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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer

I cracked into this yesterday:

Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer


Brand: Pennsylvania Dutch Birch Beer

Origin: Pennsauken, NJ.

Purchase Place: .

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: I'm never quite sure how to describe a birch beer. Maybe like a "cleaner" or crisper root beer? I dunno. This one is easier to describe. First of all, it's good. Secondly, I'd describe the flavor as a mix between a deep cola mixed with a light root beer. This was REALLY good. It had some fruity undertones (like a good cola would have), but then a slight herbiness like a root beer. I enjoyed this a lot. This one gets a pretty high score.

Score: 9 out of 10.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Frostie Orange Soda

I was getting some "specialty" ingredients for a recipe at Lunds last week, and I walked down the soda aisle and grabbed this:

Frostie Orange Soda


Brand: Frostie Orange Soda

Origin: Detroit, MI.

Purchase Place: Lund's Grocery Store, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: "High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or cane sugar."

Review: The first sip was good, but then there was a "sharpness" that didn't belong in an orange soda. I didn't expect it to be "smooth," I just didn't expect it to have that strange bite. It wasn't TOO bad, but it wasn't that desirable. I'll give it a middle-of-the-road score.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Final 3 Hard Sodas: Jack Daniel's Black Jack Cola, Best Damn Cherry Cola, and Not Your Father's Hard Root Beer

I recently finished my final 3 hard sodas from Total Wine:

Jack Daniel's Black Jack Cola, Best Damn Cherry Cola, and Not Your Father's Hard Root Beer
Jack Daniel's Black Jack Cola, Best Damn Cherry Cola, and Not Your Father's Hard Root Beer.

Jack Daniel's Black Jack Cola: this was a nice mix of booze and soda for me. I like the flavor of hard liquor, but (almost every time) it's a bit much. This is a WAY toned-down version of Jack Daniel's that has a little carbonation and a cherry kick. This fella thinks thinks that's a great combo. Score: 8 out of 10.

Not Your Father's Hard Root Beer: I still don't like hard root beers. I just don't think that beer and root beer flavors go well together. It tastes like burnt root beer. I thought it was a bit better than Best Damn Hard Root Beer and that I'd give this like a 3 out of 10. Sure enough, I went back and looked at my review of Best Damn Root Beer, and I gave that a 2.5. So Not Your Father's is better, but I'm still FAR from being a fan of either. Score: 3 out of 10.

Best Damn Cherry Cola: this was the surprise of the group. I really REALLY didn't like Best Damn Root Beer when I tried that last year, and I expected this to yield similar results. But the slight beer-y flavor works much better with the cherry cola. It's a very "black cherry" cherry flavor that is really deep. And then the beer-y kick in the end isn't bad. If you like beer and cherry cola, then for sure give this a try! Score: 7 out of 10.


Sidenote: here's my review of my first 3 hard sodas from Total Wine.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cheerwine

I had the diet version of this 4 years ago, so it was about time to try the regular version (this was the 2nd soda my wife bought for me at Cub recently):

Cheerwine


Brand: Cheerwine.

Origin: Salisbury, NC.

Purchase Place: Cub Foods, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was good. It's some sort of cherry cola (one place on the bottle it says "wild cherry"). It's pretty sweet, but the carbonation gives it just a little kick. This is a keeper! Bonus: try Cheerwine this year because it's 100 years old in 2017.

Score: 8 out of 10.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tree Fort Classic Cola

My wife was at Cub Foods in St. Paul over the weekend, and she sent me this picture and asked what I wanted:

Cub Food Sodas

I had her grab a Tree Fort Cola and a Cheerwine. I started with the Tree Fort Cola:

Tree Fort Classic Cola


Brand: Tree Fort Classic Cola.

Origin: Minneapolis, MN.

Purchase Place: Cub Foods, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I wasn't sure what to think after the first sip. This had a very deep almost "brown sugar"-like sweetness. After a few more sips, I realized it was a sweetness that was a bit like very almond-flavored frosting. It was a VERY unique cola, and I ended up liking it in the end. But it was so different, that it took me a bit to warm up to it. I'll rate is just above average.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Friday, February 17, 2017

O-Zell Vanilla Dream

I tried this recently:

O-Zell Vanilla Dream


Brand: O-Zell Vanilla Dream.

Origin: Silver Lake, CA.

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

Sweetener: Hawaiian Cane Sugar Blend.

Review: This smelled good. But tasted like piss with a hint of vanilla. Currently, O-Zell is 0-2 in my book. I didn't come close to finishing this. Most of it got dumped. It had a very "chemically" sharpness to it that was a huge turn off. It just did not taste good at all. No thanks.

Score: 2 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

North Star Pineapple Orange Soda

I brought this to class with me today:

North Star Pineapple Orange Soda
With a board full of notes in the background. Busy day.


Brand: North Star Pineapple Orange Soda.

Origin: Forest Lake, MN.

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

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: OK, "pineapple orange" doesn't sound that good to me. I mean, let's be honest. But I just thought I'd give this a try. The flavor is subtle and "soft," and it was surprisingly good. The pineapple isn't harsh or too sharp, and it tastes like a true mix of pineapple and orange. Sure, I had low expectations for this, but it flew past them. Not too shabby.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ramblin' Maple Root Beer

I tried this yesterday afternoon:

Ramblin' Maple Root Beer


Brand: Ramblin' Maple Root Beer.

Origin: Atlanta, GA.

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

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: This smelled STRONGLY of maple syrup when I popped the cap. It tasted like it too, but it was a strong "burnt" flavor - I feel like something about the way carbonation works with that flavor makes it very harsh and horrible. The maple flavor isn't bad, it just BECOMES bad (I think). If you REALLY like maple flavored things, then try this. Otherwise, stay away. I only mustered a handful of sips.

Score: 2 out of 10.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Northwoods Soda Locator

I wanted to try a Northwoods Soda, so I looked them up online. They had a locator that was really helpful. This is the closest place where I can purchase it:



Yeah, I don't think that's quite worth it for a soda...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lake Tahoe Blue Cream Soda

Now that class has started at Hamline, I thought I'd bring a soda to celebrate:

Lake Tahoe Blue Cream Soda
Sitting on top of the printer in my Digital Media Arts / Digital Photography classroom.

Brand: Lake Tahoe Blue Cream Soda.

Origin: Camarillo, CA.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This had a decent initial flavor. It was quite creamy and smooth, and it had the standard "blue" flavor of blue cream sodas. (Is that actually a favor, or is that perceived because it's blue?) It was good, but didn't stand out as anything fantastic. I'll rank it just above average.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Kutztown Sarsaparilla

I was looking for a root beer in my stash yesterday, but I first grabbed this and thought I'd give it a try:

Kutztown Sarsaparilla


Brand: Kutztown Sarsaparilla.

Origin: Kutztown, PA.

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

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: This smelled great as soon as I popped the top. It tasted good too: it had average depth, and a nice bite at the end of each sip. It was a bit herby without being too much. It almost had a bit of a fruity taste, but again, that wasn't too much. Quite a decent soda!

Score: 8 out of 10.


p.s. I didn't realize until after I had written this all up that I had tried this last month, only it had a different label. I thought this one was better (last month's was rated a "5"), but it could be that this is a newer bottle and the other one was getting a bit old. Note to self: finish up the few sodas left from MN Largest Candy Store from last year before continuing on to my Blue Sun Soda stash.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Manhattan Special Black Cherry

I opened this adorable 10 oz bottle yesterday afternoon:

Manhattan Special Black Cherry



Brand: Manhattan Special Black Cherry.

Origin: Brooklyn, NY (not Manhattan, oddly enough).

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This had a very "adult" taste. It was not overly sugary or syrupy. It had a deep flavor, and then I noticed that "black cherry concentrate" was the 3rd ingredient (and "grape skin extract" was 4th, which makes this soda sound a little like a serial killer). Overall, it could have used a bit more sweetness. The taste was just a bit harsh. Even though this was a small bottle, I didn't/couldn't finish it all.

Score: 3.5 out of 10.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Live Kombucha Revive Root Beer

This isn't really a review, but I just want to note that I tried "Live Kombucha: Revive Root Beer."



I'm not a kombucha fan at ALL. It has too much of a harsh bite for me. But my wife loves it, so I try some now-and-then. I got this for my wife, but then I noticed that it has Stevia in it, and she can always taste that and doesn't like it. So we just both tried a few sips before giving up on it.

It had a decent root beer smell, and a decent root beer taste before the MAJOR BITE of the kombucha hit. And it wasn't too strong of an kombucha. I don't feel right rating this, but I just wanted to let you all know that if you like kombucha and root beer, then give this a try.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kutztown Sarsaparilla

Last night, my wife took both boys to a movie. I cracked into this:

Kutztown Sarsaparilla


Brand: Kutztown Sarsaparilla.

Origin: Kutztown, PA.

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

Sweetener: Pure Cane Sugar.

Review: This had a slightly berry/fruity hint to it which was nice. But other than that, it was just OK. It had a slightly bite that was OK, but nothing else stood out. Not bad. Not good. Giving it an average score.

Score: 5 out of 10.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

3 Hard Soda Reviews: Sprecher Hard Root Beer, White Claw Black Cherry Hard Seltzer, and Seagrams Hard Lemon 'N Lime

I've finished my first 3 hard sodas from my recent Total Wine trip (where I picked up 6 total). I'll do 2 sets of mini reviews, so here's the first:

Sprecher Hard Root Beer, White Claw Black Cherry Hard Seltzer, and Seagram's Lemon 'N Lime.


Sprecher Hard Root Beer: I think this was a touch better than "Best Damn Root Beer," but not by much. The maltiness mixed with the root beer makes it taste a little burnt. It smells good and has a creamy/vanilla aroma, but then it has a harsh aftertaste. Not the best (but as I've noted before, I'm not a beer fan).  Score: 3.5 out of 10.

White Claw Black Cherry Hard Seltzer: I didn't know what this was supposed to be: it's a hard seltzer (I expected "spiked water"), but it also noted on the can that it was "beer with natural flavors." But it was good. It had a slightly malty aftertaste, but it was not very "beery" at all. My wife had a few sips and noted something like "I could see myself sipping on one of these on a hot day!" The black cherry was quite sharp, but I sort of expected that with the carbonated water. I'll try other flavors of this over the summer! Score: 7.5 out of 10.

Seagram's Lemon 'N Lime: This reminded me a lot of Mike Hard Lemonade (pretty sugary and syrupy), but with more of a hint of lime and more of a slight malty beer-like aftertaste. Real sweet. Pretty good! Score: 8 out of 10.

Back with more soda reviews shortly, and the last 3 hard soda reviews in a few weeks (probably).

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Nesbitt's Strawberry Soda

I had to stop by the hardware store the other day, and I looked over their stash:

Frattallone's Soda Stash
The soda section at Frattallone's Ace Hardware on Grand Ave in St. Paul (down near Snelling Ave).

I picked this up while I was there:

Nesbitt's Strawberry Soda


Brand: Nesbitt's Strawberry Soda.

Origin: Waco, TX.

Purchase Place: Frattallone's Ace Hardware, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I don't know what I was expecting, but I was a little disappointed that this tasted like strawberry candy and not like true strawberry. It was fine. Nothing special. A little bit "artificial" tasting, so I'll give it a just below average score.

Score: 4 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

AJ Stephans Butterscotch Root Beer

I was stuck at home with a sick kindergartener yesterday, so I cracked into this while he was resting:

AJ Stephans Butterscotch Root Beer


Brand: AJ Stephans Butterscotch Root Beer.

Origin: Orange, MA.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar

Review: This wasn't bad. It wasn't great, either, but it wasn't bad. The butterscotch flavor is nice and smooth, and that helps smooth out the root beer flavor too. Overall, it was quite creamy. I've never been a huge fan of butterscotch root beer, but if that sounds appealing to you, then check this out!

Score: 5 out of 10.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hard Sodas from Total Wine

My wife and I left our boys at Grandma's house after Christmas for a few days, so we got to run "adult" errands. We had to stop at Total Wine in Roseville so my wife could pick up some wine for a party, and I cruised the by-the-bottle hard cider section:

All sold as individual bottles. It's pretty sweet.

These are all hard sodas. There were more on the next shelf down as well.
There were very few of these here the last time I was here.

 In the end, I walked out with these 6 to try:



I heard a lot about "Not Your Father's Root Beer" in the past, so I'm excited to try it.  I didn't know that Sprecher made a hard root beer!  I tried (and did NOT care for) Best Damn Root Beer, so I'll see what I think of their cherry cola.  The "White Claw" is a hard sparkling water with black cherry.  And I have no preconceived opinion about the Jack Daniels Cola or the Seagram's Hard Lemon N' Lime.  I'll report back about these 6.

Here's a link to all of my posts tagged with "alcohol" so you can see my previous reviews of hard sodas and hard ciders.  And here's a post about my first trip to Total Wine to get some hard ciders with my little guy 2.5 years ago.