Ginger ale is a ginger-flavoured carbonated drink that’s wildly popular all over the world. This zesty drink dates back all the way to the 1700s, and back in the day, it was brewed up as a fermented alcoholic drink using ginger root, water and sugar.
Nowadays, ginger ale is mostly non-alcoholic, but when mixed with alcohol, it can make for the most delicious drink.
Ginger ale is also known to have many uses that expand past its refreshing, spicy and delicious taste.
Intrigued? Join us as we explore all these fascinating uses and benefits of ginger ale, and everything you should know about this delightful beverage.
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- The Difference Between Ginger Ale And Ginger Beer
- What Is The History Of Ginger Ale?
- How Is Ginger Ale Made?
- Is Ginger Beer Actually Beer?
- What Does Ginger Ale Taste Like?
- Is Ginger Ale Good For You?
- The 5 Best Ginger Beer Brands You Must Try
- The Top 4 Cocktails To Make Using Ginger Ale
- What Foods Can You Pair With Ginger Ale?
The Difference Between Ginger Ale And Ginger Beer
Ginger beer and ginger ale are actually two totally different drinks with different tastes, and different uses. They share some similarities, but for the most part are quite different.
- Strong Ginger Flavour
- Spicy Finish
- Brewed And Fermented
- Mild Flavour
- Much Sweeter Than Ginger Beer
- High Sugar Content
- Ginger Flavoured Soda
- Is Also Non-Alcoholic
What Is The History Of Ginger Ale?
The first known ginger beer was thought to be brewed and discovered by an Irish apothecary and surgeon, Thomas Joseph Cantrell. He lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 1850s. This style of ginger ale was the original fermented golden style and was dark coloured, sweet, with a strong ginger kick. Thomas sold his delicious ginger ale through an Irish beverage manufacturer Grattan and Company and had great success with his brand and beverage.
Ginger ale was created by a Canadian pharmacist and chemist, named John J. McLaughlin. He started his ginger ale journey by first opening a soda water bottling plant in 1890. The success of this plant inspired him to start playing around with various flavour extracts which he would then add to the water in 1904. In 1904, he showcased his “Pale Dry Ginger Ale” to the world. This delicious gingery drink went on to be known as “Canada Dry Ginger Ale”. From then on this brand and ale has become the most consumed ginger ale in Canada and North America and is enjoyed in households all over the world.
How Is Ginger Ale Made?
At this stage, you might be wondering: what exactly is ginger ale? And how is it made?
The process of making ginger ale varies depending on the brand, ingredients and method. But most ginger ale is made using sugar, carbonated water, and ginger root. There are a few brands and recipes that add hints of citrus to it, the way it’s made and the extras added will determine the end result’s colour and taste.
Ginger ale in the modern world is essentially ginger flavoured soda. To make ginger ale, you would mix carbonated water with sugar or high fructose corn syrup and either natural or artificial ginger flavouring. Modern ginger ale is most usually full of preservatives and colourants such as citric acid, sodium benzoate, and a yummy caramel colourant.
Making ginger beer, however, is a totally different and far more natural process. The traditional style of ginger beer is made using yeast and a microbial starter culture. This culture is what starts and continues the process of fermentation in the brew. As it ferments, beneficial bacteria and yeasts grow and produce natural carbonation giving it its fizzy quality. The traditional and older style of making ginger ale is similar to that of making ginger beer. The difference is that ginger ale never uses a starter or culture and therefore is not traditionally fermented.
Is Ginger Beer Actually Beer?
Ginger beer isn’t a type of beer. In fact, it’s not even alcoholic. Many years ago, when ginger beer was originally made, it was brewed and fermented for a very long time and would often get so fermented that it would have an alcoholic taste and kick to it. But today, ginger beer is not at all recognised as real beer or an alcoholic beverage of any kind.
What Does Ginger Ale Taste Like?
The taste of ginger ale is wildly dependent on who has made it and what kind of process they have used. If they have used a more natural, traditional and organic approach then the taste will have strong notes of ginger, pepper, and citrus and will not be too sweet. The mass-produced soda companies that make ginger ale have a difference in taste to their end product. These ales will often be very sweet, not have as much of a ginger kick and can taste artificial to the seasoned palette.
Is Ginger Ale Good For You?
Traditional ginger ale has several health benefits. However, the majority of the canned/bottled soda-based ginger ale that we have available to us today generally doesn’t carry any health benefit whatsoever. In fact, there are some ginger ale brands that are proven to contain more sugar in one can of their ginger ale than a can of Coca-Cola.
Traditionally, the health benefits of ginger are due to ginger’s high levels of antioxidants, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Ginger also supports digestive enzymes, stimulates bile flow, and is known to calm and settle almost any stomach issue. Ginger is also incredibly helpful and healing in treating an array of ailments, such as headaches, nausea, motion sickness, heartburn, and acid reflux symptoms.
Ginger is one of the most incredible anti-inflammatory roots due to its high levels of inflammation-reducing anti-oxidants. Drinking ginger in almost any format is also known to help alleviate sinus issues and coughs.
If you are wanting to enjoy a ginger ale or ginger beer for its potential health benefits, then either find a supplier who can attest to making it in the traditional way with no additives and no added sugar. You can also try to make it yourself at home, it’s easy!
If you are wanting to enjoy the ginger ale for its refreshing taste on a hot day, or perhaps to mildly settle your tummy after a night out on the town, then a store bought mass produced ginger ale will suit your needs just fine.
If you are worried about whether your regular ginger ale from the local store has any potential health benefits, the best thing to do is to look at the ingredients and sugar content. Did you know, that 1 teaspoon of refined sugar can suppress your immune system for up to 7 hours? So, if you are drinking soda based ginger ale and thinking it’s full of health benefits, but it’s full of artificial sweeteners and refined sugar, then you are unfortunately making a mistake.
I bet now you are thinking: “how on earth can I tell if the ginger ale I’m buying is good for me or not?”, one of the tell-tale ways to spot if your ginger ale is natural or artificial is to look out for the cloudy texture that comes with fermentation. If the drink is cloudy and has little bits floating in it then its the real deal. If the drink is just one colour and very clear, usually light and pale, then check the ingredients first before assuming it has any health benefits.
The 5 Best Ginger Beer Brands You Must Try
We have spent the whole article talking about ginger ale, why not give ginger beer the spotlight for a bit? Here are the top 5 ginger brands to give you the ultimate ginger beer experience:
Tying for first place is Canada Dry and Q Ginger Beer.
- Canada Dry: Canada Dry Ginger Ale is a refreshing drink that has the tastes of real ginger, is made from real ginger and is naturally caffeine free. It is crisp, clean and bubbly.
- Q Ginger Beer: Q’s ginger beer is strong and delicious and was made to be a mixer. It goes really well with alcohol such as with vodka, rum and whiskey. Its made with agave and real ginger and has a smooth after-taste.
- Goslings Ginger Beer: Goslings is a family run enterprise which was established in 1806. they’ve been going strong for 7 generations, their quality ginger beer is definitely one to indulge in on a hot summers day.
- Fever-Tree Ginger Beer: Fever-Tree proudly uses no artificial sweeteners and all natural flavours. Its gingery and refreshing.
- Reeds Extra Ginger Beer: Reed’s uses a Jamaican combination of real ginger, pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, honey, and spices.
- Barrits Ginger Beer: Barritts made their first ginger beer in 1874 and its known to be spicy and full of ginger goodness. Pour it over ice and relax into its spicy taste.
The Top 4 Cocktails To Make Using Ginger Ale
Whiskey Ginger: Whiskey and ginger ale go undeniably well together. The spice of the ginger compliments the smooth whiskey texture and creates a delicious drink.
- Ingredients: Whiskey: try bourbon, Irish whiskey or Scotch; Ginger ale, Lime or lemon wedge, for garnish
Rum And Ginger Ale: Rum and ginger ale is simple, classic and oh so refreshing. Its similar to a Dark and Stormy but the ginger flavour is subtler and melts right into the rum.
- Ingredients: Rum and ginger ale: mix high quality rum with some ginger ale and serve it in a high-ball or low-ball glass with ice, and if you’re feeling adventurous why not add a generous squeeze of lime or lemon.
Pimms Cup: This is a classic British cocktail that is all about bubbly soda and fruity flavoured gin. Its really delicious, easy to make, low maintenance, and unique.
- Ingredients: Pimm’s No. 1, ginger ale, lemon, cucumber slices
Transfusion: This is a seriously refreshing high-ball drink that has a unique blend of flavours. Expect to taste some sweetness, tartness, with a bit of spicy ginger and richness from the grape juice.
- Ingredients: Vodka, Concord grape juice, ginger ale, lime
What Foods Can You Pair With Ginger Ale?
The best foods to pair ginger ale or ginger beer with are foods that are full of life and flavour. The spicy taste of the ginger compliments foods with high spice contents too. Try pairing ginger ale with a spicy curry, spicy chicken wings or chilli fries. It also goes really well with sweet sauces and glazes, such as glazed ham, sticky chicken wings, or a cheesy barbecue burger.
Regardless of whether you allow yourself to indulge in traditional or modern ginger ale, there is no way of denying how refreshing and nurturing this bubbly drink can be. It’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, and for good reason.