doggone good soda

Doggone Good Soda: Rose Dew Soda

History: Bill King has been in the soda business since the 1960’s. He remembers some of soda’s most vintage years when nearly every decently-sized town had their own local bottling company. He decided he wanted to do his part to bring that era of nostalgia back and infuse it with the quality of modern artisan taste. In 2008, King and his son opened The Olde Town Grinder and Ice Cream Parlor where they sold sandwiches and glass-bottled soda. After such good feedback on the soda, they started producing their own in 2012 under the name Doggone Good Soda. You won’t find soda made anywhere else the way Doggone Good Soda makes it because King literally built the bottling machine himself. The machine goes through the entire scientific process of making and then packaging the soda. I assure you that’s impressive. Recently, King and his son sold the restaurant to focus solely on carbonated goodness. They will be moving their soda business into a much larger facility in Orange, California to meet demand. The plan is to open in late summer or early fall 2015. He hopes to start selling the concept for his unique soda machine to other bottlers. “It’s going to be a model for a franchise. We’re really going into the soda big time,” King tells me over the phone. They’ll be doing some pretty interesting things at the new place. For starters, they’re going to have a large upscale tasting room, akin to something you’d find in a fine wine shop. They’ll also be aging their root beer syrup in different types of oak barrels for multiple flavor varieties and serving it in frosted mason jars. Ginger beer, soda’s current hottest flavor, is also becoming a priority.

At the moment, the company boasts around 30 flavors. Some tend to come and go as new flavors are often rotated in and out. One of the company’s most unique flavors was inspired by its customers. “We’re out in Southern California and there are quite a few weddings,” King says, and he adds that requests for a floral soda kept piling up until the company created its Rose Dew Soda. “People either love it or they hate it,” King quips. With its vibrant, phosphorescent red hue and swing top bottle, Rose Dew Soda stands out in an increasingly crowded craft soda marketplace. Speaking of the bottle, packaging is an element of the business of which King is particularly proud. The company just recently rolled out a 22 oz. burlap-wrapped bottle that keeps the soda cold even longer. “We don’t know of another company that’s doing it the way we do it,” King says. Whether you like the soda or not, you can’t disagree with him.

Where to get: Until the opening of the new store in the late summer or early fall of 2015, Doggone Good Soda can be purchased by calling the company and placing an order. The number is listed on their website. King happily adds, “We will send it to anybody that wants it.”

Nose: Rose hips. This smells exactly like a freshly picked rose flower with some candied sugar added.

Taste: Sweet rose oil; mild strawberries; sweet rain; nectar. Wow. Imagine the smell of rose with some sweet, fruity notes in liquid form. That’s exactly how this tastes. This may be the shortest blurb in the review because I can’t describe it any more perfectly. It’s really different, of course. Not a lot of rose sodas out there. This tastes like a rose, but there’s also some mild strawberry notes. It’s nice and floral. Refreshing and crisp on the palate.

Finish: Fruity, sweet rose. Very clean.

Rating: This is an experience. Rose sodas are few and far between, and honestly, do you expect flower soda to taste good? Don’t lie and say you do. I see through your thorny deceit (get it?). Doggone Good Soda has really hit a home run here. Let’s call it an inside the park home run just because a rare treat deserves a rare analogy. Sweet rose hips dance on the tongue with floral notes that refresh and delight. This is light and crisp and begs for the next sip. That said, I’d say this is is a sipping soda because its flavor is so different. My advice is to take it down slowly and enjoy all of its subtleties. Rose Dew Soda is like the opposite of my stepmom; it’s a welcome addition to my family. You can almost taste the quality of the water in this, like a refreshing filtered rain water. There’s also a light strawberry flavor. But this is rose soda through and through and it’s a marvel to taste. I can’t recommend this enough for all fans of craft soda. This will be the most interesting beverage you drink all month.

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Doggone Good Soda: Irish Cream Coffee

History: In 2008, Bill King and his son opened a sandwich shop in Orange, California. They wanted something unique to pair their grub with, so they decided to sell vintage soda from all over the country. They got such great feedback that in 2012, they decided to start making it themselves. King searched and searched for the right production equipment, but wasn’t getting the results he wanted. So, Bill King built the damn thing himself and eventually got his apparatus approved for use. He literally built a one-of-a-kind soda machine over a year-and-a-half that goes through the entire production process of making and bottling the soda. Eventually, he wants to franchise the concept of this machine out and sell it to other bottlers who can then create their own flavors and sell them in their local area. As for his own soda business, King wanted Doggone Good Soda to be about creativity and having a good time. “You can experiment. It’s a fun business,” he says. The company is known for its wide variety of both classic and artisan-inspired flavors, as well as its unique swing top, wax-coated bottles. King produces over 30 flavors from root beer and vanilla cream to rose dew and red currant soda. They can also do custom labeling for things like weddings, events, gifts, etc. What’s particularly interesting about Doggone Good Soda is that if you’re willing to place a large order of 200-300 bottles, they’ll work with you on creating a flavor. So look alive, soda jerks! Your wildest dreams could become a reality! As King says, “We’re taking soda to a different level.”

Where to get: Doggone Good Soda is sold locally in Orange, California, but King and his son are working on making it available through their Web site for national sales. Until then, King encourages customers who want to try their stuff to call the company directly to place orders over the phone at (714) 865-1848.

Nose: Melted butterscotch chips; fresh sugar cookies.

Taste: This is wild. Tastes absolutely nothing like it smells. You start with a lightly roasted coffee-cream soda flavor that winds and sloooooowly turns into more of a burned caramel taste. As noted on the label, the company uses coffee beans from a local roaster called HapiBean. The coffee really does come through on the tongue. The carbonation is subtle and doesn’t distract from the flavor. The amount of sugar used here is noticeable and does distract from all the subtleties you could probably get in addition to what’s already there. Coffee is such a nuanced flavor and the sugar here masks that a little bit. That said, there’s no syrupy aftertaste and Doggone Good Soda should be commended for making such a complicated soda that isn’t overwhelming. The caffeine on this puppy isn’t a pulse-spiker, but whoa, it comes in quickly.

Finish: Bailey’s irish cream that slowly turns into vanilla-infused, dark-roasted coffee beans. It’s a long finish for a soda. The flavors dance around and change much more like a scotch or fine bourbon than a craft soda. Complicated and distinct.

Rating: Doggone Good Soda’s Irish Coffee Cream Soda is a must-try for the craft soda connoisseur simply because it’s different than anything you’ve ever put in your mouth. Coffee drinkers will likely love this stuff. We did feel that the amount of sugar used in the soda’s syrup hid some of the extra flavor opportunities that may have been possible. Still, there’s so much going on here (in a good way), that we urge you to contact the company and place an order. Also, the bottles are dope and reusable. This is exactly what it says it is: coffee cream soda. What isn’t advertised: it’s a flavor roller coaster.