Ingredient Insight: Ginger Beer vs. Ginger Ale


When grabbing the ingredients to make our signature Kentucky Mules, you might pause for a second when “ginger beer” is on the recipe and realize it’s not referring to your normal Canada Dry.

So what’s the difference between ginger beer and ale, and is it going to make a huge difference in your drink?

For starters, both are misnomers of the sort, in that despite the “beer” and “ale” in their names, there’s little to no alcohol content. The major difference between the two is that ginger beer is fermented.

Popularized during Victorian times, ginger beer is a brewed concoction with sugar and yeast, which accounts for the natural bubbly effect. It’s got a strong, spicy profile that will lend itself to the recipes that ask for it like our Kentucky Mules, where it balances out our favorite Borough Bourbon. In a classic Dark ‘N Stormy, where ginger beer is mixed with dark rum, the ginger beer needs to be able to stand up and compliment the rum used as well.

Sometime in the late 19th and early 20th century, a Canadian chemist by the name of John McLaughlin bought a soda water manufacturing plant. While creating soda flavors, he added a ginger flavored syrup to carbonated water, and thus, dry ginger ale was born.

So, does it make a difference? Only kind of. As all companies have different recipes, the amount of ginger kick varies from beer to ale, brand to brand. For example, Reed’s Ginger Brew comes in seven varieties, including a spiced apple ginger brew! Our advice: use what is recommended if possible, but feel free to experiment and let us know the results!