Ginger beer vs ginger ale: what’s the difference between these bubbly drinks? When to use one or the other? Here’s what you need to know.

Ginger beer vs ginger ale

Ginger beer vs ginger ale: what’s the difference? They’re both bubbly drinks made with ginger, but there’s a significant difference between the two. Which should you use in a Moscow mule, and which goes in a Shirley Temple or Pimm’s Cup? Here’s what you need to know!

Ginger beer vs ginger ale: what’s the difference?

Ginger beer and ginger ale are both bubbly ginger drinks, but they taste different and are used in different ways. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Ginger beer is very bubbly with a strong ginger flavor, with a spicy finish. It’s brewed and fermented. Years ago it was an alcoholic beer, but today’s ginger beer is non-alcoholic.
  • Ginger ale has a mild, mellow flavor and is sweeter than ginger beer. It’s essentially a ginger flavored soft drink and is also non-alcoholic.

Ginger beer vs ginger ale: when to use them?

Both ginger beer and ginger ale can be sipped on their own, but both are also popular cocktail mixers! These non-alcoholic mixers add a lovely bubbly effervescence to drinks. While they both bring a ginger flavor, there are some major differences.

  • Ginger beer adds a strong, spicy ginger finish to cocktails. It’s popularly used in the Moscow mule and the Dark and Stormy. Don’t substitute ginger ale for ginger beer in these cocktails: the ginger beer flavor makes the drink!
  • Ginger ale is much milder, and is a nice cocktail mixer when you want bubbles and sweetness. Try it in cocktails and mocktails where you want the flavors to meld together, like a Pimm’s Cup or Shirley Temple. Many of the cocktails that call for ginger ale as a mixer also work with ginger beer, depending on your flavor preferences.
Moscow mule

Which famous cocktails use ginger beer or ginger ale? Here are a few to try:

Try these ginger beer cocktails when you’ve got a few bottles. What are the best ginger beer brands? We like Q Ginger Beer and Fever Tree.

Most of these ginger ale cocktails also work with ginger beer. (Just don’t swap the other way around!)

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Moscow mule

Moscow Mule

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The best ginger beer cocktail? The bold and fizzy Moscow mule! Mix lime, ginger beer and vodka in an ice cold copper mug.


  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) vodka
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) ginger beer
  • For the garnish: lime wheel or wedge, fresh mint (if desired)


  1. In a copper mug or glass, pour in the vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer.
  2. Add ice and garnish with a lime slice. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Ginger beer vs ginger ale

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Kroger® Non Alcoholic Ginger Beer seems to be getting the axe. It is good and cheap. I will be surprised if you know this gingerbeer or who makes it but there is a chance that you might. If you have any information beyond what Kroger has already given (nothing) , I would appreciate it.