So what have I found out? Nothing difinitive. Some say beer has more sugar, some say ale is sweeter. Some say beer tastes more of ginger, some say ale tastes more of ginger. Mostly the information that is out there suggets that Eric's comment on my original post is on the money. In addition to capsaicin and other adjuncts some makers of ginger beer add a clouding agent to their soda. I suppose this is to mimic the natural cloudyness of a fermented product?
There is some imformation on wikipedia on the subject, both ale and beer. Of specific interest to me was learning of the ginger beer plant which is not a plant but a specific yeast/fungus/bacteria. I suppose the cause of my confusion in the first place was the fact that Mr Brown calls it ginger ale and Mr Morgenthaler calls it ginger beer even though the recipes are very similar. My opinion is that ale was the US term and beer was the UK term for the same product but eventually as we came to this age of mass produced carbonated syrup drinks ale has become the dry one and beer has become the sweet spicy one.
Nevertheless I must make some again. Whether ale or beer a tasty beverage it shall be!