History: If you find yourself perusing the pages of The Undersea Adventures of Captain Eli, just know the super hero comic you’re reading was ultimately created with the end goal of quenching your thirst and not satisfying your insatiable appetite for deep sea justice. Despite my pompous language, I didn’t make that up. Capt’n Eli’s Soda really does have a comic named after it, introduced in the early 2000’s for marketing purposes. But the soda’s history dates much farther back than the comic. 80 years earlier in the early 1920’s, little Eli Forsley would wander down in his father’s basement and steal some of his dad’s homemade root beer. In turn, he’d sell it to his friends for a profit. When Eli grew up, he started making root beer in his basement too. Sure enough, one of his five sons, Fred, grew up with an affinity for the root beer. Fun fact: Fred’s son (coincidentally named Eli) is the model for the comic’s lead character. Fred was an entrepreneur like his father. In 1992, he founded Federal Jack’s restaurant in Kennebunk, Maine and two years later, he and a partner started up Shipyard Brewing in Portland, Maine. You might know Shipyard for its highly popular “Pumpkinhead” pumpkin beer. In 1996, Forsley started serving the root beer on draft at Federal Jack’s. Current Capt’n Eli’s President Ed Crockett recalls how “the local folks raved about it.” The next logical step was bottling. This happened in 2002. And yadda, yadda, yadda, 15 years later the company now has eight flavors after just recently introducing a cola in June of 2015 to replace the now discontinued Parrot Punch. It’s so new, it’s not even on the website yet. But we’re not here to talk about root beer or cola or even my love life
because that’s what my therapist is for. No, we are here to talk about Capt’n Eli’s Orange Pop. “When we drafted that recipe, we wanted to be different,” Crockett says. The company wanted an orange soda that felt refreshing instead of sugary and quenching instead of syrupy. Crockett tells us Capt’n Eli’s Orange Pop was directly inspired by Orangina. Like Orangina, you can see bits of pulp floating about in the soda. It also contains no caffeine, gluten or food coloring, and is made with pure cane sugar. What we’re trying to say is that Orange Pop is a classic flavor designed with a slightly different spin. Time to wade the deep orange waters Capt’n Eli patrols.
Where to get: Capt’n Eli’s Soda is distributed nationally, but is most widely available in retailers along the eastern seaboard. You can also purchase the soda online from Summit City Soda, as well as the Capt’n Eli’s online store. For large orders, and especially if you’re a retailer hoping to sell soda in your store, contact Homer Soda Company.
Nose: Fresh orange rind zest.
Taste: Orange; slight tart bite; mild tangerine. There’s a definite authentic orange flavor to this. Tastes fresher than most orange sodas. You get zesty, carbonated orange up front with a semisweet tart finish. In the background, there’s definitely a little bit of a tangerine taste – slightly sweeter than regular orange with more of an exotic flavor. The more you drink this, the more acidic it becomes. That classic orange soda zing becomes louder and louder on the palate. Overall, not quite as sweet as most orange sodas, but closely related to a classic orange with more of an authentic taste and a bit of zip.
Finish: Full-bodied orange zest flavor with a tartness that sinks into the back of the tongue.
Rating: Capt’n Eli’s Orange Pop is a close relative of your classic orange soda, but it clearly got all the better genes in the family. The orange flavor tastes real and bold. It’s not overly sweet or carbonated. The bite is zesty and slightly acidic in a way that is fitting of high-end orange soda. This really tastes like a craft soda. You can tell you’re drinking something of higher quality. The notes of tangerine add even more sophistication. All of these qualities elevate Capt’n Eli’s Orange Pop in the orange soda category. Crocket told us Orange Pop is actually the company’s lowest-selling flavor. I think that’s crazy. This is a diamond in the rough. This is an orange soda from which other orange sodas should watch and learn. Just don’t do it every day. That’s stalking. The bottom line is that this tastes like an orange soda you’re familiar with, but better. It’s comfortable, yet intriguing. It is a little more tart than a lot of orange sodas out there. I think that could either be dialed back a bit or the sugar levels could be slightly increased. That knocks it down from five stars, but overall, this is tops. Flavorful and zesty. This is a must-try orange soda.