Indeed. In my dialect we go so far as to never use "Freund" and "Freundin" to mean friend. Instead we use the words "Kollege" and "Kollegin", which technically mean colleague. This is a rather new phenomenon (my parents don't use it that way), but I think it's spreading.
In Serbian we have different words for
1. friend (prijatelj or drug)
2. boyfriend (decko or momak) and
3. colleague - as someone from work (kolega)
For me it is very difficult to see the difference in German when it goes friend and when a boyfriend.
As far as I know, the difference is just in the way you want to say it. Your version would simply translate to "My boyfriend drinks no beer/My boyfriend doesn't drink beer" but there wouldn't be the word "never" included in the sentence.
From what I can tell they're basically equivalent and one could theoretically be used in place of the other and always be grammatically correct. My sense is that 'nie' means simply 'never' while 'niemals' means more like 'never ever'. It's just a bit stronger.