kola

Triple AAA Soda Company: Kola

History: When you think of Oklahoma, lots of things come to mind. OU Football, hating the Longhorns, massive tornadoes, emptiness. Soda probably doesn’t set off any light bulbs unless you know of Pop’s Soda Ranch, one of the largest craft soda retailers in America. And this story coincidentally has a connection to Pop’s. But we start in a candy store, of all places. According to Triple AAA Soda President, Justin Thomas, Bricktown Candy Company opened its doors in Oklahoma City about seven years ago. He recounts a reporter coming into the store for a story on its opening. The reporter asked, “What else are you guys going to do besides sell candy?” seemingly hinting that wouldn’t be enough for the start-up business to survive on. Thomas, an avid old soda fan, opened a large notebook revealing dozens and dozens of old soda logos. But it was the one hanging off in the distance behind him that the reporter noticed. It was Triple AAA, an old Oklahoma City soda company that started way back in 1937, but disappeared in 1974. After contacting a relative of the old company, they gave the ok and Triple AAA began its comeback via Bricktown Candy Company. Knowing that Pop’s Soda Ranch produced its own Roundbar Root Beer, Thomas knew that needed to be Triple AAA’s flagship flavor. So he purchased the original root beer recipe, but added a few tweaks. As for the other 24 flavors Triple AAA used to produce, he decided to bring back five in total. All other Triple AAA flavors are new recipes because as Thomas said, “No one really remembered the other flavors.” The goal for Triple AAA is to become a large regionally distributed soda. But at its core, Thomas says “We try to make a local product and we’re trying to bring back some of Oklahoma City’s history.” Now, after really pumping up their root beer, we’re trying the kola.

Where to get: Bricktown Candy Company sells their Triple AAA soda in their online store, though currently it looks like only root beer, cream soda and cherry are available. You can call them directly via their site and they’ll be happy to set you up. It’s also available in specialty stores and candy shops in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Nose: Kola nut; vanilla.

Taste: Kola nut; vanilla; cane sugar. This is pretty straight forward and simple. But it’s solid. Soft kola nut washes over the palate as the taste buds get introduced to this take on cola. The cane sugar in this is the most noticeable element. A very nice use of it, reminiscent of Mexican Coke. Definitely on the sweeter side. There’s some vanilla undertones in this, but not as prominent as they are when sniffing. It’s a soft cola with traditional tiny bubbles you typically find in this variety, though in this case the carbonation isn’t as flush in the mouth. The bubbles quickly fade. This has a classic old fashion, glass bottled soda taste.

Finish: Cane sugar and kola with some very light notes of cinnamon.

Rating: This is simple, but well done. It’s a company that began in 1937, and though its recipe has since changed, this soda definitely harkens back to the old days when glass bottle sodas were purchased after school at the ice cream store on the way home. I’d say it’s something like a cross between RC Cola and Mexican Coke. It’s a soft cola. Very drinkable, though it’s a little sweet. I think it’s probably missing something small that could take it over the top. Maybe cinnamon or some fruit notes. But this is something you should drink. Little bottlers like Triple AAA are what make the craft soda game fun. What a name too. Who actually calls themselves triple letter… and then promptly spells out the letter three times as if you needed guidance? I’ll tell you who else. This guy. I bet this probably goes great with booze too. I’m going on a blind date after this, so I’m definitely about to find out. Get a bottle, crack it open, and in the immortal words of Triple HHH (who should really sponsor this)… time to play the game.

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.