Ginger Ale vs Ginger Beer – What’s the difference?

Ginger ale and ginger beer are both delicious and they both go well with rum! But which is the best? And how are they different?

What is Ginger Ale?

Modern ginger ale is produced in the method McLaughlin first used by extracting ginger from the ginger root and flavouring soda water but is often sweetened. It has often been touted to have medicinal properties especially to help cure stomach upset. It is also popularly used to mix with alcohol to create great long drinks.

What is Ginger Beer?

Today ginger beer tends to be a non-alcoholic drink due to it having a low alcohol content. Some varieties do have a higher alcohol content as well. People enjoy it on its own or as a mixer for alcohol.

Origins of Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer

What are the origins of ginger ale?

Ginger ale traces back to two individuals with different production methods.

In the 1850s an Irish apothecary and surgeon, Thomas Joseph Cantrell, manufactured ginger ale in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This older golden ginger ale was sweet with a strong ginger-spiced flavour that was transparent. 

In 1890 John J. McLaughlin, a chemist, and pharmacist created soda water to which he then sought to add flavours to. In 1904 McLaughlin successfully extracted flavours from ginger and added it to his soda water and dubbed it “Pale Dry Ginger Ale”, a bubbly dry ginger drink.

What are the origins of ginger beer?

Ginger beer was first created in Yorkshire, England in the 1700s. The colonial spice trade gave people exposure to ingredients they had not before seen.

By allowing ginger, sugar water, and other ingredients to ferment, the same as traditional beer, alcohol formed and the liquid was naturally carbonated to give it a pleasant bubble.

How do ginger beer and ginger ale compare in taste?

Ginger beer has a more robust, spicy, and aromatic flavour. Ginger ale is smoother and sweeter.

Which is better with rum?

There is no right or wrong answer, it depends on what you prefer as an individual.

Rum and ginger beer with a slice of lime is a classic combination. The punchy spiciness of the ginger beer compliments dark rum to create a fantastic drink.

Ginger ale being sweeter melts into the rum allowing it to be more prominent in the drink.

But when it comes to which is better with Arcanist Rum Pineapple Elixir… it has to be Ginger Ale.

The warmth of the ginger beautifully complements the caramelised pineapple and the Caribbean spices used in the pineapple rum. Add a few ice cubes and a large slice of lime to have the perfect drink.

So how do you like your mixer? Punchy and spicy or smoother with a nice warmth?