can of Schweppes ginger ale

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The ginger root ingredient in the Schweppes Ginger Ale Soda is steeped and cold-pressed to release all the spicy and earthy tasting juices. It is also combined with citrus oils and chilis from India for that extra heat and sourness.

5. Zevia Zero Calorie Ginger Ale

A pack of Zevia ginger ale

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You won’t miss sugar in the Zevia Zero Calorie Ginger Ale. It is sweetened with stevia leaf extract, which is known to be a healthier zero-calorie sweetener. Since the ingredients are all-natural, this tasty drink is calorie-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

Conclusion

Ginger beer vs ginger ale differs in many aspects, such as alcohol content, taste, aroma, and the way they are made. But you can use both when mixing Moscow mules in copper mugs. Whatever you choose, we know that you will love every sip.

Now that you know the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale, which one do you prefer the most? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • Nathan on

    Hello,
    Thank you for all of the info, as I have not tried Ginger Beer yet, it’s always good to know SOME info about the taste, but your article goes above and beyond with info on how each is made, and how they differ. Thank you. I did have one question I was hoping you might clear up or confirm what I was thinking. In your info about Ginger Beer, you stated that it can’t be bottled in glass bottles, however, both Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer, and Bundaberg Ginger Beer show they are in glass bottles. So, I was just wondering if being in glass bottles might indicate something about those particular ginger beers such as their taste will differ from ginger beer not in glass bottles, or some other difference to the ginger beers that are not in glass bottles? My other thinking was that there is probably no difference, and they only put it in the glass bottles after the fermentation is completed and they have added the sugar to kill the yeast. If you have any info about the differences of ginger beer in glass and non-glass bottles, or if you can confirm my suspicion that they are only put into glass bottles after the gasses from the fermentation process have ceased and there is not any danger of those gasses shattering/exploding the glass bottle they are in, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Have a great day!!
    -Nathan


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