What Is Ginger Beer?

Hint: It's not the same as ginger ale!

You know ginger beer as the main ingredient in drinks like the Moscow mule or the Dark n’ Stormy. But the beverage has a surprisingly long history.

In the late 1800s, ginger beer was a popular drink to sip in England. Back then, it was an alcoholic beverage, kind of like hard cider. (It was popular all through Queen Victoria’s reign—though no word on whether she drank the stuff. Queen Elizabeth prefers tea.)

What Is Ginger Beer?

Fast-forward to today, and ginger beer is a non-alcoholic beverage with a robust, spicy and aromatic flavor. It’s made with a blend of ginger, water and sugar that’s fermented with yeast, then carbonated and bottled.

You can sip ginger beer as a soft drink, use it to make a sparkling mocktail or enjoy in a classic Moscow mule. You might want to skip the classic copper mug, though.

The Best Ginger Beers to Buy

To make the perfect cocktail, ginger beer should have spicy ginger flavor. Here’s a look at our top recommendations, all of which can be found on Amazon or at a local grocery store:

Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer is worth mentioning, too. It’s got 4.8% alcohol, so you can go ahead and sip, no mixology required.

Ginger Beer vs. Ginger Ale

Both drinks are carbonated, non-alcoholic and boast ginger flavor. But a true ginger beer will have been fermented with yeast, unlike a ginger ale that’s simply carbonated. Both make great mixers; however, the strong flavor of ginger beer means its ginger flavor is immediately more noticeable in a beverage.

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Lara Eucalano
Lara is a writer, editor and gardener who loves to cook almost as much as she loves to eat. She will absolutely hop on a plane in search of good food!