History: Dublin Bottling Works has been producing quality soda for over 120 years, a company with a rich history and a connection to one particular soda that everyone knows. It was that same soda that almost killed it. Dublin Bottling Works was founded in 1891 by Sam Houston Prim in, of course, Dublin, Texas. It was that same year the company began bottling a brand new soda with a unique taste: Dr. Pepper. This is where the term “Dublin Dr. Pepper” comes from, Dr. Pepper with pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup. It may have been Prim who founded the bottling plant, but it was 62-year employee Bill Kloster who really defined the company as its general manager. Dublin Head Soda Jerk, Kenny Horton, recalls when the price of granulated pure cane sugar skyrocketed in the 1970’s, it was Kloster who refused to let his company switch to high fructose corn syrup, despite the potential for much higher profits. Things were going well for Dublin Bottling Works. Their success carried them into the early 2010’s. They were the Little Red Riding Hood of Dublin, Texas. But the Big Bad Wolf came calling, and in this story, the wolf got what it wanted. Dr. Pepper/Snapple is the nation’s third-largest soda creator. They tried their hand at a cane sugar version of their soda called “Heritage Dr. Pepper.” It didn’t resonate with people like Dublin Dr. Pepper. In June 2011, the beverage giant sued Dublin Bottling Works. According to Horton, they claimed Dublin Bottling Works was “diluting the brand” with Dublin Dr. Pepper. On January 11, 2012, Dublin Dr. Pepper came to an end. Horton recalls 15 employees being laid off. By now Kloster’s son, also named Bill Kloster, was the company’s owner. He remains so to this day. Horton notes, “He could’ve easily closed the doors and it would’ve been cheaper…. But he wanted to maintain the legacy his father started.” So Dublin Bottling Works went back to the drawing board.
After about four months of research and development, Dublin Bottling Works reemerged with a new line of pure cane sugar sodas. Today the company has 12 different flavors, including classics like root beer and cream soda and mysteries like Fru Fru Berry. Horton says root beer and black cherry are the two top-sellers. But we wanted to review something a little more daring, something off the beaten path. Enter Dublin Cherry Limeade. Horton tells me over the phone that the Dublin soda jerks used to make cherry limeades with real cherries and limes at the company’s old soda fountain in the 1930’s. The company wanted to replicate that flavor as much as possible in bottled form. This soda is wildly red. Like, I drank an entire bottle and I’m pretty sure my stomach glows in the dark now. But that’s fine. They wanted to make the flavor smooth, Horton notes. “We definitely wanted the lemon-lime, but not an overpowering lemon-lime.” Fun fact: Cherry Limeade is the most popular Dublin flavor at Cost Plus World Market. Alright, that’s enough information. Let’s drink.
Where to get: Dublin Bottling Works soda is sold throughout Texas, including HEB, United, and Kroger stores in addition to Cost Plus World Market. You can find it online for purchase from the Dublin store (24) or Soda Emporium (6) or (singles).
Nose: Lime; cherry limeade; cherry grenadine.
Taste: Sweet cherry; tart cherry; mild lime. This is a soda anchored by a classic cherry limeade flavor. Think Sonic Route 44 Cherry Limeade, only a little sweeter. The cherry flavor in this is more like the juice Maraschino cherries sit in. It’s got that sweet, candy cherry flavor on which most cherry limeades are built. The carbonation is light, but flush on the tongue. You get a sweet cherry flavor first, followed by a rush of carbonation that helps transition the cherry taste to a tart one. That tartness then transforms once again and this is where you taste the lime. It’s subtle, but certainly noticeable. Just a squeeze.
Finish: Mild cherry with undertones of tart lime that change in strength depending on the sip.
Rating: Dublin Cherry Limeade Soda tastes exactly like you want it to taste. It really does have that classic cherry limeade flavor. We even let one of our grandfathers try it and he’s so old, he’s basically disintegrating; and he said it tasted like his childhood. We think that warrants the label of “retro” flavor. The sweet, Maraschino cherry syrup flavor is just right. It’s crisp, sweet, and delicious. Not overly sugary and syrupy. The accompanying tart cherry flavor provides excellent balance, while maintaining enough sweetness to keep the soda refreshing and flavorful. The final, mildly bitter lime finish completes a simple, yet brilliantly executed flavor profile. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing the lime brought out just a little more. But alas, this is absolutely stellar. We could spill more eloquent prose about its flavor and distinctly vintage label, but the bottom line is this a must-try for all ages and anyone with the slightest interest in soda. Cherry and lime are two flavors meant for each other, always waiting for their next honeymoon. Dublin Bottling Works has married the two tastes together in a way that delights the palate and begs for a bulk purchase. Don’t waste pairing this with alcohol. You’d be selling yourself short. Life is too short not to drink good soda. This is one for the bucket list.