Ginger Beer vs. Ginger Ale: What’s the Difference and Which One to Choose?

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Ginger beer has become a popular beverage worldwide, particularly in the US, UK and Caribbean regions. People enjoy this refreshing and zesty drink for its distinct flavor, both as a non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage. Ginger beer has a rich history that spans centuries, with its roots tracing back to Europe and Asia.

What is Ginger Beer?

Ginger beer is produced by non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverage makers. They start by grating ginger root and boiling it with water and sugar to create a syrup. Next, they mix the syrup with yeast and let it ferment for a few days. During fermentation, the yeast consumes the sugar and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. Finally, they can remove the alcohol content through pasteurization to create a non-alcoholic version. They can also keep the alcohol to make an alcoholic ginger beer.

Ginger Beer vs Ginger Ale

People often mistake ginger beer and ginger ale for each other. However, they differ notably in taste, ingredients, and production processes. To make ginger ale, one mixes ginger syrup with carbonated water to create a carbonated soft drink. It has a sweeter taste and is less spicy than ginger beer. Many people use ginger ale as a mixer in cocktails, and it is a popular beverage in the United States.

Ginger ale gets its authentic taste from real ginger root. However, ginger beer has a stronger ginger flavor and spicier taste. If you’re looking for an alcoholic beverage, ginger beer tends to have a higher alcohol content compared to ginger ale.

The production process differs for ginger beer and ginger ale. Ginger beer ferments for several days, while ginger ale is made with ginger syrup and carbonated water.

To sum up, ginger beer’s distinctive and delicious taste has made it a sought-after drink across the globe. Its taste and appearance set it apart from other ginger-based drinks, such as ginger ale. People enjoy ginger beer as a refreshing and delicious beverage, whether non-alcoholic or alcoholic. It works well on its own or as a mixer in cocktails.

Making Ginger Beer

Ginger beer is a refreshing and fizzy drink that is easy to make at home. Homebrewing ginger beer is an exciting and fun process that allows you to customize your drink’s flavor and sweetness.

A. Homebrewing ginger beer

To make ginger beer at home, you need a few simple ingredients like ginger root, sugar, lemon, and yeast. You can also add other spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom to enhance the flavor.

B. Step-by-step instructions for making ginger beer

  • Peel and grate a cup of fresh ginger root and add it to a large pot.
  • Add 1.5 cups of sugar and one sliced lemon to the pot and cover it with four quarts of water.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Let the mixture cool down and then strain it into a large container.
  • Add one tablespoon of active dry yeast and stir well.
  • Cover the container with a cloth and let it ferment for 2-3 days at room temperature.
  • After the fermentation, you can bottle the ginger beer and store it in the fridge to enjoy later.

C. Common mistakes when making ginger beer

One of the common mistakes when making ginger beer is not adding enough sugar, which can result in a flat and tasteless drink. Another mistake is using too much yeast, which can make the ginger beer taste yeasty and spoil quickly.

Popular Ginger Beer Brands

There are many different brands of ginger beer available in the market. Each brand has its unique flavor and sweetness level.

Some of the most famous ginger beers in the USA are:

FeverTree Refreshingly Light Ginger Beer:

Known for its natural ingredients and crisp taste, FeverTree Refreshingly Light Ginger Beer is a popular choice for those looking to cut calories without sacrificing flavor. With 53% fewer calories than regular ginger beer, this brand is a great choice for cocktails like Moscow Mules. The brand prioritizes sustainability, using ethically sourced ingredients and 100% recyclable packaging.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer Original Ginger Beer:

Handmade in Seattle, Rachel’s Ginger Beer is a small-batch brand that prides itself on using fresh ingredients. Made with fresh ginger, lemon, organic cane sugar, and water, this brand has a spicy flavor that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with other drinks. Rachel’s Ginger Beer also offers a variety of seasonal flavors, like blood orange and hibiscus, as well as cocktail mixers and ready-to-drink canned options.

Reed’s Zero Sugar EXTRA Ginger Beer:

For those looking for a ginger beer with no sugar or artificial ingredients, Reed’s Zero Sugar EXTRA Ginger Beer is a great choice. Made with fresh ginger, natural flavors, and stevia, this brand has a bold and refreshing taste. Reed’s also offers a variety of other ginger-based products, like ginger chews and ginger candy, that are perfect for those who love the flavor of ginger.

Spindrift Sparkling Ginger Beer Beverage:

Spindrift is known for its use of fresh, simple ingredients in its sparkling beverages. Their ginger beer is made with sparkling water, fresh ginger, and lemon juice, and has only 2 grams of sugar and 0 calories per can. This brand has a light and fizzy taste that is perfect for those who want a refreshing drink without the added sugar or calories.

The Ginger People Bottoms Up Ginger Beer:

Made with ginger juice, cane sugar, lemon juice, and natural flavors, The Ginger People Bottoms Up Ginger Beer has a smooth and balanced taste that is not too sweet or too spicy. This brand is also committed to using sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, and offers a variety of other ginger-based products, like ginger syrup and ginger shots, that are perfect for adding a kick of flavor to any recipe.

Some of the most famous ginger beers in the UK are:

Fentimans Ginger Beer:

Known for its natural botanical ingredients and full-bodied taste, Fentimans Ginger Beer is a popular choice for those who love a spicy kick. This brand is vegan-friendly and gluten-free and can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with rum for a classic cocktail. Fentimans also offers a variety of other botanical-based beverages, like Rose Lemonade and Curiosity Cola.

Fentimans Pink Ginger Beer:

A twist on the classic ginger beer, Fentimans Pink Ginger Beer has a lighter and more delicate taste. Made with pear juice and natural pink coloring, this brand is vegan-friendly and gluten-free. It’s a great choice for those who want a milder ginger flavor, and pairs well with light foods like salads and seafood.

Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Ginger Beer:

Another popular brand in the UK, Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Ginger Beer uses natural ingredients and has 53% fewer calories than regular ginger beer. It has a clean and crisp taste that is perfect for mixing into cocktails like Moscow Mules. Fever-Tree is also committed to sustainability and sources its ingredients from small, independent farmers.

Bundaberg Ginger Beer:

Made in Australia with locally grown ginger and cane sugar, Bundaberg Ginger Beer is brewed for up to three days to enhance the flavor. This brand has a cloudy appearance due to the pieces of ginger used in the brewing process, and has a sweet and spicy taste. Bundaberg also offers a variety of other ginger-based beverages, like Spiced Ginger Beer and Ginger and Pear.

Cawston Press Ginger Beer:

Made with pressed ginger juice, apple juice, lemon juice, and sparkling water, Cawston Press Ginger Beer has a refreshing and zesty taste. This brand has no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or colorings, and is a great choice for those who want a more natural beverage option. Cawston Press also offers a variety of other pressed juice-based drinks, like Cloudy Apple and Rhubarb

For centuries, ginger beer has been a beloved beverage enjoyed by many. Making ginger beer at home is an exciting and fun process that allows you to experiment with different flavors and sweetness levels. There are many popular ginger beer brands available in the market, each with its unique taste profile. Whether you like your ginger beer spicy, sweet, or smooth, there is a brand out there for you. So, go ahead and try a few and find your perfect ginger beer!

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