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.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Claeys Root Beer Old Fashioned Hard Candies

I've had this bag of Root Beer Candies that I've been working on for many years:

Claeys Root Beer Old Fashioned Hard Candies
I picked these up over 3 years ago as seen in this post!


My wife was about to throw it away because I was eating them very slowly, but I'm not a huge "hard candy" guy. But then she tried one and was NOT going to throw them away. They are good! When I first started to write this, they had 21 ratings on Amazon, and 17 are a full 5 stars. (There were two 4 star, a 3 star, and a 1 star rating, but the 1 star rating is someone saying they LOVE them, so I don't think they know how to work the "star system.") Now there are many more reviews, so I think they're catching on!


Brand: Claeys Root Beer Old Fashioned Hard Candies.

Origin: South Bend, Indiana.

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

Sweetener: Sugar and Corn Syrup.

Review: These have a very "true" Root Beer flavor. They taste like a better "adult" version of the root beer barrels we all had at parades as kids. I don't often rate candies here, but if I were to give this a score like I do sodas, I'd have to say it was a better-than-average 8.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Saranac Root Beer

After a long weekend, I cracked into this tonight:

Saranac Root Beer


Brand: Saranac Root Beer.

Origin: Utica, NY.

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

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: This tasted pretty "classic," which is a good thing. Quite smooth with no bite. There was a fair amount of a caramel aftertaste which I wasn't a huge fan of, but it was still quite good. I'll rank it a bit above average.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring Grove Limited Edition Rhu-berry

It was Spring Grove soda that made me want to start this blog. Now, they have a "new limited edition" flavor, and even though it sounded strange, I had to try it.

Spring Grove Limited Edition Rhu-berry
In my beautiful basement classroom where I teach.

Brand: Spring Grove Limited Edition Rhu-berry.

Origin: Spring Grove, MN

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar and Corn Syrup.

Review: It had "natural rhubarb flavor" listed as an ingredient, and I wasn't sure what that would taste like. (You know how cherry soda is a very different cherry flavor than ACTUAL cherries, but we're all cool with that?) Turns out, it's kind of disgusting. It has a berry sweetness, followed by a strong, sharp rhubarb kick that is very unpleasant. I could only tolerate a few sips. Good thing this is a "limited edition" - hopefully it goes away ASAP.

Score: 1 out of 10.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Whistler Grape Soda

I enjoyed this earlier today:

Whistler Grape Soda

Whistler Grape Soda



Brand: Whistler Grape Soda.

Origin: Spring Lake Park, MN.

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

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This was good, but not outstanding. It was a good grape flavor, without "trying" too hard or being too "out there." Nothing fancy, but went down well.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Norma Sparkling Beverages Root Beer

I enjoyed this over the weekend as one of my last sodas from my last stop at Minnesota's Largest Candy Store:

Norma Sparkling Beverages Root Beer


Brand: Norma Sparkling Beverages Root Beer.

Origin: Akron, Ohio.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: There wasn't much special about this, but it was pretty good. There was just a nice hint of wintergreen, and otherwise it was pretty smooth. (My wife didn't care for it much, but I thought it was pretty good.) I'll rank it just a bit above average.

Score: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Wild Spur Sarsaparilla

I visited my folks this weekend, and I brought this to enjoy with pork chops for lunch:

Wild Spur Sarsaparilla


Brand: Wild Spur Sarsaparilla.

Origin: Chicago, IL.

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

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: This was a good one. It had a hint of vanilla, and was pretty smooth/creamy. There's really nothing fancy about this, but it was very tasty.

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Whistler Lime Soda

I cracked into my first bottle from last Friday's trip to Blue Sun Soda:

Whistler Lime Soda



Brand: Whistler Lime Soda.

Origin: Spring Lake Park, MN.

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

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This had a nice lime flavor that was pretty smooth. However, it was a little weak, and it was like I could taste the glass bottle a bit (if that makes any sense). It wasn't bad, but it needed a bit more. It's getting a pretty average score.

Score: 5.5 out of 10.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Another Trip to Blue Sun Soda

Yesterday, my kindergartener had a half-day of school, and my youngest son was at Grandma's house, so I asked Henry what he wanted to do with his afternoon with me. He wanted to go play pinball at Blue Sun Soda. So I complied a list of sodas I've had, and we stopped by.

Blue Sun Soda Shop
There was a "shooting game" on top of their toilet.  I think they were asking us to "aim."

Blue Sun Soda Shop
"Sodas of the World" section.  I grabbed a few of these.

Pinball machines at Blue Sun Soda Shop
My son just played pinball the whole time.  They have 6 machines,
and 3 or 4 are free.  I was told they're getting another machine shortly!

Blue Sun Soda Shop
"Springtime Sodas."

Blue Sun Soda Shop
The guy working there asked if I had Virgil's with NUTMEG.  I've had Virgil's, but not this special blend.
He said they liked this so much, that they bought a palette because they only release it once a year.

Whistler sodas at Blue Sun Soda Shop
Made in-house "Whistler" soda.  Blue Sun purchased this from the north metro a few months back.

Whistler bottling at Blue Sun Soda Shop
You can peak through a hole in the wall to see Whistler being made on this awesomely-colored old bottling machine!

My haul from Blue Sun Soda Shop
This was my haul yesterday.  An assorted case, a big bottle of Virgil's with nutmeg, and an 8-pack of Whistler.

Whistler Sodas
The Whistler sodas I bought.

The guy working there laughed when he walked past me at one time and remarked on the list in my hand: "I like a guy who knows what he's after!"  I told him I have a soda/root beer blog, and that I'm referencing what I've already had (I reference my blog here on my phone, and I also had a sheet of paper which listed what I had stored in my basement that I haven't drank/reviewed yet).

I told him that after this trip, I'll have had EVERY ROOT BEER THEY HAVE TO OFFER.  That made me a little sad.  But he noted that they're hoping to expand their root beer selection by 50% shortly.  (I had noticed a few brands there yesterday that weren't there the last time I stopped in.)

Alright, I think I have my soda selection for most of the summer!  I bought these 33 bottles yesterday, and I still had most of a case from the last time I was in.  Time to get drinking!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Original New York Seltzer Black Cherry Soda

I brought this to my class yesterday:

Original New York Seltzer Black Cherry Soda


Brand: Original New York Seltzer Black Cherry Soda.

Origin: Walnut, CA.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: So don't think that this is "soda" - it's really more of a flavored water. With 90 calories. But this was pretty good. The root beer version of this was OK, but this was a bit better. (Less weird than the root beer version.) It has a smooth black cherry flavor, and then a bit of "crispness" from the carbonated water. Not bad.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jones Root Beer

After a race yesterday, I cracked into this:

Jones Root Beer


Brand: Jones Root Beer.

Origin: Seattle, WA.

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

Sweetener: Inverted Cane Sugar.

Review: The first thing that hit me was the caramel flavor - it was a very "caramel-y" root beer. It wasn't too bad. It was pretty smooth with just a little bit of a foamy head. I thought it was OK. If you really like a bit of caramel flavor, then try this for sure. But I'll give it a slightly-above-average score of 6.5.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Carousel Orange Soda

My kindergartener is home with some spots on his back (waiting on test results to see if it's chickenpox), so he played Legos as I enjoyed this:

Carousel Orange Soda
Legos alllll over our table. 


Brand: Carousel Orange Soda.

Origin: Arlington Heights, IL.

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

Sweetener: Sugar and/or Corn Sweetener.

Review: This had a soft, subtle flavor. It was OK, but just a little weak. And it's hard to rank on the "sharp" to "smooth" scale because each sip starts a little sharper and ends a little creamier. Not bad. Not great either. Nothing fancy. Cool label though.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

1893 Citrus Cola (by Pepsi)

I grabbed this from Target this weekend:

1893 Citrus Cola (by Pepsi)


Brand: 1893 Citrus Cola (by Pepsi).

Origin: unknown.

Purchase Place: Target, Minneapolis, MN.

Sweetener: Fair trade certified sugar.

Review: I was ready for an "orange" punch, but after a sip, it was clearly a "grapefruit" flavor. And then, sure enough, I noticed that it said it was infused with "grapefruit essence." If you like grapefruit, then give this a try - the grapefruit flavor was pretty spot on. It was OK, but their plain 1893 Cola was much better.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Soda Can Portrait

Here's a portrait of Michael Jackson done by Seaton Brown that was made out of 1,680 recycled soda cans:

Michael Jackson soda can portrait by Seaton Brown

Michael Jackson soda can portrait by Seaton Brown
Close up.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hosmer Mountain Black Cherry Soda

I opened this yesterday on my birthday:

Hosmer Mountain Black Cherry Soda


Brand: Hosmer Mountain Black Cherry Soda.

Origin: Willimantic, CT.

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

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: This was OK, but not amazing. It had a decent flavor, and ALMOST verged on "black cherry CREAM." Nothing exciting, but was decent. I'll rate it just barely above average.

Score: 6 out of 10.