durango

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.

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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.