A glass of Vernors ginger ale
|Type||non-alcoholic mixed drink|
|Country of origin||United States, Canada|
|Variants||Golden ginger ale and dry ginger ale|
Ginger ale is a carbonated soft drink flavoured with ginger. It is drunk on its own or used as a mixer with spirit-based drinks. There are two main types of ginger ale. The golden style is credited to the American doctor Thomas Cantrell. The dry style (also called the pale style) is a paler drink with a much milder ginger flavour, and was created by Canadian John McLaughlin.
- 1 History
- 2 Processing
- 3 Preservation
- 4 Uses
- 5 Variations
- 6 Manufacturers
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Thomas Cantrell, an American apothecary and surgeon, claimed to have invented ginger ale in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and marketed it with local beverage manufacturer Grattan and Company. Grattan embossed the slogan "The Original Makers of Ginger Ale" on its bottles. This was the older style Golden ginger ale, dark coloured, generally sweet to taste, with a strong ginger spice flavour. Ginger ale is clear; ginger beer is often cloudy due to the residues of brewing, and has a stronger ginger taste.
Dry ginger ale is recognized as a Canadian creation by John McLaughlin, a chemist and pharmacist. Having established a soda water bottling plant in 1890, McLaughlin began developing flavour extracts to add to the water in 1904. That year, he introduced "Pale Dry Ginger Ale", the bubbly libation that would be patented in 1907 as "Canada Dry Ginger Ale". An instant success, Canada Dry products were accepted by appointment to the Vice-Regal Household of the Governor General of Canada. The dry-style also became popular in the United States during the Prohibition era, when it was used as a mixer for alcoholic beverages. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity. Today, golden ginger ale is an uncommon, more regional drink exemplified by Vernors. By contrast, dry ginger ale is produced on a large scale internationally, and is a staple in supermarkets and bars, and on airlines.
Commercial ginger ales commonly contains carbonated water, sugar or HFCS, and artificial or natural ginger-flavour. Ginger content is often listed on labels in a general "natural aroma" or "natural flavoring" statement, to preserve secrecy of the complex proprietary mix of spices, fruits and other flavours used. Lemon, lime, and cane sugar are the most common of ingredients. Pineapple and honey are also occasional ingredients.
Traditional ginger ale is made from a microbial starter culture (yeast or ginger bug), sugar, fresh ginger root, other flavourings and water. Ginger bug can be derived from ginger beer plant containing Saccharomyces florentinus and Lactobacillus hilgardii or fresh ginger root containing Lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeast. The carbonation comes from the yeast fermentation as opposed to carbonating the finished product. Ethanol, as a byproduct of fermentation, will be present in the ginger ale but can be controlled by modifying fermentation time.
To make traditional ginger ale, yeast or ginger bug is added to the initial ginger preparation containing sugar and other flavourings. Sugar is added because ginger does not contain enough for the entire fermentation process (1.7g sugar/100g ginger). Like other fermented beverages, the sugar present in the preparation is fermented by the microorganism into ethanol and carbon dioxide. In yeast, the enzyme responsible for fermentation is known as zymase. Fermentation must be conducted in an air-tight container because contact with oxygen will cause the microorganisms to stop fermenting.
Traditional ginger ale will contain carbon dioxide as a result of fermentation but most commercial ginger ales will carbonate the final product instead. First, the water is chilled to a low temperature to allow more carbon dioxide to be dissolved. Then, alkaline compounds such as sodium bicarbonate may be added to reduce acidity. Lastly, carbon dioxide is added and slightly over-pressurized to facilitate movement into storage and the filling machine.
Preservation of commercial ginger ale is usually done by adding a solution of salicylic acid, which has bactericidal and antiseptic properties. Another method of preservation is to use steam heating.
Canada Dry Ginger ale has an acidic pH of 2.82, due to the relatively high concentration of carbonic acid it contains. This preserves the product in that foods with pH below 4.6 do not support microorganism growth.
Ginger ale, as with other ginger products, is often used as a home remedy to alleviate indigestion or motion sickness, or to relieve and to soothe coughs and sore throats. In general, ginger products such as Ginger Ale have been found to help relieve those with an upset stomach and pose benefits for helping with the digestion of food.  A study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center found that Ginger Ale also relieves nausea in post-chemotherapy patients, or simply in those suffering from conditions such as motion sickness or morning sickness. Ginger Ale has even been found to pose very similar results to easing nausea in pregnant women as the anti-nausea drug dimenhydrinate, with less probability of experiencing drowsiness.
Although some store-bought Ginger Ale beverages may contain very little ginger content or are even artificially flavoured, the general consumption of Ginger Ale will simultaneously provide individuals with the health benefits of the herb, ginger. For example, ginger has been found to act as a natural agent for decreasing blood clotting and increasing cardiovascular health in humans, much like the effect of aspirin. Ginger has also been found to naturally ease the effects of osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation and relieving the pain of stiffness throughout the body, due to the active constituent within Ginger called Gingerol. Therefore, consuming ginger products such as Ginger Ale will allow individuals to reap the natural anti-inflammatory benefits of ginger while simultaneously reducing their risk of developing ulcers, as many commercial anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to cause. Another common use of Ginger ale takes advantage of its antiemetic property that eases bloating and cramping.
Ginger ale is generally high in sugar, so it is advisable to consume it in moderate amounts. Consuming high amounts of Ginger ale may also cause heartburn or possibility of blood thinning. Any individuals consuming Ginger ale while they are on other medications are advised to confirm with their physicians to avoid any interactions between their medications and the contents of Ginger ale. The high concentration of sugar in Ginger ale can result in insulin resistance and dehydration. Furthermore, the diet version of Canada Dry is sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although safe, consuming aspartame is toxic to individuals who have the phenylketonuria disorder, as they will have toxic buildups aspartame's amino acids.
Uses as a drink
It is popular in mixed drinks, and punch, and it is sometimes used as a non-alcoholic substitute for champagne or beer, since the beverages resemble each other in appearance. Ginger ale can be mixed with many hard liquors, beers and wines. In Jamaica, a common way to consume ginger ale is mixed with Red Stripe beer; this is called a Shandy Gaff.
Ginger Ale vs Ginger Beer
Ginger ale and ginger beer are similar beverages, however, there are clear differences during the process. Ginger beer originated in England in the 1800s while ginger ale was founded in Ireland approximately 50 years later before it was modernized in 1907 by John McLaughlin. Original ginger beer contains 11% alcohol, but modern ginger beer contains less than 0.5% alcohol while modern ginger ale has absolutely no alcohol content. Ginger beer is brewed with natural ginger, lemon juice, sugar and then it must be fermented with a ginger beer plant culture (mainly lactobacillus). The fermentation of the lactobacillus produces a cloudy appearance, stronger-tasting and spicier flavour compared to ginger ale.
Dry ginger ale is also sold with a mint flavouring added. Some mint ginger ale brands have an artificial green colour added, while others are clear. Recently, Canada Dry has introduced a line of ginger ale mixed with green tea and one mixed with lemonade. In selected Japanese vending machines, Canada Dry also offers hot ginger ale, which is simply the heated version of the original but still retains carbonation.
Brands available in North America include Canada Dry, Canfield's, Hansen Natural, Vernors, Seagram's, Schweppes, Sussex, Buffalo Rock, Boylan Bottling Company, Polar Beverages, Ale-8-One, Blenheim, Foxon Park, Fitz's, Sprecher, Market Basket/Chelmsford, Red Rock, Reed's Ginger Brew, Chek (River of Dreams), Shasta, and Sussex Golden Ginger Ale.
Vernors is a flavoured golden ginger ale aged for three years in oak barrels before bottling. It was the first U.S. soft drink, originating in 1866, although it was modelled on imported Irish ginger beers. In Detroit, Michigan, a drink made with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale is called a Boston cooler.
- East Imperial
- Ginger beer
- Ginger tea
- Ginger wine
- List of brand name soft drinks products
- List of soft drink flavors
- List of soft drink producers
- List of soft drinks by country
- Reed's, Inc.
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