When you were younger and felt sick, your mom most likely gave to you ginger ale. Ginger ale isn’t just a soothing remedy for upset tummies however…it is also a highly refreshing beverage that has been around for decades. The soda that we have now is most likely very different to the soda that was around back in the day and in fact, the very first ginger-based drinks were actually beers. These are around today and becoming quite popular but what are the differences between the two of these beverages?
The Start of Ginger
It all started out with ginger beer. This originated in England in the 1800s and after a period of time, the popularity of it spread to America. Ginger beer was often brewed with lemon juice, sugar, water and ginger beer plant, the final ingredient that helped expedite the fermentation process. The maximum alcohol content tended to be around 11% but the story of ginger ale is very different. Ginger ale originated in 1851 in Ireland but a more modern version hit the shelves in 1907.
This happened when John McLaughlin invented a new version that then later on became Canada Dry. The ale was available in two different versions, dry and golden version, the latter being very rare and isn’t often seen on grocery store shelves. The golden variety is also (you guessed it) more golden in color and has a much more prominent ginger flavor, whereas the dry version is much paler with a mellow flavor.
So What Is The Difference?
The main difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is the brewing process. Ginger beer is brewed but ginger ale is just a mixture of carbonated water, sugar and ginger flavorings. Brewed ginger beers are often classed as being non-alcoholic because the total alcohol content is less than 0.5%, meeting minimum FDA requirements for non-alcoholic classification. Like another popular product Kombucha, ginger beers are fermented naturally so they often develop a traditional “beer head” when they are poured into a glass. Some ginger beers also appear to be very cloudy so it is recommended that you invert the bottle before you drink it if you want to avoid any kind of separation.
Nowadays, the difference between ginger ale and ginger beer isn’t so different, and many soda companies, such as Reeds, brew their ginger beers and ales naturally. Some large scale companies also add a stronger ginger flavor as well, so that the only difference is the one that you like the most! When spinning up your favorite Moscow Mule recipe, we recommend a high quality ginger beer (in our opinion, “Fever Tree” Ginger beer is hands down the best) but in a pinch, ginger ale will certainly get the job done.
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