Special Report

Ginger Ale Brands You Should Never Buy

ginger ale
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Ginger ale may not be as popular as cola, but this sweet and spicy soft drink isn’t going away. Tales of its creation vary, but the beverage dates back to at least the 1850s. Today, ginger ale is often used as a mixer with alcoholic beverages or in punch, and it is the drink of choice for many teetotalers in social situations. For generations, ginger ale has been a home remedy for upset stomachs or nausea as well.

Those who believe that ginger ale is just ginger ale, without much difference in flavor or character, may be surprised at the number of styles and varieties, including its alcoholic cousin ginger beer. Three global brands make up much of the ginger ale market, but plenty of craft varieties are available too. Somewhat akin to the root beer float, a scoop of vanilla ice cream blended into a glass of ginger ale is known as a Boston cooler and is another sign of the soft drink’s versatility. (Discover 20 all-time favorite root beer brands.)

As with any other consumable product, not all ginger ales suit all tastes. Here are 10 ginger ale brands that have been known to underwhelm many ginger ale drinkers.

10. Boylan

  • Maker/owner: Boylan Bottling (New York City)
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, cane sugar, citrus oils, natural ginger flavors

Basically Just Soda Water

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This craft soda is presented as a classic ginger ale from the East Coast in nostalgic bottles. Critics decry its lack of nose and fizz, and for some, it offers almost no ginger flavor. Plus, it is pricier than other options.

9. Bruce Cost

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  • Maker/owner: BCGA Concept Corp. (Brooklyn)
  • Primary ingredients: Carbonated water, pure cane sugar, fresh ginger

Too Expensive

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This unfiltered ginger ale is made with fresh ginger, which may be why it is more aromatic than others. Though the beverage was developed by a renowned chef, restauranteur, and author, some consumers consider it too expensive to drink regularly or for use as a mixer. Note that it also comes in passion fruit, pomegranate, and blood orange flavors.

8. Canada Dry

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  • Maker/owner: Keurig Dr Pepper
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, ginger extract

Sweet With Lies

Agave Syrup pouring on a glass. Alternative sweetener to sugar. Selective focus.
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This is the first of the big three global brands available in supermarkets everywhere, and for many ginger ale fans, it underwhelms. It has been called bland and middle of the road, with a flavor more of corn syrup than of ginger. For critics, it is neither a good mixer nor a good tummy soother.

7. Fever-Tree

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  • Maker/owner: Fevertree Drinks (London)
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated spring water, sugar, natural ginger flavoring, other natural flavorings

Tastes like Pottery

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Products from this brand are marketed as mixers rather than beverages on their own. Drinkers have remarked on its mineral tang or clay-like taste, The use of unusual ginger varieties from India, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria may be responsible for the eccentric flavor, which may be too weird for some palates.

6. Q

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  • Maker/owner: Q Mixers (Brooklyn)
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, organic agave, ginger extract, extracts of coriander, cardamom, chili pepper, orange and rose oil

A Bit To Spicy To Enjoy

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Like Fever-Tree, this is predominantly a mixer. As the list of ingredients reveals, it is flavored with more than just ginger. The overall flavor profile is spicy and not overwhelmingly sweet. In fact, it is lower in sugar than other options. Even if the flavor profile appeals, this one is not necessarily ideal for drinking on its own.

5. Schweppes

  • Maker/owner: Keurig Dr Pepper
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, natural flavor

Sour and Lacks Ginger

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Another widely available option, this is one of the older brands on the market. Many consumers find it comparable to Canada Dry, but with plenty of tiny bubbles. Critics note some sourness from citric acid, and the flavor has been compared to 7UP, which is another Dr Pepper product.

4. Seagram’s

Boozy Whiskey Ginger Ale Cocktail with LIme
Source: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock.com

  • Maker/owner: Coca-Cola
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, ginger extract with other natural flavors

Bad Aftertaste

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For fans, this is the clear choice over supermarket rivals Canada Dry and Schweppes. However, it is still a high fructose corn syrup-based drink, and some consumers complain of an unpleasantly sticky aftertaste. While it has no artificial flavors, it does have artificial color. And its flavor has been likened to Sprite.

3. Sprecher

  • Maker/owner: Sprecher Brewing
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, glucose syrup, natural ginger flavor, natural flavors, raw honey

Tastes Like Flowers

Organic sunflower seeds and flowers on wooden table
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Given this brand’s other excellent craft sodas, the ginger ale is a disappointment for many. It is said to offer an overwhelming herbal character that for some is reminiscent of evergreen. The ginger takes a back seat. This beverage is also packed with carbs and has more sodium than many competitors.

2. Vernors

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  • Maker/owner: Keurig Dr Pepper
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavors

Too Much Sugar

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This self-proclaimed “original ginger soda” was developed by a Detroit pharmacist and first served in 1866. Today, it may be more aromatic than its rivals, but it also brings with it much more sugar. In fact, critics contend that the sweetness overwhelms the ginger flavor.

1. Zevia

  • Maker/owner: Zevia (Los Angeles)
  • Primary ingredients: carbonated water, erythritol (sugar alcohol), stevia extract, lemon oil, lime oil, ginger extract, natural flavors

Can’t Even Taste The Ginger

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On the plus side, this ginger ale does not have corn syrup, and it is certified gluten-free, vegan, kosher and non-GMO. Unfortunately, many drinkers find that the stevia is so intense it overpowers the ginger flavor. All of this company’s offerings (teas, energy drinks, mixers, seltzers) are sweetened with stevia.

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