Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spring Grove Soda on the News!

I've been a fan of Spring Grove Soda for about 5 years now. In fact, this blog started with a case of Spring Grove Soda. This video was on WCCO just a few days ago:

Here's the article:

SPRING GROVE, Minnesota (WCCO) — There was a time when nearly every town in the state had a bottling company — and many sold their own soda pop.

As Coke and Pepsi grew, most bottling companies fizzed out, but one of the oldest bottling companies in the state is still going strong.

Spring Grove may be a quiet town. But that changes when it’s bottling day at Spring Grove Soda.

The process began 120 years ago, when the town’s pharmacist added a soda fountain and later started bottling his own pop.

“Once they bottled it, it’s not like it went all over the country. People could come in and buy a six pack of pop and take it home with them,” owner Bob Hansen said.

It was the “soda of the city,” and then word got out.

In the 1960s, then-owner Arnold Morken started distributing Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and began taking Spring Grove Soda along for the ride.

“He didn’t realize it at the time, but he basically saved the company,” Hansen said.

Hansen and his wife Dawn are the owners now. The company has changed hands over the years, but never formulas. They have 9 flavors, including their own concoction, Rhuberry, along with top sellers Strawberry and Lemon Sour.

“The blend that we started with, we never changed it. I think if we did there would be a mutiny in town,” Hansen said.

One hundred percent pure cane sugar is the life blood here. They have never used and never will use high fructose corn syrup or other additives. Fifty pound bags are sent up to the mixing room and into tanks.

One mixing tank can produce 320 cases of pop.

After flavoring is added, the soda is sent down to the filler area where the bottles are cleaned, then filled, then capped, then cleaned again. Business is bubbling over, as Spring Grove Soda can now be found in 48 states. But for local customers like Sue Morken, it’s home will always be here.

“We used to go to my grandma’s house and we’d but it by the case. We just thought it was the biggest treat in the world,” Morken said.

She’s not the only one who thinks so. Red’s grocery store up the street sells their fair share of six-packs.

“Twice a week. They have to come in and stock it twice a week,” Pat Longmire, owner of Red’s IGA, said.

They also keep their State Fair booth well-stocked. And Hansen has even taken special requests from across the country.

“You’ll get a phone call from somebody. They’ll say grandma or grandpa is on their last leg, they’re going to be passing away and we really need you to get us some soda out here as quick as you can,” Hansen said.

And they do. Because they know being home grown has everything to do with their pop’s popularity.

“I don’t think when Dawn or I bought the place we realized how much that meant to different people that it’s still going. The people of the area really treasure Spring Grove Soda,” Hansen said.

Spring Grove Soda bottles 40,000 cases a year.

We visited them at the State Fair in 2014 and had a root beer. And last year we snapped a photo as we walked by their stand, but didn't stop. Nice story, Spring Grove!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Gray's Strawberry

I tried this earlier today:

Gray's Strawberry

Brand: Gray's Strawberry.

Origin: Janesville, WI.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This is a very "adult" tasting strawberry. It's not too sweet, and it has a little hint of cream. It was surprising and pretty good. I don't know that I would pick it out as being strawberry flavored if the bottle didn't say so, but the berry flavor is quite nice.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Olde Brooklyn Williamsburg Root Beer

I just finished this delicious thing:

Olde Brooklyn Williamsburg Root Beer

Brand: Olde Brooklyn Williamsburg Root Beer.

Origin: Whitestone, NY.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This root beer has a very rich flavor, and almost has a Dr. Pepper hint to it. Very smooth, a bit heavy, but quite tasty. There's just the slightest caramel flavor too, which is usually something I don't care for, but it's so subtle here that it's just fine. I enjoyed this!

Score: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

10 Cokes/Day

I enjoy soda in moderation. (Or at least I think it's "moderation.") Here's a reminder of why you shouldn't go too crazy:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Spindrift Sparkling Lemonade

I needed something fresh yesterday afternoon, so I picked this up at Kowalski's:

Spindrift Sparkling Lemonade

Brand: Spindrift Sparkling Lemonade.

Origin: Waltham, MA.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This "soda" contains 13% fruit juice, which is super rare. The ingredients are carbonated water, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and natural flavor. It tasted fresh and tart. It's not some new twist on lemonade, it's just good ole' sparkling lemonade, done pretty well.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Johnnie Ryan Root Beer

We went to the Water Park of America this past weekend, and I brought this with to enjoy with Pizza:

Johnnie Ryan Root Beer

Brand: Johnnie Ryan Root Beer.

Origin: Niagara Falls, NY.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: I'm becoming a fan of Johnnie Ryan sodas. This wasn't anything fancy, but it tasted like a new twist on a classic root beer. It had a nice hint of carmel, without being overpowering. A little different, but good.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Blueberry Breese

I took this to a board meeting earlier this week:

Blueberry Breese

Brand: Blueberry Breese.

Origin: Breese, IL.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This was OK. It was kind of generically berry-like. The true blueberry flavor wasn't too strong. The amount of sweetness was good - not too sweet. It wasn't bad, but it sure wasn't fantastic either.

Score: 4.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

St. John Brewers Root Beer

I had this with some pizza the other night:

St. John Brewers Root Beer

Brand: St. John Brewers Root Beer.

Origin: Virgin Islands.

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

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This smelled good as soon as I twisted off the cap. It had a very deep flavor, and was almost a little thick. It had just a hint of anise, and was a bit herby. It also had a pretty strong wintergreen flavor. I'll rank it a little above average.

Score: 6.5 out of 10.