It seems that Ginger Beer has no barley, no hops, no wort, no malted anything; so why is it a "beer"? Seems like it is closer to a cider.

  • 3
    I think it's a misnomer, and the words "beer" and "ale" where and 18th Century marketing technique. It's just become a tradition over time.
    – Anthony
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 22:38
  • And why is it called Rice Wine, if rice is a grain. it should be Rice Beer! :) Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 11:37

4 Answers 4


The term "cider" is generally reserved for apples. There are 'pear ciders' such as Woodchuck that use the name, but as Wikipedia points out, "A similar product made from pears is called perry but sometimes (incorrectly) called Pear Cider in the marketing of some producers' products". I personally can forgive this, since pears are closely related to apples, and the result is quite tasty.

The "beer" part of ginger beer is due to the fermentation process involved in its creation. In this way, it is more similar to "root beer", since ginger is a root, like the sassafras root used in root beer and birch roots used in birch beer. The website todayifoundout.com has a well referenced article for Why Root Beer is Called That covering the naming of root beer. If the ginger based version isn't fermented, but is instead ginger flavouring added to carbonated water, it would be "ginger ale"; I have no idea why, since an India Pale Ale is certainly fermented. Even with ginger products, the differentiation is not really all that terribly strict, as noted by this Huffington Post article. Initially, ginger beer, root beer, birch beer, etc, were frequently alcoholic, but Prohibition ruined that for the U.S.

As a bit of a side note, the alcoholic versions are making a wonderful comeback (in my personal opinion) with Sprecher's and Small Town Brewery for root beer. I personally have not seen as much alcoholic ginger beer, but Crabbies from the U.K. is quite good. Although I personally do not like Kuchi's ginger beer, I have several friends who absolutely love it.

  • Crabbies is my personal favorite at the moment. I'll keep sampling to research this tasty beverage. 8-)
    – rickhg12hs
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 1:33

According to google:

ci·der noun 1. an unfermented drink made by crushing fruit, typically apples.

No fruit in ginger beer.

  • 3
    That definition of cider doesn't sound quite right: without fermentation, don't you just have apple juice? Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 0:57
  • I thought we were supposed to just use Google to look up medical symptoms for self treatment. 8-)
    – rickhg12hs
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 3:12
  • 2
    @JamesHenstridge Cider is not necessarily alcoholic. Juice v Cider is basically filtered&pasteurized vs not.
    – Bryan Cain
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 13:17
  • 1
    We'd still refer to filtered and pasteurised apple juice as apple juice here. Cider generally refers to a fermented drink (whether or not it has a noticeable quantity of alcohol). Commented May 2, 2014 at 1:24
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    @BryanCain Isn't that a US definition - I have not seen non alcoholic cider in the UK or Europe
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 14:23

Ginger beer is not just water, sugar, crushed ginger and yeast. I make it with some spices boilled in water to flavour it, some of it to kill off the yeast if I want it to. KIlling off the yeast makes it an ale ; and cider must have apples or apple juice in it. That's my opinion.

  • 3
    I think you're right about cider requiring some apple product. Aren't ales, versus other beer styles, classified by the type of yeast used?
    – rickhg12hs
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 19:08
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    @rickhg12hs Cider does not actually require apples. Take, for instance, pear cider.
    – Xander
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 3:00
  • @Xander Good point ... There are some quite tasty ones as well. There does seem to be a fair amount of controversy about the name "pear cider" though.
    – rickhg12hs
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 5:50
  • 1
    @rickhg12hs Interesting! I hadn't realized there was a controversy over the name. Thanks for the link.
    – Xander
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 12:51

Beer (malt, wheat and ginger etc.) is brewed and fermented, cider (apples) is pressed and fermented.

  • I think the actual distinctions here are much more complicated, and a lot of it is probably tradition rather than technical definition. For example: There is rice wine that is not sake. Sake is made from converted grain starches, like beer, but is usually considered to be wine like. Wine is made from pressed grapes but is not cider. There is no grape cider. Dandelion wine is made from flowers, with straight sugar added. Ginger root has the hell grated out of and steeped in water, usually with straight sugar. By process, I don't know what you can classify that as.
    – Sloloem
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 14:04

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