Saturday, October 31, 2020

Northern Soda Company Maple Root Beer

I shared this with my boys last night: 

Northern Soda Company Maple Root Beer

Brand: Northern Soda Company Maple Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: This smelled pretty normal when I cracked into it - just a slight whiff of maple. But OH MY GOODNESS the flavor is about ALLLLLL pancake syrup. There's really no reason to call this a version of a root beer as it's basically a more liquid version of maple syrup. I'm OK with that, but it was a bit shocking when I first sipped it. And both of my boys agreed - it was basically "pancake syrup soda" if that appeals to you. It was good for sipping, but too rich to chug.

Score: 5 out of 10.

(This was my 3rd root beer this month! But unfortunately, it was my worst with just an "average" score of 5. The other two root beers had 8s seen HERE and HERE. A decent month for root beer!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Casey's General Store Root Beer

My parents visited this past weekend, and they brought up a bottle of root beer from their drive up:

Casey's Root Beer
Photo after most of it was drank. Sorry.

Brand: Casey's General Store Root Beer.  

Origin: Ankeny, IA.

Purchase Place: Casey's General Store, Wells, MN.

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: This had a pretty rich and "classic" root beer flavor. I was pleasantly surprised as I expected a "store brand" to be weaker / stranger / worse. But this was good! The flavor really hit hard, but it was pretty spot-on. It's a solid root beer!

Score: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

"The Bottlecap Score:" a tasting journal for tracking your soda experiences!

I was recently contacted by a fellow Minnesotan named Jason who was finishing up a new book. He wondered if he could send me a copy and I could review it here. It's SUPER appropriate for this blog, as it's called "The Bottlecap Score: A Tasting Journal for Pop Connoisseurs, Soda Jerks, & Soft Drink Enthusiasts." I was pumped to receive it!

The Bottlecap Score: A Tasting Journal for Pop Connoisseurs, Soda Jerks, & Soft Drink Enthusiasts.
My copy in my hand!

This is a great book (and for sure great GIFT IDEA) for those like me who (one) love soda and (two) like to keep track of what's good and what stinks. This book goes a bit more in-depth than I do for each review, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Jason writes about how this ranking system works, he has a chapter on different ways to host "tasting parties" (which I have wanted to do for YEARS), he has a section for tracking your favorite and your worst sodas, and then he has a lot of room for your personal reviews that are broken into 13 different flavor-based sections (like cherry, citrus, cola, cream soda, diet, etc).

He writes a lot about the intricacies of his ranking system, but here's the simple breakdown after all those pages:

How to achieve your personal "bottlecap score"

There's a lot to unpack there, but like I said, this comes AFTER a lengthy description of how to break this all down, so this is like the Cliff Notes version. Just like my blog, a "5" is considered an average score. Notice you rank ALL kinds of things. I like the idea of including things like carbonation, aroma, and memorability into the system! Those are NOT things I have in my personal ranking system (or maybe I DO have those, but they're not explicitly stated like this). But I don't know if the bottle shape or the value are things I'm personally concerned about. But the great thing is if you think the same as me, you could just decide to give everything the same score for a category or 2, and then you're just effectively ignoring it. (If it's not something you care to rank or to consider for every soda.) Overall, I LOVE how there's more info/categories here than what I share in my reviews. I'm sort of excitedly jealous of his ideas in this system!

Here's what all the later pages look like where you review your sodas:

"The Bottlecap Score" review pages
Picture of the top half of a page in the "root beer and sarsaparilla" section (sure to be my favorite).

Each review is a half page, so you can see 4 reviews/spread. You note the brand and flavor, and then you can circle the "flavor type." I REALLY like the idea of having a scale where you can mark the "flavor strength" anywhere between "too weak," "just right," and "too strong," because that's TOTALLY something I write about, but have never thought to put in a "scale" form. Nice! 

Below the flavor scale, you can make notes, write down the date, and note if it has caffeine (something readers have asked me to note as well, but I haven't implemented that). And then there's the "bottlecap score" tally on the right.

The "favorite" and "worst" listings. Also, there's a "favorite brands" list which I would use.

There are also fun soda-related illustrations alllllll through the book:

Aliens, Astronauts, and Soda!

A Soda Connoisseur
Notice the tiny man in the corner: the entire book is a flip book of him enjoying a soda.

Jason and I emailed back-and-forth a few times about this book. In his final note, he said something that I could see happening: "As an aside, I sincerely hope you like and enjoy the Bottlecap Score. My own family has. Sometimes there is temptation to fudge numbers for the category to force a particular score, but I am generally impressed how close on the scale the final number is to my true feelings." I had already looked through the book and had that same thought of "well, I wonder if all these points would REALLY add up the way I'd WANT them to" before I went back and read that he addressed that in an email from a week ago. The book must work!

Side note: I also spotted the book in a post on Blue Sun Soda Shop's Facebook page about 2 weeks ago:

The Bottlecap Score at Blue Sun Soda

You can find it there, or check it out on Amazon here. Good luck with the book Jason! It's very helpful and a lot of fun! I'm hoping people pick it up as a gift for the soda lover in their family...

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Northern Soda Company Root Beer

I grabbed these from Remix a few days ago:

Northern Soda Company Root Beer and Maple Root Beer
Remix has a large variety of this brand, so I hope I like these!

Northern Soda Company Root Beer
I had to start with the "normal" root beer.

Brand: Northern Soda Company Root Beer.

Origin: Arden Hills, MN.

Purchase Place: Remix, St. Paul, MN.

Sweetener: Cane Sugar.

Review: The first sip was pretty "classic" root beer, which is what I was expecting based on the retro can design. (Side note: the cans are just plain aluminum with a big sticker that wraps around it as the label, and that seems unique for canned sodas.) 

But after the initial root-beer-on-the-lips taste, it really ends with a strong unique taste: it's a little "herby" and a lot "cherry-like!" It shocked me at first, but then I really started to like it. Super unique, and fruity. The only complaint is that it tastes just a LITTLE weak. This is totally one of those that everyone might not like because they "took a chance," but I sure like it. It makes me excited to try their maple root beer, and excited to head back to Remix to try other kids of Northern Soda Company sodas!

Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, October 16, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: Tab Soda to be Discontinued

Coca Cola announced today that they are going to stop making Tab soda.

Tab soda to be discontinued!

Here's an excerpt from CNN:

After nearly 60 years, Coca-Cola is discontinuing its first-ever diet soda, Tab, which acquired a huge fan base in the '70s and '80s and maintained a small but devoted following through the years.

"Tab had an amazing run," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition and a longtime Tab enthusiast. Bixby said messages of condolences have been pouring in. "As a business decision I can understand it, but it's a very sad day ... I do feel it's like losing a friend."

Tab is one of several "underperforming" products Coke has said it is eliminating from its brand lineup by the end of the year as the company seeks to streamline production and focus on bestsellers.

Coke is working to kill their "zombie" brands that aren't making them much money. More than half of Coca Cola's 400 brands are ones with "little to no scale" and have sales that represent only 2% of total revenue. I'll keep an eye out for more brands on the chopping block.

I think I've had a Tab YEARS ago, but I guess I'll have to try to find one quickly so I can taste/review it before it goes away forever.  R.I.P.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Goslings Ginger Beer

This BIG bottle (1 liter) has been sitting in my basement for a while. It was time to crack it open:

Goslings Ginger Beer

Brand: Goslings Ginger Beer.

Origin: Worcester, MA.

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

Sweetener: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Review: Maybe it's because I've had this sitting at home for a while, but it was flat. It didn't taste bad, so I had to check the ingredients: yes, "carbonated water" was the first ingredient, so it was meant to have bubbles. It had the normal and familiar "bite" of ginger in the back of my throat. But it otherwise didn't stand out in any way. Just a decent "ginger ale-y" ginger beer.

Score: 6 out of 10.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Whistler Cream Soda

I opened this tonight:

Pretty tasty!

Whistler Cream Soda


Brand: Whistler Cream Soda.

Origin: Spring Lake Park, MN.

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

Sweetener: Sugar.

Review: I generally don't have strong feelings about cream sodas. And that's true for this one as well. It was good, creamy, smooth, and quite sweet. But nothing too fancy or different than any cream soda. 

Score: 6.5 out of 10. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Rhett and Link's "100 Years of Soda Taste Test"

Here's a semi-entertaining video about sodas (skip to below the video for a shorter version):

Direct link:

That video is 15 minutes long. If you want to see an edited version that gets right to the "important" parts, check out this video on Facebook that's only 5 minutes. (SERIOUSLY, THE FACEBOOK LINK IS SO MUCH BETTER BECAUSE IT'S EDITED DOWN.)