Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quick Review: Japanese Green Apple Marble Pop

If you would like to read a more thorough review, please go here.
If you don't know what Marble Pop means, please check out this video.

I'm not sure the name of this soda because it is in Japanese. I got in an Asian food market in Boston, so you could look there I suppose. This soda is absolutely fantastic. The marble gimmick is super fun to play with and as a standalone soda it is absolutely wonderful. The flavor is very subtle and mostly defined by the citric acid. It's also healthy to boot! It has only 10 grams of sugar, 4 milligrams of sodium and 60 calories. I personally think it would go amazingly with a lunch, especially one featuring fruits.
If you happen upon this soda buy it on sight, it is really great although it will be pretty difficult to find.

Review: Japanese Green Apple Marble Pop

If you would like to see a shorter review, please go here.
To see what it looks like to use this "marble pop" gimmick check out this video.

Before Drinking
Background: During this past school year I went on a trip to the Boston Aquarium. It was purely for fun and after we finished up at the Aquarium we were allowed to wander the city as we pleased. My friends and I decided to just walk around and go down any street that looked interesting. We looked down a long street and saw a giant Asian gate. It looked cool so we went in and found ourselves suddenly plunged in to China Town. We went in to an Asian food market and I found all sorts of neat sodas. I got this one for $1.39 and I have no idea where you could find it or what its name is. So let's continue our streak of extremely legit foreign sodas!

Neat ribs
Bottling: The bottling is of course really cool. The whole marble pop gimmick is really fun and makes for a nice piece to put on a shelf after you are done. The interesting bits of this bottling is that for one it has some cool ribbing in the skinny part of the bottle. Very different from the other variations I have seen. The other awesome part is that absolutely everything is written in Japanese! It makes this a really unique find, I would definitely have trouble getting this anywhere but an Asian food market. Even the nutrition facts had to have an English sticker put over it to meet FDA requirements.

This makes it kind of hard for me to judge the font and logo. It's just really super Japanesey. It obviously has Japanese written all over it but it also has cute Anime-esque green apples will adorable little faces. One part of the writing that I quite like is the cool symbol put at the lip of the bottle.
Cool symbol in question

Nutrition facts are pretty interesting, only 10 grams of sugar! Most sodas are in the 35-40 range so this is going to not be very sweet at all. Additionally it has only 4mg of sodium and 60 calories. It's really quite healthy for you! I'm guessing almost all of the flavor will be coming from the citric acid. The other ingredients are pretty odd as well. It uses sugar and glucose to sweeten it, I don't think I've ever encountered glucose before in a soda so this should be pretty interesting.

During drinking
Soda everywhere
Got on my beloved keyboard
I popped the marble in and immediately tragedy struck. The soda really just exploded everywhere, it got all over my keyboard and basically made my entire desk a sticky mess. I had to pour water all over my $115 mechanical keyboard to save it from being a sticky mess and now it needs a day or so to dry out. So I'm typing this from a crappy Dell keyboard, with my keyboard wrapped in a towel behind me. Be strong, buddy!

The only difference I did this time was use the fleshy part of my thumb to push the marble in. I think this made it hit with greater force than the it created a seal on the top. This created a ton of pressure to build up in an extremely short amount of time, causing the explosion. I highly recommend you use the end of your thumb when pushing the marble in and do it over something you don't care about, like a sink or a counter top.

But the review must go on! I won't be judging the carbonation too harshly because the soda has been sitting out for a while now.

Nutrition facts laid over Japanese writing
Oh how utterly delightful! Wow, this is an absolutely amazingly subtle yet present flavor. It really does taste like green apple but it is not over powering at all. This is honestly one of the best flavors I have had in a very long time. It is so perfectly fruity without being over the top. The problem that most fruit sodas run in to is they start tasting like liquefied lollipops. This has very little sugar so the sweetness is not over powering and it really lets the appley flavor come through. It really does taste genuinely like taking a bite right in to a green apple.

Carbonation is not bad at all, the faster you chug the more carbonation you get because of the way the marble creates carbonation. The spout is a bit awkward to drink from, it's just really small so it feels strange to not fully wrap my lips around it. I also don't like the fact that the lip is made of plastic. I can understand why it has to be that way though. The carbonation is definitely much stronger than on the Americanized version that I had last time. This is definitely a good thing.

The amazing subtlety and simplicity of this flavor is awesome. It reminds me a lot of Cas Cal in that it is a nice, calm flavor that would go great with a fruit salad or really a lunch of any kind. I think the way that the sweetened it and the fact that it is high on Citric acid is what really made it so amazingly subtle.

The marble, fizzing away
One big downside is that there is not much liquid in here. I have taken maybe 4 or 5 sips and it's basically all gone already. I would love to see some bigger bottles of this, though that is most likely just due to me being an American and being used to the hugely gigantic cans we get over here. Ohhh the weird indentations on one side of the bottle make sense now. When you are low on soda tipping the bottle up can make the marble fall in to the cap, causing the cap to get blocked and stopping the flow of soda in to your mouth. The indentations hold the marble in place and stop this. Very clever!

After drinking
Almost no sugar and very little calories!
Overall, this is just a really nice tasting soda. The flavor is very well done and it is not overpowering at all. If you somehow happen to get a chance to try this out you definitely should. It tastes great and it's not bad for you. I would recommend this as a gimmick to hand around at a party, or to be had with an afternoon meal or even just to be hand on its own. It's just simply an awesome soda, I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Quick Review: Waialua Pineapple Soda

If you want a more thorough review please go here.

Waialua Pineapple Soda is a soda with great intentions that built up to be pretty good but fell flat in a lot of respects. First off, before you even open the bottle you can see that the bottle itself is completely generic. The labeling is equally bland, the fonts are pretty uninteresting and the logo is just generically Hawaiian. The soda itself is pretty boring too. The flavor isn't that strong but the carbonation is good. It includes Maui White Cane Sugar in its ingredients which is cool but the flavor is just not nearly strong enough. The company is actually based in Hawaii as well which is sorta cool. These minor coolnesses just don't make up for a low quality soda though. Don't go out of your way for this one.

Review: Waialua Pineapple Soda

For a summary of this review please go here.
Before Drinking

I got this soda from World Market for $1.49. It is also available online. I am quite excited for this soda because I have never had Pineapple soda before and it sounds really yummy. I have had plenty of pineapple before though, in fact once I had so much pineapple in a week that the acid made my mouth raw. Very uncomfortable, partly because of the pain of eating any salty but mostly because then I couldn't eat anymore pineapple for a month!

Generic, especially the fonts
Bottling: The bottle shape is quite standard, I think that they probably just buy something generic. There is a little bit less of a transition from the body to the neck than I am used to, but it isn't bad. Just really boring and kind of bleh, doesn't show at all what the soda will be like. The labeling is okay, font wasn't chosen very carefully and although it isn't ugly it isn't anything special. It doesn't feel like terrible professional labeling, the fonts are pretty normal and outlined for no particular reason. No clue why they put the logo in red besides it matching with the blue background. It's neat that they did the blue for the sky and the yellow circle for the sun. The logo is pretty cool, gives the Hawaiian feel for sure. I am also quite fond of the cap, it is simple and to the point.

Despite the pretty lame branding I am excited because this soda is so legit. When things have generic themes like "Hawaiian" it is often a concern that they are just doing it for marketing purposes. A lot of tourist traps do cheesy stuff like this. This soda is not messing around at all though. Not only is the company actually in Waialua Hawaii but the ingredients are even Hawaiian. The sugar used is a mix of generic cane sugar and Maui White Cane Sugar. That's awesome and it's probably going to lend a very unique flavor.

Ingredients are normal besides that. I wish that I saw some pineapple juice in the ingredients though. The nutrition facts are similarly normal. No sodium is a bit out of the ordinary and there is maybe 6 or 7 less grams of sugar than is usual, so nothing terribly exciting.

During Drinking
Popping the top made a nice sound and my nose is immediately filled with the flavor of pineapple. I can tell already this is going to taste amazing. There is no visible carbonation when I opened it which is a bit discouraging. First taste and the flavor isn't over whelming. Really a fairly subtle pineapple taste. Carbonation is a little bit stronger than most fruity sodas, but that's the way I like it. The lip of the bottle is fairly thin, which I really like the feel of. I feel like the flavor is just sort of underwhelming. Just last night I had a pineapple freeze pop (I'm a kid at heart) and it had a much stronger flavor. I think that probably the cane sugar is what is not doing this soda justice. Yes, I know that it is heresy but I think that pineapples as sticky and sweet. Sodas with high fructose corn syrup just simply have a lasting effect in your mouth, a sort of sticky sweetness that cane sugar does not offer. Cane sugar is a very clean flavor that gets washed down easily and that isn't something I associated with pineapples. I appreciate that they used the Maui Cane Sugar but I will always choose quality over pride.

After Drinking
I think that ultimately this soda falls flat in a lot of areas. It has a boring bottle, boring flavor, generic logo and dull fonts. I am still enjoying it because it is sugary and sweet, but I feel this soda could be so much more than it is. Pineapple is a flavor that could be so wonderful but they don't seem to let be as strong as it should be. The only thing I am thoroughly pleased with is the level of carbonation, that is really spot on. I feel this might just be an unfortunate tourist trap. Just marketing "Hawaiian soda!" without caring too much about the quality of their product.

Overall, I would say that if you happen across it you might as well give it a shot just so you can say you've had pineapple soda. I wouldn't recommend that you go out of your way for it though. Not a party soda, not a meal soda, not a gourmet soda. This doesn't really fill a niche other than people going "Ooo pineapple soda, I think I'll have to try that!"

I hate doing negative reviews. You can notice that the during section is always really short when I don't have things to gush over.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quick Review: Fentiman's Curiosty Cola

If you are interested in a more thorough review you can check out the in-depth review of this soda which is available here.

Fentimans Curiosity Cola at first sounds like it will be nothing more than a strange novelty. However, it is much much more than that. Boasting the most unique bottling I have ever seen and with a delicious flavor to match Fentiman's Curiosity Cola is a must have soda. I adored every moment I had with it, from first looking at the bottling to the last drop I desperately shook in to my mouth, praying for more. I highly recommend it both as a soda to be enjoyed on your own and as a soda to be shared at a party. Friends would enjoy the new, gingery twist on the classic Cola. The flavor is the best Cola you have ever had, with a new layer of ginger added in. The ginger is present but not overpowering at all and adds immensely to the overall experience.

Fantastic soda, do try it if you get the chance. It is available for purchase in World Market stores across the US and online at various retailers.

Review: Fentimans Curiosity Cola

If you want to read a shorter review of this soda, you can check out the Quick Review of it here.
Before Drinking
Background: This is one that I am quite excited about, I have heard good things about it online and I have had it sitting in my collection for about a year now! Perhaps it will have a nice aged flavor to it. I got it at World Market for $1.79. I highly recommend stopping by World Market if you want some nice bottled sodas. 5 or 6 of the sodas in my collection are from there.
The bubbling is more apparent live

Very unique neck shaping!

Most unique bottling I have seen, bar none. The neck has a really interesting shape to it and the bottom is flat with a slight bubble going around it. Very interesting, I don't see it as really conveying any particular image. With a Boylan's bottle it is obvious that they are trying to have a strong, bold feel to their soda. Fentimans seems to go for the "Curiosity" part of their name, just making their bottle a little bit strange. It doesn't feel heavy or slender or average, it's just different. Very unique and really drives the branding.

Captures the early 1900s well
The logo is nice, the illustration of the dog has a very old-timey feel to it. I adore the font, totally feels like the old sodas of the past. The font makes it seem like the sort of soda that you would pick up from the apothecary for a nickel. It also boasts about being "Botanically Brewed" which is probably more a marketing term than anything else. All that seems to mean is that they include ginger and herbs in the soda. I am quite looking forward to that, very strange combination of cola, herbs and ginger that I haven't seen before. The cap is also completely blank of any ink. I sort of like that, a nice simple look though it isn't anything terribly special.

It is also a bit darker of a cola than most. Even a bright light only shines through the neck of the bottle, the body is all pure dark.

Very dark coloring
Amount of sugar and calories are perfectly average. The ingredients are definitely odd though, the first ingredient is water followed by carbonated water. Every other soda I have ever had was carbonated water only as the top ingredient. This means that it will probably not be as bubbly as most sodas I am used to. It also lists ginger and caffeine as ingredients. I am really interested to see what ginger in cola tastes like, never had that before. I am also very glad that they included caffeine on their list of ingredients. Very often a soda will have caffeine in it but not list it anywhere on the can. When I was a kid this annoyed me greatly because I wasn't allowed to have soda with caffeine in it. It is also made with real sugar, but that is completely unsurprising. Basically par for the course with sodas I am interested in.

During Drinking
Twist top which I am glad for, makes a nice "pop!" when I take the cap off. The ginger is really quite apparent and lends an extremely unique flavor. The bottle is also not as filled as most are so it takes longer than expected to get the first taste. The lip is wider than usual as well which gives a very different feel to is. The glass is also quite thin right at the lip, which I enjoy. It matches the character of the soda.

Water, Carbonated Water. How curious!
Very good level of carbonation, exactly on par with what it should be. I would say it is a little bit heavier on the carbonation than a Coca Cola but a bit lighter than a Henry Weinhard Root Beer.

As far as flavor goes I would describe it as nothing more than the best cola flavor you've ever had, with ginger mixed in to it. When I had my first taste the ginger was quite powerful, the most noticeable part of the soda but now that I am about a quarter done it is much more mild and nothing more than a wonderful hint layered on top of an amazing cola flavor.

I am having trouble picking out the other herbs used. I suspect there is a bit of vanilla extract, because the soda is quite smooth.

Getting lots of good burps out of it too. The carbonation isn't too much that it feels uncomfortable in the stomach but there is enough of it that it leads to good quality burps.

Tongue goes a bit numb from the ginger, a little bit of a weird feeling but totally to be expected.

After Drinking
This soda is just flat out really good. I initially thought that it would be a novelty but it is just simply a new flavor that hasn't been done before but which is really quite amazing. The ginger doesn't take anything away from the Cola flavor, it merely adds on a new layer of complexity that is very yummy. I think this is one of the few sodas I have had where I want to get a 6-pack of it. This is the sort of soda that if you served it at a party you would want to point out the uniqueness of it to guests and everyone would appreciate it. Everyone loves Cola, everyone has had a Coca Cola and this would be a cool way to introduce them to something new, unique and utterly delicious.

I'm not sure I would like having this with a meal though. It is a complex enough flavor on its own that I think it would distract from a meal rather than add to it. Unless you considered it as being a side-dish to the meal instead of just a liquid to wash the meal down with.

Overall, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes soda at all. It is a new twist on a classic flavor that is completely unique to anything I have had before and it tastes amazing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Blenheim Ginger Ale

Sorry for my absence, school takes precedence over this. I'm out of school now though so it's time for a lovely summer of soda! I'm excited to do plenty of reviews in these coming 2 months.

Before Drinking
Background: This soda is quite dear to my heart. Over this previous Winter Break I picked up a seasonal job at a mail order company. The company was really super awesome and when I went in to pick up my last pay check, there was a $25 gift card to a local restaurant. I didn't get to use the coupon because I had to go back to school, but when my parents used it they picked up this soda for me. I've never heard of Blenheim so this is quite exciting for me to get a really nice soda for free out of the blue! This is also the only Ginger Ale I have ever had besides Vernor's. I'm looking forward to seeing what a true Ginger Ale is like and seeing if it has that same nose-burning quality that Vernor's has.
Red bottle cap, this means business
I did some research on Bleinheim and they pride themselves on being old fashioned. The bottling company was founded in 1903, so this seems totally legitimate. They also say they bottle in 3 "flavors", they indicate these flavors only by the color of the cap which is pretty cool. Red means strong, Gold means mild and White means diet. I got Red, which I quite like as it will be a true Ginger Ale!

Bottling is really quite standard. It sort of reminds me of a Boylan's but not as thick and strong. It has a somewhat slender feeling overall which is pretty appropriate for a Ginger Ale. I suppose I have trouble placing exactly what a Ginger Ale bottle should look like. For a Root Beer it makes total sense to be all dense and heavy, for Cas Cal it made perfect sense to be all whispy and elegant. Ginger Ale doesn't have a specific "feel" to it though, so I suppose that is why they went for generic.
No refills!

Very nifty logo
The logo is super cool but also quite confusing. It has the same patriotic bird that appears on the seal of the United States. It has the arrows in one talon and ivy in the other. Instead of having E. Pluribus Unum though it has "Original Ginger Ale". Very odd, but I like it just for the design, ignoring all the other connotations. I quite like the font, it is clearly indicating that the soda is pretty old and venerable which makes sense from their other marketing. The "G" of Ginger Ale is pretty hard to read so that should probably be changed, but besides that the typography is nice. I really like how "from pure water" is hollow lettering, it really lends a pure feeling to the text. It also says "No Refills" which I find pretty cute, like a little throw back to the days of old when you could go to the pharmacy and get one bottle refilled.

Nutrition Facts
Ingredients are totally what one would expect. Not too many of them, but probably all the interesting bits are hidden in whatever "Natural Flavorings" is. Nutrition facts are also as expected. 170 calories, 41 grams of sugar. Maybe a little bit sugar heavy, but not ridiculous by any means.

Sediment! True brewed!
Lastly, we have sediment! Yes, the one true mark of a genuine soda that is legitimately not just syrup+carbonated water. This is almost certainly a byproduct of their old fashioned creation process. The only other time I have had this was the Cas Cal and that did not disappoint.

During Drinking
Pop top! I've said it in the past but I think these are pretty unneeded. They don't keep a better seal and they are just inconvenient since you need a tool to get the top off. Nice little psssssst as it came off, not much of a pop.

First sip and I liked it at first but after a bit it becomes so strong! I still have a burn in my mouth. This stuff is not messing around at all. I really can't emphasize enough that this is overpowering. Hopefully by the bottom I'll be more used to it and more able to judge the flavor. Took a much smaller sip and it was a lot better. Unless you are a ginger fanatic and love the punch to the face you should take this slowly. Tons of carbonation makes me feel it in my nose. It seems Ginger Ales really like to have a lot of carbonation. Just had a really super long and drawn out burp, that was awesome.

Okay I am quite a bit more used to it, that initial "punch you straight in the mouth and throat" feeling is mostly gone. I am really conflicted on this soda. I must admit that I flat out don't like it but that is not at all because it is a bad soda or because it is poorly made, it is entirely my own preferences. I just simply don't like ginger enough to want to drink what is basically liquefied ginger.

The soda leaves a persisting burn in your throat. It's not terrible, just kind of uncomfortable.
Okay now that it has thoroughly burned my taste buds off it is pretty sweet. I'm about 1/3 of the way through and it now is tasting much more like just a soda with a ginger flavor. Now the only part I don't like are the burps, they burn pretty badly.

Just gave a sip of it to my sister after warning her it was strong, she made a funny face and then put it quite well "That was weird and really strong but I think I might want more. It's sort of like eating spicy food, when you have it you're like 'waaah' but then you kind of want to keep going." I really do think that puts it perfectly, it's super overpowering at first but as you get used to it you can actually get the flavor and it's really nice. I just don't like ginger that much and she does so she was more interested in drinking more than me.
Usually with every tasting of a soda I always do a chug of it where I'll take 2-3 gulps in a row, but with this I think I will pass. It would just burn too much.

As I go through the remainder it is more of the same. The flavor is just a very strong ginger flavor with a lot of initial sweetness. When you first introduce it in to your mouth it is always sweet then the ginger punches you immediately after that.

After Drinking
This is bar-none the most interesting soda I have ever had. It has me more conflicted than anything. First off, this is not a party soda at all, this is a soda that you would get as a single and drink as a novelty, sharing it with others so they can see how weird it is. I would never get a 6 pack of these and then drink it with a meal.
This is quite simply a soda made for the curious and made for the ginger lovers of the world. If you have had ginger ale in the past and really loved it, this would be super awesome to try out and it would give you a whole new perspective. If you just want a weird soda to show off and maybe share around with people, this is awesome for that as well. This really, really does not fit in with the categories of any soda I have ever had before. I am really glad I got to try this, as it truly is a new discovery for me and that is a cool thing to have.

Overall, buy a single, try it out, share it with others just for the experience. This isn't a soda to drink, this is a soda to experience.

I also gave it to my parents, my dad who usually does really well with strong flavors took a sip, made a face and started fanning his tongue. My mom had a similar reaction to my sister, didn't say much then flatly said "It's hot, but I like it. You could add club soda!" Definitely a great novelty for sharing!