History: The Americana line of sodas is produced by a giant retro soda bottler known as Orca Beverages. Orca came about in the 1980’s and was founded by Mike Bourgeois in Mukilteo, WA, an affluent suburb of Seattle. The first brand they produced was their very own called Orca Sparkling and “contained over 50 percent juice sourced from Northwest juice processors.” Orca no longer bottles their own name brand, but they’ve expanded to become one of the biggest craft soda bottlers in the country. They’ve partnered with over 100 brands to produce their sodas, including classics like Dad’s Root Beer, Moxie Original Elixir, and Bubble Up. According to CFO Charles Funk, Americana is now the company’s flagship brand with 11 different flavors. The Americana bottles used to feature old presidents on the label. Personally, we’re not sure why they abandoned such a neat idea. But I’m also not sure why I’m on my third marriage and sleep on the couch half the time. In the words of the company, the brand is a throwback to the time of “soda fountains, sock hops and five-cent sodas.” You can’t even get a disease for five cents these days, much less soda. But you get the idea. Orca Beverages is steadfast in their emphasis on quality. Says Funk, “One thing about our whole line of sodas we produce is that we use the best ingredients we can find,” even if it means paying more. The company employs their own “Tasteologist.” So do we. We’re called Five Star Soda. Today, it’s honey lime ginger ale made with premium honey.
Where to get: Americana craft soda from Orca Beverages is distributed world-wide and easily found in stores that sell glass-bottled sodas. Americana is one of the more popular craft soda brands, just a touch below Boylan’s, Virgil’s, and Jones. You can find it online at Summit City Soda (better pricing) or on the company’s website. You can also purchase single bottles at Soda Emporium.
Nose: Ginger; honey. Maybe the first soda made with honey I can actually smell in the bottle.
Taste: Ginger; mild heat; honey. This is spicier than you expect it to be for a ginger ale with the word “honey” on the label. It’s light like a ginger ale with enough spice to call it a ginger beer. Probably a 7 on the heat scale with spice that lingers on the tongue. Some of that may be from the citrus of the lime that causes the heat to stick. It takes a few sips to adjust before the honey really comes through. After that initial heat, this becomes quite a sweet ginger ale. Almost too sweet at times. The spice of the ginger and the flavor of the lime form together to create a pepper-like heat. This is a ginger ale that’s definitely sweet with lingering spice.
Finish: Light honey immediately followed by peppery spice.
Rating: Americana Honey Lime Ginger Ale is an interesting take ginger ale and probably won’t fit the preconceived notions of taste you might have about what’s in the bottle. It’s quite spicy, but not the traditional gingery fire akin to ginger beers. No, this tastes like it has some kind of pepper in it. It’s a little too prevalent for me. Yet at the same time, this is also sweeter than most ginger ales. It’s an odd combination of sweet and spicy. The lime doesn’t quite come through in the flavor profile all that much, but that doesn’t really bother me. I just keep coming back to the sweet vs. heat. It feels like a struggle over which one should be more bold on the palate as opposed to working in tandem to create a balanced flavor profile. This is worth a try simply because it’s different, but it could use some tweaks. One thing I will say about this soda is that it benefits from being on ice as opposed to sipping straight from the bottle. There are better ginger ales out there, but you will please your inner soda connoisseur by trying one this different.