Ginger ale and ginger beer have very similar names. They also contain similar ingredients and are used as mixers interchangeably in many circumstances. This can lead to some understandable confusion. Are these two really interchangeable? What are the differences between the two? Do either ginger ale or ginger beer contain alcohol? All of these questions and more are answered below.
Ginger ale is a non-alcoholic, sweetened, ginger-flavored soda. Not all products sold as ginger ale contain any actual traces of ginger. Our Ginger Ale CBD soda contains natural ginger extract for a more authentic and refreshing experience.
Ginger beer on the other hand was traditionally an alcoholic beverage though nowadays most ginger beers are non-alcoholic. Traditional ginger beer was made by fermenting ginger, sugar, and water. Today's non-alcoholic ginger beers are little more than ginger-flavored soda and, like the ginger ale above, many non-alcoholic ginger beers contain little to no actual ginger extract and use an artificial flavoring instead.
As for carbonation, ginger ale is often lightly carbonated though this can vary from brand to brand. For example, our ginger ale CBD beverages are as carbonated as your average canned soda. Ginger beer has very little carbonation traditionally, far less than a typical soda or sparkling CBD beverage.
Flavor-wise, true ginger ales are sweet, crisp, and contain just a touch of pure ginger flavor. Ginger beer has a deeper, almost caramel-like ginger flavor and, if alcoholic, has more alcohol per serving than a typical beer at around 11% on average.
Typical commercially-produced ginger ale is made through a very simple process. Carbonated or sparkling water is mixed with sugar or another natural sweetener. Then the ginger flavoring is added, natural or otherwise, and finally a small amount of citric acid or another preservative is mixed in. The Ginger Ale variety of our CBD drinks does have another step, but this is the process for creating traditional ginger ale.
Fermented ginger ale is a sort of homemade tonic that is rarely found in traditional supermarkets or shops. This type of ginger ale is made by fermenting a knot of ginger root in raw milk, whey, yogurt, or kefir. This creates a liquid known as a “ginger bug” or starter culture. Doing this at home should be done carefully following expert instructions. These same “ginger bugs” can be further fermented to create homemade ginger beer, though not in the typical way.
Ginger ale is a common home remedy for a little nausea or an upset stomach. It's also sometimes taken to relieve a headache as ginger is a natural blood thinner. However, ginger ale and, by extension, ginger beer don't contain enough ginger, on average, for the average adult to experience the natural effects of ginger. As mentioned above, many ginger ales also use artificial ginger and other flavorings.
Beyond home remedies, ginger ale is a popular additive to cocktails and other alcoholic drinks- and in some cases is used to make them non-alcoholic. This includes the popular Gin Fizz in all its incarnations as well as a lighter Moscow Mule or Winter Sangria. Our ginger ale CBD beverage works just as well as any other in these situations.
There are even uses for flat ginger ale (be it a CBD beverage or not) in cooking. You could use it to tenderize pork medallions or spice up a chicken or tofu marinade for a stir fry that has something few other ingredients could provide.
The process for making ginger beer is quite a bit more complicated than that for making ginger ale. To start, the ingredient list is much longer. Ginger beers typically start with fresh ginger, lemon juice, sugar, water, and yeast. Occasionally the yeast and lemon juice are omitted, but modern recipes have found that these additions speed up the process of fermentation. The original production of ginger beer, from the time it was invented in the 1700s, involved only ginger, sugar water, and plenty of time.
Once all of these ingredients have been mixed, the solution is matured into a starter. This is the fermentation stage. After fermentation, the mix is filtered and diluted with water. This water may be carbonated or may become carbonated as it is added to the “live”, fermented starter. Sugar and citric acid or another sweetener and preservative may be added for taste. The mix is then bottled. Ginger beer like this may contain as little as .5% alcohol or as much as 11%, if left undiluted.
Ginger beer, like ginger ale, is a popular addition to many cocktails, including the traditional Moscow Mule, Ginger Beer Margaritas, and the Dark and Stormy. Many people also prefer to drink it straight, though it isn't ascribed any home remedy status due to its alcohol content.