Ginger beer originated in England over 200 years ago and spread throughout the English-speaking world during the 19th century and early 20th century. The popularity of ginger beer waned through the 20th century. Its use as a mixer with rum (Dark ’n Stormy) and vodka (Moscow Mule) helped maintain a core group of ginger beer aficionados. Over the past 20 years, increased awareness of the health benefits of ginger has put ginger beer back on the shelves of natural food stores and back in bars as a popular mixer. As a result, more brands have been introduced into the market.
The original ginger beer recipe called for ginger, sugar, lemon zest, yeast and water. Fermentation over a few days resulted in an alcoholic ginger beer. Modern day ginger beer is a soft drink with carbonation replacing yeast. Modern day ginger beer is bottled in soft drink containers (glass bottles or aluminum cans). In the early 19th century, ginger beer was bottled in stoneware. These unique bottles were hand thrown by potters and typically stamped with the bottler’s name, city and date. Toward the end of the century, the bottles included trademarks and were packed to more precise standards. By the 1920s, stoneware gave way to the more modern glass bottle due to rising health standards. The ebb and flow of ginger beer popularity mirrors the broad awareness and demand for ginger and its health benefits.