Thursday, October 19, 2017

Blenheim Ginger Ale

I opened this earlier today:

Blenheim Ginger Ale

Blenheim Ginger Ale
It's a bit hard to make out, but the white stuff that's settled on the bottom is real ginger bits.


Brand: Blenheim Ginger Ale

Origin: Hamer, South Carolina.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sucrose.

Review: Sometimes, Ginger Ale has too much of a kick in the back of my throat. I think you know what I'm talking about. This had that kick, but it wasn't as intense, and it was a bit smoother than other Ginger Ales that I've had. I'm still not a major fan of Ginger sodas, but this wasn't bad. I'll rank this just above average.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Root Beer Cotton Candy (yes, you read that correctly)

When we stopped at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store last month, I saw a stack FULL of different / random flavors of cotton candy. I just HAD to try this one:

Chocolate Storybrook Root Beer Cotton Candy


Brand: Chocolate Storybook Root Beer Cotton Candy

Origin: Des Moines, Iowa.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This was better than I thought it would be. It was a pretty solid root beer flavor, and it wasn't strange or artificial tasting at all. It was a good, fluffy cotton candy with a fun root beer flavor. I shared it with my family, and they all enjoyed it too (photo above taken in my sister's garage where we stood about and ate this).

Check out all the random flavors of Chocolate Storybrook cotton candy on their website. (They also have 3-packs of "themed" cotton candy like their "Rise and Shine Trio:" bacon, coffee, and pancakes with maple syrup cotton candy!)

Score: 9 out of 10.
 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Stubborn Agave Vanilla Cream Soda

I brought this with me to class last week (my first soda from last month's stop at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store), but we ended up having a very full/busy day, and I wasn't able to drink it. So I finally enjoyed it yesterday at home:

Stubborn Agave Vanilla Cream Soda
In my office at work, although I wasn't able to drink it there.


Brand: Stubborn Agave Vanilla Cream Soda

Origin: Riviera Beach, Florida.

Purchase Place: "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store," Jordan, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar and Stevia.

Review: Nothing really stood out here. It's a decent vanilla cream soda. It's weird that it's "agave" vanilla cream, but there's no agave in the ingredients (maybe that's part of the "natural flavors"). This was fine, but nothing fancy.

Score: 5.5 out of 10.
 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Crystal Pepsi

I was at the convenience store yesterday to get some soda for my boys who were getting over throwing up. In the cooler, I spotted this, and couldn't resist trying it:

Crystal Pepsi


Brand: Crystal Pepsi

Origin: Purchase, NY.

Purchase Place: Marshall Stop, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: I tried to ignore the fact that it was clear because I didn't want that to affect what I thought of it. (I feel like I'll "taste" something differently based on it's color.) At first sip, it tasted like a "lighter" Pepsi. It was initially similar to Pepsi, but then there was an extra sweetness. I rarely say this, but it was a bit too sweet for me. It was like an overly sweet cola (which really doesn't sound all that bad to me, but it was just slightly too much). A bit different, not great, but not horrible.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Friday, September 29, 2017

First 5 Hard Ciders / Hard Sodas from Total Wine

Here's my first of 2 "mini reviews" of the hard ciders and hard sodas that I recently picked up at Total Wine:

Lots to try!
All the bottles from last month, but this review is just for 5 of the 9.

Here's my review of my first 5 (in the order that I drank them):

Strongbow "Honey" Hard Apple Cider: This was very sweet and crisp. It was almost just apple cider with a bit of a boozy taste. I thought it was great, but my wife (who has a more refined wine drinkers palette) said it was too sweet. Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Coney Island Hard Lemon Lime Twist: This was stronger on the lemon, and weaker on the lime. So it was quite unique and didn't taste like 7-Up or Sprite. Also making it unique was the smooth finish - it sounds like it could be weird, but the vanilla aftertaste was quite nice. My wife really like this, and I thought it was pretty good. Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Henry's Grape Hard Soda: This was a bit like a grape beer. I don't care for beer, and this had just a little too much of a "hoppy" taste to it. The grape was nice though. If you like beer and grape soda, then try this. Being I'm not a huge beer fan, this was just OK. Score: 6 out of 10.

Not Your Father's Vanilla Cream Ale: There was a MAJOR vanilla smell when I cracked this open (it's made with Madagascar vanilla). The first sip was deliciously heavy on vanilla, but then the beer taste took over and totally ruined it. Again, like I said in the grape soda above, if you like vanilla and beer, then try this. But this was way too "beery" for me. Score: 4 out of 10.

Henry's Hard Sparkling Lemon Lime: This was stronger on the lime than the lemon (so reversed from Coney Island Hard Lemon Lime Twist above), but it was good. It wasn't as interesting as the Coney Island, but still decent. I'll rank this just a bit above average. Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saranac Diet Root Beer

I opened this yesterday (a HOT afternoon):

Saranac Diet Root Beer
With veggies from our garden in the background.


Brand: Saranac Diet Root Beer.

Origin: Utica, NY.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: The initial flavor that hit my lips was strong on the vanilla and very tasty. But then it turned into a steaming pile of crap. I think this was the first "diet" soda that I've had that still uses high fructose corn syrup: this had 35 calories, and one would assume that that means it's just using a lot less HFCS. And it tastes like that. It's not sweet at all. It's thin, weak, and chemically. I was severely disappointed.

Score: 2 out of 10.
 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quick Stop at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store

This past weekend, we were headed to Mankato, so we stopped just south of Jordan at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store:

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store
The round dome is the new addition. We got there right when it opened, so it was quiet!

A pack of root beers.

All root beer and sarsaparilla!

This part looked a lot different the last time I was here.

"Pie Sodas" - I've had a few of these and many at the bottom.

Looking down the rows. This is the "fancier" stuff like cookies and pasta.
There's more candy farther down. And puzzles ALL throughout the ceiling.

The new addition. The ceiling isn't quite finished, and it slowly rotates! I have the feeling things will be hanging from it.

Inside the new addition - my boys with an 8' Hulk!

Picking out candy in the new addition. There's lots of fun stuff in here including a Tardis in the middle.

I think this speaks for itself.

Here's posts from the last few years when we've stopped at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store:
- 2015
- 2014
- 2013 (Oct)
- 2013 (Sept)
I grabbed 6 bottles of soda and some root beer cotton candy. Back with reviews on those shortly!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Strawberry Wisco Pop

My wife picked this up for me at Kowalski's when she was there this past weekend. She was wondering if it'd be as "weird" as their Cherry Soda she got me while visiting her sister.

Strawberry Wisco Pop


Brand: Strawberry Wisco Pop.

Origin: Viroqua, WI

Purchase Place: Kowalski's Market, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Organic Sugar.

Review: This had a sharp smell, and I was worried it'd be "weird" like the last Wisco Pop I had. But I was totally wrong. This was REALLY good. It was a pretty smooth, soft strawberry flavor, and it reminded me of tasting jelly as we're making it. It may have been the first soda that I've had where the flavor ("organic strawberry") was listed before the sweetener ("organic sugar"). It was very good, and it went down easily. A very unique strawberry, but very tasty.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.
 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Squamscot Root Beer

I opened this last night:

Squamscot Root Beer


Brand: Squamscot Root Beer.

Origin: Newfields, New Hampshire.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: The first ingredient is "LIGHTLY carbonated water," and that made it seem a little flat. There was a nice vanilla flavor, but that was about it's only redeeming quality. It was OK, but far from great. I'll rate it just below average.

Score: 4.5 out of 10.
 

Monday, September 4, 2017

12 "Must-Eat" Dishes at the MN State Fair: Root Beer Included!

I just posted about Minnesota-made Spring Grove Soda at the Minnesota State Fair, and then I came across this article in the Star Tribune (which is fitting, because today is the last day of the State Fair). It's called "A critic's 12 must-eat dishes at the Minnesota State Fair: The new fair foods get all the attention, but these tried-and-true standbys are a treat every year." Here's the part that mentions Spring Grove Soda:

Minnesota-made root beer
One of the happiest food-and-drink trends is the way the fairgrounds have become an epicenter for Minnesota-brewed craft beers. But it’s also the place to indulge in some serious Gopher State small-batch root beer love. I encountered four, and surely there are more, all darkly rich, shimmering with vanilla and lusciously foamy. The goodness from Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewing Co. ($4, $6) is on tap at the Snack House (Warner Coliseum). The Spring Grove Soda Pop (Nelson Street/Carnes Avenue) stand — a refreshing taste of tiny Spring Grove, Minn., in the far southeast corner of the state — cracks open its tall-neck bottles for three bucks, or two for $5. The good folks from New Ulm’s 1919 Root Beer (Dan Patch Avenue/Underwood Street) have a busy stand all to their own, where straight-up root beer from the tap runs $2 to $7 — and floats range from $5 to $8. And the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild (Agriculture Horticulture) showcases the dreamy, creamy stuff ($5) from St. Paul’s Vine Park Brewery. 

Congrats on the press Spring Grove! And I'll have to check out the 1919 root beer next year.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Spring Grove Soda at the MN State Fair

Earlier this week, my boys and I went to the Minnesota State Fair. (The 5th year in a row for my 6-year-old.) We just HAD to stop by the Spring Grove Soda booth for some root beer:

Spring Grove Soda at the Minnesota State Fair
Spring Grove trailer. They lowered their prices this year: $3/glass, or 2 for $5, or 3 for $6.

Spring Grove Soda at the Minnesota State Fair
My 3-year-old chugging my root beer.

Spring Grove Soda at the Minnesota State Fair
The Spring Grove booth has always been near the DNR building (the crowds behind are all at the massive fish pond).

Riding the Sky Ride with my boys after having some root beer.

I asked about touring the Spring Grove plant near Rochester, MN, and they told me they still do that, but it's best to call ahead of time to make sure someone is around (it's a small operation). They gave me their card: call 507-498-3424 (business) or 507-459-5197 (cell) in advance.

Here's a quick post from the State Fair in 2013, here are some photos from Henry's and my visit to the State Fair in 2014, a few photos from 2015, and ranking lots of food we ate in 2016.  (And here's more photos from our trip this year on my other blog.) In 2013, it was my 100th post; in 2014, it was my 199th; in 2015, it was my 299th; in 2016, it was my 409th post, and now my "Minnesota State Fair" post is my 501st! Have a good start to fall!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cherry Wisco Pop

My wife was in Wisconsin this past weekend, and she brought me a treat:

Cherry Wisco Pop


Brand: Cherry Wisco Pop.

Origin: Viroqua, WI.

Purchase Place: Viroqua Food+Coop, Viroqua, WI.

Sweetener: Organic sugar.

Review: This didn't taste like cherry. I mean, "cherry soda" doesn't usually taste like ACTUAL cherries either, but this didn't taste like cherry soda. If I had to guess, I would have said rhubarb. Really. In the ingredients list, there's "organic cherry juice concentrate," but then there's also lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon, and I can sort of see how those last 3 can make the flavor I was tasting. It wasn't that great, so I'll rank it just below average. It's sure unique, though.

Score: 4 out of 10.
 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hard Sodas and Hard Ciders

We stopped at Total Wine in Roseville with my family this past week, and I was able to cruise the "by the bottle" aisle. I walked out with some hard sodas and hard ciders:

Lots to try!

I'll have some mini-reviews of these in the upcoming few weeks. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bundaberg Lemon, Lime & Bitters

Last night, I cracked into this. I didn't have high hopes because my last Bundaberg soda wasn't that great, and the flavor didn't sound all that interesting:

Bundaberg Lemon, Lime & Bitters

Bundaberg Lemon, Lime & Bitters
The Bundaberg tab on top.


Brand: Bundaberg Lemon, Lime & Bitters.

Origin: Queensland, Australia.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: The first sip started like Lemon Lime soda, but then the "bitters" part kicks in and leaves quite a bitter aftertaste. This wasn't that enjoyable to drink, but I can imagine it mixed with booze and being quite good. As a stand-alone soda, it was too bitter.

Score: 3 out of 10.
 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Calvin's 1836 Barrel-Style Root Beer

Here was my second soda that I enjoyed during a camping trip (the first being this one):

Calvin's 1836 Barrel-Style Root Beer
On the ramp to our little cabin in Forestville State Park.


Brand: Calvin's 1836 Barrel-Style Root Beer.

Origin: Hermann, MO.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was OK. It was pretty smooth and went down easy, but had a bit too much wintergreen for me. Not bad, but not great. I'll rate it just above average.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Swamp Pop

I just got back from camping in Forestville State Park with my family. I took 2 sodas along to enjoy. Here was the first, and it was GOOD:

Swamp Pop
My wife looking at photos with my youngest son on the left, and
a pan from me cooking supper on the open fire to the right.


Brand: Swamp Pop.

Origin: Lafayette, Louisiana.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I had no idea what flavor to expect. But it ended up being a good, rich, deep, sweet, cola. There was a nice fruitiness to it. My wife took a sip and nailed it on the head when she said "it tastes like the 'cola' flavored Bottlecaps candy, but not at ALL artificial." It was REALLY good - one of the better sodas I've had lately, and probably in my top-3 colas. Check this one out!

Score: 9.5 out of 10.
 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Drinking 116 Year Old Soda (probably)

This is gross, and he vomits a little near the end, but everything leading up to the puke is a bit interesting: the staining on the bottle, the kind of bottle cap used, etc.

This guy bought a "K Heinrichs" bottle of soda from around 1900 (it may have been rebottled with beer or wine) and noted that "it smells like gasoline and perfume." Watch this if you're interested. Lots of foul language, and some puke at 4:05, 4:55, and 5:24.



Direct link: youtube.com/watch?v=mAqZu_mxEvI

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Filbert's Diet Root Beer

We were recently at a lake in northern MN, and I cracked into this:

Filbert's Diet Root Beer
On the deck overlooking the lake.

Brand: Filbert's Diet Root Beer.

Origin: Chicago, IL.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sodium Saccharin

Review: This was OK. It was a bit "thin" like most diet sodas, but it also had an unfortunate aftertaste that was a bit chemically or artificial. I'd never had anything with "sodium saccharin" listed as the sweetener, so maybe it was that.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Frosty Root Beer at "The Drive In" in Taylors Falls

Last week, my boys and I were camping along the St. Croix River, and we stopped in for lunch at "The Drive In" in Taylors Falls, MN. You can find it by looking for the 15' spinning Frostop mug:

The Drive In in Taylors Falls

Root Beer at The Drive In in Taylors Falls


That's the FROSTIEST mug of root beer I've ever had. Just look at that massive root beer ice berg inside that glass! It was sooo good after a hot hike in Interstate State Park.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Twig's Root Beer

I brought this along on a recent camping trip with my 2 boys:

Twig's Root Beer
In front of our little “camper cabin” at Minnesota’s William O’Brien State Park.

Brand: Twig's Root Beer.

Origin: Shawano, WI.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This was OK. It was pretty creamy and smooth (which I liked), but there was just a bit too much caramel taste (which I didn’t like). It wasn’t enough to turn me off to it - it was just a bit less desirable because of it. Overall, not bad. I’d have this again.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.


Bonus photo: drinking it inside the porch of the cabin on a breezy day:



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Whistler Sarsaparilla

I cracked into this on Sunday:

Whistler Sarsaparilla

Whistler Sarsaparilla
I suppose it's a bad sign they can't spell "sarsaparilla," right?


Brand: Whistler Sarsaparilla.

Origin: Made in Spring Lake Park, MN.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: My experience with Whistler has been up and down. And after this (misspelled) soda, it's back up. This was pretty good. The flavor wasn't too deep, and it was a bit subtle. But it was good. Earthy and tasty. It felt "pure" (whatever that means to you). This was very enjoyable.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Virgil's Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer

Sorry for not posting for over 2 weeks. I've been busy with family. I had hoped to try this next root beer on a family trip, but never got a chance. So I opened it up this afternoon at home:

Virgil's Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer

Virgil's Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer
Will I really "swear it's made in heaven?"


Brand: Virgil's Special Edition Bavarian Nutmeg Root Beer.

Origin: Los Angeles, CA.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: Many years ago, I reviewed "regular" Virgil's Root Beer. And this was much better. The nutmeg was noticeable, but it wasn't overbearing. It was a nice touch. As the label promised, it WAS rich and creamy. (But I didn't swear it was made in heaven.) It was unique without being "weird" (which I was afraid of). Pretty good!

Score: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ramblin' Butterscotch Root Beer

I opened this during my boys' nap time today:

Ramblin' Butterscotch Root Beer


Brand: Ramblin' Butterscotch Root Beer.

Origin: Atlanta, GA.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This wasn't great. It was OK, but a bit "chemically." The butterscotch was overpowering and a bit too much. It just didn't impress me and wasn't that good. You MIGHT like it if you REALLY like butterscotch, but that's about the only good thing I can say about this.

Score: 3 out of 10.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Whistler Black Cherry Soda

I enjoyed this while in a hotel room in Winona last night:

Whistler Black Cherry Soda
Watching NCAA track and field in the background.


Brand: Whistler Black Cherry Soda.

Origin: Spring Lake Park, MN.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: I haven't had great luck with Whistler sodas in the last few weeks, so I didn't have high expectations going into this. But it was pretty good. It was very smooth, and had a deep black cherry flavor. There was a slightly weird "bite" in the aftertaste, but it was subtle and it didn't ruin the experience. I liked this.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Big Ben's Root Beer

I opened this last night as the boys played in the yard:

Big Ben's Root Beer


Brand: Big Ben's Root Beer.

Origin: Catawissa, PA.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This was pretty rich. It had a deep caramel flavor on top of a relatively vanilla classic root beer flavor. The caramel flavor was just a little too much for me, but not horrible. I'll give this a pretty average score.

Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Celsius Cola

This seemed interesting. I was scared...

Celsius Cola


Brand: Celsius Cola.

Origin: Boynton Beach, Florida.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sucralose.

Review: The first thing I did was look online to check the caffeine content because it wasn't listed on the bottle. Amazon.com tells me there's 200 mg of caffeine per serving! (A can of Coke has around 30 mg, and a cup of coffee is around 90 mg. "Diet Pepsi Max" which totes about having a lot of caffeine has 69 mg in a can.) There's a warning that reads "Not recommended for people who are caffeine sensitive, children under 18 or women pregnant or nursing."

But how'd it taste? It was like a weak, fruity cola. It had the "thinness" of a diet, but it wasn't bad. The weak flavor that was there was pretty good. It was a unique cola. I drank it at 2 sittings because of the high caffeine, but this surprised me! I may have to try this again when I need a pick-me-up.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Whistler Cookie Dough Soda

I cracked into this while my boys were napping this afternoon:

Whistler Cookie Dough Soda

Whistler Cookie Dough Soda



Brand: Whistler Cookie Dough Soda.

Origin: Spring Lake Park, MN.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: The first thing I noticed is there was no carbonated "SSsssss" when I popped the top, so this wasn't seal properly. It didn't taste like it had "gone bad," it just tasted like it lost it's carbonation. The flavor was weird: like a mild cola with a LOT of caramel. I see what they were going for, but it was odd. Maybe it was because it was no longer carbonated, so I think I might have to try this soda again to be fair. For right now, it was weird...

Score: 3.5 out of 10.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fritz-Kola Fritz-Limo Apfel-Kirsch-Holunder-Limonade

This was a german soda that I picked up, and I didn't know what I was about to drink:

Fritz-Limo Apfel-Kirsch-Holunder-Limonade
Probably the last "classroom" photo of the spring
as I'm grading final projects right now as I drink this.


After I took my first sip, I found an added-on English sticker on the back. It said it was "Natural Cherry Soda" of Germany. On their website, they called it "fritz-limo apple, cherry and elderberry." It had a lot of apple juice and a little sour cherry juice (both listed before sugar), and then a bit of elderberry juice as well. They appear to sort of be marketing it as a juice drink, and not as a soda.


Brand: Fritz-Kola Fritz-Limo Apfel-Kirsch-Holunder-Limonade

Origin: Hamburg-Othmarschen, Germany.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: It was not "cherry" at all. It was very much like chilled, carbonated hot apple cider that makes me think of Christmas. It wasn't bad - it just wasn't what I expected in a "cherry" soda. I really thought about it as I sipped it, and I could NOT taste ANY cherry flavor. It was all apple to me. It had a bit of a bite at the end of each sip that wasn't super desirable, but overall, it was pretty good. Sweet, but not too sweet. I'll give it an average score.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Whistler Cherry Vanilla Cola

I opened this earlier today and thought it could be weird:

Whistler Cherry Vanilla Cola

Whistler Cherry Vanilla Cola


Brand: Whistler Cherry Vanilla Cola.

Origin: Spring Lake Park, MN.

Purchase Place: Blue Sun Soda, Spring Lake Park, MN.

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: I thought this sounded weird. So I was ready for weird. But it was actually pretty good. It's a very smooth cola with a nice vanilla undertone. The cherry is a BIT fake-tasting, but it's not bad. In the end, this went down pretty easy.

Score: 6 out of 10.