Friday, August 30, 2013

The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

The Pop Shoppe start in 1969 in London, Ontario, Canada. It was a bit of an underground soda, no marketing, and selling 24 bottle cases to local stores. Eddie Shack for the National Hockey League eventually became the spokesman for The Pop Shoppe in 1976. There also was a cartoon in the 70's starring Captain Pop.The original company shut down in 1983, but was revived in 2004 by Brian Alger. 2006, Eddie Shack is back as a spokesman. Costco and 7-11 signed on through the 2000's as retailers, and The Pop Shoppe has become a stable international nostalgic soda brand. 

Opening smell worries me, as all I really get is licorice. While there are some licorice undertones to the taste, its a creamy solid root beer taste. Nice balance of flavors. Is some fruit taste to it as well. I'd say a sort of citrus. I'd also say its not quite as heavy as other root beers. Root beers can get very earthy, and leave you feeling the heaviness in your stomach. The Pop Shoppe avoids that. Its good, I'd drink it again, and would buy, but honestly only because its Canadian and has ties to hockey. 

One last note: one of the Pop Shoppe's gimmicks is the stubby bottle
. If its matters, the bottle I drank was not a classic stubby. 

Frostie Cherry Limeade soda

Frostie is a brand with rich history. In 1939, George Rackensperger rented an abandoned jailhouse in Maryland, with cells storing ingredients, and the garage for police vehicles for the actual bottling plant. The small size of his operation limited Rackensperger to just one flavor, root beer to begin. Though limited in marketing area, Frosty sales boomed. Eventually distributors requesting bottling ability, so Frosty became a franchise. In 1947, Frostie began to advertise and supply areas, and the brand grew beyond the Maryland area. Frostie's right were eventually bought by Leading Edge Brands, who then sold the rights to Intrastate Distributors Inc, from Detroit, Michigan. Along the franchising path, other soda flavors were added, and now the line includes diet root beer, cherry limeade, vanilla root beer, blue cream, orange and Concord grape. 

There is a pleasing fruity scent when opening, I'd say a maraschino cherry scent. Not sure I get a lime scent, but there are citrus undertones. Drinking it remind me a great deal of Shirley Temples and Shirley Temple sodas. That's not a bad thing, but labeled as it is, I expected something a little different. Its refreshing but I'd rather have a Saranac Shirley Temple. Would drink again, but I'd buy Saranac first.

Death Valley Black Cherry

Death Valley's history is a few sodas ago, so you get spared!!

Very rich cherry scent, very potent too. Not many sodas I can smell without just about jamming the bottle up my nose, and this was one. Pleasant soda to drink. I'm not a black cherry expert, so I'm not sure it compares to black cherries. Does taste like the black cherry yogurt I eat. Another fruit soda that's not too sweet, not too tart, just refreshing, heart soda. I'd drink again, and buy again eventually. Lotta sodas to taste before that though. 

Flathead Lake Huckleberry Soda

So, blueberry vs huckleberry. Where I grew up, we had this small little bush that produced what looked like small blueberries. The berries were small, more tart, and had less bulk to them. They were kinda crunchy because their small size didn't leave a lot or room for much but the seeds.

Childhood in mind, I hoped this soda would not let me down with its taste. Smell was very fresh berry scent. The taste was wonderful. I'd say they nailed huckleberry taste. Very tasty, and the flavor I remember from my youth. A bit of a tart bit to it, but that's a huckleberry. Nice trip down childhood memory lane for me. I'd drink and buy again.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Howdy Soda

Marketed as the taste that made lemon lime famous, Howdy is considered to be the forerunner of 7Up. Charles Grigg was the original inventor of the Howdy formula, forming a company in 1920, that made Howdy and eventually Orange Crush. Eventually, Grigg sold the rights to Orange Crush, and began to concentrate on just lemon lime sodas. He came up with a recipe based on Howdy. He called it "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Sodas", which eventually was shortened to 7Up. 

Now, a confession: I love 7Up. So this is a biased opinion. Great fresh smell when opened, bright light, citrus. I was expecting more of a 7up flavow. This tasted a lot like 7Up with some orange flavor added. Not a bad thing, just not what I expected from the soda that's supposed to be the precursor of 7up. I'd drink again, likely buy again as well.

Side note: be careful around honey bees with Howdy. They love it. Couldn't drink the last little bit of the bottle because 2 honey bees had found there way into the bottle.

Green River Soda

Green River Soda started in 1919 during prohibition, when Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company in Chicago began bottling the non-alcoholic beverages. It a primarily midwestern soda, made now by WIT Beverage Company. If they sound familiar, they also produce the Jelly Belly line of sodas, Goose Island sodas, and a few other soda brands. The Green River recipe was actually bough by WIT in about 2010. Made in Wisconsin the soda is especially popular in Chicago, more so on St Patrick's day, when the city of Chicago turns the Chicago river green. 

Green River River claims to be a "lime soda with just a hint of lemon". Smells citrusy when opened. Sure is green. Very pleasant flavor, and I'm not a big lime fan. I would say that yes, Green River is lime tasting. I don't get the lemon, but the lime is sure tasty. I'd buy and drink again. 

Astro Pop pineapple

Astro Pop is a stand alone company, yet you can only buy their sodas retail at Rocket Fizz. I tested this statement and found that Old 52 does have Astro pop soda. The soda comes in three flavors: pineapple, passion fruit, and cherry. So if you think Astro pop bears a striking resemblance to a candy name, you'd be correct. Astro pops are a lollipop, famous for its shape and "three stage rocket" appearance. Astro pop lollipops have three flavors for the three stages on the lollipop. Want to guess what they are? Pineapple, passion fruit and cherry. So, the soda is meant to be the sort of liquid version of the lollipop.  Does the soda pull it off? 

Smells like pineapple. Nice pineapple scent actually. While having that artificial feel to it, it does taste like pineapple. Drinks well, not too sweet, not too tart. Not too bad at all. I'd put this in the would drink again, and might buy again someday category.

The makers of Astro pop suggests combining all three flavor together for the ultimate Astro pop experience. Someday, I'll try that and review it!

Million Dollar Grape, Excel grape soda

Million Dollar Grape is made by Excel Bottling Company. Excel was started in 1936, by Edward "Lefty" Meier and Catherine Meier. The money to begin the company was a reward to Lefty for catching a bank robber. Lefty and Catherine passed away at age 97 and 99 respectively, both both were active in the business until their deaths. Excel is now run by family members, and prides itself on being a small "mom and pop" business. "Ski" is their most noted soda, a combination of orange and lemon. Interesting fact I found: I was looking through their web site and found this quote: "You may notice that some of (the bottles) do not have an Excel label on them. Because replacement bottles are no readily available, we use orphaned bottles from other companies that have gone out of business" But, the label on Million Dollar Grape is a stick on one piece label, so this may be an orphaned bottle, but Million Dollar grape should be an Excel product (found the company name on the stick on label). Doing more research, Million Dollar Grape was apparently named after being featured in the movie "Brewster's Millions". 

This was a decent soda. Only problem with it, I'm not sure if I did a blind taste test I could pick it out from other grape sodas. They all have that artificial grape smell and flavor, and aren't necessarily bad, but to me, if I eat a bunch of grapes, its not the same taste as a grape soda.  So its not a bad soda, just not a distinctive soda. I'd drink again, but given cost, I'll go buy a Fanta grape that's cheaper. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dr Brown's Cel Ray soda

Dr Brown's Cel Ray soda: Dr Brown's sodas are a line brewed out of J&R Bottling. J&R started in 1972 by Ralph Santora. Santora began his career with Pepsi Co. He bought the rights to the Dr Brown's line and began producing the drink through the Nu-Grape bottling company. In 1972, Santora bought the Nu-Grape facility. Now J&R bottling is the  co-packer for many small and large brands such as Jones Sodas, Dad’s Root Beer and Cream, Q Tonic, Bubble Up, Hanks, Rubyy Energy, Casera, Bravo, Cuzcatlan, Boylan Bottle Works, Hansen's, Ooba Hibiscus, Dry Soda, Baron’s, Skeleteens, Amazonas, Gazoz and others. Again, that's co-packer. Br Brown's is J&R's soda. Also should be noted it is a kosher soda. 

I have to admit, I expected this to be an awful, ohmigawd can I finish it soda. It wasn't as bad as that. Celery scent, and an unexpected clean taste. It does taste like celery. Its not very sweet. I wouldn't say sour or tangy, just not very sweet. Also a very dry tasting soda, and I can imagine it would be refreshing on a hot day. All that said, my bottom line is I'm not fond of celery, so I'd prefer not to have this soda again. But it certainly does have an accurate celery taste, and I can understand others enjoying it.

Flathead Lake Black Raspberry

Flathead Lake Black Raspberry: Flathead Lake is a division of North American Beverage. NAB's entire "gourmet soda" line is Flathead Lake. In addition to black raspberry, they make a huckleberry, wild white grape, granny apple, sour cherry and blueberry (Have a berry thing don't they). NAB also makes Barrit's ginger beer, Havana Cappuccino, and Chocolate Mousse, all drinks. Chocolate Mousse link does come up blank though. List it "Chocolate Moose Milk" on the retail (vs consumer) part of the website, but that link also leads to a "page not found" Ironic, because reading the history, NAB first beverage was the Chocolate Moose Premium Milk Chocolate drink. NAB is based in Ocean City, NJ. 

There is an actual Flathead Lake that is in Montana. What a lake in Montana has to doing with a brewing company in NJ, I don't know. Like a gimmicky advertising thing. That being said, Flathead Lake is supposed to have a monster in it, much like Loch Ness. The monster was first sighted in 1889. There was a rash of sightings in 1993 (that's one old monster). You can find some videos that prove the monster's existence here. I did not view any of the videos yet. 

So moving on to the soda. It has a fruity smell when opening, but its not a distinct raspberry smell. Pleasant enough taste, but pure raspberry I'd say not. But it is a very crisp clean taste. Good soda, just not really raspberry. Fruity after taste, but again not distinctly raspberry. If I were looking to drink just a good fruit soda, I'd drink this again. I enjoyed drinking it. Won't be in a rush to buy more though. 

Mercury Brewing Birch Beer

Mercury Brewing Birch Beer comes from the Ipswich Ale Brewery in Ipswich, Massachusetts (Yea! Massachusetts!!). Ipswich Ale Brewery brews 5 Mile Ales, Ipswich Ales, Stone Cat Ales and the Mercury Brewing Soda line. They also make mustard. I want to mention something here, kudos to them for having a website all ages can look at. So often sodas that are made buy companies that brew beer and other alcoholic beverages make their entire site 21+, and there's no way to view the soda section. Anyway, they have a large line up of sodas: root beer, diet root beer, cream, black cherry, birch beer, orange cream, lemon lime, atomic grape, raspberry and watermelon (seasonal). Ipswich Ale was founded in 1991, and Mercury came along when Ispwich bought out a soda company in 1999. Not a lot else about the history. Maybe because in the soda business, they are still relatively new. 

Opening the bottle, oh that fresh wintergreeny birch beer smell. Tasting, it has that birch beer bite, with the minty, earthy deep flavor. This is a good birch beer. Its also a tradition east coast clear birch beer. Would buy more. Loved it.

Couple interesting sidelights: Every now and then I'll poke around other soda review sites after I've reviewed a soda. I did not read a single review site that liked this soda.

Also for those local, you can rent a "tapmobile" for whatever function. These are kinda what they sound like. Trucks with kegs that are tapped right from the truck. One truck you can select 8 sodas or alcoholic beverages, one truck 4 taps and last truck 3 taps. Some pictures are below. 

Time to catch up: Sioux City Berry Berry

 Time to dust off my notes and get some of this into here. So.... 

Sioux City Berry Berry- Not sure how Berry Berry fit in with the "old west" feel that Sioux City aims for. But, its out there, have to drink it. It a rather odd blue color. 
Not like any berry I've ever seen. But, in its defense, it doesn't say it is a specific berry.  Berry smell, but a very artificial berry smell when opened. The taste is pleasant, but again, very artificial berry tasting. There is not one berry flavor that dominates. My personal preference is having one specific berry, not a bunch mixed together. Still, I'd drink again. Probably buy if I couldn't find a specific berry soda and was in a berry mood. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

August update.

I've been neglecting writing, but not tasting. Computer issues are forcing me to take a brief hiatus. Hopefully I'll be back to full power in a couple weeks or so.

Sad to see Patrick O'Keefe and his Soda Tasting on his own network and youtube, leave the "air waves" I'd like to thank him for his kinship, advice and just general friendship. I will continue to follow his youtube and whatever he chooses to now do, but his show will be missed.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

End of July ratings and a new number one over all!!!

Without further ado, July's rankings:


1. Calpico
2. Breckenridge Blackberry
3. Polar Classics black cherry
4. Kitty Piddle
5. Jelly Belly Blueberry
6. Toxic Slime 
7. Rocket Fizz Wintergreen

 Worst in descending order:

5. Scotty's Butter Scotch Soda
4. Austrailian Hot Style Ginger Ale
3. Rocket Fizz Banana Nut
2. Brownie Caramel Cream Root Beer
1. Lester's Fixins Peanut Butter and Jelly

Overall Rankings to date:


1. Calpico
2. Empire Spruce Beer
3. Breckenridge Blackberry
4. Sprecher Puma (jumps over Moxie, been drinking more of it and liking it more and more)
5. Moxie
6. Bundaberg Guava
7. Cheerwine
8. Polar Classics Black Cherry
9. Goya Coconut
10.Kiddy Piddle


5.Austrailian Style Ginger Ale
4.Rocket Fizz Banana Nut
3.Brownie Caramel Cream Root Beer
2.Cucumber soda
1.Lester's Fixins' Peanut Butter and Jelly

July was a rough month. Many more I didn't like that did. 

Some possible August highlights (subject to change because of $$): Fentiman's soda line, Jarrito's soda, aloe vera based drinks, and more!!

A quick note: most posts maybe a little less frequent. Looking like I have a busy August. Still been drinking weird stuff, but I may sit down one day and write six reviews, after being "inactive" for a bit. 

Remember, weird does not equal bad!