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Ginger Ale vs Ginger Beer – What is the Difference?

Ginger ale and ginger beer are two of the most popular beverages on the market today. But what’s the difference between them?

While they may look and sound alike, they have some distinct differences that make them unique.

In this blog post, we’re going to explore these differences, as well as their history, ingredients, flavor, and even their benefits. So stick around to understand the nitty-gritty details between ginger ale and ginger beer!

What is Ginger Ale?

Ginger ale is a carbonated beverage made from a combination of water and sweeteners with either artificial or natural flavors.

It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its mild flavor and ability to pair with many other flavors of food. It usually contains no alcohol content.

What is Ginger Beer?

Ginger beer is a slightly alcoholic beverage made from fermented ginger root extract or syrup along with yeast and sugar.

Its flavor is more intense than its counterpart because of its fermentation process but also often contains other spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg for added flavor notes. It usually contains an alcohol content of around 4-5%.


  • Ginger Ale: carbonated water, various sweeteners such as corn syrup or honey, natural or artificial flavoring such as citrus extracts or oils, citric acid for taste adjustment
  • Ginger Beer: water, glucose (sugar), yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus), food preservatives like potassium sorbate E202 or sodium benzoate E211 mixed with ginger extract/syrup infusion (ginger root), spices like cinnamon and nutmeg for added flavor notes

Alcohol Content

Ginger ale and ginger beer – with so many similarities, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. But when it comes to alcohol content, there’s a big difference:

  • Ginger ale has nearly no alcohol, with an average of 0.05% ABV.
  • Ginger beer, on the opposite end of the spectrum, has a range of 0-4% ABV, with the higher percentages being comparable to light beers or hard ciders.

So if you’re looking for a nice strong drink with a bit of spice, ginger beer is your friend! But if you’d rather sip on something light and bubbly while still getting that ginger flavor, then go for the ale!

Carbonation Level

The carbonation level can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re looking for a soda to soothe an upset stomach. Here are some points worth considering:

  • Ginger ale typically has a low level of carbonation compared to ginger beer. This means that it has fewer bubbles, which makes it feel lighter and milder on the palate.
  • Ginger beer has a higher level of carbonation than ginger ale. This means that it has more bubbles and tends to be more refreshing and fizzy.

Both drinks contain natural ginger flavorings, which give them their characteristic taste. However, ginger beer is usually stronger in flavor due to the higher level of carbonation.

The type of soda you choose is largely based on personal preference. Some prefer the delicate sweetness of ginger ale while others enjoy the intense fizz of ginger beer!

Flavor And Taste

  • Ginger Ale: Light yet robust spice with zesty citrus undertones; sweet-tart taste that pairs well with other ingredients; subtler flavors when compared to ginger beer
  • Ginger Beer: Intensely spicy with bold citrus notes; sweeter taste than traditional beer; greater complexity in flavor when compared to ginger ale

History Of Ginger Ale And Ginger Beer

  • Ginger Ale: First manufactured in Ireland in the mid-19th century by John McLaughlin; originally marketed as medicine rather than a soft drink
  • Ginger Beer: First brewed in England during the 1700s as a “small beer” alternative; similar recipes had been used since ancient times

Benefits Of Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer

Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer may sound similar, but they are two unique and tasty beverages. Here are just a few of the benefits of each:

Ginger Ale:

  • Low in carbohydrates and calories
  • Naturally caffeine-free
  • Mild flavor that’s perfect for those who don’t love the taste of bitter ginger
  • Fills up your glass with bubbles and lots of zing!

Ginger Beer:

  • Slightly sweetened, with a more intense ginger flavor
  • A great mixer for cocktails such as Moscow Mules and Dark & Stormys
  • Provides more complexity than ginger ale does to the flavor of a cocktail
  • Can be served alongside any meal as an alternative to soda or beer

Whether you’re looking for a tasty beverage to sip on its own, or an interesting addition to your favorite cocktail, Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer have you covered! Plus, if you need an extra hint of sweetness or spiciness, there are plenty of flavors available. So go ahead—take your pick!

Serving Suggestions

While many of us are familiar with the flavor of cool, fizzy ginger ale, we often overlook the equally delicious ginger beer. So how can you make the most of both options and use them in your kitchen? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Serve chilled ginger ale with spicy Indian food – The crisp, tangy taste of ginger ale helps to balance out the heavy flavors of Indian cuisine.
  • Try a Moscow Mule with ginger beer – A classic cocktail with a kick, Moscow Mules are best made with full-bodied ginger beer. It’s sure to be a hit at your next get-together!
  • Use ginger beer in marinades – The slightly sweet taste and subtle heat add a unique flavor to meats that can’t be matched by other ingredients.
  • Create an adult version of root beer floats with ginger beer – Add some scoops of ice cream and top it off with some chilled extra sweet ginger beer for an adults-only treat.

No matter which one you choose — or why not both? — both ginger ale and ginger beer are sure to bring an exotic twist to your kitchen table!


Though both beverages have traditionally been used more for medicinal reasons rather than refreshments today they can be enjoyed by anyone looking for a delicious drink without any guilt!

Whether you’re looking for something light & subtle like ginger ale or something more robust & complex like ginger beer there’s sure to be something out there that suits your particular tastes!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, homebrewer and beer taster. I’m also the editor of Beer100. I love travelling the world and trying out new handcraft beer and different beer styles. I’m not an expert in brewing beer, but I know a few things about beer, which I share on this blog. If you need help or have a question, please comment below.

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