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Right off the bat I’d categorize Boylan as a pretty intimidating root beer. Generally speaking, the root beers that I’ve come across have been inviting. Take Frostie, for instance. Everything about it is designed to get you to buy into the root beer fantasy. The name symbolizes a nice cold root beer float, the label has bright inviting colors to catch your eye. The whole package just makes you want to drink it. But Boylan really isn’t doing that, and I’m not sure how to feel. Am I impressed that they don’t need that marketing fluff, or I am I put off by the fact that it really doesn’t make me think of root beer?

Boylan Cane Sugar Root Beer
Purchase on Amazon.

Flat Colors. Simple Logo. 1891.

Boylan’s root beer bottle is tall, and as I said, intimidating. The bright yellow label lets you know exactly what it is. This is root beer. It contains cane sugar. Boylan Bottling Co. is bringing it to you. They’ve been around for a while. What else is there really to say?


William Boylan, in 1891, a pharmacist by trade, began selling birch beer out of a wagon. In the early 1900s he began bottling his brew. That’s over one hundred years of Boylan products, most notably their birch beer. This, however, is root beer, so I’m hoping the experience they’ve gained makes this a really enjoyable experience.


  • Carbonated Water
  • Cane Sugar
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Caramel Color
  • Sodium Benzoate (Preserves Freshness)
  • Citric Acid

Things look simple… but wait, is that hidden flavors behind a secret recipe? Take a cue from Virgil’s, and just tell me what’s in the damn thing. Yes, you state on your website that it’s a sassafras flavor derived from cinnamon, sweet birch, vanilla, and wintergreen oil. But that’s not what’s on your label, and so far, I’m not nearly impressed as I could be. That long neck is not looking particularly intimidating anymore.

First Taste

Boylan has a smell, almost fruity, that I’ve never experienced before. Whatever I was thinking before is gone, I’m definitely going into this one with an open mind. Upon first taste, I’m thrown for an even greater loop. The flavor is on point with the smell, and it’s not unpleasant. In fact, it’s totally unique. It reminds me of cherry pop, or even a variety of birch beer. I’m not too well versed in birch beer, but this root beer seems almost fruity. I wish I had a better idea of the flavors, beyond what’s written on their website. It would go a long way to helping me identify exactly what’s going on. It’s sweet, and for that, I am glad. Carbonation is pretty normal, and not overwhelming. I haven’t licked my lips to many root beers before, but Boylan has me doing it. Intriguing.

After Time

After giving Boylan some time to sit, I’m actually a bit more impressed by the flavor. It’s not as sweet as I’m used to, but it’s definitely not bitter. It gains some edge by letting it breathe. Although the carbonation wasn’t heavy to begin with, it’s even better now that some has dissipated. My least favorite part is how it seems to stick around. A swish of water isn’t enough to dissipate the aftertaste, which is spot on the same as the flavor. It’s not terribly sticky, but the aftertaste is bothersome. I’m noticing now that the flavor is overwhelming, which tells me that it’s not watered down like some root beers have been in the past. So far, despite some of its flaws, I’m impressed by how unique the flavors are.


This one totally had me fooled. I expected a traditionally bitter root beer based on the date stamped on the old fashioned label. What I received was a mildly sweet, fruity, flavorful alternative. It’s not necessarily my favorite that I’ve tried, but I’d give it more than a second chance. If I were in the mood for a black cherry pop, I’d consider drinking Boylan. Especially given that the flavors are present, and you don’t need to down the whole bottle to feel satiated. I’m not a fan of the fact that they don’t list what’s inside, but hardly any brews do. I also don’t particularly like how it sticks to my mouth. Nevertheless, I’d certainly give this a try if you like things that sit on the edges of that traditional root beer flavor spectrum.

Rating: ♛♛♛♕♕ – 3/5


  1. Marion Marion

    Boylan’s root beer is my go to choice. Not too sweet and full bodied flavor.
    I prefer it over Virgil’s, which I thought was great until I tried Boylan’s.
    I haven’t noticed an aftertaste, but then I wasn’t looking for one.

    • The Root Beer Person The Root Beer Person

      Hi Marion,

      Thanks for the comment! I appreciate that everyone has individual preferences when it comes to their root beers of choice.

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