Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Craft soda - a quick review

By now, you may have heard that craft beer is big and getting bigger. For those of you that haven't, it is. However, craft soda, a better-for-you-than-Coke category, is quietly picking up steam and more new beverages are being introduced every week. While most are new start-ups, some are extensions of a local brew pub's roster, others are revivals of old beloved brands or styles. Occasionally, I'll find a regional favorite; a lot of them use HFCS, those that don't may be featured here.

To get you up to speed on recent developments, here's a few links that'll give you an idea of the direction of this newish trend:

First in my files is this quickie review of eight New York craft sodas by Adam Platt of New York Magazine.

Also, about four years ago, NYC blog Urban Oyster provided a fine overview of the regional craft soda scene featuring Moxie, Foxon Park, Boylan, Grown Up Soda, and Bruce Cost. (Those with links contain info on where to buy).

Since about 2012, the news regarding craft sodas began to accelerate.

From July 2012 Craft Soda Steps Up to Bat features Maine Root and Hot Lips:
“We do have Coke in the bottle, but it’s Mexican Coke, which is cane sugar-based, and Fanta, which is also cane sugar,” Little says. “We don’t have a corn-syrup beverage.”
Later that summer, CityLab was concerned about regional soda losing that special something in Tastes Like Home with shout outs to North Carolina classic Cheerwine and New York's White Rock.

Last year Beer of Tomorrow reviewed a small sample of the LA craft soda scene here.

And about a year ago, Draft Magazine gave rundown of these five:
Phillips Brewing Captain Electro’s Intergalactic Root Beer: In blacklisting anything artificial, this B.C. brewery alchemized raw ingredients including sarsaparilla, cinnamon and molasses for this utterly distinct root beer.
Hotlips Soda Marionberry: Alongside fruit from Portland’s closest farms, sweet, dark marionberries achieve this pie-in-a-bottle taste.
Agrarian Ales Barley Pimento: This Oregon farmhouse-made draft soda (available in growlers) has a sweet barley malt base, but swaps hop spice for pimento kick, thus measuring in SHUs (Scoville heat units), not IBUs.
Brooklyn Soda Works Lemon & Thyme: New York soda jerks hand-juice all their fruit. Instead of lemon-lime, lemony tartness supports the predominant thyme.
Joia Lime, Hibiscus & Clove: From Minneapolis, the lime half of lemon-lime sodas couples with elegant hibiscus and fragrant clove for a tangy Key lime pie essence.

The investment site, Motley Fool, gave the burgeoning craft soda market some consideration here last September, with a mention of Reed's.

So there's a good overview of the craft soda biz so far. I'd love to hear your comments about some of the regional or craft drinks you've sampled.


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