What Is the Difference Between Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer?

Is there even a difference between ginger ale and ginger beer? Let’s talk ginger beer vs ginger ale.

What is the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer? Ginger ale and ginger beer are both fizzy ginger drinks, but that’s where the similarities end. Ginger ale is a non-alcoholic, ginger-flavored, carbonated soft drink. It’s slightly sweet, mild, and mellow. Ginger beer is spicier with stronger ginger flavor and is usually less carbonated. Most modern ginger beer has less than 0.5% alcohol, but back in the day it was a real deal alcoholic beverage.

Ginger beer originated in England and was popular in Britain and its colonies around the 18th century. The OG ginger beer was made by fermenting and brewing ginger, yeast, sugar, and sometimes lemon. This concoction was around 11% ABV (alcohol by volume) and got its carbonation naturally from the brewing process. While some modern day brewers still make old-school alcoholic ginger beers, most of the stuff on your grocery store shelves has barely any alcohol in it (though there are some alcoholic ginger beers out there—Crabbies is probably the most popular). Some ginger beers are fermented with Champagne yeast, which creates fine, delicate bubbles, though most are made using a forced carbonation method. 

There are two types of ginger ales: golden and dry. Golden is sweeter, spicier, and has a stronger ginger taste. But the ginger beer you’re most familiar with is probably dry. It was invented by a Canadian chemist named John J. McLaughlin, and was patented in 1907 as Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Canada Dry is still one of the most popular brands of ginger ale (in fact, it’s the best ginger ale according to the Sporked ranking), unless you live in Detroit, in which case you only drink Vernor’s and eat hot dogs for every meal.

One of the biggest differences when it comes to ginger beer vs ginger ale is how the two beverages are used. Ginger ale has always been thought of as a stomach-soothing drink and is popular on airplanes. It’s also a sweet mixer for alcoholic drinks—perfect for all the times when you want to get buzzed but you have a little bit of a tummy-ache. If you order a Whiskey Ginger at a bar, you’re getting whiskey and ginger ale. Ginger beer has more of a kick. It can be enjoyed by itself or as a mixer. But with its stronger taste, it’s usually the star of the show. Ginger beer is used in cocktails like Dark ‘N Stormys in which it is paired with rum, and Moscow Mules in which it is paired with vodka. 

Now you know the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale. Don’t you feel better? No? Your tum-tum feels owie? Sounds like you need some ginger ale—or ginger beer. 

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *