Ginger ale, even though the same suggests otherwise, is basically a ginger-flavored soft drink. Ginger beer, on the other hand, is actually brewed and fermented. Now back to ginger ale. Ginger ale was originally intended as a home remedy for digestive issues, and to some degree, it is still being used as such to this day. A lot of issues have popped up recently with how commercial ginger ale brands no longer use real ginger in their ginger ale, which has led to the growth of many artisan ginger ale producers that feature the use of real ginger in their products.
Ginger Ale Trivia
- Ginger Ale was the first-ever commercially available soft drink in America.
- Ginger Ale was also the first soft drink to be sold in aluminum cans.
- While we’re at the topic of firsts, Ginger Ale was also the first-ever sugar-free soft drink in America.
- Ginger Ale was traditionally fermented, but a majority of commercially available ginger ales are made from ginger-flavored water that is carbonated.
Ginger Ale Buying Guide
Since ginger ale was originally intended for health purposes, it would make sense if the ginger ale that you bought would be all-natural and would be reasonably healthy.
Don’t be fooled by the marketing labels that try to sell you on fewer calories, “natural flavors,” and other things printed on the label that entices you to buy their product. The thing you really should be checking is the ingredients panel.
Commercially produced ginger ale may have the following ingredients in their product.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – Cheap sweetener made from GMO corn. This has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and a slew of other lifestyle-diseases that could easily be avoided.
- Natural Flavors – Now, why wouldn’t they just say ginger? We understand that formulas are proprietary, but having no ginger listed as an ingredient for ginger ale? You be the judge.
- Artificial / Natural Coloring – This adds zero value to the drink and may pose long-term health issues. Why is this added? For visual appeal, making the drink appear more gingery than it really is.
- Sucralose – This is an artificial sweetener that’s low on calories. This is how they can label the drink as having “Less Calories.”
So what should the ginger ale ingredients panel look like? We’ve gone through a lot of artisan ginger ales and local brands and here’s what most of their ingredient panels look like:
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Fresh Ginger, Citric Acid.
Now that is what real ginger ale should be made out of.
Ginger Ale Production & Farming in Texas
With the craft beer revolution going strong in Texas, a lot of local breweries are making traditional fermented ginger ale along with their craft beer offerings. There are also a lot of small ginger farms that have started to make artisanal ginger ale and ginger concentrates as well.
Another thing with locally produced ginger ale is that they tend to have a more robust ginger flavor, much closer to ginger beer than most commercially available ginger ale, which tends to be on the milder side.
Pesticides, Chemicals, and Additives:
As we mentioned in the earlier section, commercially produced ginger ale can contain a lot of artificial additives and chemicals.
Another thing to worry about is getting ginger ale made from imported ginger from other countries that may be laden with pesticides.
Since Texas has a robust ginger industry, you can rest assured that purchasing local ginger ale which sources from locally grown ginger are reasonably free from pesticide contaminants.
Artisan ginger ale is usually sold in glass bottles.
Commercially produced ginger ale, on the other hand, is usually sold in aluminum cans and PET bottles, although there are still some large brand names that sell ginger ale in glass bottles.
Enjoying Ginger Ale
Ginger ale is best consumed chilled and on ice. Ginger ale is also very popular as a drink mixer for alcoholic drinks to add a sweet and spicy ginger kick to any cocktail.
Here are some drink ideas that utilize ginger ale.
Scotch & Ginger Highball
Mix ½ oz of your preferred scotch brand and 1 ½ oz ginger ale in a tall glass with ice. Garnish with mint or lime.
Dark & Stormy
This is a twist on the traditional rum and coke mix. In an 8-ounce glass, fill it with ice, add 2 ounces of dark rum and top it off with ginger ale. Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge.
Add 1 ½ oz vanilla vodka to a glass with ice and then add equal parts of ginger ale and Sprite (or you can get rid of the Sprite and just top it off with ginger ale).
Ginger ale is best consumed immediately after opening to fully enjoy the carbonation of the drink. But if you can’t finish the bottle, store it in the fridge as you would any other soda. For unopened bottles, they can be stored in the pantry or any other cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
If you can’t find any good brands of ginger ale in-store, then making some at home is quite easy. Remember when we said that ginger ale is basically carbonated water with ginger flavoring? It literally is. Here’s a quick, simple, and tasty recipe that you can use to make your own ginger ale.
2 cups fresh peeled ginger, chopped (preferably locally grown and organic)
Zest from one lemon
4 Cups water
1 ½ cups sugar
Add the water, zest, and ginger to a large saucepan, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the sugar and keep on stirring until reduced to about three cups. This will give or take 15 minutes.
Turn off the fire and cover, allow to steep for about 30 minutes.
Strain the mixture into a large glass jar or container.
You can then use the mixture once cooled, or store inside the fridge for up to one week.
Mix together one part of the ginger mixture with four parts cold club soda and pour over ice.