Review: Boylan Bottleworks Ginger Ale


After absolutely falling in love with the awesome taste of Boylan Bottleworks Black Cherry, Amy and I decided to try another flavor from this line of drinks which use cane sugar as the primary sweetener instead of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Next on the list was Boylan Bottleworks Ginger Ale!

Boylan Bottleworks Ginger Ale

Since I’m a light sleeper, I try to cutoff my caffeine consumption pretty early in the day, meaning that if I do have a soft drink after that point, it’s a caffeine free flavor such as a lemon lime or ginger ale. In fact, my favorite ginger ale is the flavored Schweppes Raspberry Ginger Ale, which unfortunately is only available in 2 liter bottles around here. Thus, any new caffeine free option that isn’t Sprite or Sierra Mist is a welcome addition to the beverage landscape. (Thus why I so enjoyed the limited edition Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash last year.)

The Bottleworks line of drinks from Boylan pays tribute to the classic flavors that used to be found at soda fountains, featuring more of a purely mixed taste vs. the abundance of artificial flavors we get today. Here’s how they describe the line on their website:

Although you are not old enough to remember, what are known today as “gourmet sodas” are actually replicas of old fashioned traditional beverages. At the turn of the century, these carbonated beverages first became popular at soda fountains where flavored syrups were mixed with seltzer water to product a refreshing treat.

However, their rise in popularity did not occur until the advent of modern bottling equipment. Throughout the 1940s and 50s it was not uncommon for a family to drive down to the local bottler and fill their crates with the different varieties of sodas. Unfortunately, this tradition was replaced by the 2-liter plastic bottle.

In keeping with our company’s heritage, we at the Boylan Bottling Co. are proud to make available again the authentic, full flavored, high-quality beverages of yesteryear in traditional glass bottles.

The glass bottling is very sharp, as we mentioned in our first review. Boylan actually paints on the graphics to the bottles… no stickers or labels used. Very nice. Whereas the Black Cherry we first tested came in a clear bottle, the Ginger Ale flavor is housed in a green glass bottle. It obviously relays the idea of “ginger ale”, but also in some ways hides the fact that this drink is rather clear in actual color. Carrying on the common feature found in the Bottleworks line, there are two “keywords” printed on the front of the bottle (near the main logo) that describe the taste of the drink. For Boylan Bottleworks Ginger Ale, those words are “PALE” and “DRY”. I wholeheartedly agree with that description!

I was recently involved in a forum discussion on a beverage-related website that questioned whether that site’s reviews should factor in the marketing and packaging of a drink vs. just focusing on the flavor. I tended to lean towards the former side of the coin, as marketing/packaging go a long way in establishing one’s perception of a drink. Think about the classic battle between those who love Coke vs. those who love Pepsi. Now, you can’t tell me that these 2 options are the best drinks on the planet, but because of the way they are marketed, that has gone a far way in shaping customers’ views of the product… whether one drink is superior to the other or not.

Unfortunately, we don’t all live in a world where “The Pepsi Challenge” is a reality and we can sample drinks in blind taste tests. Thus, that’s why I choose to also include the promotional angle in my beverage reviews. And in the case of Boylan, they do a really nice job of playing up the “retro” aspect of their drinks. The wonderful feeling of drinking 12 oz. out of a glass bottle almost makes you forget that you paid a ton more for the privilege vs. a can of Coke. Instead, you get the perception that this is something special and worth the added expense.

As a limited-release drink, Boylan has done the smart thing and invested in a very decent website that allows them to sell to the customer through very solid copywriting. For example, here’s how they pitch their Ginger Ale flavor:

Although the consumption of ginger ale has been in decline over the past 10 years, it is still a very popular flavor in New York City. Its mature characteristics – crisp, dry, and refreshing – are what makes it so popular. Unlike “ginger beers”, it is not hot and spicy but rather pale and clean. We consider Boylan Bottleworks Ginger Ale to be the most drinkable product in our entire line of sodas.

So after reading all this fluff about the drink, you are probably wondering what the heck it actually tastes like. Well, I can answer that for you.

It’s good!

As proclaimed on the bottle, the drink is both “pale” and “dry”. The experience was very crisp and clean. That’s one advantage of using real sugar as the sweetener. You can definitely tell a difference if you drank it side-by-side a HFCS-sweetened ginger ale. Because of this clean taste, the beverage is an excellent compliment to food… though it also does a great job of standing on its own. It’s truly a refreshing experience.

I’m looking forward to my next Boylan experience already!