History: It’s not often a horrific injury leads to a delicious new idea, but that’s exactly what happened to Steve Groff. From his beginnings as a small-town farm boy, Groff transitioned away from that life into the medical world, becoming an orthopedic surgeon. It was a profession he excelled in… until the accident. While riding his bicycle, Groff was struck by a vehicle, leaving him with a bad neck injury. Luckily, his injuries didn’t keep him from walking, but his passion for surgery, his eye-hand coordination; it never felt the same. Plan B? Back to the farm boy roots. Groff and his family renovated a 120 year-old farm in York County, Pennsylvania. Groff calls it “the Napa Valley of apples” with vibrant orchards. So spoiler here: Wyndridge Farm is known for their apple cider. They also brew beer. Those two things led to craft soda. As Groff says, the “soda was born out of having the equipment.” The company already placed an emphasis on the quality of ingredients they used in cider and beer, so it was only natural that craft soda came next. Wyndridge Farm makes a cream soda, but their signature craft soda is “Crafty Citrus Apple.” It contains fresh-squeezed apple juice with just a pinch of lemon. The farm hosts weddings and corporate events, but for our purposes, they’re barnyard brewers. “It’s a combination of great packaging and great liquid, says Groff.”
Where to get: Crafty Citrus Apple and Crafty Cream Soda are both available mostly in the eastern seaboard to mid-Atlantic regions. The company is open to direct orders and are more than happy to work with people on getting their products where you’re located.
Nose: Apple juice; light V8 juice. Not sure where the V8 comes from. Odd.
Taste: Hey that’s apple juic…..zing! You’re greeted with a refreshing carbonated apple juice taste that’s like “‘sup?” and then peaces out in favor of a mild tartness. Really an interesting sensation that the mouth never quite adjusts to completely. The apple flavor is crisp and refreshing. The citrus aftertaste is comprised of lemon, lime and orange, but the lemon is what really does the majority of the flavor work. It actually plays off the apple in a way that contorts the sweet apple flavor into a sour one. So you actually get lemon-sour apple as the soda progresses. That tartness intensifies as you continue drinking, though the cane sugar also becomes more noticeable, just not as much as the citrus.
Finish: Sharp citrus that rises off the back of the tongue up to the roof of the mouth. While lemon is the most noticeable citrus element throughout the beverage, lime really stands out in the finish.
Rating: This is certainly original. The mouth does not expect a zing when drinking apple juice or cider, but Wyndridge Farm decided your traditional flavor profiles have no meaning here. The citrus kick combined with the natural acidity of the apples makes this drink like a hard cider at times. I’d consider this more of a sipping soda with the exception of hot summer days. Its refreshing aspect would be intensified during the hot and humid mid-year months. The apple flavor here is really well done. The soda actually contains fresh-pressed juices from the farm’s neighbors down the road. You can see why Wyndridge Farm has done so well with their ciders. The citrus punch on the backend is just a little too harsh for me to drink more than a couple in one outing. I think if this was paired with a sweeter bourbon or rum, you’d have something really dynamite for your cocktail book. Just a little something extra to cut down that acidity. Fans of more tart sodas are almost guaranteed to love this. If you’re looking for a nontraditional fruit soda, give this a shot. If your taste buds aren’t quite as adventurous, I’d stick to what you know. Groff went through a hell of a lot on his own, so why shouldn’t he make something totally different? When summer rolls around, you should be pulling this one out again.