This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
These products are made of the same ingredients, but differ in this, that the former is more completely fermented for the purpose of preservation, whereas the latter is made for immediate use, and bottled in such a state as to acquire in the course of a few days such a degree of fermentation as will make it very frothy when it is poured out. Moreover, ginger wine is generally much more alcoholic than ginger beer. And it is one of the great advantages of genuine and well-made ginger beer, that by its spice and effervescence it is highly refreshing, while by its low alcoholicity it is an agreeable stimulant without being intoxicating. With such ginger beer should not be compounded the carbonated drink called ginger ale.
A strong ginger beer is made by boiling with every gallon of water two pounds of loaf sugar, and one ounce of bruised ginger, one ounce of cream of tartar, and one small lemon, sliced. To the cooled mixture some yeast is added, and the whole is set aside for fermentation. When the tumultuous fermentation is over, the liquid is bottled. Ginger beer thus made is, when properly fermented, of considerable alcoholic strength, equal at least to strong ale. A ginger beer for ordinary use in hot weather should be much weaker; by adding a little brandy or crushed raisins to the mixture, the ginger wine acquires a vinous odor.
A so-called Ginger Champagne, a similar preparation to the above, is made by fermenting with yeast a mixture of ginger, sugar, water, orange or lemon juice, or both, and chopped raisins, in various proportions, indicated in the preceding formulae. If the liquid is allowed to ferment thoroughly and clarified, a strong alcoholic product may be obtained.