Ginger is a great addition to cocktails and using either ginger beer or ginger ale is an easy way to introduce the ginger flavor. Let’s take a look at what the difference is between the two and how to make your own cheater ginger beer for home or for behind the bar.

Difference Between Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer:

The Main Difference:

In the past ginger ale was made along the same lines as a soda, unlike ginger beer, which was allowed to ferment into an alcoholic beverage. At 11% alcohol, I’m sure that it was tasty and packed quite a ginger punch. There are companies that still produce an alcoholic style of ginger beer and we were fortunate to have tried one at Tales of the Cocktail this year. Crabbie’s Ginger Beer weighs in at 4.8% alcohol content and is tastes just like a Bundaberg or Goslings Ginger Beer (both with little to no alcohol).


Modern ginger beer is made more like soda these days with Carbon Dioxide being added to it instead of undergoing fermentation. This allows companies to distribute nationwide without having to worry about alcohol laws from state to state.

Since we have been talking a lot with carbonation such as How Make Sodas with a Sodastream, How to Make Sodas Using Yeast and How to Make Your Own DIY Carbonator, we thought we would try to make our own cheater ginger beer!

Making Cheater Ginger Beer:


  • 2 cups (about 10 ounces) coarsely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 strips lemon peel (about 4 inches each), yellow part only
  • 1-1/2 cups (about) sugar
  • 3 quarts chilled club soda
  • Ice cubes


  • Place ginger, lemon peel, and 4 cups of water in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer at a low boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
  • Add sugar, stirring constantly, and continue to boil until reduced to about 3 cups, another 15 minutes.
  • Place a fine wire strainer over a large bowl. Pour in ginger mixture to separate solids from liquid. Discard the lemon peel. Save those ginger pieces as well. I’m going to try my hand at making candied ginger with the left over pieces.

Allow the syrup to cool and pour your ginger concentrate into a glass container and store in the fridge. If you add an ounce of vodka to the syrup, it will stay good for 2-3 weeks.

How to Use the Syrup to Make a Spicy, Spicy Ginger Beer

When you are ready for a little ginger beer, simply add your syrup to some sparkling water. We found that a ratio of 3:1 produces a intense ginger beer, where a 4:1 ratio of water to syrup produces a much more mild ginger beer. When using the ginger concentrate, you have a lot of flexibility with the intensity of the ginger flavor. If you prefer your ginger beer on the sweeter side, feel free to add a little simple syrup to the recipe.

You can also carbonate the ginger beer if you have a carbonating system. If you like a lot of carbonation, this is going to be a perfect way to enjoy your ginger beer.

Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.