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.