History: Six Barrel Soda Co. is the coolest modern American soda not found in America. You’ll actually have to travel quite far if you’re American… all the way to the town of Wellington on the island nation of New Zealand. Founded in 2012, Six Barrel Soda specializes in modern takes on old soda flavors and old takes on new ones. It’s got kind of retro-new age thing going on. “Soda has such a great history and there is so much to work with flavour wise,” says Six Barrel Soda Co-founder Joseph Slater. The company also serves up take-home soda syrups as well for those who have separation anxiety. Like many American soda businesses, Six Barrel’s owners started in the bar industry. Slater and his business partner, Mike Stewart, found their knack for serving soda and homemade teas at their bar in Wellington. The two doubled down and quickly went in to soda full time. Last time I doubled down, I was in Vegas and woke up in a stranger’s room. And it was a dude. Six Barrel Soda Co. is at the forefront of cutting edge craft soda in New Zealand, which allows them to take some risks when it comes to flavor. Slater says they “try to do flavours that people might not have tried before or are unique to us.” One of those flavors is raspberry and lemon. “At our bar, I was making a raspberry syrup for a Florodora cocktail and a lemon syrup for lemonades, so I started doing a mixed pink lemonade too. There aren’t really any other pink lemonades in New Zealand and we thought that needed to be remedied,” Slater tells us. In America, when you think pink lemonade, you don’t necessarily think of raspberry in the flavor profile. The gentlemen at Six Barrel are trying to put a different spin on the flavor without over doing it. Slater adds, “It’s meant to be pretty subtle, we didn’t want that intense, fake raspberry taste so the idea is it just has a hint of raspberry to balance the citrus. It should be quite soft and crisp.” Initially, raspberry and lemon was the company’s most popular flavor, though they admit the others have caught up to it. The recipe uses only real raspberries and fresh-squeezed lemons in addition to fair-trade organic pure cane sugar. There are no concentrates or preservatives in the soda. Currently, Six Barrel is working on a couple new flavors they hope to have out in 2016. We’d love to tell you what they are, buuuuut we gotta drink this instead.
Where to get: According to Slater, Six Barrel Soda supplies “bars, restaurants, cafes, grocery and gift store across NZ, Australia, Singapore” and soon, Korea. Americans, your best bet is to email the company and see if something can be worked out. Six Barrel Soda sells their soda online and ships throughout New Zealand.
Nose: Raspberry; honey; tea with lemon. Definitely prominent raspberry with some floral, tea-like elements.
Taste: Mild raspberry; lemon with honey; cane sugar juice. We always list out the initial taste elements without looking at the bottle. You can taste the raspberry in this, but there’s a distinctive fruity, lemon-honey flavor present. Imagine squeezing fresh lemon juice and honey into a raspberry tea. That’s what this is like. Yet, there is no honey in Six Barrel Soda Co.’s Raspberry and Lemon Soda. So what you’re tasting here is likely how the sugar interacts with the lemon. You get a mild raspberry note to begin the sip before that floral, sweet lemon takes over. It’s really nice and unlike how soda companies in America use lemon. Lemon flavor in American soda is typically tart and acidic, while this is mellow and fruity. It really does taste like honey. I stand by that. You do get some bitterness that lingers on the back of the tongue from the lemon, so the acidity is still there in some form. The two flavors are fairly balanced overall, but that sweet lemon stands out a little bit more.
Finish: Honey; lemon, cane sugar. The raspberry is definitely more prominent near the beginning of each sip than the end.
Rating: This is a truly unique soda in the sense that it won’t be exactly what you’re expecting. Sure, there’s a raspberry flavor. Sure there’s some traditional acidic lemon. But it isn’t like your typical American fruit soda or even the newer, more natural incantations that are popping up from smaller bottlers. This has a subdued, tea-like taste to it, which isn’t that surprising considering the previous history of Six Barrel’s owners. It’s more floral than fruity, almost like there’s a flowery taste in addition to the raspberry and lemon. And the honey-lemon flavor – I can’t get over it. It’s the starring flavor in this soda. Let me say, it’s nice, but there’s no honey in the ingredients. So that flavor has to come from some sort of interaction. My best guess is between the sugar and lemon elements. I personally would like to see the raspberry flavor come through more. It’s there at the beginning, but quickly exits and doesn’t influence any other portion of the sip. As previously mentioned, the raspberry is supposed to be light. I just think it’s such a wonderful flavor and could be elevated more in this soda. As a whole, this is light and smooth, but not what I’d call crisp and refreshing. And for some people, that’ll be a detractor. This, of course, is coming from an American perspective. You have to remember that the U.S. typically prefers things bolder and sweeter than their international counterparts. It’s why your hot prom date is probably fat now. Based on the name, you’d think this would be ideal for outdoor weather, but due to its floral flavors, I think this is prime fall soda-drinking material. Six Barrel Soda Co.is one of the trendiest players in the international craft soda community. There flavors may be different, but their name is here to stay.