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97 years of Ale-8-One and counting

It’s the best of the Bluegrass in a green glass.


Formally named Ale-8-One, the soda got its name during a contest in 1926 and is derived from the 1920s slang term “a late one,” which meant “the latest thing.”

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Most Kentuckians can spot a bottle of Ale-8 from a mile away. We’re drawn to that emerald green glass like a moth to a flame. The crisp, ginger soda with citrus notes is like ginger ale, but so much better — thanks to a nearly 100-year-old secret family recipe. Take that, Canada Dry.

Considering drinking an Ale-8 is basically Kentucky’s rite of passage, we thought we’d pull back the silver cap on this Kentucky-invented soda that just turned 97 — and leave you with a few places in Derby City to get your fix.


Filling room inside the Ale-8-One Bottling Company plant at 25 Carol Rd., Winchester, KY.

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Before Ale-8, there was Roxa-Kola

Ale-8 has been around since 1926, but Founder George Lee Wainscott actually started in the soda biz in 1902.

To make a long soda story short, here are a few fast facts about George:

  • Originally bottled distilled water + fruit-flavored sodas
  • Developed his first soda formula in 1906 called Roxa-Kola
  • Coca-Cola subsequently sued him, but George prevailed
  • Created the Ale-8-One recipe after the court case and launched it in 1926
  • Discontinued Roxa-Kola in 1968
  • Ale-8 is the only soft drink invented in Kentucky still in existence

Ale-8 branding from the early-to-mid-2000s.

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A secret family recipe

The company has remained independent and family-owned since and continues to operate its Ale-8-One Bottling Company plant in Winchester, KY — about 87 miles from LOU.

A white spiral case inside the factory leads to a locked batching room where Fielding Rogers, the company’s president + George’s great-great-nephew, mixes the secret formula that goes into every batch.

LOUtoday_Ale 8

Today, Ale-8 is distributed throughout Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.

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Best in the Bluegrass

Today, there are 5+ Ale-8 flavors, including diet and caffeine-free versions. Aside from snagging a six-pack from almost any Kroger shelf, here are some ways to sip it around town:

This content is sponsored by Heine Brothers Coffee. As Louisville’s original coffee roaster since 1994, they take pride in the city just as much as the coffee. Order ahead and Drink Up.

LOUtoday thanks our sponsors. Sponsorship has no influence on editorial content.

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