salt lake city

Apple Beer

History: Throw your knickers on and bang your mugs together, ‘cuz it’s Apple Beer season in America. First of all, Apple Beer is not literally apple-flavored beer and contains no alcohol. In fact, it was designed long ago by northeast German “biermeisters” for those who didn’t fancy themselves a fine ale. So what is it, exactly? According to Apple Beer’s marketing director, Ashley Simmons, “Apple Beer’s flavor comes from an all-natural blend of fruit and herb extracts” with a flavor profile designed to be “light, crisp, and dry.” It has a foamy head, like a beer, and gets its crisp flavor from the peel of the apple. Don’t expect much beyond that. We tried and were greeted with the response “We can’t offer too many details.” That’s cool. I have secrets too. But legally, I’m not allowed to share them with you. With humble beginnings in Germany, today the beverage is exported around the world, from Australia to Curaçao. Apple Beer’s American debut came in 1964 in the “Intermountain West.” In this case, that means Salt Lake City, Utah. Apple Beer still maintains its peak popularity throughout western America. For you nostalgia enthusiasts, Simmons might tickle your warm and fuzzies by letting you know that “We have always been a family-owned business.” The family business is currently in its fourth generation. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to try Apple Beer, consider this: it has won the Best of State beverage award for Utah every year since 2010, including this year. It’s designed to be an all-natural antithesis to syrupy soda and is made with cane sugar and without gluten… so you can keep your fedoras on, hipsters. “With a half-century of experience, we have become a tradition in the lives of our many loyal customers,” says Simmons. Let’s see if they’re about to score some more loyalty.

Where to get: Apple Beer is distributed internationally and, obviously, across the U.S. To find the nearest retail location near you, use Apple Beer’s locator. It’s also sold online. For singles, try Soda Emporium. For 12-packs, hit up Apple Beer’s online store.

Nose: Acidic apple juice.

Taste: Apple; tartness; fig; raisin. First of all, no this doesn’t taste like beer or apple-flavored beer. That said, it does taste like apple, though the flavor isn’t what I’d call robust. Somewhere in the middle. Much closer to a carbonated cider than anything else, but not enough fizz to call it a sparkling cider. The apple flavor comes through in a burst at the beginning of each sip and is quickly followed by a cutting tartness that rides the back of your tongue likes surfer bros catching a wave. This is a dry beverage. The flavor profile is rounded out with notes of fig and raisin. Not totally sure where those come from. The ingredient label doesn’t list any spices, just “natural flavors,” but the fruitiness provides a nice balance to go along with the apple cider taste.

Finish: Tart apple cider that lingers for a few seconds, then fades.

Rating: Apple Beer is solid. It’s that friend you know you can count on at the end of the night to be your DD after you’ve stopped caring about how much your tab is going to be at the bar. Its flavor is unmistakably fall; it’s a crisply carbonated apple cider-esque soda you should be drinking as the leaves change color. So, of course, we reviewed it in July. Just a note: Apple Beer’s biggest season is actually summer, so I obviously know nothing. Apple Beer’s flavor also comes along with an acidic bite. Probably a little bit too much for me. I’d prefer to have seen the apple flavor increased and the tartness decreased. I also got some additional tasting notes of fig and raisin, and though I can’t place why, they were the best parts of the soda. This is definitely worth a try because it has a nice, familiar flavor that takes you straight to autumn. I’d estimate its likability will always be highest in summer and fall. In our opinion, this is cold weather soda. Revisit this in October.


Garwood’s Ginger Beer

History: Ginger beer is one of the most adult craft sodas on the market. But don’t tell that to Salt Lake City’s Thomas Garwood, who used to drink the stuff down as a kid. Still a young adult at 28, Garwood was no longer satisfied with the state of ginger beer. He felt he’d grown up, but his favorite soda hadn’t. It’s not me, babe. It’s you. “As an adult I’ve never been able to find a ginger beer that was quite spicy enough,” he says, his phone cutting in and out as if he was communicating from an AOL dial-up landline. He’d also become disenchanted with studying music in school. So Garwood, already experienced in the food industry, went to work. But he needed some help. Garwood’s Ginger Beer probably wouldn’t exist had it not been for a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $5,000. When it came to the soda, he didn’t just want more spice. He wanted more flavor. Fresh flavor. Garwood’s Ginger Beer is made with 30% real juice, using cold-pressed ginger, lemon and lime juices. Garwood made it a point to ensure his ginger beer was wrapped in a bed of natural citrus as opposed to using syrups or extracts. The only other ingredients are carbonated water and cane sugar. He adds, “The purpose of starting this business was to do unique things that you don’t find around a lot.” For example, down the line, he wants to create a malt soda. In the more immediate future, grapefruit or grapefruit-ginger may be on the table. He says so far, his two-man team (Garwood and his wife) have gotten a great response locally in Salt Lake City. Time to try this out. Better put on my adult pants for this review.

Where to get: Due to the small size and recent launch of the company, Garwood’s Ginger Beer is still only sold locally in Salt Lake City. For those of you stopping through, you can pick up a bottle at Liberty Heights Fresh Market or Caputo’s downtown market. Garwood was confident online sales would eventually happen. If you’re desperate, you can contact the company via their Facebook page.

Nose: Skunky, almost like a citrusy Heineken or Modelo beer. Lime and lemon juice are also prevalent. The ginger smell is relatively mild.

Taste: Ginger; lemon juice; lime juice. This tastes extremely fresh. You can taste all three of the main juices that make this up. Each bottle of Garwood’s Ginger Beer contains 30% juice, yet it tastes higher. You start out with a sweet, but tart lemon-lime flavor. The lime has more of a punch, but the lemon has more staying power in the flavor profile. The ginger comes in last. It’s not particularly hot, but full of flavor. This is light and tart, an extremely refreshing take on ginger beer that relies heavily on lemon and lime flavors to supplement the ginger.

Finish: Slightly skunky lime with just a tinge of citrus-infused ginger that coats the tongue. Some people are into skunky tastes, but others may be turned off.

Rating: Ginger beers are almost always engineered to be enjoyed with alcohol and for that reason, they almost always taste better with alcohol. I think this is the first ginger beer I’ve had that I would say is better on its own. The ginger, lemon and lime juices work perfectly together to form a refreshing citrus elixir. To me, this is like a ginger-infused lemonade with some notes of lime. Now this is a little skunky, something unusual in ginger beers, but that’s really an aside. Some may disagree, but I think it adds to the flavor. All three main juices stand out in a unique way in the flavor profile. The lemon is refreshing and full of citrus that forms the base of each sip. The lime is brief but adds a burst of tart, bold flavor. And the ginger tastes so fresh and zesty that it’s almost impossible not to be impressed. This won’t make your eyes water with heat, but you will cry if you don’t try one. This is like when a hot hipster girl transfers to your college in po-dunk nowhere and you realize you’ll be making a lifestyle change. Other girls can’t match her style, looks and sassiness. In similar fashion, I don’t think I can name a more flavorful or better ginger beer than Garwood’s. That’s a bold statement, but this is a bold ginger beer that ascends to the highest peak in its category. This is that hot hipster girl wearing her plaid shirts and shiny leggings. You need her. You need her like you need air. To be fair, I don’t think you’ll need this like you need air. If you do, contact a hospital and scientist. But you’ll need this more than any other ginger beer you’ve had to date. This is one of the newest players in the game and if Garwood’s continues making other flavors, they’ll be one of its heaviest hitters.