Avery’s Beverages: Black Raspberry

History: “Starting a soda company back then was kind of like starting a .com right now. It was just a very trendy thing to do,” confesses Avery’s Beverages General Manager, Rob Metz. And when he says back then, he means back then. Avery’s has been brewing up soda the old fashioned way in New Britain, Connecticut since 1904 when Sherman F. Avery founded the company. Dude was actually a milk peddler before he hit it big with soda. Ridin’ dirty on his horse, Sherman the milk man. That could be a Kanye West lyric and still be better than most of the stuff on his new album. Ahem. Avery’s still uses artisan well water in their sodas. That should give you the warm and fuzzies if you get nostalgic about glass-bottled soda. And P.S. they make a ton of them. From normal flavors like birch beer and root beer to oddities like Toxic Slime and Monster Mucus, Avery’s has over 40 different flavors of your favorite fizzy drinks. If there’s a flavor you like, they probably make it. Out of all the concoctions they brew, we had to pick a unique one, so we went with black raspberry. What’s the difference between a red and black raspberry besides color? I dunno man, I’m asking you! Avery’s isn’t even sure themselves. Metz admits the soda came before his time with the company, so he can’t list a ton of differencea between the two berries. He likens the flavor to huckleberry. Metz credits the company’s loyal fan base as the reason they’re still in business today. “We’ve got the authenticity that lot of the newer folks in the craft soda industry might not have,” something that without question appeals to a large portion of their target audience. It’s cool to be retro right now. Remember that when we’re begging you for quarters on the street in two years.

Where to get: Avery’s soda can purchased purchased throughout the U.S. online from Vintage Soda Company. If you’re a retailer looking to sell Avery’s Black Raspberry in your store, contact Homer Soda Company for a wholesale or large order. The company also fulfills orders directly, but you’ve gotta contact them the old fashioned way via phone or email.

Nose: An interesting smell, kind of a combination of grape, raspberries with sugar on top, and a raspberry Sno Cone. Definitely raspberry forward, but more floral than a typical raspberry scent.

Taste: Grape; raspberry Jolly Rancher. This is more straightforward than I was expecting based on the nose. I have to say that this is surprisingly strong in grape flavor. More than raspberry. The grape taste is subdued. It’s like drinking a Grape Nehi, except right as the flavor is about to crescendo, it stops and you never get any signature tasting notes. This is void of boldness. Instead it falls off into a very subtle Jolly Rancher blue raspberry that lacks a bite. Kind of like someone took the tartness out. It’s a really smooth drink and soft on the palate, but the flavor isn’t as bold as you might be expecting.

Rating: Mild grape tinged with the tiniest bit of raspberry Sno Cone. Most will probably taste only the grape.

Finish: For a soda labeled “black raspberry,” this tastes remarkably like a more subdued version of grape soda. The soda’s biggest selling point is its smoothness. It goes down incredibly easy. You could drink two of these in a sitting, easily. However, this is partially due to the fact that its flavors are very mild. The strongest element in the soda is the sweetness, but give credit to Avery’s; it isn’t overpowering. If you handed a bottle of this to someone without a label on it, my guess is they’d probably just guess it was grape soda. And it’s not a bad take on grape soda… but this isn’t grape soda. I was hoping for a big note of raspberry with perhaps some extra sugar. I remember picking black raspberries in my grandma’s back yard as a child, plucking them right off the bushes and into my mouth. They had an earthy sweetness to them, but overall have less flavor and less tartness than a regular raspberry. This is where Avery’s missed an opportunity with their take on black raspberry. None of those elements are present. You’ll taste mild grape with a soft raspberry Sno Cone flavor near the end of the sip, so at least there is some variance to the flavor profile. The taste is simple and pleasant, but it isn’t what’s on the label. If you’re in the market for a highly drinkable, mild take on grape soda with a little flavor variance near the end of the sip, then you’ve literally hit the jackpot. If your favorite fruit is raspberry and you’ve had a rough day at work and all you want is a carbonated raspberry beverage before downing a bottle of wine and having a good cry in the bathtub… then this isn’t for you. I have to stop airing my personal problems out on here. Luckily, Avery’s has like 45 flavors for you to try. We’ll keep searching until we find the magic one(s).

Three Stars

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