Day: February 20, 2015

Waynesville Soda Jerks: Grape Soda

History: Sometimes you choose the craft soda life and, well, sometimes it chooses you. Wait, are we in a Matthew McConaughey car commercial now? “We fell into it,” says Chris Allen, one of the co-owners of Waynesville Soda Jerks. Chris and his business partner, Megan Brown, always wanted to be self-employed. From Waynesville, North Carolina, they’re surrounded by a great local farmer’s market community. The soda idea slowly grew on them. Literally. Very tart wine berries grew outside their North Carolina home. Chris and Megan wanted to see if they could turn them into something flavorful. So they bought a Soda Stream. Eventually they graduated to more sophisticated flavors and took their stuff to the farmer’s market. That’s all it was intended to be. They just wanted to start an “adult lemonade stand,” said Chris. A few months later in April 2013, they launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. Here’s the crazy thing: they both still work part-time gigs at Frog’s Leap Public House. The two say they’ll be transitioning Waynesville Soda Jerks into a full-time business as 2015 progresses. Every flavor they make is based on local ingredient availability and the seasons. Some of their creations include fruit-based sodas like Strawberry Rhubarb pie and Blackberry Serrano pepper. But one they’re very proud of is a classic that slowly seems to be losing footing in the craft soda community: grape. Chris’s grandmother would make her own grape juice using concord grapes from the family property so the kids around the house would always have something to drink. Chris and Megan worked tirelessly to get the flavor just right. The result is the soda we’re reviewing here.

Where to get: Currently, their sodas are hyper-local around the Waynesville, North Carolina area. The two say they’re working hard to get products approved for distribution. However, they don’t want to spread throughout stores and grocers nation-wide. “We’re not looking to be the next big boy in the soda business,” says Matt. The two feel it wouldn’t be genuine to their local business model. That said, they’re hoping to have their soda available for purchase online by April 2015. Custom orders are available in the short-term by calling (828) 278-8589.

Nose: Welch’s Grape Juice.

Taste: Wow. This tastes exactly like lightly carbonated Welch’s Grape Juice. It’s immaculate. It tastes fresh and authentic. No weird, metallic or artificial aftertaste like most grape sodas. This is a simple soda that doesn’t try to be more than it is, and that’s where it succeeds. It doesn’t have any hidden flavor notes. It tastes like grape, more specifically, real, carbonated grape juice. Don’t think sparkling grape juice. It’s not quite that carbonated. The light carbonation works just right and really lets the grape flavor shine.

Finish: Refreshing; real grape juice; light bubbles that dance on the back of your tongue.

Rating: This is simple, yet brilliant. The flavor is everything grape soda should be. You’ve never had grape soda this fresh. This is the cute girl next door you weren’t sure whether or not had a boyfriend who you asked out and it was everything you imagined. You could drink this in groves. We definitely did. Go out of your way to get this. Bravo, Waynesville Soda Jerks. Literally, no complaints. We look forward to more flavors in the future. We have one bottle of this left. Not for long.

 

Doggone Good Soda: Irish Cream Coffee

History: In 2008, Bill King and his son opened a sandwich shop in Orange, California. They wanted something unique to pair their grub with, so they decided to sell vintage soda from all over the country. They got such great feedback that in 2012, they decided to start making it themselves. King searched and searched for the right production equipment, but wasn’t getting the results he wanted. So, Bill King built the damn thing himself and eventually got his apparatus approved for use. He literally built a one-of-a-kind soda machine over a year-and-a-half that goes through the entire production process of making and bottling the soda. Eventually, he wants to franchise the concept of this machine out and sell it to other bottlers who can then create their own flavors and sell them in their local area. As for his own soda business, King wanted Doggone Good Soda to be about creativity and having a good time. “You can experiment. It’s a fun business,” he says. The company is known for its wide variety of both classic and artisan-inspired flavors, as well as its unique swing top, wax-coated bottles. King produces over 30 flavors from root beer and vanilla cream to rose dew and red currant soda. They can also do custom labeling for things like weddings, events, gifts, etc. What’s particularly interesting about Doggone Good Soda is that if you’re willing to place a large order of 200-300 bottles, they’ll work with you on creating a flavor. So look alive, soda jerks! Your wildest dreams could become a reality! As King says, “We’re taking soda to a different level.”

Where to get: Doggone Good Soda is sold locally in Orange, California, but King and his son are working on making it available through their Web site for national sales. Until then, King encourages customers who want to try their stuff to call the company directly to place orders over the phone at (714) 865-1848.

Nose: Melted butterscotch chips; fresh sugar cookies.

Taste: This is wild. Tastes absolutely nothing like it smells. You start with a lightly roasted coffee-cream soda flavor that winds and sloooooowly turns into more of a burned caramel taste. As noted on the label, the company uses coffee beans from a local roaster called HapiBean. The coffee really does come through on the tongue. The carbonation is subtle and doesn’t distract from the flavor. The amount of sugar used here is noticeable and does distract from all the subtleties you could probably get in addition to what’s already there. Coffee is such a nuanced flavor and the sugar here masks that a little bit. That said, there’s no syrupy aftertaste and Doggone Good Soda should be commended for making such a complicated soda that isn’t overwhelming. The caffeine on this puppy isn’t a pulse-spiker, but whoa, it comes in quickly.

Finish: Bailey’s irish cream that slowly turns into vanilla-infused, dark-roasted coffee beans. It’s a long finish for a soda. The flavors dance around and change much more like a scotch or fine bourbon than a craft soda. Complicated and distinct.

Rating: Doggone Good Soda’s Irish Coffee Cream Soda is a must-try for the craft soda connoisseur simply because it’s different than anything you’ve ever put in your mouth. Coffee drinkers will likely love this stuff. We did feel that the amount of sugar used in the soda’s syrup hid some of the extra flavor opportunities that may have been possible. Still, there’s so much going on here (in a good way), that we urge you to contact the company and place an order. Also, the bottles are dope and reusable. This is exactly what it says it is: coffee cream soda. What isn’t advertised: it’s a flavor roller coaster.

Rocky Mountain Soda: Colorado Cola

History: The guys at Rocky Mountain Soda are about as chill as you can get. They work in Denver. They have a skateboarding culture influence. And one of the principle operating partners goes by “Moose.” But for as laid back as they seem, Rocky Mountain Soda is serious about what goes in that bottle. Like many in the craft soda game, their background is in fine spirits. They also operate Peach Tree Distillers. Moose says their goal was to make an “all natural soda with good ingredients. It’s just a bunch of guys who were stupid enough to start a soda company because we love it.” In 2007, they started making their sodas a little differently – with local beet sugar as opposed to cane. However, due to GMO and chemical concerns with the beet sugar, the company has since switched to using evaporated cane sugar in their sodas. They do not use sodium benzoate. “We wanted ingredients we could pronounce.” The company produces a variety of flavors from Colorado Cola to Palisade Peaches and Cream. It’s still a small operation, employing only five people. They keep a good sense of humor about it; “Pepsi spills more soda in a day than we’ll make in a year.”

Where to get: Your best bet is to contact the company directly online. It’s also available in many RocketFizz retailers.

Nose: Vanilla; cherry; faint cinnamon.

Taste: Smooth; light vanilla; creamy nuttiness; faint cherries and cinnamon. One of Rocky Mountain Soda’s starting points for their cola was an old classic: R.C. Cola. If you’ve never had it, R.C. Cola is an older-style cola that’s very soft on the palate. Rocky Mountain Soda took that concept and used it as a blueprint here. On the first sip, you’re greeted with a pleasant soft vanilla taste with subtle cherry nuances. If you weren’t looking for it, you might miss it. It’s very creamy for a cola, but not quite foamy like a cream soda. The smoothness is what’s most striking. There’s no bite or sharpness to this; very drinkable. Once you get past the initial vanilla-cherry taste, there’s a distinctive nutty flavor that still leans towards the vanilla side of things.

Finish: Light cherry cola; cinnamon. The nuttiness you get in the body of this soda likely comes from Kola Nut, and once that fades, you’re left with a nice, soft cherry flavor. Not cherry as in Cherry Coke that punches you in the face like that dude in middle school did, but a lovely, vanilla cherry that you could watch Netflix with all night. A very faint cinnamon flavor also darts about until you take your next sip.

Rating: This is cola done well. It’s simple and drinkable enough for the casual soda fan or child, but has enough nuances to make it intriguing for the craft soda connoisseur. If you gave me one word to describe this soda, it would be “pleasant.” It’s incredibly pleasant. You see my typing away on my laptop up there? That’s stressful businessman work. The Colorado Cola kept it real pleasant for me that night. Back to the flavors. The vanilla nuttiness combined with the subtle cherry and cinnamon notes really make this soda stand apart from other colas. Its smoothness lends itself to be guzzled quickly. Don’t. Please don’t. Enjoy it. And adults: maybe even throw some Whiskey in there if it’s a successful Friday night… or a rough Monday. Pro tip: this soda’s flavor profile is dramatically affected by ice. I strongly suggest you drink it chilled from the bottle. Now, up your cola game. Go find this. Go buy it.

Homer Soda Co. Maple Root Beer

History: Warning: nostalgic and heart-warming story incoming. Homer, Illinois is a town of about 1,000 people. It’s a small, farm town. Life is simple there. In the early 2000’s, an antique shop popped up in the city’s Historic Main Street Building and made vintage sodas available. The public reception was so strong, the soda selection began expanding. And expanding. And expanding. Until they had over 500 sodas. If you do the math, the amount of people in Homer, Illinois only outweigh the number of unique sodas in the city by a ratio of 2:1. It’s small. Eventually, the owner was forced to close the shop due to personal health reasons. Kate Boyer didn’t want to see it go and stepped in to run it. Eventually, she bought it. Boyer’s love of local community eventually led her to gear her company’s business model towards wholesaling, so other small communities could get these cool, vintage sodas too. Today, Home Soda Company is one of the most recognizable retro soda distributors in the nation. Every year the company puts on the Homer Soda Festival where people can try up to 100 craft sodas from across the nation. The event attracts upwards of 10,000 people and de-cuples (10x) the city’s actual population. Picture a bunch of soda geeks drinking shot glasses of craft deliciousness and eating BBQ as bluegrass music blasts their ears until they forget how much sugar they’ve ingested. ‘Merica. It wasn’t until January of 2015 that Homer Soda decided they wanted to actually make their own soda. Inspired by a 400-tree maple grove about three miles from their town in Homer Lake, Boyer and her co-workers settled on Maple Root Beer. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle goes back to an interactive program at Homer Lake designed to educate children about maple syrup. The kids also get to run around and tap the trees for their pancake-topping magic. The company’s maple root beer uses a natural maple syrup extract and is GMO-free. A fun aside: the original founder of the antique shop is now the mayor of Homer, IL. The more you know…

Where to get: The best way for you to find Homer Soda Company’s Maple Root Beer, among a boat load of other sodas, is to go online to their Web site where you can purchase it directly. It should also be available within a couple months on Amazon.

 

Nose: Sugary root beer; syrupy maple that fades into light butterscotch

Taste: Initially very sweet. Classic root beer bite that fades within seconds, giving way to sweet maple. Homer uses an all-natural maple extract in this baby and the flavor holds for several seconds before a sweet, caramel butterscotch flavor takes over and really coats the palate. If you swirl it around in your mouth, the root beer flavor lingers longer. Not much in the way of carbonation. This isn’t one of those foamy root beers you see in commercials. I’d say if this had more bubbles, the classic root beer notes would shine more as carbonation typically enhances flavors with a bite.

Finish: Butterscotch that morphs back into classic root beer. The more you drink, the more the root beer flavor eventually comes through, but butterscotch really seems to dominate the overall flavor profile and finish.

Rating: If you enjoy sweeter root beers, this is probably up your alley. If you’re into more of an earthy, sarsaparilla sort of thing, this will probably overwhelm you. A little too syrupy for me without enough of a crisp, bite. More butterscotch than maple in my opinion. Kids and root beer enthusiasts are likely to be more receptive to its flavors. Here’s the deal: I would have a one-night stand with this and then call it back four months later when I wanted to feel young again. Tip: Mix this with a mid-tier bourbon and pour over ice cream for a sweet, spicy treat.

 

Caamaño Bros: High Noon Sarsaparilla

History: Caamaño Bros Soda was the idea of a couple young guns, Sebastián and Alejandro Caamaño. One day, their father, Christopher Caamaño, a chef with a rich family heritage and culinary background, took his family to a restaurant where he was delivered a carafe of water that tasted different. The restaurant told him they carbonated it themselves. With the benefit of an extensive background in the restaurant business, Caamaño decided that with the Berkeley, California area “having the best municipal water in the world,” he’d do the same thing at his home. For reference, the San Francisco area sources their tap water from High Sierra snow melt. Trust me, we don’t know what it means either. But it sounds nice. Long story short, his kids realized if they just added sugar and flavoring to their homemade carbonated water, they’d have soda. So in 2010, Caamaño Bros Soda was born. Christopher Caamaño chose a childhood favorite, sarsaparilla, with which to begin. The home testing blossomed into a lemonade-esque stand in front of a horticultural nursery. Eventually sponsors of local farmer’s markets, as well as restaurant gurus began telling them to take their production to the next level. Today, their soda business is still 100% a family operation. “Our whole promise was to turn the clock back 80 years and make soda pops the way they were intended,” said Caamaño. The family named their first beverage “High Noon Sarsaparilla.” It continues to be the staple of their business. And it isn’t exactly easy to produce. The family sources 14 different ingredients from five different continents. It’s a true vintage sarsaparilla, modeled after the way it used to be made in the old west. Here’s a quick, fun history lesson. In 1960, the. U.S. banned sassafras oil and a substance it contains, safrole, due to the psychotropic effects of safrole. What I’m trying to say is, the government didn’t want you tripping balls off sassafras or the products it could be used in, like sarsaparilla. MDMA is actually rendered from safrole, Caamaño says with a laugh. Needless to say, the family does their research. They family, however, does not do MDMA.

Where to get: Caamaño Bros Soda is distributed mainly throughout the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Oakland and San Francisco areas. It’s also available in Western BevMo outlets. The “High Noon Sarsaparilla” can also be ordered online from various retailers.

Nose: Light; earthy; vanilla; sassafras root.

Taste: Vanilla; sassafras; creamy cola; sweet, earthy notes (yes, I know that’s a contradiction). Soft vanilla and sweet sassafras root begin in this complicated flavor profile. Caamaño and his sons put an enormous amount of research, effort and money into their ingredients. For example, they source their sarsaparilla root from a farm in Jamaica. A gallon of that ONE ingredient alone costs them $500 a gallon. The recipe went through over 60 different drafts. You can taste the difference. As the soda progresses, it transforms, giving it a balanced, creamy cola flavor with just a hint of root beer. It literally begins to taste like cola as opposed to sarsaparilla. You get a little bit of light cherry in there too. This soda morphs as you get to know it, kind of like my ex-girlfriend, except the changes in my sarsaparilla don’t give me nightmares. Caamaño recommends drinking this with lots of ice. As the ice melts, the flavor once again morphs back to more of a root beer, this time with a little bit more of an earthy, creamy flavor. It’s light. The sugar amount is perfect. It isn’t syrupy and has just the right amount of creaminess without going overboard. All in all, this is spectacular.

Finish: Light; creamy vanilla with some lingering earthiness; then mild cherry-vanilla cola. It changes back and forth as you drink it.

Rating: This has all of the right dynamics going for it. It manages to maintain a creamy, smoothness that incorporates a variety of flavors without being too carbonated or too sugary. The root beer bite is perfect. It’s there, but isn’t overwhelming or too sharp. The blend of vanilla, sassafras root and creamy cola flavors take this levels above its competitors. It’s so easy to drink for a sarsaparilla, you’d swear it was a cola if you didn’t focus on the ingredients. Caamaño Bros place an extreme emphasis on their ingredients and its obvious their research and diligence has paid off. This is soda porn. You won’t even want to tell your friends about this. This is your special weekend girl you fly in from the West Coast who’s way out of your league, who you just lucked out with. This is the best sarsaparilla we’ve ever had, hands down. Find the Caamaño family. They’ll spread the love. Sorry, we have to go keep cheating on other sodas with this one now.

Bette Jane’s Ginger Beer

History: Kirk Pearson started making ginger beer for personal use a couple years ago in 2013. Having an extensive background in the cocktail and bar industries, Pearson just figured he could make something better than what was out there. Soon, he started testing it with friends in the industry and getting requests for use in their restaurants. So he self-taught himself how to carbonate and ferment, and voila, in July 2014, Bette Jane’s ginger beer was born. He’s still a one man show, but he’s quickly gaining a following on the West coast. The concept behind the product is a noble one. Bette Jane was the name of Kirk’s mother who passed from breast cancer when he was young. Pearson donates proceeds from every bottle to breast cancer research and those affected by breast cancer. While the ginger beer stands on its own, it was really developed to be a mixer to “carry through the cocktail.” A unique note about Bette Jane’s ginger beer: it uses lemon concentrate instead of citric acid, which gives it a more natural flavor and saves the barman the extra effort of having to add his own house juice to a cocktail. Headquartered in San Rafael, California, Bette Jane is soon set to launch a couple more intriguing products… but we’ll let them tell you when they’re ready.

Where to get: Contact Bette Jane’s directly to place an order.

Nose: Soft ginger; bold lemon; slight vanilla.

Taste: Slow ginger burn; lemon. More of a tart kick than a spicy kick. Very smooth for a ginger beer, which is fairly unusual. Tastes very authentic. The use of simple, quality ingredients stands out. Most ginger beers are slightly harsh, to very harsh on the palate by design. I didn’t know how to take this at first, but it really grows on you. It’s probably too light to consistently drink by itself. But that isn’t what this ginger beer was designed for, so now we had a perfectly good excuse to get drunk… test this out with rum. And whoa. It makes a world of different. The ginger beer really let’s rum do the talking for itself while still being present enough to make you say, “Ah, there it is!” Crisp and refreshing. This does better with alcohol than on it’s own.

Finish: Smooth lemon with a lingering candied ginger fruitiness.

Rating: If you’re looking for a mixer to add flavor to your cocktail without stealing its thunder, this is your ginger beer. The bite isn’t strong enough to shock, yet is bold enough to enjoy. The mildness of the ginger makes it easy to drink on its own, but may be too light to consistently drink without alcohol. The use of lemon in this is really phenomenal and is a flavor most ginger beers completely ignore. It really makes the beverage shine. Think of it this way: by drinking a bottle of Bette Jane’s, your also helping out a good cause. Who knew you could be philanthropic and get drunk all in one fell swoop. Get a copper mug; get a Bette Jane’s and an adult elixir, and take a load off.

Cannonborough BevCo: Grapefruit Elderflower Soda

History: Three young dudes running a soda company… what could go wrong? Who knows, but fortunately for Cannonborough Beverage Company in Charleston, South Carolina, a lot has gone right. And a lot of it has to do with their location. Charleston is a city renowned for its local produce and fruits with a vibrant farmer’s market community. The farm-to-table movement is strong there. There’s a lot of plaid. People drink PBR in the afternoon. Lots of life talks. You get where I’m going? It’s a hipster town. People there are used to what’s authentic. So, with their boyish good looks and background in cocktail mixing, the guys at CannonBevCo set out to make sodas that appealed to a more health-conscious audience. “Sometimes you feel a little guilty drinking soda. We wanted to take the vehicle of soda we loved and elevate it a little bit,” they said. But they wanted to do it right. That background in the bar business has translated to their soda production. They use the same type of equipment used by craft beer brewers to make their soda. The three partners began at farmer’s markets in April 2012. They’ve since found their niche using a bevy of fresh, local options to create high-end, non-pasteurized, fruit sodas. Flavors are often dictated by season, with Honey Basil, Ginger Beer and Grapefruit Elderflower available year-round.

Where to get: Currently, Cannonborough sodas are available in about 50 restaurants throughout the Charlestown, South Carolina area. The company is set to soon nationally debut a 750 ml bottle that is shelf-stable, meaning it doesn’t have to be constantly refrigerated. Until then, the guys are more than happy to take orders directly. Expect shipping to be around $10-15 due to their larger 32 oz. bottle size.

Nose: Grapefruit; lemon; very soft orange; slight vanilla notes.

Taste: BANG, summer just smacked you in the mouth, yo! Extremely crisp, refreshing citrus taste. The tang of the grapefruit is immediate and then softens out with just a hint of sweetness and a mild floral note you get from the elderflower. I’m even getting a little bit of candied ginger, which is interesting because there’s no ginger in this soda. Most importantly, this tastes real. Cannonborough’s emphasis on sourcing local, fresh ingredients is evident. No syrupy, mouth-coating feeling with this soda. It has a little bit of a San Pellegrino thing going on, but its carbonation makes it more drinkable and its ingredients give it more flavor. This could be your Mountain Dew, hipsters! Those who don’t enjoy grapefruit obviously should avoid this. The grapefruit is very prominent, but never overbearing. I’d have liked to get just a little bit more sweetness in this to cut some of the tang of the grapefruit. But its drinkability is undeniable. This is pool party soda.

Finish: We kept drinking this over and over because we weren’t sure how this was happening, but there’s a very soft, floral candied cherry finish that comes from the elderflower. It’s extremely pleasant after the citrus zing. Best part of the soda.

Rating: It’s refreshing; it’s different; and most of all, it’s good. Hipsters, keep your pants on and put down your PBR. This is for you. Normal people, this is also for you. The bite of the grapefruit can be a bit much at times, but the elderflower aftertaste does a nice job at mellowing that out. Not many people make sodas the way these guys do. Everyone talks about being “all-natural” and using “real ingredients.” These dudes actually do it and the proof is in your mouth. If you’re willing to fork over a little bit more money than you’d normally pay for a soda, give the guys at CannonBevCo a call. You’ll be glad you did. And for you grown-ups: When mixed with an aged bourbon, this becomes the most dangerous mouthgasm-inducing cocktail you’ve had in a long time.

Matt’s Homemade Sodas: Black + White

History: Matt Haley was a wonderful man. He was also a troubled youth, in and out of prison, battling drugs and alcohol. Once Matt figured his life out, dude went full angel and became a serious philanthropist, building schools and orphanages in India and also giving back to his local Delaware community. He also started a film company, a coffee plantation, partnered with an Italian winery and ran a restaurant consulting company. Talk about a 180. I have trouble putting my pants on in the morning. But first he started his signature restaurant, Blue Coast, in what would become a mini empire of restaurants in the Delaware coastal area. You know what people like to do in restaurants? Drink. You know what Matt and his business partner both couldn’t do because they were recovering alcoholics? Drink. Lightbulb: craft soda! So they started concocting flavor ideas. They wanted a cool, complex beverage reminiscent of a craft beer, minus alcohol. The process started  with making syrups at his restaurant’s bars and serving cocktail-style sodas there. In late 2013, the next logical step was bottling. As Matt Patton (different Matt), General Manager of Fish On said, they wanted “a good experience for the guest who didn’t drink beer or wine, and that meant having a bottle at the table a server could open for you.” Today’s those bottles hold cuisine-influenced flavors like Blood Orange + Sage and Matt’s original signature, Black + White soda. Matt and his partners pride themselves on using the freshest spices, herbs, vegetables and unrefined sugars in their sodas, while also not using any preservatives. Matt Haley passed away in a motorcycle accident in India while there on a humanitarian mission. Today, his companies live on, including Matt’s Homemade Sodas.

Where to get: Currently, Matt’s Homemade Sodas are sold locally in the eight restaurants (including Blue Coast and Fish On) found along the Delaware coast. The company is working to get their sodas distributed to a wider market. In the meantime, if you’d like to get a hold of the stuff yourself, you can place an order directly with Matt Patton.

Nose: Herby; sweet balsamic vinegar; warm Italian bread loaf.

Taste: Sweet balsamic ginger ale. This is definitely an artisanal soda of the highest degree. Definitely a sipper. The main three ingredients in this soda after water and sugar are white balsamic vinegar, bay leaves and black peppercorn. Being a soda void of any preservatives, that allows the flavors to have more authenticity. The balsamic really sings here. It smacks you in the face on first taste. You may not be ready for it, but dammit it’s here, so answer the door, man. White balsamic vinegar is typically sweeter than its black relative, but not as quick or athletic. Hence, the white balsamic sits on the bench and gets put in soda, while the traditional balsamic makes the owners big bucks on the dinner plate. (You don’t get it? It’s is a sports joke; shh, don’t worry about it.) The white balsamic is accompanied by an herby ginger flavor. It isn’t spicy like ginger beer, more like ginger ale. Still, the ginger taste doesn’t cut the strength of the white balsamic quite enough. The balsamic flavor, while sweet and drinkable, is still potent. The bay leaf in this really stands out the more you drink it and begins to integrate more with the balsamic, ginger flavors. This is where the drink really shines. The pepper is there, but it’s so subtle that you probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t look at the ingredients label.

Finish: Lingering sweet balsamic, candied bay leaves and the faintest possible hint of pepper. The lingering aftertaste after finishing the entire soda has a vinegar funk to it. Have some gum on hand.

Rating: You gotta hand it to Matt’s Homemade Soda – they went for it, here. This is definitely something the craft soda adventurer should try because, honestly, who makes soda with balsamic vinegar and bay leaves? Sign us up. If you have an aversion to balsamic vinegar or had a weird experience with salad as a child, you probably wanna skip this one. This is a beverage meant to be savored while relaxing or having a nice meal. The balsamic is a little strong and will overwhelm some people, but the bay leaf helps mellow that out. It’s an extremely unique, chef-driven approach to craft soda. Don’t be surprised to see more adventurous ideas like Black + White pop up in the near future.