Ginger Beer vs. Ginger Ale: How Do They Compare?

Ginger beer poured in glass sitting on top of bar with ginger root next to it

Ginger ale and ginger beer are popular drink choices known for their crisp ginger flavor and refreshing taste. Even though they share a similar ingredient and are sometimes used interchangeably, they are quite different in several ways. Columbia Distributing provides bars, restaurants, and other establishments in Oregon and Washington with the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages they need to meet their customers’ demands. Here, we compare ginger beer and ginger ale and when to use them as mixers.

What Is Ginger Ale?

Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink that is famously known for being a home remedy to help treat nausea and upset stomachs. When ginger ale first became available, it was intended to make the digestive benefits of ginger more widely accessible and palatable. Over time, ginger ale has evolved to be one of the most consumed soft drinks in the world. Ginger ale can be enjoyed both as a mixer for creating cocktails and simply on its own.

Compared to ginger beer, ginger ale is typically sweeter and lighter in taste. Its ingredients of ginger extract, sugar, and carbonated water give it a syrupier taste than ginger beer.

What Is Ginger Beer?

While both beverages have been enjoyed for centuries, you may be surprised to learn that ginger beer predates ginger ale. In fact, ginger beer originated during the colonial spice trade and was first created in Yorkshire, England, in the 1700s. Ginger beer gets its unique flavor profile by being brewed and fermented. The taste of ginger beer is more robust and spicy than ginger ale. Although the earliest ginger beers were created as alcoholic beverages using ginger, yeast, sugar, and water, modern varieties are generally non-alcoholic. Like ginger ale, ginger beer can be enjoyed alone or as a mixer.

When to Use Ginger Ale vs. Ginger Beer

Because both ginger ale and ginger beer add bubble and fizzle to the drinks they are paired with, they make for excellent mixers. Both beverages bring a ginger flavor when used as a mixer for cocktails but offer some major differences. Knowing these differences can help you choose which mixer is ideal for the cocktail you’re creating.

Ginger Beer

Ginger beer is the appropriate choice for those wishing to add a strong, spicy, ginger finish to their cocktail. Ginger beer is commonly used to make classic cocktails such as the Moscow mule and the dark and stormy. Even though ginger ale can be used in place of ginger beer to create these mixed drinks, it’s not widely recommended since the ginger beer flavor is what makes these cocktails so iconic.

Ginger Ale

If you desire bubbles and sweetness added to your cocktail, ginger ale is the way to go. As a mixer, ginger ale’s applications vary but they shine brightest in drinks where you want the flavors to meld together. Popular cocktails or mocktails that include ginger ale include Pimm’s cup, Jameson and ginger, and the Shirley Temple.

Learn More About Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale from the Beverage Experts

Since ginger ale and ginger beer can be enjoyed alone or mixed with other ingredients, they are often a staple at most establishments that serve drinks. Businesses in the Pacific Northwest looking to stock up on ginger beer and ginger ale should turn to the beverage experts at Columbia Distributing. We supply bars, restaurants, retail stores, and other establishments with products from a wide variety of popular brands. Contact us today to learn more about the best mixers and what brands they go great with.