Sunday, February 20, 2011

What the Heck is Ginger Beer?

Ginger beer is like ginger ale, but not as sweet and waaay spicier. Drunk on its own, I find all that ginger to be a bit much, but ginger beer does figure in some pretty great cocktails.

Contrary to what the name might imply, ginger beer doesn't contain any alcohol. It was once possible to buy alcoholic ginger beer, and you can still get it in England, I hear, but here in the states it hasn't been available since the mid-20th century.

Some different kinds of ginger beer. Hint: the Fentiman's is the best.

Can I substitute ginger ale for ginger beer in a cocktail recipe?
No, not really. The ginger taste will be a lot weaker.

Where can I find ginger beer?
In Houston, I get mine at Central Market. Spec's also has a bunch of different varieties (at least at the downtown location.) Outside of Houston, I'd try a liquor store or Whole Foods. They have this product, which is called "ginger brew" but hey, close enough.


  1. 'Real' ginger beer IS alcoholic, although you're right in saying that it's much rarer now. There's a new-ish brand called Crabbies over here in Britain that does a version that's as alcoholic as real ale, but I guess that's not available in the States.

    It's also not too hard to make your own - all you need is ginger root, sugar, yeast, lemons, a demi-john and a little time, and you get something which is very drinkable and slightly alcoholic.

  2. Cock and Bull is the best I've found at Spec's for mixing.

  3. My preference is for the fentiman's - it's got a lot of ginger kick. I've only ever found it at central market, though. Robin, I'm intrigued by this homemade ginger beer idea. You had me at "very drinkable and slightly alcoholic".

  4. You can also make your own with ginger syrup (or pureed ginger and simple syrup), a bit of lemon or lime juice and soda water. I prefer it with ginger syrup made from ginger juice rather than the cooked variety. Much more kick that way.

  5. There's a brand in Providence R.I called Temple of the White Dog that is amazing. Potent ginger flavor with some real heat. There's a spice in there too. It's the real deal too. Fermented not just soda...I know for sure you can get it at The Fertile Underground and The Avery... Also it's origin's are in Nosara , Costa Rica, so if you're ever there you can find it all over.....