Doggone Good Soda: Rose Dew Soda

History: Bill King has been in the soda business since the 1960’s. He remembers some of soda’s most vintage years when nearly every decently-sized town had their own local bottling company. He decided he wanted to do his part to bring that era of nostalgia back and infuse it with the quality of modern artisan taste. In 2008, King and his son opened The Olde Town Grinder and Ice Cream Parlor where they sold sandwiches and glass-bottled soda. After such good feedback on the soda, they started producing their own in 2012 under the name Doggone Good Soda. You won’t find soda made anywhere else the way Doggone Good Soda makes it because King literally built the bottling machine himself. The machine goes through the entire scientific process of making and then packaging the soda. I assure you that’s impressive. Recently, King and his son sold the restaurant to focus solely on carbonated goodness. They will be moving their soda business into a much larger facility in Orange, California to meet demand. The plan is to open in late summer or early fall 2015. He hopes to start selling the concept for his unique soda machine to other bottlers. “It’s going to be a model for a franchise. We’re really going into the soda big time,” King tells me over the phone. They’ll be doing some pretty interesting things at the new place. For starters, they’re going to have a large upscale tasting room, akin to something you’d find in a fine wine shop. They’ll also be aging their root beer syrup in different types of oak barrels for multiple flavor varieties and serving it in frosted mason jars. Ginger beer, soda’s current hottest flavor, is also becoming a priority.

At the moment, the company boasts around 30 flavors. Some tend to come and go as new flavors are often rotated in and out. One of the company’s most unique flavors was inspired by its customers. “We’re out in Southern California and there are quite a few weddings,” King says, and he adds that requests for a floral soda kept piling up until the company created its Rose Dew Soda. “People either love it or they hate it,” King quips. With its vibrant, phosphorescent red hue and swing top bottle, Rose Dew Soda stands out in an increasingly crowded craft soda marketplace. Speaking of the bottle, packaging is an element of the business of which King is particularly proud. The company just recently rolled out a 22 oz. burlap-wrapped bottle that keeps the soda cold even longer. “We don’t know of another company that’s doing it the way we do it,” King says. Whether you like the soda or not, you can’t disagree with him.

Where to get: Until the opening of the new store in the late summer or early fall of 2015, Doggone Good Soda can be purchased by calling the company and placing an order. The number is listed on their website. King happily adds, “We will send it to anybody that wants it.”

Nose: Rose hips. This smells exactly like a freshly picked rose flower with some candied sugar added.

Taste: Sweet rose oil; mild strawberries; sweet rain; nectar. Wow. Imagine the smell of rose with some sweet, fruity notes in liquid form. That’s exactly how this tastes. This may be the shortest blurb in the review because I can’t describe it any more perfectly. It’s really different, of course. Not a lot of rose sodas out there. This tastes like a rose, but there’s also some mild strawberry notes. It’s nice and floral. Refreshing and crisp on the palate.

Finish: Fruity, sweet rose. Very clean.

Rating: This is an experience. Rose sodas are few and far between, and honestly, do you expect flower soda to taste good? Don’t lie and say you do. I see through your thorny deceit (get it?). Doggone Good Soda has really hit a home run here. Let’s call it an inside the park home run just because a rare treat deserves a rare analogy. Sweet rose hips dance on the tongue with floral notes that refresh and delight. This is light and crisp and begs for the next sip. That said, I’d say this is is a sipping soda because its flavor is so different. My advice is to take it down slowly and enjoy all of its subtleties. Rose Dew Soda is like the opposite of my stepmom; it’s a welcome addition to my family. You can almost taste the quality of the water in this, like a refreshing filtered rain water. There’s also a light strawberry flavor. But this is rose soda through and through and it’s a marvel to taste. I can’t recommend this enough for all fans of craft soda. This will be the most interesting beverage you drink all month.

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