Ginger Beer vs Ginger Ale: The Difference Explained

ginger ale ginger beer homemade ginger beer moscow mule moscow mule cocktails

When you were younger and had stomach cramps, you might remember your parents making you drink a glass of ginger ale to help relieve some of the pain. Ginger, after all, has been known to contain natural medicinal properties that aid in common digestive problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.  

As you got older, though, you started to realize that ginger is not just perfect for tummy troubles, it’s also a great ingredient for a different kind of stress reliever­­─mixing cocktails.

Ginger beer and ginger ale have something in common in their ingredients ─ ginger. Is ginger beer the same as the ginger ale? The answer is no. Both have misleading names since ale is actually a type of beer. They just differ in the brewing and fermentation process. 

Ginger ale is very much any soda you can buy in stores, only it was given a more interesting twist of ginger. Ginger ale, the modern ones at least, do not have any alcohol in it.

Ginger beer, on the other hand, can either be alcoholic or non-alcoholic but both types contain some alcohol unlike the ginger ale. Some ginger ales are labeled non-alcoholic since the alcohol content did not reach the required amount to label it as an alcoholic drink.

Does ginger ale have alcoholic components?

Perhaps you’ve been wondering after all these years of being forced to drink ginger ale for stomach problems if it has any alcoholic content at all. The answer is no. Ginger ale is simply ginger-flavored, artificially carbonated water.

The Difference between Ginger Beer and Ginger Ale

If ginger ale is a non-alcoholic, artificially carbonated water, then ginger beer must be alcoholic, right? Why else, will it be called beer for no reason? Although ginger beer is naturally fermented and brewed, it is still classified as non-alcoholic because it’s alcohol content is only less than 0.5% as per FDA requirements.

Another difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is its flavor and aroma. While Ginger ale is mellow and smells sweet, ginger beer has a spicy whiff and gingery taste. The sugar content is low in ginger ale in comparison to ginger beer. An ounce of ginger ale contains 2.6g of sugar while an ounce of ginger beer contains 3.3g.

Difference in the Production

The main difference in the production of ginger beer and ginger ale is the use of fermenting agents. Ginger beer uses yeast while ginger ale uses whey. 

Ginger beers are traditionally made by preparing ginger and lemon zest and steeping it in hot water. Yeast is then added to this ginger-lemon zest tea when it has cooled to 25-30 degrees Celsius. The mixture is then covered with clean cloth and allowed to sit for 24 hours in a warm place to start the fermentation process. This mixture is then bottled in PET bottles and allowed to further ferment for another 48 hours at room temperature then transferred into the fridge. After 6 days, sugar can be added into it to kill the live yeast. 

Ginger ale, on the other hand, is made by making a “wort” from molasses, ginger root, salt, and water and bringing it to a boil. Whey or ginger bug is then added to it and then bottled. Ginger ale can be bottled in glass bottles but ginger beer cannot because the gas formation from the yeast will burst the glass bottle. The glass bottle is capped until airtight then allowed to sit on the counter for 2-3 days. Fermentation will come from the whey. During this time, carbonation forms.

Is ginger ale a good substitute for a ginger beer when making a Moscow Mule cocktail?

A true-blue Moscow Mule lover knows that what gives the beverage its splendid taste and refreshing aroma is ginger beer. The question is, does ginger ale have the same, if not better effect on the cocktail in terms of flavor and feel?

You can try both but the verdict, ultimately, depends on the drinker.

For those who fancy a sweeter, bubblier, and less fuzzy drinking experience, then ginger ale may be a suitable alternative to Ginger beer. If, however, you prefer your mix to have more intense, citrusy flavors then a ginger beer will do for your Moscow Mule experience.

Is ginger ale a good substitute for ginger beer when making a Moscow Mule cocktail?

Ginger (beer) all the Way

What does Ginger beer really taste like? For one thing, ginger beer is what ginger ale isn’t. Ginger beer has a more intense flavor that gives the beverage its distinct ginger and spice buzz.

You can bring out the wonderful flavors of ginger beer to your Moscow Mule mix with this beautifully handcrafted copper mug. And you’re looking for a delicious bottle of ginger beer but with fewer calories and natural fruit sugar, we’ve got the perfect one for you. 

How Do One Choose the Perfect Ginger Beer

One’s taste should be the gauge on choosing the perfect ginger beer to go with his Moscow Mule cocktail. Here’s a few things you might consider before choosing the perfect ginger beer for you, aside from the taste.


Calories from drinks and junk foods are usually called empty calories since they add up without giving you as much satiety than whole foods, like fruits and vegetables do. Much of the calories from ginger beer comes from sugars and the American Health Association had set a limit of 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Other foods we eat naturally have sugars and added sugar can be a bane to health. 

If you must, try for a low-calorie alternative to ginger beers. However, sweeteners used in low-calorie products leave an aftertaste that many do not favor. Indulge if you must but always consider moderation.


If we are being honest with ourselves, this is the most important consideration we take into when making a choice of the perfect ginger beer. Taking the base spirit you will use into account, choose the ginger beer with a flavor profile that will complement it. 

Vodka should not be a problem since it is a neutral spirit with not much character on its own, making it a good base for cocktails. However, when using other spirits, it is best to understand the profile of your base spirit. A dry spirit should be mixed with sweet ginger beer while sweet-tasting liquors can be mixed with fiery ginger beers.  

The Spirit to Use

Moscow Mules have a lot of variations and as such, these individual flavors should be taken into consideration. It has also sparked inspiration to try other spirits in making the mule cocktail. While a particular brand may go well with vodka, it may fair poorly when mixed with tequila. 

Bartenders’ recommendation is a good way to start. Reviews also offer a great help to introduce ginger beer brands you have not heard before. Reviews give profiles and stars to different ginger beers without the bias of the companies to consider. But if you try it on your own, trial and error is the best way to go. 

Not a fan of pre-bottled drinks? Then try this recipe and create your own ginger beer concoction right in the comfort of your own home.

Top 5 Ginger Beers Everybody Love

Here are top 5 ginger beers you will find perfect for your favorite Moscow Mule cocktails.

Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer

Being the landmark product of a company is not an easy feat for this ginger beer. Setting the right track for the company, the Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer does not back down from a challenge. Since then, it is the most popular ginger beer choice for Moscow Mule cocktails. 

Barritt’s Original Ginger Beer

Aside from the usual Moscow Mule, Barritt’s Original Ginger Beer gives a bit of character to other cocktails like the sangria or margarita. Instead of the usual lemon or lime juice, swap it with ginger beer. 

Q Mixer's Ginger Beer

Q Mixer’s Ginger Beer is just what its name implies - as a mixer. Don’t attempt to drink it alone as you might not love the extra carbonation needed to keep some carbonation when it was mixed. It also uses agave instead of the standard sugar, giving it a bit of crisp and depth to it. Whether you are making a classic, Gin Gin Mule, or Mexican Mule, this goes well with both gin and tequila.

Bundaberg Ginger Beer Non-Alcoholic Beverage

Made in Australia and with local ingredients the most notable of which is the Queensland cane sugar, this family recipe has crossed borders and is well-loved. With 40 grams of sugar to it for every 12 ounces, this is probably the most sugary brand on this list. 

Zevia Mixer Ginger Beer

With the onslaught of the bad effects of sugar, who wouldn’t love a zero-calorie alternative ginger beer? Sugars were removed and swapped with the healthier stevia, the flavors were not scrimped and you’ll still love the lemony ginger taste of this ginger beer. 



Top 5 Ginger Ales

If you want a different take on your Moscow Mule, ginger ales are your next best choice. Same ginger flavor with some added sweetness to it.

Q Mixers Ginger Ale

Touted as one of the top 5 ginger ales for years now, the real ginger taste and refreshing carbonation make it a good mixer. With 25% fewer calories than regular ginger ales in the market now. 

Canada Dry Ginger Ale

Here’s another ginger ale that works well as a mixer but it can also be drunk on its own. With 140 calories to every 12-oz can, 36 coming from sugars this is not a very good option for dieters. An occasional indulgence is nice, though. 

Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Ale

Fever-tree ginger products are made not just with one but three kinds of ginger. No wonder from its ginger beer to ginger ale products, the quality remains unquestioned. The refreshing combination of the lime and ginger is really to die for. 

Schweppes Ginger Ale Soda

With more than 200 years under its belt, the company that produces Schweppes Ginger Ale Soda has an unrelenting dedication to the quality of the products they deliver. 

Zevia Zero Calorie Ginger Ale

You won’t miss sugar in this zero-calorie ginger ale. Sweetened with stevia leaf extract known to be a healthier zero-calorie sweetener. With just the right carbonation and flavors, you won’t think of the real (read: sugared) thing. 



Free Copper Mug

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