Ginger Beer Explained (2024)

When it comes to refreshing and invigorating beverages, ginger beer provides a unique experience. This effervescent and zingy drink has been enjoyed for centuries, offering a unique combination of spicy, sweet, and tangy flavors. Popularly used as a mixer for co*cktails, its aromatic and spicy qualities pair well with a wide range of spirits. Read on to learn what ginger beer is and how it differs from its close relative, ginger ale.

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What Is Ginger Beer?

Ginger Beer Explained (1)

Despite its name, ginger beer is not actually a type of beer, but rather a non-alcoholic carbonated drink that is made from ginger root. It is often used as a mixer in co*cktails or enjoyed on its own as a refreshing and zesty beverage. Its unique flavor is derived from the spicy and aromatic oils found in ginger root, which give it a distinctive kick that sets it apart from other carbonated drinks.

Ginger beer is widely used as a standalone refreshing drink, served chilled or over ice. Its robust ginger taste gives it a satisfying kick, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy a more intense flavor experience. Additionally, ginger beer has gained prominence as a versatile mixer in a variety of co*cktails, mocktails, and lemonades. Its spicy and complex profile enhances the flavors of various spirits, including rum, vodka, whiskey, and tequila, making it an essential ingredient in classics like the Moscow Mule and the Dark 'n' Stormy.

Is Ginger Beer Non-Alcoholic?

The answer is that it depends on the type of ginger beer you are drinking. Traditionally, ginger beer was fermented and contained a small amount of alcohol. However, most commercial ginger beers available today are non-alcoholic. These versions undergo a brewing process that ensures the alcohol content remains below 0.5% by volume, classifying them as non-alcoholic beverages perfect for serving at zero-proof bars.

What Does Ginger Beer Taste Like?

Ginger beer packs a punch with its bold flavor profile. Its key ingredients are carbonated water, cane sugar, and ginger root, which gives it a strong and spicy ginger flavor with a balanced sweetness. Many ginger beers also contain lemon or lime extract for a note of tangy citrus to round out the strong ginger flavor.

Is Ginger Beer Good for You?

Ginger beer, in moderation, can offer certain health benefits. Ginger itself has been traditionally used to aid digestion and reduce nausea. Additionally, ginger contains compounds with potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, it's important to note that commercially available ginger beers may have added sugars and varying levels of ginger content. Excessive consumption of sugary ginger beer can contribute to health issues like weight gain and increased risk of diabetes. Therefore, while ginger beer can be enjoyed as an occasional treat or in moderation, it's important to be mindful of its sugar content and choose options with natural sweeteners or no added sugars.

Ginger Beer vs Ginger Ale

Ginger Beer Explained (2)

Ginger beer and ginger ale are two ginger-based beverages often mistaken for one another. While both share a common ingredient and possess a ginger flavor, there are key differences between the two. Ginger beer is spicier and has a more pronounced ginger flavor compared to ginger ale. This is because ginger beer is brewed with real ginger root, whereas ginger ale is usually made with ginger flavoring or extract. Because it contains real ginger root, it has a cloudier appearance than ginger ale. Ginger beer's strong and complex taste makes it a preferred choice when seeking a more pronounced ginger kick in both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.

Ginger ale has a milder ginger taste and is typically sweeter and less spicy than ginger beer. It is also more carbonated and has a smoother mouthfeel. Ginger ale is commonly consumed on its own or as a mixer in lighter co*cktails, such as the Pimm’s Cup or a shandy.

Ginger Beer co*cktails

Ginger beer's bold and zesty flavor makes it a fantastic ingredient for co*cktails. Its spiciness is a staple in some co*cktail recipes and adds a delightful twist to others. Here are a few ginger beer co*cktail ideas to explore:

Ginger Beer Explained (3)

  1. Moscow Mule: The classic Moscow Mule is a popular choice that combines ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice. Fill a copper mug with ice, add 2 oz. of vodka, squeeze in the juice of half a lime, and top it off with ginger beer. Stir gently and garnish with a lime wheel or mint sprig.
  2. Dark 'n' Stormy: This simple yet captivating co*cktail features dark rum and ginger beer. Fill a highball glass with ice, pour in 2 oz. of dark rum, and top it off with ginger beer. Give it a quick stir and garnish with a lime wedge.
  3. Ginger Beer Margarita: Put a twist on the classic margarita by incorporating ginger beer. In a shaker filled with ice, combine 2 oz. of tequila, 1 oz. of fresh lime juice, and 1/2 oz. of triple sec. Shake well, strain into a salt-rimmed glass filled with ice, and top it off with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel or a slice of fresh ginger.
  4. Gin Buck: This refreshing gin-based co*cktail is easy to make. Fill a Collins glass with ice, add 2 oz. of gin, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, and top it off with ginger beer. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon twist.
  5. Ginger Beer Mojito: Give the classic mojito a ginger-infused twist. Muddle a handful of fresh mint leaves and a lime wedge in a glass. Add 2 oz. of white rum, a splash of simple syrup, and fill the glass with ice. Top it off with ginger beer, give it a gentle stir, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Experiment with the ratios and adjust the ingredients based on your personal taste preferences to create refreshing and flavorful concoctions. Garnish options can also be customized with herbs, fruit slices, or even a dash of bitters to add depth to the flavors.

Overall, ginger beer is a flavorful, zesty beverage with a range of applications. The spicy and refreshing flavor of ginger beer pairs well with a variety of spirits, making it a versatile mixer for bartenders. In addition to its use in co*cktails, ginger beer is also a popular choice for non-alcoholic drinks. Its unique flavor profile makes it a great alternative to traditional sodas, and its natural ingredients appeal to health-conscious consumers.

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Ginger Beer Explained (2024)


Ginger Beer Explained? ›

Ginger Beer is not technically a beer at all, but an alcoholic drink invented by the British in the mid-18th century using ginger root and sugar grown in the West Indies. It became popular in various parts of what was then the British Empire as well as in the United States.

How does ginger beer work? ›

ginger beer, beverage, once popular in the United Kingdom, made by fermenting a mixture of ginger, water, sugar, cream of tartar, and yeast. Lemon peel and juice or citric acid may also be added. Ginger beer is bottled before fermentation is complete. It is carbonated and mildly alcoholic.

Why is ginger beer called beer if it's not alcoholic? ›

Ginger beer is a drink originating from England, where sugar, ginger, water, and sometimes lemon were fermented and brewed with a starter culture called the ginger beer plant, resulting in a brew with about 11 percent alcohol. This also explains how the word “beer” is part of the name.

Is there any alcohol in ginger beer? ›

Today, most commercial ginger beers contain no alcohol or less than . 5 percent. Ginger beer's spicy-sweet flavor profile makes it an excellent mixer and it's a key ingredient in classic co*cktails. Because it contains no alcohol, ginger beer is also a go-to ingredient for spirit-free drinks.

Does ginger beer give you a buzz? ›

Ginger beer was also a great way to get buzzed. Ginger beer was typically drunk "green," that is, as soon as possible, at a relatively low alcohol content. However, the Huffington post notes that ginger beer could (and can) reach an ABV of around 11%, roughly twice the strength of a typical light beer.

Is it OK to drink ginger beer by itself? ›

Since ginger beer is a soft drink, it's excellent to enjoy by itself. However, it's also a firm favourite when it comes to mixing up popular co*cktails such as Moscow Mules and Dark 'n' Stormy. At Gunna, we think that ginger beer pairs particularly well with rum, although, we're down to try almost anything.

What does ginger beer do for your stomach? ›

Drinking ginger beer can help reduce inflammation, promote digestion, relieve nausea, and even help in the prevention of cancer. Ginger beer is a less-sweet alternative to ginger ale, and the popularity has skyrocketed among Americans, especially millennials.

Why is ginger beer so expensive? ›

It is expensive to do it, and ginger juice makes such a big component that to make it it's our highest cost per production beer that we make.

Why do people drink ginger beer? ›

According to studies conducted by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, ginger beer enhances digestion and helps food move smoothly through the stomach. Stomach discomforts and nausea are strongly correlated with one another.

Which is healthier, ginger ale or ginger beer? ›

Ginger beer and ginger ale do not differ greatly in terms of nutritional values. Ginger ale is the lighter option, with 125.1 calories and 32.3 grams of sugar per can (12 fl oz). Ginger beer is a bit heavier but nevertheless very close to ginger ale, with 140 calories and 35 grams of sugar per can or bottle (12 fl oz).

Can kids have ginger beer? ›

Yes, it's non-alcoholic and safe for children.

Can you drink straight ginger beer? ›

Packed with flavor, it's good enough to be enjoyed on its own, or mixed to make a variety of different co*cktails.

Is ginger beer technically beer? ›

Ginger Beer is not technically a beer at all, but an alcoholic drink invented by the British in the mid-18th century using ginger root and sugar grown in the West Indies. It became popular in various parts of what was then the British Empire as well as in the United States.

Is ginger beer anti-inflammatory? ›

It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which helps your body maintain a healthy, youthful appearance and help prevent disease. It is also a powerful anti-cancer agent.

Why does ginger beer make me gassy? ›

If a person has bloating, gas or indigestion, the carbonation and sugar may make it worse. Even diet ginger ale can be harmful because our bodies may not digest artificial sugars as well.” The same can be said for ginger beer.

Do you have to be 21 to buy ginger beer? ›

While the purchase of non alcoholic beer is illegal for individuals under 21 years old in most states across the USA, consumption is not. So, the good news for you is that you can drink non alcoholic beer under the age of 21, even though you can't purchase it. You might be wondering how that's even possible.

Are you supposed to drink ginger beer straight? ›

It is often used as a mixer in co*cktails or enjoyed on its own as a refreshing and zesty beverage. Its unique flavor is derived from the spicy and aromatic oils found in ginger root, which give it a distinctive kick that sets it apart from other carbonated drinks.

How does ginger beer become fizzy? ›

Ever wondered about the science behind that delightful fizziness in ginger beer? The secret lies in the carbonation process. The carbon dioxide produced during fermentation or added later creates those lively bubbles.

Does ginger beer stop you being sick? ›

Ginger beer sometimes contains even higher levels of ginger than ginger ale, which means it may be even more helpful at alleviating nausea than ginger ale, Trinh said. But just like ginger ale, ginger beer can vary depending on the brand and specific product.

Can you drink ginger bug straight? ›

It is time for “ginger bug” to have its day in the sun as a fermented tonic drink in its own right. Long considered just a starter for ginger beer, this quick to ferment beverage is low in sugar, spicy, warming and pungent. In our house, we enjoy it straight up.

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