Soda Reviews

Excel Lemonade

I have a couple questions about Excel Lemonade, but I’ll answer yours first.  “Why are you reviewing a non-carbonated beverage, Aaron?”  Well thank you for asking.  I’m reviewing this non-carbonated beverage because the fine folks at Excel included it in their care package to me.  I may not like every soda I try, but that’s just part of the job.  Being rude and not trying what I’m sent is not part of the job… although one did get thrown away by someone else and I’m trying to find a replacement, but that’s a story for another time.

He's smiling. I promise. 

Now that you’re question is answered, here’s mine.  I really need to know more about the artwork on this Excel Lemonade bottle.  It doesn’t hold the same style as any of their other offerings.  It looks as if it was hand drawn on a napkin as an idea for a bottle logo, but ended up on there anyway.  Don’t get me wrong, I like it.  It’s got an innocence about it which lemonade should.  Anywho, it’s just curious to me.

Exce Lemonade is made with pure cane sugar, brominated vegetable oil, and a host of other ingredients.  While I can excuse sodas being sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, I can’t excuse it in lemonade.  So seeing the natural sweetener on the list makes me happy.

Guess what it smells like.  Lemons.  Who’d’ve guessed?

Wait, what?  This is carbonated… albeit slightly.  The faintest of bubbles rushing across my tongue was a pleasant surprise.  The flavor that followed was even better.  Excel Lemonade is on the sweeter side, but not to the point of sugary nonsense.  The lemon flavor, created by the lemon oil used, is great and balances well with the sugar.  It’s a very lemony soda without being too tart.

This nearly perfect blend of lemon, carbonation, and sugar water create a very refreshing lemonade.  It does have a little bit of a syrupy mouthfeel on the back end, but the taste isn’t so bad that I care too much.  Personally, now that I’ve tasted this I want it to be a little more carbonated.  I think that extra bump in fizz could elevate this already excellent selection.

So there you have it.  Excel Lemonade with its simple mascot have surprised me in taste and texture.  If you happen to see one of these in the wild pick yourself up a few, it’ll be worth it.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

Random Person 5 Word Review:  Bubbly, lemony, not too sweet.

This was sent to me by the Excel Bottling Company

Million Dollar Grape

I thought I was done with the assortment of sodas that Excel sent me, but plunging my hand in the ol’ cardboard got me one more… Million Dollar Grape.  That’s a lot of money associated with a grape soda or any beverage for that matter, so I’m hoping they can back it up.  It is sweetened with “Pure Cane Sugar” so that’s worth at least a couple of dollars, right?  I’m not sure it’s made it to a million just yet, perhaps the taste will make up the difference.

When it's worth a million dollars you better get a hat out of it.

The scent that comes out of the bottle isn’t as pungent as I imagined, but it still smells like a combination of sugar and grape candy.  Not a bad place to start if you ask me… and you did since you’re still reading this.  Guess all we can do now is take a swig and hope for the best.

Well, we didn’t get the best. The front end is syrup filled and the back end is dry and lacking in sweetness.  Let me break that down a little bit.  Upon first swig everything seems to be going fine, it’s immediate grape taste works long enough to convince your mind that everything is status quo.  

After this the flavor sits solidly on your tongue in a slovenly manner.  It’s a heavy feel, not all that refreshing in turn.  As time passes this dense flavor of grape dissipates into a dry “diet grape” taste that finishes off the experience.  It was quite unexpected.  It’s like if an elephant sat on your seesaw, seems like fun right?  What if the elephant won’t get off?  What if he just sits there and kinda mocks you because you can’t get down?  What if he wonders *POOF* he vanishes and you come crashing down.  Ultimately achieving what you wanted, but hurting yourself in the process.

To put it a bit more succinctly, Million Dollar Grape seems front loaded with flavor thus negatively affecting the overall taste of the beverage.  The carbonation helps in my opinion, but not enough for me to want to buy any more bottles.  

It’s not undrinkable, which I’m sure is what everyone wants to hear before trying a beverage.  Million Dollar Grape is just not my thing.  There’s too many other grape sodas out there for me to settle on this one.  Hey, in other good news Mike (remember Mike?) wrote all of four sentences for this review.  Here they are below in all their negative glory!

Mike Says:  This is the worst grape soda.  Too carbonated, not very sweet.  It’s the driest grape soda.  I wouldn’t pay one dollar for it much less a million.

Classic Mike.  Anywho, I don’t completely agree with him on it being the worst grape soda, but his point is made.

Verdict - Buy a Bottle

~A

This was sent to us by the Excel Bottling Company

Mist Twst

I don’t normally review mainstream sodas, but I felt it important to follow the saga that is Sierra Mist.  When Sierra Mist came out it was Pepsi’s version of a clear citrus soda not called Slice.  Sierra Mist was alright in my mind, better than Sprite, worse than 7Up, but still an acceptable choice.

Sometime in 2010 Sierra Mist changed sweeteners to sucrose, going away from high fructose corn syrup.  They also changed their name to Sierra Mist Natural… and in my opinion it was awful.  They went from being better than Sprite to being worse than Sprite in my eyes and that’s quite a task.  Not that I find Sprite to be disgusting, but there are so many better choices out there.

Anywho, Sierra Mist has been altered again in name and recipe.  Now it’s called Mist Twst and is back to using high fructose corn syrup again.  Who knows if this’ll taste any good, but it has to be better than the last iteration, right?

Looking at the label it also says that Mist Twst has a “splash of real juice”.  Looking at the ingredient label it appears the juice used is lemon juice concentrate.  Not a bad ingredient to have in your lemon lime soda and in the third position none-the-less.  

Smell wise it’s pretty standard.  There’s a lemony scent not unfamiliar to bathroom cleaners that escapes the bottle.  My expectations are low as I have a feeling I’m about to try a generic lymon soda.

Yup, that’s pretty dang generic.  There’s an initial shock to the tongue, likely caused by the lemon juice.  What follows is a rather mild taste paired with intense carbonation.  Flavor wise it’s not so muted that it’s dry, which is nice.  It’s kind of like Lemon and Lime showed up to the dance in their best suits, but were too afraid to ask anyone to cut a rug.  All flash and no substance.

Aftertaste wise it’s more of the same, but tends to lean a little more towards the lime.  It’s an alright finish, so I’m not going to bust them up too much.

All in all I’m pleased with Mist Twst.  I feel like this is the best version of Sierra Mist so far, putting it easily above Sprite once again and closer to 7Up than it has been in the past.  So my hat is off to you giant snack conglomerate PepsiCo.  You saw what wasn’t working and through market research and science made things right again.

Verdict - Buy a Bottle

~A

This is probably in 90% of the stores you frequent

Rocket Fizz Chocolate Soda

I recently reviewed Rocket Fizz All Natural Chocolate Soda; today I have a bottle of Rocket Fizz Chocolate Soda.  I’m not really sure why this one isn’t considered all natural unless it’s the inclusion of “caramel color”.  All other listed ingredients are natural, right down to the vague “natural flavor”.  Would they really make a completely different soda where the only difference is coloring?

Twist is goin' out to get 'imself a tiny drink.

Aroma wise it smells richer than the all natural version, almost like liquid Tootsie Rolls.  This immediately makes me feel better.  I’m really hoping this difference in scent translates into the taste as well.

As with many oddly flavored sodas sometimes the all natural route won’t give you what you need.  Rocket Fizz Chocolate Soda tastes like chocolate candy the whole way through.  To show how amazingly accurate my nose is, I’d even say the chocolate candy it compares the closest to is a Tootsie Roll.

The initial swig greets my lips with a sizzle.  Once the bubbles give way my taste buds are then welcomed to a fairly smooth mouth feel.  This is important in my opinion to the overall enjoyment of the soda.  Chocolate is often preferred creamy so an overly fizzy soda would break this relationship in your mind.  Thankfully once Rocket Fizz Chocolate Soda reaches this point the somewhat buttery mouthfeel never vanishes.

With most any beverage there is an aftertaste.  Aftertaste is a word that holds negative connotation, but it should not always be thought of as such.  The aftertaste of Rocket Fizz Chocolate Soda is similar to the chocolate candy taste you experienced moments ago as you sipped.

I’d really like to just say “Carbonated liquid Tootsie Rolls” and be done with it, but they did a wonderful job in creating this soda.  It’s still not my favorite chocolate soda submission (Still going to Jeff’s Chocolate Soda) but it’s superior to their other attempt.

Verdict - Buy a Pallet

~A

Random Person 5 word review: Tastes like a chocolate candy.

This was purchased at Rocket Fizz Houston.

 

Frostop Vanilla Caramel Creme Soda

“Great Creme Brulee Taste” says the bottle I purchased.  That’s not typically something you see on the label of any liquid, much less a soda.  Frostop Vanilla Caramel Creme Soda feels it mirrors the creme brulee taste well enough to broadcast it though.  This is just one of the ways how Frostop Vanilla Caramel Creme Soda does a great job in presenting itself.

The liquid inside this clear bottle is a dark amber which shows great against the chocolate brown labeling.  The colors in the label are a variety of warm colors that catch the eye with ease.  Whoever designed all of this put some real thought into it.  Personally I don’t care if this tastes like creme brulee, I just want it to taste as good as it looks.

The aroma that escapes the newly opened bottle is that of caramel and vanilla… in that odor… I mean order.  This is a sweetly scented soda but has no more sugar than your standard Coke or Pepsi, not that they have tiny amounts themselves.  Everything I’ve observed up to this point just screams dessert.  I guess it’s time to find out if the taste backs up what sight and smell have already confirmed.

Ok, I taste the caramel and I taste the vanilla.  Alongside these titular flavors I’m also getting a little coffee sensation as well as a touch of eggnog.  This four flavor combination was unexpected and there’s always the chance that I’m reading too much into it.

First thing that hits my tongue is the caramel.  It’s flavor is familiar and somewhat rich, but doesn’t last all that long before it transitions into the next taste, coffee liqueur.  I’m aware of the fact that no alcohol is in this soda, but good luck convincing my tastebuds of that.  The coffee liqueur burst lasts only but a second before transitioning into the egg nog.

I know what you’re saying, “Eggnog soda?  That sounds disgusting!  How are you hearing my voice right now?  This is really distressing to me and I’m sure it breaks some sort of privacy law!”.  Well perhaps you aren’t saying that, but I wouldn’t blame you if you were.  I love me some nog, but I can’t really fathom it as a soda either.  In the case of Frostop Vanilla Caramel Cream though it’s just a blink of the eggy vanilla taste.  As you might assume it’s at this point where you are transitioned to the aforementioned vanilla which finishes out the sip.

Caramel on the front end with vanilla at the finish. Some nice bookends that surround a complicated middle.  Mouthfeel is fairly average.  The carbonation makes for a foamy sensation, but nothing worth bragging about.

I can’t promise you that you’ll like this, but I can say that no matter your stance on any of the flavors listed it’s worth a try.  Frostop Vanilla Caramel Creme Soda tries to accomplish quite a bit within one bottle and I think it does a better than average job of doing so.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

This was purchased at Rocket Fizz Houston