My Year in Soda: 2014

I’ve been trying to remember to post my impressions of sodas that I try to Twitter through the year and figured I’d put together a Year In Review to collect all of the notes for posterity.

This year’s high points: Phancy Sparkling Limeade and Empire Spruce Beer.

Yellow no. 5! Yellow no. 5!

A friend who knows me well got a four pack of the “treat-sized” Jones Candy Corn soda and brought it in to work for me today. Good thing since I had not been able to find it at my local Target. A couple of notes:

  1. It is Yellow. (FD&C Yellow no. 5 to be specific)
  2. It smells exactly like good fresh candy corn.
  3. It is as or more sweet than candy corn
  4. It is really yellow.
  5. The flavor is not quite perfect, but in some ways that’s a good thing since it has some nice orange notes that keep it from being a complete sugar bomb.
  6. Did I mention “yellow”?

Anyway, fun stuff. Not recomended for daily drinking. Though if you can find some of their other holiday flavor, “Monster Mojito”, buy a case. It’s great stuff and this year’s cane sugar can only have improved it over last year.

Very good soda day

Yesterday was a very good soda day. Jennifer arrived for our usual date night with my birthday present a few days early: A mixed case of The Sopranos soda. (Do follow that link and make sure to watch the commercial, it’s fairly funny. The timing is a bit off but it works.) I’m drinking my first bottle of the Limoncello right now, and it’s pretty good if a touch more sweet than I necessarily like. The good news is that it isn’t a cloying sweet, it’s very clean and finishes exceptionally well. I have a bottle of the Chianti with me at work today as well and I’m hoping it’s at least as good.

After we had a nice walk around the trails at Wood Lake Nature Center and then taking a Kia Rondo out for a test drive we stopped in at the original Chatterbox Pub where I noticed for the first time that they had a “Scratch” Ginger Ale which turned out to be very good. It is definitely a Ginger Ale and not a Ginger Beer since it does go for more of the sweet than the hot and spicy, but it also has a really wonderful clove flavor that adds a lot of depth and character. Very highly recommended.

Lavender Love

BevNet has a fairly positive review up of a new line of sodas with some fairly interesting flavors: Rhubarb, Lavender, Lemongrass, and Kumquat. The brand is called DRY Soda, and I only wish I could get some locally. With a mixed-case price starting at $25, plus shipping, I think I’m going to have to wait a bit before I get to try it.

I’ve actually been thinking that the people behind Snow would do a fabulous job with lavendar flavored soda.

Clovers where you least expect them

In the last two weeks I’ve run into something a little different at two places that I’ve been for dinner. It appears that both the new Chatterbox Pub location in Highland Park and Signature Cafe in Prospect Park are serving sodas from The Shamrock Group. So far, the cola and the root beer flavors that I have tried are pretty decent, though nothing stellar. It will be interesting to see if I seem them showing up elsewhere around town, I know the original Chatterbox Pub near my home still has Weinhart’s for their root beer.

And while I’m thinking about it, do give the Signature Cafe a try if you have the chance. It’s got a very interesting and varied menu and a staff that is… well, friendly doesn’t begin to describe it.

Also found this afternoon

Target’s Archer Farms line of food products now has a “premium” soda available, at least in the Twin Cities market. I saw 4 flavors today at a non-SuperTarget close to work: Sarsparilla, Ginger Beer, Strawberry Creme, and Diet Peach. I picked up a 4pack of all but the Diet and should have had a chance to taste all of them by the weekend. The ingredients do list sugar instead of HFCS, so I have some hope that it might be at least drinkable and if it’s done by the same people who make their “Italian Soda” line of beverages there’s a strong chance there will be at least one good flavor in there.

Passion Orange: Suprisingly good

I tried the White Rock Organics Passion Orange today at lunch and was really very pleasantly surprised. It’s not as sweet as the very good Red Peach, which in turn is not as sweet as the horrible Raspberry Creme. I do have to admit that the initial flavor was sort of odd, but the finish and subsequent sips showed it to be a very well put together flavor. Some nicely sour passion fruit notes with the barest orange/citrus is an unexpectedly combination and the lack of over-the-top sugar makes for a really excellent soda.

From the maker’s of Sioux City sodas: White Rock Organics

While doing some quick soda shopping before a couple of friends stopped by to play some boardgames, I ran into some new bottles at the local Kowalski’s that looked interesting. White Rock Organics soda comes in 3 flavors: Red Peach, Raspberry Creme, and Passion Orange. I got a 4 pack of all 3 flavors and have so far tasted very mixed results.

The Red Peach is actually incredibly good. It is more sweet and intensely flavored than I would normally like, but the carbonation is light enough and the cane sugar they are using is fairly decent quality so the flavor is at least very good. It also really tastes like very good fresh peaches.

The Raspberry Creme, on the other hand, tastes like cough syrup. And, as one of my friends last night pointed out, not even like good cough syrup. The flavor is fruity enough but the intense sweetness and the overwhelming sticky taste of bad vanilla-esque flavor is just horrible. None of us wanted to finish the bottle. I’m trying to figure out how to get rid of the other 3 bottles without offending someone I like, or just pouring them out. I’ll probably give a second bottle a taste to see if it was just a bad bottle, but it tasted exactly like any other really badly fruit flavored soda I’ve ever had. Heck, it’s easily in the same league as Shasta Strawberry, if you can believe that.

I still have yet to try the Passion Orange, though I’ll probably get to that tonight. At this point I’m wondering if I should be looking forward to it with dread or excitement.