Ginger Beer Ginger Ale and Moscow Mule

Sandy Millet 12/26/2013 3

Many Moscow Mule recipes recommend ginger ale instead of original ginger beer as the main ingredient, that is awfully wrong. Now I will introduce some differences between them, and emphasize again it is the ginger beer not ginger ale right for a really traditional Moscow Mule. Because the very first ginger drinks emerged as beers, and they’re still in the form of ginger beer. So let us see what make them different? photos.demandstudios.com_getty_article_117_155_81926096_XS

Differences between ginger beer and ginger ale

Ginger beer originated in England in 1800s. Gradually it spread and the Americans began to enjoy this refreshing drink. Ginger beer was brewed with water, ginger, sugar and lemon juice; combined with a kind of bacteria named “ginger beer plant”. The final product had a little alcohol with 11% alcohol by volume (ABV)but for now that is less than that and classified into nonalcoholic drinks.

A half century after the invention of ginger beer, ginger ale emerged in Ireland as is a sweeter, bubblier beverage with less kick. The modern-style ginger followed many years later. A Canadian, John McLaughlin, invented modern ginger Ale in 1907, and it eventually grew to become Canada Dry.

The ginger ale had two versions in the past: dry and golden. These two are different in color and ginger flavor contents. The golden one as it sounds,seems darker, has much more ginger flavor and more spicier potion. The dry model is recognized now as ginger ale, pale in color and with less ginger flavor and mellower than golden version. The golden ones are somewhat hard to find presently.

These two drinks are similar but different. I make a table to show the main differences between them.

  Ginger Beer Ginger Ale
Basic Characteristics Upfront ginger’y, sour & astringent aromas, spicy Very mellow, candy like, very sweet
Base Ingredients Extracted ginger juice (fresh), lime/citric acid, simple syrup, water Ginger (can be dried) infused simple syrup, citric acid, water
Method of Preparation Traditionally brewed, but commercially usually artificially carbonated Artificially carbonated
Appearance Cloudy; off white, often with a green hint Clear; amber colored with yellow & green highlightS
Corresponding Flavors Lime, other sour citrus, lemon grass, mint, cilantro Orange zest, oak aged beverages, caramel, vanilla
Typical Drinks Moscow Mule, Dark n’Stormy, Gin-Gin Mule and other Mules Horse’s Nttk, EI Diablo, Rye Highball

From the table above we know that traditional ginger beer is fermented, but ginger ale is only carbonated water then flavored with ginger. Because ginger beers are normally fermented, when poured into a glass they often have less carbonation and produce a beer-like head.

Some ginger beers are sold without filtration, and seem a little cloudy. This is the  biggest difference between them, and the reason why they  have different tastes. It is due to the dissimilar making processes and ingredients. So make a conclusion a traditional fermented beer is what I recommend for a wonderful Moscow Mule. The best ginger beers Today’s brewed ginger beer only contains less than 0.5 ABV, so it has been categorized into non-alcoholic drinks, which meets FDA specifications. So don’t look for it in the liquor section of your store.

Ginger Beer and Moscow Mule

In Moscow Mule and other cocktails, depending on the type of ginger beer used, the cocktail will either be extremely spicy or more subtle and sweet. Ginger beer, not ginger ale is one of the secrets why Moscow Mule is so welcome for everyone. Great ginger beer gives the most refreshing taste than any other lemon-lime sodas.

Without the best ginger beer for Moscow Mule you will get a totally different drink because all of those other sodas are tame and boring compared with it. That is something really appeal to veteran Moscow Mule fans. Vodka and lime are mere compliments to the ginger beer somewhat in this respect.

Learn more about other possible ingredients of Moscow Mule

How to Choose the Right Ginger Beer

Many large-scale soda companies manufacture “ginger beer“. Actually produce it by adding a more powerful ginger flavor to carbonated water. Some manufacturers such as Reed’s still brew their ginger beers in an old traditional way. So We can’t easily distinguish a real Ginger beer from ale through their names.

Due to these unobvious differences in appearance and bad naming rules. Sometime it is hard to reach a right ginger beer not to mention the best. If you really wish to find the best ginger beer for your Moscow Mule. You should find these following ginger beer brands that have already been tested by me and other Moscow Mule fans in our own Moscow Mule parties.

Tested Ginger Beer for Moscow Mule
Cock ‘n Bull ginger beerCock_n_Bull_ginger_beer_150 Fever-Tree Premium Ginger BeerFever-Tree_Premium_Ginger_Beer_150 Bundaberg Ginger Beerbundaberg_ginger_beer_150 Barritts Ginger BeerBarritts_Ginger_Beer_Moscow_Mule_150
Moscow Mule began with this ginger beer.Our guests all agreed it’s a top performer. Tasting with a stronger ginger scent. Fever-Tree makes a balance between sweet and spicy, wakes you up with a kick of ginger on the finish for every sip Bundaberg Ginger Beer is brewed using the finest ingredients including ginger root.It is brewed for up to four days to extract the maximum flavour from real ingredients resulting in the famous Bundaberg Ginger beer. This is a good, old fashioned ginger beer with a distinct flavor cloudy in a bottle. Refreshing and sweet, making you want to go back for another cup.
Fentimans Ginger BeerFentimans_Ginger_Beer_150 Spindrift Ginger BeerSpindrift_Ginger_Beer_150 Maine Root Ginger BrewMaine_Root_Ginger_beer_150 Barritts Soda Ginger BeerBarritts_Soda_Ginger_Beer_150
This fermented ginger is made with 100% all-natural ingredients.So it has a very unique taste for providing a noticeable ginger flavor, and very mild spice. This ginger beer is my recent mate. It uses lemon juice to accent the spicy of ginger, producing a very fresh and zesty tasting ginger beer. This Maine Root ginger Brew had a lot of the bite of a ginger beer, that peppery, sorta harsh ginger with an inkling of fermented power. It taste pleasantly sweet with just a hint of spice. This ginger beer is made to be mixed with others thus a bit more laid back than other.Comes in both cans and bottles.

If these are not available in your area then find those with glass bottles,  Move it up and down to see whether it is cloudy or not. A traditional brewed ginger beer usually come with some insoluble ingredients, due to its unique making progress, which can be regarded as a visible characteristic of good ginger beer. This tip will help you to get a right ginger beer for your Moscow Mule.

In the end I like to share with you a video about homemade ginger beer, that I wish had done long before but never had performed yet. It must be great to make a Moscow Mule with your own ginger beer.


  1. Collardet Chiffonier 09/07/2015 at am6:48 - Reply

    Bundaberg is too sweet and not gingery enough. I like the original ginger beer Cock and Bull a lot, but so far my favorite has to be Maine Root, that is very gingery with lots of heat and bite and not too sweet!

    • Admin 10/08/2015 at am1:09 - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your favorite ginger beer with all Moscow mule fans. I have tried Maine Root ant the result is very satisfying. Thanks !!:)

  2. Chuck 09/26/2017 at pm2:22 - Reply

    It’s not awful! It all depending on your pallet. Same way a godfather can served with scotch or bourbon… vodka if your so inclined. It’s preference not a fallacy.

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