brood soda

Brood: Sour

History: If you want to change the law of the land in craft soda, a previous career as a lawyer probably isn’t a bad start. Jon Lehman grew tired of being an attorney, so he took the logical next step and launched a craft soda company. Right, guys? But he didn’t want just any soda company. No, he was very specific in his vision. “The goal is to make something very far out there,” he says. Lehman wanted to steer away from the vintage feel many soda companies capitalize on, certainly an interesting strategy considering the affability of nostalgia and the role it plays among craft soda’s audience. Lehman founded Brood in 2012 in Durham, North Carolina. He probably could’ve called is Bold. The company’s tagline is “carbonated greatness.” And it’s definitely unlike any other brand on the market. For starters, each flavor is based on emotion, and as Lehman puts it,”is influenced to a degree by an urban feel.” You won’t find ginger ale or lemon-lime. Instead you’ll be greeted by names like “Devil” or “Sour.” Next, the branding. It’s dark. And that’s how they like it. Look at the soda’s hype man, “Rood Boy.” He looks like something Tim Burton created to be the hipper, edgier cousin of of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. They also try to stay as local as possible when sourcing their soda’s ingredients. A lot of what you taste in the bottle comes right from Durham. Brood lists its ingredients on every bottle, but Lehman admits you might not always taste them. Often what occurs is people will “taste the flavor, and they go in a completely different direction of what it actually is,” he says. Having previously tried to tackle the mysterious flavor Smoky, this time we opted for something slightly more traditional. Sour, Lehman tells us, is the company’s take on a citrus lemon-lime soda. But of course there’s a twist. Two other ingredients you’ll taste are honey and myrciaria dubia, which is actually not a spell from the Harry Potter books, but rather a fruit found in the Amazon rainforest. It’s high in Vitamin C too, so it’s like an added bonus. We’re looking forward to something simpler this time, though it sounds like Sour still might house some secrets of its own.

Where to get: Brood Soda is sold in many locations throughout North Carolina and a couple in Florida. Take a look to see if it’s close to you by checking here. You can allegedly buy Brood Soda online, but at the time of this review it appears you need a login name and password. Your best bet is contacting the company directly.

Nose: Honestly smells like a cola with notes of lemon. The more and more you sniff, the more you smell honey, too.

Taste: Lemon-lime; honey; tartness; mild cherry; intense carbonation. It takes a few swigs to get the flavors of this soda down as it’s very mild. I’d liken this most closely to a lemon-lime soda with the volume turned up. It’s bolder than 7-Up or Spite. But what really separates Brood Sour from its mass-produced cousins is that it’s much more tart. You taste the zing as soon as the liquid hits your lips, something that’s likely attributable to the myrciaria dubia because it’s a highly acidic fruit. So this soda is a little more acidic, but the sour notes fade quickly in favor of lush honey. Honey is the most recognizable flavor here. It really encapsulates all the other flavors. And one of those flavors that is very subtle, fleeting even, is cherry. It’s just barely there. You won’t taste it on many sips, so it’s almost like a hidden easter egg. I honestly can’t explain why we taste it… but we taste it. You’ll notice heavy carbonation in this soda too. Most of it is up front, so it doesn’t compromise the flavors. A zesty, fresher lemon-lime soda with dollops of honey that define the flavor profile.

Finish: Honey (more prominent) and lemon that slowly fade.

Rating: Brood Sour is perhaps the most “normal” flavor the company offers. Its tasting notes don’t reveal themselves immediately, but when they do, you realize they are ones with which you’re quite familiar. Brood Sour in layman’s terms is a slightly different take on lemon-lime soda. The citrus is bold. The carbonation is intense. The acidity is definitely makes this a little sour. And the starring flavor in this soda is… honey? Yup. This is essentially a bolder take on conventional lemon-lime soda with big notes of honey. I stress bolder because those lemon and lime notes are a lot stronger than what you’d taste in Spite. This is like when the cute, nerdy girl in math class runs out of band t-shirts and shows up in a crop top and tight jeans, so you do a double-take. It’s familiar, but it’s better than what you’re used to drinking in this category. It’s a win for all of us. The one issue I have with Brood Sour is the honey. It’s very, very prominent and when combined with the tart lemon and lime flavors, it occasionally overpowers them. If the honey was lower in the flavor profile, this could be one of the best lemon-lime sodas on the market. It needs to be taken down a couple levels. Still, Brood Sour is a solid alternative to Sprite or 7-Up and a nice change of pace. Brood is one the quirkiest craft soda companies out there and their offerings are always sure to spark conversation – Sour is no different.

Three Stars


Brood Soda: Smoky

History: Jon Lehman was a lawyer. He ended up a craft soda brewer. No objections here. Perhaps it was his background in the law industry, something that had become mundane to him, that caused Lehman’s vision for soda to be something completely new. “There’s no reason new recipes can’t be created,” he says. Lehman wanted to venture away from the “classics” and “retro” feel that many companies strive for in their look and taste. In 2012, Brood Soda was born. It’s a bit darker in its marketing than your average craft soda bottle. That little gothic-looking fella is called “Rood Boy.” He’s the face of the brand. Originally, Lehman wanted to go even darker, but scaled back because this is soda and not death metal booze. Something else that makes Brood different? The flavors. They aren’t named after ingredients. “It’s supposed to be a very generalized product that doesn’t fit within parameters.” The soda flavors are all based on an urban feel. Odd, right? In fact, the only things that Brood really does in the traditional senses are source natural ingredients and make an impact in its local Durham, North Carolina community. Today, we’ve got Smoky, a soda judging by the ingredients, that looks to be something of a citrus cola. We’ll find out.

Where to get: Brood Soda has actually been sold out for six months, and the company is working on getting it back in stock. But if you wanna get your ‘lil paws on some of this out-of-the-box soda, it is still possible. Contact Brood directly through their site. They’re pretty chill.

Nose: Mulled sangria wine; faint orange; unique.

Taste: This is one of the most unique-tasting sodas I’ve ever had. This took at least 10 minutes just to decide on what to say and it’s probably still wrong. There’s definitely some citrus going on here. The bottle lists orange, lemon and black cherry. What comes through the most initially is lemon and a honey taste (though there’s no honey actually in this). It’s almost like a carbonated tea with more sweetness and citrus. It’s very relaxing, something you wouldn’t expect from a soda with caffeine. The more you drink this, the more you get the orange and kola nut flavors, though they mostly stay in the background. Eventually it becomes a meld of unfamiliar citrus flavor with light herbal notes. It’s almost like a carbonated sangria. The carbonation is good and the sugar levels don’t distract from the flavors – I just wish the flavors were a little more distinctive. It’s just very puzzling. A mouth mystery.

Finish: Muddled orange and lemon tinged with natural herbs and kola nut.

Rating: Smoky by Brood Soda is one of the most peculiar sodas you can put in your mouth. It isn’t overly harsh or pleasant, but more of an experience. Even as someone who’s tried hundreds and hundreds of sodas, I struggle to accurately place the flavors here. Certainly you get lemon and orange, but they aren’t presented in a way you’ve ever had lemon or orange in a soda. Instead of bold, crisp citrus, it’s more of a fermented flavor like in sangria. There’s also an herbal flavor profile going on that when fused with the citrus produces a tea-like flavor. At times this tastes like carbonated tea. Don’t be misled by the ingredients. Though this has Kola nut in it, it definitely isn’t a cola. In fact, there’s nothing traditional about this, which is why you should give it a go. I probably wouldn’t call this “Smoky.” I think “Mood” or even “Calm” would be more approriate, even in spite of the fact that it has natural caffeine in it. It just puts you in a perplexed, tranquil state as your mouth tries to decode the mystery. If you figure out the flavors, you find the treasure. Nicolas Cage, we have a movie idea for you.