Soda Reviews

1893 Ginger Cola

So last week I tried Pepsi’s semi-new beverage, 1893.  It was good, in fact it was very good.  Today I try the Ginger Cola variety of 1893 and something tells me I’ll like it just as much if not more.

Here are a few notes that Pepsi felt needed to be on the side of the can.  1893 is “Boldly blended cola made with: Kola nut extract, Real ginger, Sparkling water, and Real sugar”.  If you read the 1893 review (please do as I’m self absorbed with people liking my work) then you’ll notice that can’s list is quite similar.  Pepsi has a look and style they’re going for here and their consistency is easily spotted.

As far as aroma is concerned this has the same muted cola scent as 1893, but with a touch of ginger on the back end.  My only worry is that the cola will be overshadowed by the newly added ginger spice.  Not unlike when I first saw a picture of the Spice Girls and my eyes found themselves on Geri Halliwell.  Personally, I’m more of a Scary Spice guy now, but back to the review.

Ok, so my fear is somewhat founded.  This is listed as a “Ginger Cola” and the order of these ingredients corresponds directly with how it’s flavored.  Interestingly enough the initial feeling you get is the burn from the ginger.  Up until this point It’s been my experience that this burn usually turns up at the end of a sip as opposed to the start.  For whatever reason 1893 Ginger Cola has this reversed, so it creates a rather unique start to my soda drinking experience.

Behind this ginger burn is the promised cola taste.  It’s readily available, but not as strong as I’d like it to be.  I’d say it’s comparable to when a kid under the age of 5 says they’re going to help you with a task.  Sure they’re helping clean up, but ultimately you’re going to end up doing most of the work yourself.  Personally I think it takes away from what could have been a fantastic drink.

That’s not saying 1893 Ginger Cola is without merits.  This is a mainstream beverage with a kick of ginger.  A lot of people haven’t had a soda like this and it makes me happy that some eyes will be opened because of it.  Hopefully this starts folks on a more enlightened soda path in life.  If that wasn’t a “full of itself” sentence I don’t know what was.

Verdict - Buy a Bottle

~A

This was purchased at a HEB Grocery Store

1893

So to stay current I felt it necessary to review Pepsi Cola’s offering of 1893.  For those not in the know, 1893 is made with kola nut and sweetened with sugar.  This is Pepsi’s take on craft soda and the can is full of words telling you so.  It’s a “Boldly blended cola made with: Kola nut extract, Dark brown malt flavor, a touch of aromatic bitters, sparkling water, real sugar.”

In the stage play Twist will play the role of "Bubbles"

The smell is similar to Pepsi, but a little weaker… it doesn’t punch you in the nose.  

I like this a lot.  I’m greeted with a lot of fizz and flavor at the front door of this house.  The occupants look friendly enough so let’s step inside.  Once inside an exuberant dog the side of a loaf of bread comes running at me.  His name is “Bubbles, which I find quite appropriate considering he lives in a soda can house.  Bubbles is jumping up on me trying to get me to notice him.  I’m new and he wants to make sure I’m greeted properly so he does his absolute best to get the attention he feels he deserves.

Ol’ Mister Kola gently calms Bubbles down before taking him to his kennel.  Bubbles whines, looks out sorrowfully, turns around three times, lays down, and falls asleep.  Now that the dog is out of the way, Mister Kola guides me to the living room for a sit.

When we get there I see that his wife is already comfortably knitting in her chair.  He introduces her as “Spice” then settles into his chair.  Spice is working with an assortment of threads.  Some threads are silky sweet while others are a little rougher.  One very fine thread catches my attention in the light she’s working under.  It’s an almost invisible cinnamon colored thread.  It’s weaved in every so often, but wouldn’t be the first thing you’d see in the finished blanket.

Just as she’s about to talk about her knitting, Mister Kola speaks up and talks over her.  She smiles and shakes her head.  This is something that’s happened many times over the years, but she has grown to accept it as a part of who he is now.  

Mister Kola, not noticing his interruption, continues on about the past and how things were.  It’s an interesting tale as he doesn’t linger too long on any part of it.  I’m engaged in what Mister Kola has to say, still occasionally looking over at Spice and smiling as she continues to knit.

The evening ends without much fanfare as I’m walked to the door.  Given one final handshake I smile at Mister Kola and thank him for the lovely time.  Then I go on my way.

Random Person 5 Word Review - It’s like Pepsi but subtle.

Verdict - Buy a Pallet

This was purchased at a HEB Grocery Store

Diabolo Mint Lemonade

Diabolo makes me immediately think of the words diabolical and diablo.  Neither of these words are all that positive, unless of course it’s in reference to the video game Diablo which is pretty fantastic.  Diabolo, as you might have guessed, is a soda brand and the flavor at hand today is Mint Lemonade.

Twist once went by the moniker El Diabolo.

According to the text on the can Diabolo is a French Soda, All Natural, Low Calorie, Vitamin Enriched, and is sweetened with cane sugar, erythritol, and stevia extract.  That’s a lot of information for a soda to portray on their label, but Diabolo does so without making it seem ridiculous.  In fact the can art is rather peaceful looking, a nice mint green with a simplistic feel.

Smell wise the mint overpowers the lemon quite easily.  The lemon is back there, but mint has stolen the show easily.  I’m curious if this will taste like mouthwash… hopefully not.

I’m right and I’m wrong.  The initial taste is like a tame mouthwash, but thankfully this is fleeting.  As the experience continues the mint flavor weakens and the lemon is allowed to emerge from the shadows.  Once the lemon is on stage you find that this performance was never intended to be a one man show, but a duet.  

Diabolo Mint Lemonade is also a rather refreshing soda with little to no syrupy sensation.  The mouthfeel is effervescent and enjoyable.  These particular flavors need an environment like this to thrive to their fullest and Diabolo has kindly provided that for them.

Due to the fact that this is sweetened with stevia I had concern there would be an unpleasant aftertaste.  I’m happy to report that this is not at all true.  While my mouth does feel a little drier than I would expect after each sip, there is not a terrible taste accompanying it.  What I get instead is the tingle of mint and lemon, which is still a somewhat unique combination that works fairly well.

All in all, Diabolo Mint Lemonade is definitely worth a try.  As I said before the flavors used, the limited use of sugars, and… hey they put B vitamins in here too.  I probably should have looked at that a little closer.  It’s a good soda that uses its tools wisely.  I’m curious to see if the other flavors do as well.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

Random Person 5 Word Review:  Light aftertaste, Fizzy, Tonic, Sour

This soda was purchased at a Sprouts Farmer’s Market

Empire Root Beer

Ever consumed liquid tree?  I’ve only had one soda by Empire and it tasted like tree, a spruce tree to be exact.  It wasn’t very good as you might expect liquid tree to be, but I had to respect it.  Why would I pick up another bottle of Empire you might ask?  Well even though I didn’t like their tree soda they did a really good job in making it.  So if they’ll put that much love and care into spruce soda then surely they’ll make a root beer that’s easy to love… right?  

Pictured: Timeless logo with a timeless lizard.

The look of Empire soda is a very strong, industrial looking logo that I would assume has never been changed.  I mean the company phone number is on the front of the bottle for goodness sake.  Reliable.  That’s what this looks like to me.  Their soda art is reliable and they use cane sugar to boot!

Upon opening there’s quite a rooty aroma.  Not too sweet, but certainly sweetened.  There isn’t a strong wintergreen or licorice punch which means it’s likely safe for most buds of taste.

Wow, that truly is a thirst quenching root beer and I haven’t said that in a long time.  Empire Root Beer’s lack of syrupy mouthfeel and low carbonation make for a refreshing treat.  This is the kind of soda I’d drink on a hot summer day.

Flavor wise it’s very consistent as well.  The story the scent told was apparently non-fiction as there is little to no taste of wintergreen or licorice to be found here.  I’m not saying that they didn’t use any, it’s just not so prevalent I feel it’s worth mentioning although I did just mention it… but… didn’t think it needed... moving on.

Empire Root Beer drinks cold.  Where some drinks noticeably warm up the longer you keep them out, Empire Root Beer seems to not be as bothered by its time outside of the fridge.  This is a very interesting soda to me as it has so much going for it in the mouthfeel category I’ve created in my mind.

I personally feel that Empire Root Beer should be on any root beer lovers list.  It’ll be a little different than most of the root beer you’ve tried, but all of the differing characteristics are positive ones.  Pick up a couple and share with your friends… or just hoard it.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

Random Person 5 Word Review:  Cold, Tasty, Sarsparilla, Refreshing, Quenching.    

This was purchased at the Gas Station below.

 

Dublin Texas Red Creme

I love it when I get the chance to drink a soda made in Texas I haven’t tried before.  Fortunately for me I’m terrible at keeping up with what Dublin Bottling Works has put out so I occasionally get a “new” Texas treat.  Today’s treat is called Dublin Texas Red Creme.  While I do love a good red cream soda they can be hit or miss at times… like most anything.  Here’s hoping that Texas Red Creme is a hit.

Texas Red would be a pretty sweet nickname.

Well, it passes the smell test.  A strong sugary red creme aroma  slips out of the mouth of the bottle.  I’m going to minimize the amount of “smell words’ here because I’m starting to salivate a bit.

Good, but par for the course.  Dublin Texas Red Creme starts off smooth as a red creme should.  It’s fizzy and a little syrupy, but overall the taste is on par with other red cremes out there.  There’s just one thing that’s a little odd.  The creamy mouth-feel of this soda stops short about half way through each sip.  It’s like the flavor brakes were hit early to avoid an oncoming collision… really odd stuff.  

Aside from that unique quality Dublin Texas Red Creme is a nice balance of sweet and bubbly.  The carbonation levels lighten up what could be a syrupy mouthfeel and really do the beverage some service.  This may not make a lot of sense to some, but this tastes more of Big Red than other red creams I’ve had in the past.  I know the mark of a good reviewer is to not need to compare it to other sodas, but I just gotta sometimes.  

Overall it’s quite good, I’d buy multiples if offered.  Now it’s time for me to admit my own oddity.  I  keep saying I don’t like Big Red, but the more red cream sodas I try the more I start to doubt that.  Do I not like the idea of Big Red or should I just go ahead and give it another try to make sure.

Yay Texas soda.

Verdict - Buy a Pack

~A

Random Person 5 Word Review:  Over carbonated Big Red soda.

This was purchased at a Specs Liquor