Zuberfizz: Key Lime Cream Soda

History: Little did a couple college roomies know way back at Colorado State University that they’d open a little soda operation that would bloom into a nationally-known brand. But that’s exactly what happened to Banden Zuber and Dan Aggeler. The two opened Durango Soda Company in 2002 and used the former’s last name to create the Zuberfizz Soda brand. Honestly, it seems like it was probably an easy choice to us. Aggeler sounds like some type of farm tool and Zuber sounds like the last name of a superhero. Just sayin’. After trying their hand at craft beer, the business partners realized they were a little too late to that game because Colorado already had enough beer drinkers and more than enough brewers willing to feed their bad habits. The two wanted to stay in liquid. Zuber said he thought to himself that soda “had the same footprint as beer.” And off they went, first introducing root beer and then cream soda. Today, the company boasts eight flavors, including some wild ones like Coco Fizz and Key Lime Cream Soda. The latter sounded so weird that we had to indulge ourselves and everyone else. It’s been thirteen years since the company’s inception and Zuber and Aggeler still hand brew every batch of soda themselves with cane sugar and ingredients of the “highest quality.” That’s the kind of mom and pop shop mentality we dig.

Where to get: Zuberfizz’s main distribution is found throughout Colorado and the four corners region. However, it’s also commonly found in Rocketfizz retailers. And if neither of those work, get your Key Lime Cream Soda fix at Summit City Soda, Soda Emporium, or Amazon.

Nose: Strong lime notes; the more you inhale, the more a menthol smell comes through. Interesting because, obviously, there is no menthol in this.

Taste: Lime; faint licorice; light creaminess. This neon green soda slams you with strong lime up front that immerses itself on the palate. It’s bold. So bold, it might overwhelm some. Eventually, the lime gives way to a subtle citrus creaminess that’s still mostly lime, but not before a flash of licorice dances on the tip of the tongue. It doesn’t specify on the label, but I’d be willing to bet that there’s no licorice in this, so it’s interesting that flavor profile is showing up. Again, it’s an acquired taste. To be clear, the creaminess is extremely brief. You’d have to really be looking for it. This definitely tastes more lime than key lime, but unless you eat a lot of key limes or key lime pie, that probably won’t matter to you. It definitely isn’t like key lime pie in a bottle, though that didn’t stop us from enjoying a slice with it. The traditional vanilla cream soda flavor you’re used to doesn’t show up here even in a vanilla-citrus variety. This is mostly lime all the way through that tails off into a lighter version of the initial bold flavor. The cane sugar in this is noticeable and done well, not distracting from the citrus.

Finish: Lime that seemingly increases in sweetness, but not creaminess. Nothing too complicated.

Rating: Zuberfizz set out to do a unique flavor here with a key lime cream soda, but I’m not sure they totally captured that essence. They’ve definitely nailed the lime aspect, but this soda lacks the smoothness and really the creaminess that cream sodas typically possess. I’d be a lot more comfortable with this if it was just labeled “Key Lime Soda.” I think that’s way more accurate. Regardless, the lime flavor isn’t overbearing. It tastes a little artificial, but Zuberfizz does a really good job balancing the cane sugar in this soda, and that really holds together its drinkability. It didn’t really do it for us, but I wouldn’t call this bad. It’s just different. It’s like the weird guy from high school in the back of math class who never talked, but surprised everyone with that really cool solo dance at homecoming, so everyone is cool with him. This is a bit of an oddball, and won’t be for everyone, but there’s something likable about it. We probably won’t be revisiting it, but flavors like this are so rare that we have to recommend you give it a shot and see if your taste buds disagree. Plus, thes neon green, antifreeze-esque color is mesmerizing. If you drink a whole six pack of these, let us know if you develop any super powers.

Zuberfizz Ginger Ale

History: Hailing from the mountains of Durango, Colorado, Zuberfizz is the craft soda brain child of Banden Zuber and his business partner. And honestly, how can you not utilize a last name like that in your branding? Zuber and his college buddies used to brew beer and had aspirations of launching their own. But by the time they were ready to go public, the city of Durango had already become saturated with breweries, as had Colorado as a whole. So what now? Well, he already had all that equipment for brewing, and as Zuber says, gourmet soda “had the same footprint” as beer. Naturally, he started with root beer, still the company’s most popular seller today. Then came vanilla cream. But the soda that’s catching both of them? Zuberfizz Ginger Ale. Zuber says they tried shooting for something in between a spicy Reed’s Ginger Brew and a lighter ginger ale you could get at your local grocery store. Something not too pungent on the sinuses, but enough to let you know you’re drinking a ginger-infused beverage. All of the things you look for in craft sodas hold true here: they’re handcrafted in small batches, devoid of caffeine, and only use pure cane sugar as a sweetener. It’s for all these reasons that we needed to find out what Zuberfizz Ginger Ale was all about.

Where to get: Zuberfizz’s main distribution is found throughout Colorado and the four corners region. However, it’s also commonly found in Rocketfizz retailers. And if neither of those work, get your Zuberfizz Ginger fix on at their web site or Beverages Direct.

Nose: Ginger; more akin to smell of ginger beer than ginger ale; citrus.

Taste: Light ginger; earthiness; frothy carbonation; mild sugar. Earthy ginger coats the tongue first and then slowly enters the nostrils. It isn’t full of heat like a ginger beer, but has more of a kick than most ginger ales. I think if someone handed me this and didn’t tell me what it was, I’d probably say it was a mild ginger beer. But there’s definitely that traditional mellow ginger ale tartness near the end of the sip. This has a very natural taste, with no one flavor overwhelming the other. That said, no one flavor really stands out as remarkable. This tastes like it could be an excellent mixer, but doesn’t quite have the bold flavors that make it stand out on its own.

Finish: Tartness that mellows into an earthy, watered-down ginger beer taste.

Rating: Certainly, some people will enjoy this, but we found its flavors to be pretty average. I certainly don’t want you to get the idea that this bad. It has some good things going on with the nice initial ginger taste and an enjoyable level of sugar that doesn’t distract from the flavors Zuberfizz tried to get across in the soda. It’s just that none of the flavors aside from ginger for a few fleeting seconds really makes an impression. Some sips I think, “No wait, I do like you.” And then other sips I say, “Nah, you’re not worth it again.” It kind of reminds me of every relationship I’ve ever had. It’s just missing that special something. Perhaps alcohol (whiskey). Perhaps some kind of juice (whiskey OJ). I don’t know. This is pretty average. Worth a shot if you enjoy ginger beverages or need something to settle your tummy, but if not, it probably isn’t something I’d recommend to people. Just keepin’ it real. If you walked the line of sodas, this is almost smack dab in the middle.

Rocky Mountain Soda: Colorado Cola

History: The guys at Rocky Mountain Soda are about as chill as you can get. They work in Denver. They have a skateboarding culture influence. And one of the principle operating partners goes by “Moose.” But for as laid back as they seem, Rocky Mountain Soda is serious about what goes in that bottle. Like many in the craft soda game, their background is in fine spirits. They also operate Peach Tree Distillers. Moose says their goal was to make an “all natural soda with good ingredients. It’s just a bunch of guys who were stupid enough to start a soda company because we love it.” In 2007, they started making their sodas a little differently – with local beet sugar as opposed to cane. However, due to GMO and chemical concerns with the beet sugar, the company has since switched to using evaporated cane sugar in their sodas. They do not use sodium benzoate. “We wanted ingredients we could pronounce.” The company produces a variety of flavors from Colorado Cola to Palisade Peaches and Cream. It’s still a small operation, employing only five people. They keep a good sense of humor about it; “Pepsi spills more soda in a day than we’ll make in a year.”

Where to get: Your best bet is to contact the company directly online. It’s also available in many RocketFizz retailers.

Nose: Vanilla; cherry; faint cinnamon.

Taste: Smooth; light vanilla; creamy nuttiness; faint cherries and cinnamon. One of Rocky Mountain Soda’s starting points for their cola was an old classic: R.C. Cola. If you’ve never had it, R.C. Cola is an older-style cola that’s very soft on the palate. Rocky Mountain Soda took that concept and used it as a blueprint here. On the first sip, you’re greeted with a pleasant soft vanilla taste with subtle cherry nuances. If you weren’t looking for it, you might miss it. It’s very creamy for a cola, but not quite foamy like a cream soda. The smoothness is what’s most striking. There’s no bite or sharpness to this; very drinkable. Once you get past the initial vanilla-cherry taste, there’s a distinctive nutty flavor that still leans towards the vanilla side of things.

Finish: Light cherry cola; cinnamon. The nuttiness you get in the body of this soda likely comes from Kola Nut, and once that fades, you’re left with a nice, soft cherry flavor. Not cherry as in Cherry Coke that punches you in the face like that dude in middle school did, but a lovely, vanilla cherry that you could watch Netflix with all night. A very faint cinnamon flavor also darts about until you take your next sip.

Rating: This is cola done well. It’s simple and drinkable enough for the casual soda fan or child, but has enough nuances to make it intriguing for the craft soda connoisseur. If you gave me one word to describe this soda, it would be “pleasant.” It’s incredibly pleasant. You see my typing away on my laptop up there? That’s stressful businessman work. The Colorado Cola kept it real pleasant for me that night. Back to the flavors. The vanilla nuttiness combined with the subtle cherry and cinnamon notes really make this soda stand apart from other colas. Its smoothness lends itself to be guzzled quickly. Don’t. Please don’t. Enjoy it. And adults: maybe even throw some Whiskey in there if it’s a successful Friday night… or a rough Monday. Pro tip: this soda’s flavor profile is dramatically affected by ice. I strongly suggest you drink it chilled from the bottle. Now, up your cola game. Go find this. Go buy it.