Soda Reviews

Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola

I love RC Cola.  It’s easily my favorite mainstream cola.  Back in the mid 90’s RC released a variation called Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola, which I never got to try.  This concoction used cane sugar to sweeten as opposed to HFCS.  Eventually Royal Crown Draft vanished from American stores and eventually came to live almost WORD in New Zealand.

Look how proud Twist looks next to this bottle.

Over the years I’ve developed a few relationships, one such was with a soda maker from New Zealand.  He made some of my favorite sodas to date and is a nice guy to boot.  In fact we still keep in touch here and there throughout the year.  I knew Royal Crown Draft was in New Zealand, but I figured I could get it shipped here on my own dime.  This proved to be fruitless as no one over there really ships soda to America.  My friend stepped in and sent me a bottle.  I was beyond thrilled.

Opening and drinking this bottle of soda is going to be very bittersweet for me.  I’m going to get to try a rare variation of a cola I love, but after I’m done I’m likely to never have it again.  It’s been sitting in my fridge for almost a week just because I didn’t want to drink it.  Ah well, that’s the name of the game, right?

Now that I’ve cracked it open I get the familiar scent of RC Cola running around my nostrils.  It’s richer than RC though, the aroma has more substance to it.  I’m a little worried that I’ll drink this with bias, but I’ll do my best.

Whoa, that’s not what I expected at all.  My initial taste reveals he flavor bottled is that of a deep cola.  Flavors are rich, smooth, and not overly sweet.  It really does seem like a craft cola.  Had Royal Crown Draft plateaued after this initial taste I’d have been happy to try it and would easily recommend it.  It’s what happens after that makes me sad that Royal Crown Draft and I probably won’t cross paths again.

As the first flavor dies down another grows from the shadows.  It builds from the back of the throat, an almost chocolatey taste.  This cola/semi-chocolate combination is a winner with me as I’m a big fan of chocolate cokes (Coca Cola with chocolate syrup mixed in).  I can’t say that this tastes of a chocolate Coke exactly, but the essence is certainly there.  Taking a sip of Royal Crown Draft fires off whatever neurons are necessary for me to remember chocolate syrup in cola.  

In short, I love it.  I thought I had hyped it up too much in my head, but I was pleasantly surprised with additional goodness.  Now I sit and stare at this empty bottle, appreciating what I just consumed.  C’mon RC Cola… let’s get this back on shelves.  You’re too good to sit idly by as Coke and Pepsi take the one and two spot.  There’s something to be said for number three.  Number three doesn’t have as much pressure and can have fun.  Sigh, maybe one day.

Verdict - Buy Stock

~A

This soda was supplied to me by a Kind Kiwi.

Old Tyme Kola

Ok, I’ll admit that when I see a business called “Shoppe” I find it quaint.  Now if that same “Shoppe” were to be called “Ye Olde Shoppe” that’s a bit of overkill on kitchy spelling.  Old Tyme Kola has that problem.  Yes, I’m aware of the kola nut, but c’mon… I’m about to drink a cola, not a “kola”.

The pirate on the label looks like a dude cos-playing a pirate.

That aside, looking at the ingredients there is nothing “Old Tyme” about this other than the oldest of ingredients, water.  The rest is caramel coloring, HFCS, and etcetera etcetera.  Of course that doesn’t mean that Old Tyme Kola will be bad; I’m just giving you an idea of what’s inside this bottle brandished with a pirate.

The cola… sorry… kola aroma that escapes the bottle is RC Cola-esque.  This is a positive for me as avid readers of the site know that RC is my favorite mainstream cola.  Even the label is primarily blue, secondarily red, and tertiarily white, like RC.  Hmmmmmm, I didn’t know that tertiarily was a word until I tried it out.

Well it doesn’t taste quite like RC, but it’s still a decent cola overall.  Even though I immediately praised it the first thing I’m going to delve into further is a criticism.  Old Tyme Kola makes my teeth grate together easily.  It’s so syrupy that my teeth grab each other without much effort and grind accidentally.  This is not a fun feeling and makes me wish I had a glass of water nearby.

Teeth gritting aside the kola flavor is fair, but could be considered a little watery.  The cola “bite” is not quite at the mainstream level, but isn’t as toothless as the dollar store brands either.  Carbonation wise it’s a small amount of tiny bubbles which gives a slight burning fizz that dissipates rapidly.  

To save words written and words read; Old Tyme Kola is an average cola that’s worth picking up once if you find it in a gas station on a road trip.

Verdict - Buy a Bottle

~A

This soda was supplied to me by Wrastlin’ Jakito

Pearl Vanilla Rooibos

Don’t call it a comeback I’ve been here for years. I’m rockin’ my peers, puttin’ sodas in fear.

Even OG Twist came back to see what the fuss was about.

Yes, I’m listening to Mama Said Knock You Out to help me feel inspired.  I felt uninspired to write and now Ladies Love Cool James and I gotta shake off that funk.  What better way to shake off the funk than from a soda sent to me by a soda company.  Pearl soda company to be specific.  They wanted a review from me, The Soda Jerk, and now after a 3 month intermission they shall get their wish.  I do apologize for the wait, but wanted to make sure I could give them the attention they deserved.

Pearl is an unique company in that they sell soda in syrup form.  Apologies, it’s not just soda, it’s Tea Soda.  You see Pearl is a tea company first and a soda company second.  What that means to me is that they care about ingredients.  For example, today I’m going to try their Vanilla Rooibos (Classic Cream for those who couldn't guess the flavor by using Rooibos as a context clue… myself included).  This soda has Organic African redbush (rooibos) herbal tea, natural vanilla extract, water, citric acid, and a touch of cane sugar.

The ingredient list alone should make you want to try it, but I understand the hesitation some of you might have with a tea soda.  While you may be filled with hesitation, at least you’re reading this review to see how it ends up.  Be right back, I need to go make a glass.

Ok, so I carbonated cold filtered water to mix with the Pearl syrup.  It said to use ice as well, but I’m not one to use ice in my drinks.  The smell is that of an herbal cream soda, so it seems we’re on the right track.  Now time for the important part.

That is certainly a tea soda.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think it would taste that much like tea, but boy does it taste like tea aaaaaaaaaand then soda.  So with the Vanilla Rooibos you do get the herbal tastes of the African redbush right off the bat.  I’m assuming the herbs I’m tasting are African redbush because I have no comparison in my memory to tell me otherwise.  These flavors are earthy and I honestly think most any tea drinker would welcome them as much as I do.

After the somewhat bitter herbal taste dissipates it makes way for a smooth vanilla.  You’re likely picturing the vanilla you’d experience in a big name cream soda; Vanilla Rooibos does not taste like that vanilla.  This tastes like actual, real deal, vanilla.  Like from the earth into a glass vanilla, so it’s considerably more subtle than it’s candied brethren.  This casually sweet taste lingers on the tongue and only give good memories as to what you just consumed.

The aftertaste is light and has little deviation from the beverage itself.  

I won’t speak to the carbonation since this is a beverage in which you choose.  For this glass I used a Soda Stream and carbonated until I heard three buzzes as instructed on the machine.  That amount seems just fine for what I consumed.

Now I like tea, and I like soda, but that doesn’t always mean I’m gonna like tea soda.  In the case of Pearl Vanilla Rooibos I certainly do though.  Its ingredient list is simple, but creates a fairly complex taste.  Drinking it even makes me feel a little fancy, and who doesn’t like to feel fancy?  All in all you should at the very least pick up a sample pack of Pearl.  1oz of syrup is all you need to make a drink and the sample pack houses four 2oz bottles, one of each flavor they make.  Now that writing again we’ll be making our way through those syrups in the coming weeks.  Hopefully they stack up as well as the Vanilla Rooibos.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

This soda was supplied to us by the Pearl Soda Company

Dr. Brown's Black Cherry Soda

While I see it most everywhere I go, Dr. Brown’s is not a brand I tend to pick up.  There’s not a sane reason for this action, it just happens to be how I’ve operated over the last few years.  Checking the list I see that I personally have only had one Dr. Brown soda and I felt it was ok.  Perhaps Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda will be more than ok, potentially spurring me to try more of their flavors.

Twist did the old "yawn and stretch" to make his move.

There’s nothing especially wonderful about the ingredients used in this soda, but it’s still better than I’ve seen elsewhere.  Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, cherry with other natural flavors, citric acid, caramel color, sodium benzoate, and Red #40 make up soon to be drained.  A fairly robust black cherry aroma easily escapes once the bottle doffs its cap.  Here’s hoping that this is a fairly truthful intro into the soda itself.

Interesting.  Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda is a beverage of two halves.  The first part of the experience is a fluffy, somewhat thick, richly flavored black cherry soda.  I think the “fluffiness” comes from the abundance of foam that is created when it’s upended.  

The second part I’ll speak on is the aftertaste.  Often enough aftertaste is something you experience briefly, a fleeting moment that you either revel in or are repulsed by.  With Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda the aftertaste is more of a sequel.

Have you ever had a particularly strong mint?  You know how it makes your throat feel once you put it in?  It feels cool, like you took a deep breath on a cold day.  Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda has an aftertaste like that… except it’s black cherry.  To be more specific, it feels like a backdraft of black cherry.  

This two part experience makes for a pretty solid soda with my only real gripe being that it gets kind of syrupy the more you drink.  All in all though, Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda is pretty dang good.  Pick up a pack and see for yourself.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

This was given to me by my Dear Ol’ Mum

Lipton Sparkling Iced Tea Citrus Green Tea

So for the 800th review I decided to go with tea.  While the green and silver can of Lipton Sparkling Iced Tea really called to me it was the Citrus Green Tea flavor that sealed the deal.  For those not in the know, Lipton is a brand synonymous with instant tea here in the ol’ U.S. of A.  It’s not of super high quality, but you can get a dang good iced tea out of it when you need one.

Twist has a bit of a green bias in this case.

Lipton Sparkling Iced Tea uses sugar to sweeten and lists green tea as the fourth ingredient.  Both of these things make me feel a little bit better as to what I’m about to consume.  Smell wise it’s a little like dish soap and cucumbers, so it’s not as if I’m without doubt.  That just spurs me on as we all  know The Soda Jerks motto:  When in doubt, try it out!.  Ok, so we’ve never had a motto but I just thought of that and wanted to type it..

Well, at the very least it’s refreshing. This is helped by the microbubbles (I don’t remember if this is a real word or if I just created it) that rush across my tongue creating a very light mouthfeel.  Taste wise the citrus, which seems to mostly focus on lemon or lime, dominates at first.  This initial citrus burst slowly fades and leaves behind the green tea that was promised in the labeling.

The aftertaste reminds me a little of champagne.  Perhaps it’s the little bit of bitter paired with a somewhat muted sweetness that creates it.  It’s actually quite nice and I don’t really like champagne.  

Lipton Sparkling Iced Tea Citrus Green Tea is a beverage I would consider picking up again on a hot day.  It’s less sugar than your standard soda (18 grams) and still delivers in the flavor department.  It may not have been the celebratory beverage I craved for review 800, but anything good enough for a second sip is good enough for me.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

Random Person 5 Word Review - Sweet, but can’t taste tea.

This was purchased at a Walgreens Pharmacy