Day: February 20, 2015

Avery’s Beverages: Toxic Slime

History: Avery’s Beverages is a stalwart in the craft soda community. These dudes have been making the stuff for over 100 years out of New Britain, CT. They’re known for variety. They produce almost 50 different flavors from root beer to mint seltzer to black raspberry. They also utilize artisan well water in their sodas. I see you nodding your head in approval, even though you don’t really know what it means. Avery’s credits a “great local following” and the resurgence of craft soda to their maintained success. But there’s also another reason. A more disgusting reason. In fact, it’s why we’re here today. But first a lesson: Avery’s runs a “Make Your Own Soda” program on Saturdays where kids, by appointment, are allowed to create sodas based on six stock flavors. As you can probably guess, with a child’s excitement and mind running 1,000 mph, a lot of the early versions came out sludge brown. The kicker was… some of them tasted good. Eventually they worked with the kids to perfect a flavor called “Swamp Juice.” Out of this, Avery’s “Totally Gross Soda” line was born, featuring names like “Zombie Brain Juice,” “Kitty Piddle,” and today’s soda for review, “Toxic Slime.” As Avery’s Beverages General Manager, Rob Metz say, “They appeal to the 10 year-old in all of us.” Ah, nostalgia. According to Metz, 80% of the soda Avery’s ships is this weird stuff. Be on the look out for future flavors like “Alien Snot” and “Worm Slime.” You hungry? Or is it just me?

Where to get: Avery’s ships all over the country. You can probably find it at your nearest retro soda shop or at RocketFizz outlets. Some of their biggest distributors include Homer Soda in the midwest, Bay’s Best Beverages on the east coast, and Real Soda (don’t mind the Web site; he’s legit) on the west coast. Or you can always contact Avery’s directly and they’d be happy to make an order for you.

Nose: That blue sunny delight you sometimes drank as a kid; dull citrus cleaning fluid.

Taste: Artificial blue raspberry that crawls up the back of your sinuses. This tastes like something to which you’d have an allergic reaction. As with most craft sodas, Toxic Slime only contains a handful of ingredients, including pure cane sugar, but it reeks and tastes of chemicals. With a name like Toxic Slime, maybe Avery’s accomplished what they wanted. It’s supposed to be blue raspberry-orange, but it comes off more like sweetened Windex. The orange doesn’t really come through and the blue raspberry isn’t crisp or palatable enough to make you want to drink this repeatedly. Nothing complicated here, just the taste of sugary, watery, artificial flavorings.

Finish: Sugary; fake blue raspberry that leaves you feeling unsure about yourself.

Rating: This soda will turn your tongue blue and your organs into sadness. The color is fun. The name is fun. The flavor combo in theory is even fun, but this doesn’t work. This is a novelty soda along the lines of Lester’s Fixins, though admittedly, it’s better than most of those. Parents, pick up a bottle of this for your kids. Let them turn their tongues blue. If you’re into novelty soda, give it a go. If you’re in it for the flavor, pass on it. If you’re in it for a go round at the hospital, get a six-pack. I fear what color my insides are now.

Bickford’s Creamy Soda

History: G’day mate! Bickford’s is an Australian company famous for producing cordials and craft sodas, among several other beverage-related products. After migrating from England in 1839, William Bickford and his wife Anne Margaret opened a pharmacy. Pharmacies, for those of you who don’t know, were the beginnings of soda. Pharmacists would use carbonated flavorings to disguise the horrid taste of medicine. After William Bickford’s sudden death just 11 years later, Anne Margaret took over the pharmacy business and in 1863, formed A.M. Bickford and Sons with her two boys. And so it began. In 1874, the company began producing cordials, the product it’s most famous for to this day. Craft soda came along later for Bickford’s with Lemon and Lime Bitters being its most famous flavor, followed by their cream soda and their version of sarsaparilla.

Where to get: Available widely in Australia throughout grocers and online, this means nothing to Americans. As a stone cold USA review site, wtf mate? Where can we get it? Lemme be real with you… it isn’t readily available here. BUT… but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it. Bickford’s is a large company that employs very nice people. They’ll be more than willing to be accommodating for orders. Contact them directly and they’ll work with you in getting an order out to you. And starting in June/July of 2015, the company will be doing a slow roll out in America, starting in California.

Nose: Intense bubblegum; fruity and floral notes

Taste: Definitely bubblegum up front, though not as strong as it smells. Then there’s a very hard-to-place flavor that follows. It makes you think. If you didn’t notice it from the photo… it’s raspberry. And it’s damn good. The carbonation is intense very briefly when you take a swig and then fades into a creamy bubblegum-raspberry twist. The raspberry comes in first and hits the back of your mouth with a nice tartness that compliments the soda’s overall smoothness. Raspberry, while not a common flavor in cream sodas, is much more common outside the U.S. So if you get your hands on this in America, you’re likely in for something new. Bubble gum, raspberry and light vanilla highlight this elixir from down unda’.

Finish: Slightly acidic raspberry that quickly fades into a vanilla-bubblegum creamy flavor and lingers on the tongue.

Rating: With its cute-as-hell 9.3 ounce bottle and its unique take on an old classic, Bickford’s Creamy Soda is a must-try. Red cream sodas are often packed with intense bubblegum flavor and loaded with enough sugar to make a diabetic pass out after just reading the label, but Bickford’s does a really nice job using their cane sugar to accentuate and not overload the flavors they want to get across. Bubblegum is a very love-hate flavor in the cream soda world and Bickford’s navigates around that by adding touches of raspberry and vanilla cream to balance it out. The result is something you don’t see often, one you’ll want to put in your mouth. Throw this on some ice and kick back. Cheers, mates.