History: Minhas (pronounced Men-hahz) Craft Brewery has a history dating all the way back to 1845. It’s changed ownership and names numerous times before being completely purchased by the Minhas family in 2006. They’re from Wisconsin (Monroe), so you know they either make beer or cheese and I’ve already spoiled the surprise for you. According to Minhas Brewery Operations President, Gary Olson, the brewery introduced a root beer in the mid-90’s to offer a non-alcoholic selection in its taproom. They called it Blumers Root Beer, a throwback to one of the brewery’s former owners in the early 1900’s. Today, Minhas still serves their root beer on draft and in kegs, in addition to bottles. The rest of their soda flavors were introduced in 2003. The brewery uses the same equipment to produce its sodas as it does for its beer. Blumers sodas use only pure cane sugar as a sweetener and all ingredients are sourced from either Wisconsin or Illinois. Monroe is only about 20 miles north of the Illinois border. We decided we’d start with their blueberry cream, certainly a rare flavor. “Blueberry’s hard,” Olson says with a laugh over the phone. If you look through the Blumers soda line, you’ll see gorgeous bright blues and oranges to deep, rustic reds. “We wanted to be colorful and fun,” Olson adds. Let’s see if this soda is as beautiful in your mouth as it is on your eyes.
Where to get: Blumers Soda is sold throughout Wisconsin and also at a sister brewery in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. If you think you want a sampler pack of Blumers, you can order 16 bottles from Wisconsinmade.com. If you’re only looking for a few bottles, Olson encourages everyone to contact the brewery where they can put together a custom order for you. (I know contact forms suck, but they’re good about responding.)
Nose: Old school Lifesavers blueberry vanilla swirl lollipops from childhood, also the kind with the weird loop grip; soft blueberry; creamy vanilla ice cream.
Taste: Blueberry; cane sugar; vanilla; tartness. There’s an upfront kiss of mellow blueberry that isn’t overly artificial or overpowering. Just right for a blueberry-flavored soda. Blueberry is one of those flavors that tends to get blasted at your tongue, so a less intense version of that to begin with is welcome. Next you taste the cane sugar. Definitely a sweeter soda, but again, not overpowering if ingested in moderation. Once you’re introduced to the blueberry and sugar, there a wave of crisp, tartness, due in part to the carbonation that cascades across the sides of your tongue to cut through the initial sweetness. The wave of flavors and sensations is stimulating and very nice on the palate. The creaminess comes in last, but you really get most of that in lingering flavor. The undertones of vanilla in this bottle need some time to breath, so the longer you take in between sips, the more you’ll see that develop. The sugar can be a bit intense if you drink this fast, so be advised.
Finish: Mellow blueberry that fades into rich vanilla with supreme creaminess. Divine.
Rating: Gary Olson is right. Blueberry is a tough flavor to do. It tends to almost always taste too artificial, but Minhas Brewery has managed to take the essence of blueberry and let it dance around a symphony of cane sugar and creamy vanilla in a way that delights the drinker. The blueberry notes in this are mild, but present enough to still hold throughout the body of the soda. The sugar in Blumers Blueberry Cream can be potent, particularly if you don’t take time in between sips to let it settle. Otherwise, the sweetness builds up on top of itself with every sip and can be a bit harsh to digest. Another reason to take your time with this bottle is to let the creamy vanilla finish really permeate your taste buds. We found this to be the best part of the soda. This isn’t quite a sipper, but also isn’t a beverage I’d recommend buzzsawing through. It has a beautiful color that will catch your eye and a flavor that may surprise you for the better. I don’t think a lot of people typically expect something good out of blue sodas, but this one does the trick. It’s pretty, won’t let you down, and gets better as you get to know it more. If you know of any single women with the same qualities, please contact me. You won’t find a lot of blueberry cream sodas out there. Unless you don’t like the fruit itself, I have a hard time seeing why you shouldn’t pop the top on one of these little Wisconsin blueberry bombers. Fizz on.