Ginger beer, while similar to ginger ale, is a different beast. Ginger beer is always fermented, while ginger ale is sometimes fermented, with the majority made from carbonated water and ginger flavors. Ginger beer is not as sweet as ginger ale, and it has a stronger, more pronounced, and spicy ginger taste. While ginger beer as some alcohol in it due to fermentation, it rarely has alcohol volume above 0.5%, thereby classifying it as a non-alcoholic beverage. Ginger beers with an alcohol level above 0.5% are required to label it as “Alcoholic” ginger beer.
Ginger Beer Trivia
- You can grow ginger from the “eyes” on the ginger rhizome.
- Ginger has long been known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Ginger beer was one of the first fermented beverages in the Americas.
- Traditionally brewed ginger beer can help with nausea and upset stomach.
Ginger Beer Buying Guide
With the line between ginger beer and ginger ale becoming thinner every day, it is important that you’re actually getting ginger beer as opposed to getting ginger ale that has been labeled as ginger beer.
The first thing you should look for is any indication that the product has been brewed and fermented. Ginger beer is always fermented, so look for keywords like “brewed” or “fermented” on the labels.
If possible, avoid ginger beers with a lot of chemicals and additives. Go for the ones that use real sugar as the sweetener rather than brands that use sucralose or high fructose corn syrup as their sweetener.
Another thing to consider when buying ginger beer is the transparency of the manufacturer. Are all ingredients appropriately listed? Or are they lumped together under “Natural flavorings”? Remember, you want to buy ginger beer and not carbonated water with natural ginger flavorings.
Ginger Beer Production & Farming in Texas
In Texas, there are a lot of craft ginger beer producers that supply ginger beer to farmers’ markets, specialty stores, and bars with products that are made with locally sourced ingredients. Another feature of local ginger beer producers is that they will often blend their ginger beers with other fruits that are in season. Having seasonal flavors can help liven up and keep the ginger beer from becoming monotonous and boring.
If you happen to live near a producer, you can always drop by and taste their products as local producers will more often than not have tasting rooms so you can try their product before you buy.
Pesticides, Chemicals, and Additives:
Commercially produced ginger beers usually have food coloring, preservatives, and other additives to simulate the taste of real fermented ginger beer. On top of that, their ginger supply may be imported from other countries to keep the costs down.
The complete opposite applies to local ginger beer producers in Texas. Local brewers will more often than not source the ginger from their own farms (or other growers in the area) to feature the local produce. They will not usually add preservatives because of the limited production numbers, and once a batch is gone, then people will have to wait for the next one. This is unlike commercial manufacturers that add a lot of preservatives to ensure that their product will be on supermarket shelves whole year-round.
Most commercially mass-produced ginger beers are sold in PET bottles and aluminum cans to reduce cost. Craft ginger beer, on the other hand, is mostly sold in glass bottles.
Enjoying Ginger Beer
Ginger beer is best consumed cold or on ice. They are also used as mixers for many cocktails. One of the main reasons why people buy ginger beer is to mix them in cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. Here are some quick recipe ideas for ginger beer mixers.
Ginger Apple Cooler
2 oz apple whiskey
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in a glass, add ice and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with candied ginger.
2 oz vodka
1 oz fresh lime juice
Pour vodka in a mug with ice, top off with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge or mint.
1 oz gin
2 lime slices
4 sprigs cilantro
Muddle the gin, cilantro, and one slice of lime in a shaker, add ice and shake. Pour mixture in a glass and top off with ginger beer.
White Wine Ginger Spritzer
4-5 oz white wine
2-3 oz ginger beer
Juice from half a lime
Combine all of the ingredients in a glass and stir until incorporated. Add ice, garnish with lime, enjoy!
For commercially produced ginger beer, check the bottle for storage instructions and best before dates.
For craft ginger beer, they are best stored in the fridge and best consumed four weeks from the date of manufacture. (If not available, then make sure to drink it as soon as possible)