Day: May 26, 2016

Green Bee: Blueberry Dream

History: Bees are gonna be a real important part of this review. But those ‘lil dudes are crucial to our lives in general, whether we know it or not. And the bee population in the U.S. is declining, so much so that the United States Department of Agriculture is putting up $3 million to keep bees feed in portions of the midwest. But they’re also inspiring, and one man they inspired is Chris Kinkade, who took up beekeeping after hearing about their declining numbers. After being similarly concerned about the high-sugar content of drinks his three kids were consuming, Kinkade and his wife Lori took their bee-spiration and founded Green Bee Craft Beverages out of Brunswick, Maine. He distinctly remembers looking at a jar of honey and thinking, “I could make something out of this.” Guess what ingredient is in every flavor of Green Bee Soda? Yeeaaah. The company vows they “We always use whole ingredients and sweeten our beverages exclusively with honey.” They also “never use concentrates, extracts, preservatives, or artificial colors.” As you might guess, this is going to be a more natural-tasting soda. We call these “farmer’s market sodas” due to their heavy reliance on natural ingredients and lower sugar content. Green Bee produces four different flavors of their soda from Lemon Sting to Blueberry Dream. Speaking of blueberries, it only seems fitting for the company to make a blueberry soda because it is a fruit bees help pollinate. Lori Kinkade tells us “For our Blueberry Dream we use Maine Wild Blueberries and press the juice in an Italian wine press.” Blueberry Dream clocks in at a lower-than-average 110 calories and contains only a handful of ingredients: carbonated water, wild blueberry juice, wildflower honey, ginger, and citric acid. Sounds like a bubbly bottle full of nature.

Where to get: Green Bee sodas can be purchased online through Jackeez, the official online retailer of the company. Green Bee sells its soda mainly in the New England region. To see a list of where you can find it in the northeast, click here.

Nose: Honey. Unmistakably honey with a little bit of a berry smell.

Taste: Honey; blueberry juice; water. You’ll taste those three ingredients. This is straightforward. The honey taste is up front – it’s a little watery. It has a a tang to it – takes some time to get used to that. The blueberry juice takes a couple seconds to come through, but it tastes very authentic and provides some needed sweetness. One ingredient on the list I don’t taste inside this bottle is ginger. This is very much a soda you’d find in a health food store and has a flavor you would expect to accompany a drink like that. Good blueberry flavor, but the tangy honey taste up front is going to perplex some drinkers.

Finish: Mildly sweet blueberries with just a hint of tartness.

Rating: There’s two lines of thought here. If you’re big into “natural” sodas, ones that use lots of juice and taste earthier than your average glass-bottled liquid, then this might be for you. If you prefer sweeter, more traditional soda, this might shock your taste buds. Green Bee Blueberry Dream tastes much more like a soda that you’d find in a farmer’s market than one you’d see in a grocery or vintage candy store. Honey and blueberry juice are the marquee ingredients here, but the two stand out separately for different reasons. The honey flavor is upfront. It’s abrupt and is accompanied by an unforgiving tang that’s hard to get past. On the other hand, the blueberry flavors come in near the back half of each sip, and they’re very pleasant. You’ll taste a slight tartness and a natural sweetness that you’re used to when eating blueberries. But even the good blueberry flavor can’t save that odd initial taste that accompanies the honey. Whatever it is; it needs to go. That said, I’m more of a traditional soda guy – so take that for what it’s worth. If you frequent health food stores, have participated in a rally, or wear yoga pants more than 4 days a week – you’re gonna need a Blueberry Dream to put in your recycled denim tote bag. In all seriousness though, I’d recommend this to natural foods connoisseurs or fans of farm-to-table cuisine. I’m guessing fans of sweeter sodas will be confused by this offering from Green Bee. It’ll be a crowd divider, but it’s nice to see bottlers starting to use wholesome ingredients to bring something new to the table for craft soda drinkers.

Three Stars